Mehaffie learns of award prior to death


GREENVILLE — At the calling hours last week prior to Darryl Mehaffie’s funeral service, a proclamation from the Governor’s office was positioned next to a proclamation from ServeOhio and one from the State legislators. Mehaffie was recognized as one of eight outstanding volunteers across the state, from the Southwest region, for his volunteerism in helping the local community.

Representative Angie King’s office nominated Mehaffie for this state recognition, and she informed him in person that the state recognized him before he passed away.

Representative King stated, “Darryl has a wealth of information and knowledge of the history of Darke County. Darryl is a retired school teacher who taught fifth and sixth grades at Northmont City Schools in Englewood, Ohio, from 1966 to 1996. Since retirement, he has selfishly devoted his time to serving and making significant contributions to his local community and the state of Ohio. He served on numerous boards, such as the Darke County Center for the Arts, the Garst Museum (The Darke County Historical Society), the Darke County Parks Commission Board, Darke County Agricultural Society Board (Fair Board), the Edison State Community College Board of Trustees, the Piqua Arts Council, the Ohio Association of Colleges, and the Ohio Arts Council. Darryl was an advocate for Darke County and his community for more than 40 years.”

Others also nominating Darryl Mehaffie for the award had similar themes in their comments:

Clay Johnson, Ph.D., CEO of the Garst Museum (Darke County Historical Society), noted, “Darryl’s experience and unique insight into the administrative needs of the Darke County Historical Society (DCHS) has been an integral part of our success, and his guidance in moving difficult projects forward has assisted in the museum’s growth for over thirty years.”

Mike Henderson, fellow Darke County Park’s Commission Board member with Darryl noted, “His efforts as 2-year park board commissioner were above and beyond what would be expected of any board member.”

Jim Buchy, noted, “Darryl served on the Darke County Agricultural Society Board for over 25 years and helped grow the success of the fair during that entire time. In addition, Darryl has devoted hundreds of hours helping pass school and park levies and securing funds for so many worthy local projects. Darke County is the number two agriculture county in Ohio. This has come about because good people, like Darryl Mehaffie, have donated much time to make his native county better.”

Katie Deland of the Darke County Republican Party of which Darryl was also involved, noted, “In all that he did, Darryl Mehaffie was always looking to nurture the next generation of leaders and to give back to the community that he loves with his whole heart.”

Eileen Litchfield shared, “Darryl had incredible depth and length of volunteerism in the Darke County community and the State of Ohio. He is passionate about all of his involvements and has not just been a board member in name only. He put in the work. He made the connections. He worked for funding for each organization.”

Rep. King also added, “Not a day went by that Darryl wasn’t working behind the scenes to recognize or honor another community member or working to raise funds for the next community project. Darryl’s positive outlook, ability to connect with others, extraordinary leadership and his desire to leave a lasting legacy for future generations are the hallmarks of his success.”

ServeOhio, Ohio’s commission on service and volunteerism, will honor all eight outstanding volunteers, volunteer groups and service initiatives across the state during National Volunteer Week taking place April 21-27. A cash award of $1,000 will be issued to each awardee to support the organization that benefited from their service. Darryl designated four of his organizations to share the award.

“We are proud of this year’s ServeOhio awardees who stepped up to respond to the needs of Ohioans during what continues to be a challenging time for many,” said William Hall, executive director for ServeOhio. “The impact of everyday citizens who reach beyond themselves to help their neighbors and communities, shapes who we are as a state, and we couldn’t be more honored to present the awards to these amazing individuals.”

Annually, more than 2.2 million Ohioans volunteer formally through an organization spending a combined 165 million hours serving communities across Ohio. The economic value of these efforts totals more than $4.5 billion.

Other 2024 ServeOhio Award recipients include:


Susan Kochheiser, Mansfield – For more than 15 years, Susan has been volunteering 7 days a week with the Richland County Dog Warden and Shelter. Susan ensures that every dog gets walked, even if she walks every dog herself, does laundry, gives medicine and baths. Rain or shine, in snow, in ice, even in power outages, Susan goes in every day to

give the dogs what they need. Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, Susan made sure every dog got to spend time with a human. She also makes sure that other volunteers are supported and feel appreciated. In addition to her direct work with the dogs, Susan also fundraises for the shelter and for the dog’s medical treatments.


Ginger Leonard, Cleveland – Ginger started volunteering as a front desk volunteer at Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland in 2003 and quickly became a “go to” volunteer for staff. There isn’t a task that Ginger won’t take on to improve the experience for families. In addition to her work as a dedicated front desk volunteer, Ginger is Head Elf for the “Elf Operation” where she leads other volunteers in organizing toy and gift donations, setting aside gifts for special events and holidays and making sure gifts that cannot be used get redistributed to other local charities. Ginger also shares her ideas for family participation events. As a retired teacher, Ginger brings fun and colorful events to the organization.

Nestlé Cares, South Euclid – Nestlé Cares is a volunteer team made up of Nestle employees. This team has completed more than 10 projects through CARE (Communities Assisting Residential Elders) where they help homeowners with projects around their homes. Some projects have included cleaning up an overgrown yard, painting a wheelchair ramp, and repairing and addressing code violations. Nestle Cares’ work on these projects benefits the older adults whose homes are now more accessible and livable, as well as the public who can more easily access sidewalks.


Cindy Bench, Toledo – Cindy and her family regularly donate truckloads of fresh produce to various organizations addressing food insecurity around Toledo. Cindy also has been instrumental in planting an orchard, building a hoop house, and advising for a local urban farm, Urban Wholistics. Each year, Cindy serves a Thanksgiving meal for the residents of North Toledo, which serves 300-400 people. Cindy also coordinates a bag lunch program that provides at least 100 meals each month.

John Eisenhart, Toledo – Several times a week, John helps pack meals at Connecting Kids to Meals, an organization that provides hot, nutritious meals at no cost to kids in low-income and underserved areas. He also gives his time to organizations like the East YMCA, Mercy Health and is a Kiwanis Club member. He coordinates Kiwanis Club volunteer projects each quarter. John also supports the youth in the community by

renting out Imagination Station, a local hands-on science museum, for local kids to explore and learn. John is a giving and generous community member.


Robert West, Athens – Robert (Bob) is the president of the Athens Bicycle Club and holds several leadership positions with other organizations in Athens. As a volunteer, Bob regularly steps up and has a great ability to communicate with and organize other volunteers with a cheery attitude, a smile, and a sense of humor. He is a key partner in trail maintenance and recreation improvement projects and has dedicated more than 570 hours to build and maintain The Baileys Trail System in addition to countless additional hours serving in leadership roles in the region.


Anna Eberhart, Cincinnati – Anna has served in the Catino Choice Food Pantry for over 20 years and has become a staple of the community and volunteer staff. Last year, Anna volunteered over 400 hours by accompanying neighbors facing food insecurity through the Catino Choice Food Pantry, helping them choose food to take home to feed their families. Anna develops positive relationships with her neighbors and other volunteers and love for her community is felt by all she serves at the Food Pantry.

Individuals interested in serving in their community this year or at any time can visit Get Connected, ServeOhio’s statewide volunteer engagement platform, to be connected with organizations in need of volunteers.

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