BREMEN — Six members of the Bremen community were honored “for their outstanding dedication, service and commitment to making the Bremen Community a ‘good town,’” during the annual Chamber of Commerce award dinner on Sept. 19.
Bremen Elementary/Middle School student Regan Wyly and Bremen High School student McKenna Myers received Youth Service Awards. They each were awarded with a plaque and a $500 scholarship.
Carol Bowen was honored with the Volunteer Service Award.
Charlene Beery, Bruce Jennings and Sandy Krost were awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards. Beery was unable to attend the banquet, so her daughter Kim accepted the award and gave a speech on Beery’s behalf.
Before the honorees received their awards, a representative from United Way and from Jackie Walorski’s office gave brief presentations.
Bremen Schools Superintendent Jim White gave a brief history of public education in a presentation that incited much laughter from those in attendance.
BEMS Principal Larry Yelaska presented Wyly's award.
He said Wyly received her award due to her
BEMS selects its youth service winner by asking for nominations for staff members.
"This year, when I sent out that email I said, 'I know whose name is going to come back right away," he said. "Very quickly they responded that they knew: 'This year it's Regan Wyly.'"
She is part of National Junior Honor Society, which places strong importance in volunteerism. Students involved are asked to fulfill a certain amount of volunteer hours, so Yelaska said many students will plan around their schedules.
"Reagan, she attended all of them — every single activity," he said. "She has great leadership skills, ... and she is very humble. She doesn't look for praise."
Yelaska said he believes she will go onto high school and further fulfilling more needs around the community because "she does it for the right reasons, ... she enjoys it."
She helps with concessions at the Mom2Mom sale, set up outdoor movie night concessions "single-handedly," attends PTO movie nights and other events. She loves drawing and creative writing. She is a football and basketball manager at BEMS.
Myers’ award was presented by BHS Principal Bruce Jennings.
“She can best be described as fierce athlete, a young lady with an angelic voice, a compassionate classmate,” Jennings said. “She’s a pretty special student."
Myers has a 3.5 grade point average, and will graduate in June with an academic honors diploma. She is graduating with 60 high school credits and college credits in several subjects. She plans to pursue a degree in forensic science, and hopes to go into mortuary science.
Theater, softball, prom committee, KEY Club, show choir and is a peer mentor in a special needs classroom, president of Champions Together program, which provides opportunities with sports for special needs students in partnership with Special Olympics.
"More importantly, McKenna Myers is humble and kind," Jennings said. "She has a huge heart for giving back, for paying it forward and serving the needs of others before herself. As busy as she is with academics, sports and music, McKenna still finds time to volunteer."
Around Bremen, she has volunteered at the Riley Hospital for Children Dance Marathon, VFW Ladies' Auxiliary fundraisers, Jane's Park cleaning and set-up/teardown of Oktoberfest, youth softball games, concessions at youth football games, sings national anthem at little league games and special needs Unified track sectionals. And sings for elders at Whitlock, as well as the Bremen Farmers Market every Wednesday.
She is an ambassador for Back the Blue Paw, a fundraising initiative to benefit Bremen Police Department to purchase a new K9 after it lost Bardo.
"She has certainly earned my respect and admiration," he said.
Bremen Community Cares President Matt VanSoest presented Bowen's award. He took time to detail Bowen's lifelong connection to Bremen, starting with her being raised on a dairy farm southeast of town.
He said some of Bowen's best memories were in high school, taking part in band, Girls Athletic Association, Youth Through Christ and 4H.
She met Doc Bowen in 1992, and "as they say, the rest is history." They married in 1993.
VanSoest said the spirit of Doc Bowen lives through Carol today. In marriage, he said they were known as an energetic and engaging couple; Carol Bowen funnels that into giving back to Bremen today "with her interactions with people in the community and the groups that she serves."
She is secretary for Bremen Kiwanis, a board member for Potawatomi Wildlife Park, member of Community Hospital of Bremen Auxiliary and regular attendee of Bremen Community Cares monthly meetings. She has served on the Marshall County Community Foundation, the Ancilla College Board of Directors and the Catherine Kasper Life Center Board.
She currently lives in Nappanee, and "spends most of her time pursuing the passion for visiting shut-ins and nursing home residents, and enjoying time with her family," VanSoest said. "Carol, it's been an honor and privilege to know you for all these years and to call you a very close friend."
VanSoest shared that Bowen sent him encouraging notes during his time at Ball State University.
"Carol's work and service is a direct reflection of ... her love for all of us, but most importantly to her unwavering faith in our Lord and savior."
And although Bowen didn't have a speech prepared, she felt compelled to give her thanks to the community for honoring her with the Volunteer Service Award.
"I know there were many out there that are much more deserving, so I really appreciate this," she shared. "Thank you very much. It's an honor to receive this award."
Beery was unable to attend the banquet, so Kim Dunning, Beery's daughter, accepted the award and delivered a speech on her behalf.
"Charlene Beery is a Bremen girl through and through," Dunning said, explaining that Beery was raised in town, raised her own family there and taught throughout the community.
She said the fact that Beery was unable to attend the event is "one of life's cruel ironies."
"Charlene is a modest, soft-spoken and kind lady," she said. "She would not be comfortable being in the limelight — especially for doing what she loves and was her job. But this achievement recognizes those who enrich our community, make it stronger and welcoming. Charlene does all of that and more."
Dunning shared that Beery's talents helped her excel at reaching many people around the community. She worked to teach kids who were struggling, and help them succeed.
"Charlene is the best friend you could ask for," Dunning said. "Her giving nature, willingness to share anything she had with others gives her a great feeling of satisfaction."
And despite Beery's several broken bones, battle with a stroke and other ailments, Dunning said she has continued to show her strength in recovery.
"The Chamber of Commerce can do no better than this recognition of Charlene Beery: a hometown girl, forever resident, longtime teacher of our children, a friend to all."
Krost's award was introduced by husband Rob Krost.
"She's had a large impact on our home, our church, our community and at her occupation as a children's librarian at Bremen Public Library," he said.
He shared that over the year's, Sandy had pushed him and their three children to stay involved in a variety of extracurricular activities around the community.
He lauded his wife for taking up positions at their church, Bremen United Methodist, such as leading the community choir for several years and taking part as chairman of the building committee.
She has assisted with the Holy Walk for 30 years. She served on the board of Historic Bremen during the time the Train Depot was saved and moved to its new location.
She was the recipient of the Literacy Award in 1998 by the Marshall County Reading Council.
As children's librarian of BPL for 31 years, she was able to use her passion of creating projects for young readers.
She created what became known as "Reader's Theater," which had children reading and acting out of books.
With all of her local reading implementations including interactive presentations with puppets, she was asked to be a speaker at Indiana State Library conferences.
She has succeeded in instilling passionate reading activities at the local level, with programs the library still uses today.
After the introduction, Sandy Krost chose to share a few words.
"Thank you so much for this award ... it's almost a little embarrassing, because I didn't do it myself," she said. "It was a group effort. Everything that was achieved — at home, in the community and everything. It's a lot of people working together. The library had a great staff, we had great ideas, we worked together, we achieved a lot of things. And I think that really puts together the lifetime achievement award for the community. Because a lot of people are doing little pieces to put together a wonderful Bremen community."
Next week: Bruce Jennings