A rainbow of flavors is a reality inside Ziegenfelder's facity in East Wheeling.

The Zieggy Tribe Loves Its Neighbors

Cold treats, warm hearts.

That easily could define the “Zieggy Tribe” — honored with this year’s Youth Services System Inc.’s Good Samaritan Award.

Inspired by the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-16:17), YSS each year honors a person or group that has exemplified the lesson “love your neighbor as yourself.” This year, the honor goes to Lisa and Barry Allen of the Ziegenfelder Company. However, a humble Lisa Allen, who always puts others ahead of herself, wanted the entire tribe at the twin pops manufacturing plant to be included.

Present for Monday’s announcement were Lisa, who serves as CEO; her husband, Barry, chief customer officer; Kevin Heller, chief operating officer; Nichole Paulus, corporate controller; Brice Mills, director of Wheeling operations; and Matt Porter, plant supervisor.

“I commend you for your virtue,” Moses told the Zieggy Tribe representatives.

With YSS CEO John Moses, fourth from left, are, from left: Matt Porter, Nichole Paulus, Brice Mills, Lisa Allen, Barry Allen and Kevin Heller.

“What is moving to me is the story of a man who acts out of compassion … it says a lot about people who look beyond race and social ties, and just respond to someone who is suffering,” said John Moses, CEO of YSS, referring to the Bible parable. “I think we’ve tried to select examples in the community who are willing to take risks and work with the marginalized, and know what love is all about,” Moses said.

Past honorees have included Sister Constance Dodd, Ron Mulholland, Kathleen Hogan Schenk, Dr. Bernard Grubler, Dr. Lee Jones, Ann Thomas, Ron Klug, Judge George Spillers, Lary Loew, Randy Worls, James G. and Linda Bordas, Susan Hogan, Dr. William Mercer and Jay T. McCamic.

The Ziegenfelder Tribe certainly has shown it knows what love is all about. The company’s “second chances” hiring practice, which has been in the spotlight locally, statewide and nationally, offers jobs to a workforce pool that many other companies choose not to tap into.

In making the announcement, Jason Koegler, YSS board chair, said, “We live in a society in which we believe the person you once were is the person you will always be. But the Zieggy Tribe believes that people deserve second chances. … That everybody has value.”

He noted that the Ziegenfelder Company is being honored not because the frozen treats are good, but “because you believe in people.”

“We know that the Allens support their company in many ways. The experience the Ziegenfelder Company has had in hiring people who are in recovery from substance abuse and re-entering the workforce from prison or jail shows all of us that recovery is possible. Having opportunities makes a difference,” Koegler said.

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Lisa Allen looks at it as a “competitive advantage. Everyone is looking to hire people of quality.” The Ziegenfelder Company recognizes that quality people are available — potential employees others may leave by the wayside.

“A job can be the difference between staying clean and on a good path, or the unfortunate alternative,” Lisa Allen said.

With the announcement of the Good Samaritan honor, she hopes it “just means that actually, we can be an example for other businesses.”

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be here,” Barry Allen said. “We need workers. There are people looking for a second chance and need a place to work. We have a place for them. From our heart, we want to help people.”

Porter pointed out that in a “normal organization,” human resources are “tasked with keeping the bad people out. It’s clean and neat. What we choose to do is to give people an opportunity,” regardless of their past. “It’s not clean and neat.”

“We believe our impact is in changing lives,” which means more to the company than profits, he said. “It’s a blessing to us, day in and day out, to help people.”

Standing with his tribe Monday, Mills commended the company for its ideals. “Personally, I needed a second chance. … I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Heller noted that the company employs 150 in the Wheeling location, and it’s a small percentage of those employees who have “a background or a past” with drugs or legal trouble. And it is the others — the long-time employees of 25-30 years — who also deserve recognition. Those are the employees who check on their co-workers and “get them home after their shift.”

“We have a set of values and important things that guide us,” Lisa Allen said. “We look for people who have values similar to ours, who are willing to work hard and to look out for the people to the left and people to the right of them. We have clear guidelines. We know a job is a solution to a lot of issues.

“At Ziegenfelder, we know that we can impact lives, make twin pops and create millions of smiles.”

The Zieggy Tribe will be recognized on Friday, Aug. 17, at the Good Samaritan Dinner at the White Palace Ballroom at Wheeling Park. Information and tickets are available from Youth Services System, 304-218-2847.

After nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal has joined Weelunk as managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.