Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF) presented Steve and Helen Baran of Westfield with the "George B. Weaver Jr. Footprints Award" on Monday at its 26th annual meeting.
NCCF Board President Peter Clark presented the award, which has been given out since 2002.
"This ... award is presented to those who exemplify the ideals of local philanthropy and community service," Clark said before introducing the couple. "This year's recipients are well-known within the concord grape industry. However, you may not know about their generous community service and philanthropy."
OBSERVER Photo by Shirley Pulawski
The NCCF presented its “George B. Weaver Jr. Footprints Award” to Steve and Helen Baran Monday during its annual meeting.
Steve Baran has been active in the Growers Cooperative Juice Company, Inc. and has been Chairman of the Chautauqua County Farmland Protection Board. He has served on the Cornell Cooperative Extension Chautauqua County Board of Directors, the Lake Erie Grape Advisory Committee, is an active Westfield Rotary Club member, and much more. For over 20 years, Steve has donated an acre of concord grapes to the Agricultural Department at the Westfield School to give agricultural students hands-on experience with vineyard production and processing.
Helen Baran serves on the Board of Trustees at Westfield Memorial Hospital, Board of Trustees member for Saint Vincent Health System, Board of Directors member and past chair of the Chautauqua County Health Network, and Board of Directors member for the NYS Area Health Education Center.
She was also one of the initial members of the NYS Rural Health Council, a rural health advocacy group.
Helen has volunteered on the Chautauqua County Charter Revision Committee, the Chautauqua County Planning Board, and was a leader of the 4-H Equestrian Club. She is Chair of Westfield's Board of Assessment Review, Chair of the Rotary Vocational Service Rotary Club and is a member and past President of the Westfield Mayville Rotary Club.
A short video was displayed highlighting the couple's efforts in the community and testimonials from members of the community.
"Steve and Helen, I'm very honored to be chosen to speak to you about your contributions in the area and everything you have done, mostly quietly without anyone knowing," McClurg Museum Curator John Wolfe said of the couple. McClurg said the couple had each helped local groups such as the animal rescue and the Westfield Cemetery with monetary gifts when a need had to be filled.
Wolfe cited an instance when he reported a broken washing machine at the animal rescue, and Helen simply wrote a check for $1,000 without anyone having asked. He said "You just saw a need and stepped up to the plate.
"Steve, you did the same thing with the Westfield Cemetery. When they were having a problem with the lawn mowing system there, all of a sudden, a John Deere tractor, lawn mower was delivered to the Westfield Cemetery. You're very special people."
Ann Weidman of the Westfield Memorial Hospital Foundation said, "It was the early 1970s and New York State wanted to close the Westfield M hospital. That's when I first met and got to know Helen Baran. Her dedication to the hospital became evident every day. She led the fight to prove to this state that closing our hospital was indeed wrong. In the end, the hospital was saved."
Also in the video, Stan Lundine, former state lieutenant governor, said Helen's work was crucial to keeping Westfield Memorial Hospital open. ""I'm absolutely delighted the foundation is honoring Steve and Helen," Lundine said. "I think that hospital would have closed as an acute care facility without Helen's advocacy," Lundine said.
Dave Momberger of the Grower's Cooperative Grape Juice Co. Inc. said, "I think you're well-deserving of the footprints award ... I've worked with Helen and Steve in many areas of the community, and been associated with their involvement in grape-growing ... you've left footprints in our lives and many in the community, and this award is well-deserved."
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