120 families, 250 children benefit from BCMW and community efforts
It’s the time of year when many people pitch in to ensure those less fortunate have a merry Christmas. In conjunction with the local BCMW Community Services, volunteers from throughout Clinton County gathered at St. Anthony Parish Center in Beckemeyer on Monday to organize toys and other donations for the annual BCMW Holiday Toy Drive for local needy families. Families were able to stop by the parish center on Tuesday and Wednesday to pick out presents. According to BCMW manager Deb Kohnen, around 120 families from the Clinton County area, which includes 250 children, will be assisted this year by BCMW during the holiday season. The new and gently used toys were donated by area churches, schools, businesses and individuals from throughout the county. Kohnen said some of the larger donations came from Wal-Mart, the Mike Donnewald Foundation, local high schools and area businesses.
by Abby Downs, United Way of Greater St. Louis
It’s lunchtime at the Lenzini household, and 3-year-old Ben is ready and doing his happy dance. His mother, Contessa, sets down the plate in front of him.
“Blue square!” Ben says, pointing to the plate.
“Green,” he says, pointing to his fork.
“Red,” he chimes again, this time pointing to the ketchup.
Lunchtime wraps up, and Ben grabs some blocks, carefully matching each according to color.
“He does this with everything,” Contessa says with a smile. “He knows all his shapes, colors, and alphabet and can count up to 14.”
Had someone told Contessa her little boy would be gleefully naming everything in sight today, she would’ve thought it impossible. Ben has autism, and it wasn’t until about six months ago that he even started talking.
At 20 months, Ben was nonverbal, made no eye contact, and had angry and sometimes violent behaviors. Contessa was recognizing these behaviors as signs of autism, but everyone that she turned to told her “he is a typical 2-year-old.”
With no family support, and feeling like everyone was against her, Contessa began to think there was no hope for her son. Unwilling to give up, she came looking for answers and help for her son at United Way supported Community Link in Breese. Just as Contessa suspected, Ben was diagnosed with autism, and with the help of Community Link’s First Step Early Head Start Learning and Family Support Program, she is more determined than ever to make sure her son succeeds and lives a normal life.
Germantown native Ben Young, head groundskeeper for the Altoona Curve, the Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates major-league club, recently won the Sports Turf Managers Association’s (STMA’s) 2nd annual “Mowing Patterns Contest.” Young’s “four patterns” winning image is pictured above. The contest received nearly 30 entries from across the U.S. The STMA was officially formed in 1981 because a few men believed that sports turf could be improved through the sharing of knowledge and the exchange of ideas. The key leaders in the STMA’s infancy were Harry “Pops” Gill (deceased), Milwaukee County Stadium; Dr. William Daniel (deceased), Professor Emeritus, Purdue University; Dick Ericson, Minneapolis Metrodome, and George Toma (NFL). The Altoona Curve plays in Peoples Natural Gas Field, located in Altoona, Pennsylvania. It was opened in 1999 and seats 7,210 fans. The 2014 season was Young’s third as head groundskeeper of the Curve and his first as the reigning Diamond Pro Sports Turf Manager of the Year for the Eastern League. Young has also spent time in Glendale, Arizona, maintaining the spring training facility of the White Sox and Dodgers. The five years before that were spent in the St. Louis area, with the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League. In 2010, Ben won the “Craig Kuhl” Award as best groundskeeper in the Frontier League.
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