The Falls City Area Jaycees held their annual Distinguished Service Awards Ceremony and celebrated our community’s most deserving humanitarians.
This year’s DSA ceremony was held inside the newly renovated Elks club. As has been done years before, a new group of officers were sworn into their new roles. President Chris Fischer turned that role over to David Goff. Other members sworn in were Rachel Jackson, Community Development VP; Jessica Fischer, Membership and Growth; Kaytlyn Kennedy, Management and Development; Megan Vandewalle, Secretary; and Tiffany Fouraker, Treasurer.
Chris Fischer awarded $4,500 in donations to a number of organizations in the community.
“These donations are possible through the efforts of many Jaycees members, their families and the community businesses and individuals,” he said.
Receiving donations this year were: The FC Middle School Clown Troop, FC Volunteer Ambulance Squad, FC Fiedler Family Ball Complex, FC Swim Team, FC Trap Team, FC Travelers Softball, Richardson County Humane Society, Itha Krumme Memorial Arboretum, FC Library Fund, 4-H Foundation, Red Cross Bloodmobile, Red Cross Swim Fund, Richardson County Cancer Fund, Richardson County CPR, FC Rural Fire Dept., FC Volunteer Fire Dept., Rulo Fire Dept., Verdon Fire Dept., Shubert Fire Dept. and the SENCA Backpack Program.
Fischer added that “the recipients that have received donations in the past as well as tonight, we thank you for your time and commitment to Falls City and we know that these donations will be put to great use.”
Fischer then thanked a list of community members who “go above and beyond to help us with our events,” naming Mark and Becky Cromer, Donnie and Coleen Stevens, Cory Snethen, Jim and Shirley Jones, Brian and Rachel Witt, Bart and Gayle Keller, and Luke and Celeste Jones.
Six individuals were recognized for their selfless service to the community: Lori Rech, Outstanding Educator Award; Rod Vandeberg, Community Leader Award; Rachel Witt, Boss of the Year Award; Bernice Kopetzky, Good Neighbor Award; Chip Ebel, Robert J. Chab Community Service Award; and Shawn Fouraker was presented the Distinguished Service Award. In addition, Jessica Fischer presented the Hugh O’Brian Youth Awards to Falls City High School sophomore Aaron Kurpgeweit, son of Lee and Denise Kurpgeweit, and FC Sacred Heart sophomore Jade Hill, daughter of Dan and Beth Hill.
This is the first in a series of features the Falls City Journal will publish on the winners of the Jaycees Distinguished Service Awards.
Bernice Kopetzky, 2015 Good Neighbor Award Winner
By Nikki McKim
Stephanie Wenz, on behalf of ‘14 Good Neighbor Award Winner Marvin Arnold, presented Kopetzky with this year’s Good neighbor Award.
Bernice Kopetzky moved to Falls City from the Table Rock area around 1950, and raised five sons with her late husband Bill. While raising her children she finished her college education and began teaching in the Falls City Public School system. After her retirement, she began volunteer tutoring at Sacred Heart and later formed the “Rescue Reading” program, where she and her volunteers work one on one with children having reading problems.
For more than 50 years, Bernice has spent many hours of service at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church as a music director, choir director and organist. She has also played for many weddings and funerals and served six years as the Regent of Catholic Daughters.
Bernice loves to cook and try new recipes and soon perfected her famous “dead rolls” which she takes to the families of the recently deceased.
Another of her projects is The Respite Program in Falls City, where volunteers spend time with disabled family members so caregivers can have a break; they also provide rides to dialysis and other medical appointments when no family is available. People don’t die alone – there is a volunteer by their side.
Bernice’s pride and joy is her big garden that she always raises in the summer. She says it’s her therapy. Through the years, she has canned and froze vegetables for her family. She still does, but also offers her jelly and fresh vegetables to friends and neighbors and provides a large share of her produce for the “Garden Table” at church.