YWCA Wheeling is looking for women who make a difference in the Ohio Valley.
The organization is calling for people to nominate women for its 2018 Tribute to Women awards, which recognize women who have generously donated their time and talents to help others. Nomination forms for this year’s tribute are available online, and people also can pick up a form at the YWCA Wheeling at 1100 Chapline St. in Wheeling.
Nominations are due by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, and can be submitted by email to ExecutiveDirector@ywcawheeling.org, by mail or by dropping them off at the YWCA Wheeling. The 2018 Tribute to Women celebration will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, at the YWCA.
This prestigious honor has been bestowed on local women since 1986. As the YWCA prepares to honor a new group of women, Executive Director Lori Jones said the organization is looking back at some of the exceptional women who have been honored in the past.
“All the past winners are women of substance who put the needs of others before their own,” Jones said. “For this article, we selected four women because they represent a commitment to our community that spans generations: Roz Lando and her daughter Lisa Allen, and Virginia Dulany and her daughter Elizabeth Hofreuter.”
Roz Lando, a loyal volunteer for numerous educational, civic and religious organizations, was honored by the YWCA in 2010 for decades of service to the community. A graduate of Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, Lando continued her education at Carnegie Tech, completing her degree at West Liberty University after her five children were grown.
She modestly minimizes her contributions. “I was a homemaker,” she said. “I volunteered and raised our children.”
However, her efforts energized many organizations throughout the Ohio Valley. Over the years, Lando served as a Brownie and Girl Scout leader and was a legendary force in the Woodsdale School PTA, where she was awarded a lifetime membership in recognition of her many contributions. She chaired Mount de Chantal’s board of directors and launched the school’s development office. She is a longtime member of Temple Shalom in Wheeling, where she served as the first woman president of the congregation and was active in regional and national Reform Judaism. She served two terms on the YWCA Board of Directors, volunteered at the Catholic Charities 18th Street Neighborhood Center and has been a member of the Oglebay Mansion Museum committee for 29 years.
Community service was important to her parents and grandparents, Lando said, and so she made service a part of her life. “I never thought about doing the right or wrong thing; I tried to practice what I learned from my parents,” she said. “They were very active in the Jewish community and in the Martins Ferry community, where I grew up. My mother was a leader in national Jewish women’s organizations, and my father was active in the Martins Ferry Lions, the Shriners as well as in community relations organizations throughout the Upper Ohio Valley. As an only child growing up in a small town, they were role models for me.”
Family support is important, Lando said. “For my parents and grandparents, living near each other and being able to share ideas and causes was important.” She said she didn’t consciously try to involve her children in community service, but they have become active in causes important to them. “You just do things in your life, and your children pick up on them,” she said.
She says she was “touched and honored” to receive the YWCA Tribute to Women award but felt that many others have made much larger contributions. “I was blown away by what some of the women that were honored with me have accomplished,” she said. “The women from Moundsville that started a backpack program to help prepare needy children to succeed in school were really remarkable. I never did anything like that.” She believes that most people try to do what they can in life, and never know how their contributions affect other people.
Lando’s late husband, Charles, was president of Ziegenfelder Company. Lando says she was never interested in working in the company, but served as her husband’s sounding board as he grew the frozen novelty business. Today their daughter, Lisa Allen, is president and CEO of the company. The YWCA honored Allen in 2015 for her leadership in business.
“I am blessed with the gift of philanthropy and giving back from my mother, and my work ethic from both parents,” Allen said. “They taught me humility and urged me to have the courage to try things that scare me. Most important, they showed me the importance of treating people right.” Allen said her parents modeled the need to take care of family and strangers who need a hand. “In helping the community, you can be part of something bigger than yourself,” she said.
Part of her commitment to others involves sitting on the boards of the Oglebay Foundation, Linsly School and a for-profit beverage company in Alabama, among others. She’s active in Temple Shalom and dedicated to Classrooms Without Borders, an organization that helps students and teachers understand the Holocaust, so bigotry, hatred and atrocities are never repeated. “CWB conducts intensive study seminars in Poland to learn about tolerance, love, compassion and helping one another,” Allen said.
An honors graduate of Ohio University, Allen built a successful career as a business consultant and trainer before joining her father at Ziegenfelder in 1999; she became CEO in 2003, modeling her leadership style after that of her parents. “I knew if I surrounded myself with people smarter than me, we could be successful,” she said. And the company has prospered. Over the past 18 years, the Ziegenfelder Co. has averaged 12 to 15 percent growth per year, and the company’s branded product is a top-selling item in every retail chain in which it is sold.
Ziegenfelder also has made a name for itself by its willingness to hire people with less than perfect records. “We hire a lot of entry-level employees,” she said. “Most places won’t hire anyone with a felony or even misdemeanor conviction, but we’re willing to give people a chance. We know that smart people sometimes make bad choices. If we can capture the smart, dedicated ones who want to work and start over in a good way, we want them here.”
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Allen’s company collaborates with several local organizations that help former offenders start new lives. “We work with parole officers, Betsy Jividen at the U.S. Attorney’s office, and the YWCA to find people who share our values – honesty, showing up, working hard, being part of the tribe and helping each other out,” she said. “The slate is wiped clean.” While some employees don’t stick with it, Allen said, many remain with the company for years, earning promotions and building good lives for themselves. “All it takes is desire, discipline and commitment,” she said. She is especially passionate about helping women to succeed. “I believe in empowering women, and I believe in the power of women. Women in business can create positive change in business and in their communities.”
While work and volunteering are vital aspects of her life today, Allen said her priority is her grandchildren. “We don’t have a lot of free time, so family is a priority.” She and her husband have six children, nine grandchildren and one on the way. She said she was truly honored to receive the Tribute to Women award from the YWCA Wheeling. “Being recognized by the Wheeling YWCA was huge,” she said. “It meant a lot to me to follow in my mother’s footsteps, and those of other women I admire in our community.”
Virginia A. Dulany, M.D., who was Dr. Virginia Hofreuter when she practiced medicine in Wheeling from the 1960s through 1987, received the Tribute to Women award in 1987 for her compassionate contributions to her patients and strangers alike. In addition to her maintaining a busy medical practice, she served on numerous boards, including those of the Visiting Nurses Association, Florence Crittenden, Family Services, the United Way and the AIDS Task Force. “When God gives you much, he wants you to share it with others,” Dulany said. “And when you volunteer, you get so much more than you give.”
A graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dulany was a member of the first class of women to be recognized at the YWCA’s Tribute to Women. “It was an honor I felt that I shared with a lot of other people,” she said. “The YWCA is very important to the community. Some women I know who stayed there say their lives have literally been saved.”
Dulany encourages people of all ages to reach out to help others. While she is retired from the practice of medicine, she remains very active. “If you feel sad or unappreciated, get out of the house. Take a walk, reach out to someone. The more you share, the better you’ll feel,” she said. “A sense of humor also helps. A good laugh gets those endorphins going, and keeps body, soul and mind balanced.”
As with Lando, Dulany believes she joined community service groups because of the example set by her parents. “They were active all their lives, in church and in other organizations. My dad had 50 years of perfect attendance at Rotary Club,” she said. “I followed in his footsteps and became a Rotarian.”
And the tradition of service continues with Dulany’s daughters, both of whom have active lives of service. “I’m so blessed to have daughters who are caring people who want to share their strengths and knowledge with other people,” she said. “One is physician, one is in education, and both are outstanding in their fields and in the community.” Dulany said she doesn’t remember advising her children to think about serving others. “I think they just picked it up from watching their father and me,” she said. “It’s a sermon practiced rather than preached.”
Her daughter Elizabeth Hofreuter, head of school at Wheeling Country Day School (WCDS), was honored by the YWCA in 2013 for her contributions in education. A graduate of Princeton and Harvard Universities, Hofreuter has taught English and education classes at Wheeling Jesuit and West Liberty universities and at Bethany College. She also ran the Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley as a volunteer for two years. “It was the confluence of the Children’s Museum and working with parents and kids while doing school visits for Bethany’s student teachers that I became fascinated by how much more we need to do for young children and their parents,” she said. She accepted the head of school position at WCDS in 2009, and since then has worked to build partnerships with other schools, organizations and companies to improve the lives of children. “When the flower’s not blooming, don’t blame the flower,” she says. “Find a better environment.”
When the YWCA recognized Hofreuter, she remembers thinking that there was no reason that she should be honored. “I don’t do this work for honor or recognition,” she said. “Nothing about what I do at Country Day is based on bottom line or enrollment numbers. It’s about purpose. We want to make our community and the lives of children better than they have been. We believe in taking risks. We believe in learning.” Hofreuter says she views the award as validation of the work of Country Day’s faculty and executive team and so many more who work to improve the lives of children.
She believes the YWCA’s mission of empowering women and combating racism remains relevant 162 years after the organization was founded. “I’m proud that community like ours has such a strong YWCA,” she said. Hofreuter has served on the YWCA board of directors, has worked on an OVAC committee to improve local sports, particularly softball, and currently serves on the accreditation committee of the Independent Schools Association of the Central States.
Hofreuter said that she and her friend Lisa Allen both understand how fortunate they are. “We have such strong mothers, who, in unassuming and graceful ways, affected so many lives, and never made us feel that we were anything but priorities to them,” she said. “They supported our decisions along the way so we could make mistakes at times and learn from them — and know instinctively that our job was to pay it forward.”
She said families don’t consciously set out to dedicate themselves to community service. “It happens in subtle ways. You start small, maybe by smiling and holding open the door for the next family,” she said. “Then you get such joy from that, and you want to do more. What I get from helping others is far greater than what I give.” If she had a wish for the Wheeling community, she said, it would be that the next generation would pick up the baton, recognize what older generations have done and ask, “What can I do?”
• Janet Boyle is a YWCA sustainer, served on the YWCA board from 2002-08 and is affiliated with GhostWriters LLC.