Community leaders recognized for exemplary efforts to improve health and wellbeing in Northern West Virginia
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – During an awards ceremony held today in Wheeling, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II recognized a variety of community leaders, volunteers, and advocates for their outstanding contributions to public health and safety in Northern West Virginia.
“Each of the individuals recognized today have worked tirelessly to implement creative solutions to improve the quality of life in West Virginia,” said Ihlenfeld. “These individuals are at the forefront of efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and inspire progress throughout our state. I am pleased to acknowledge their outstanding contributions.”
A diverse group of community leaders were recognized today, including:
Dr. Dianna Vargo first joined the Ohio County, West Virginia School System as a math teacher at Wheeling Park High School in 1983. After serving as a teacher, a cross country and track coach, and an administrator, Dr. Vargo was named Superintendent of Ohio County Schools in July 2012. During her tenure as an educator and an administrator, Dr. Vargo has always been dedicated to ensuring that the children and families that she serves are positioned to build successful and productive futures.
In an effort to loosen the grip of substance abuse and addiction, Reynolds Memorial Hospital launched the BreakThru program in September 2015. BreakThru is a medically supervised withdrawal program designed to bridge the gap that often exists between substance abuse and recovery by transitioning patients through the withdrawal process and into long-term treatment. The BreakThru program is the first of its kind in the region and has already treated more than 100 patients from throughout the tri-state area of West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) was established by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1998 to reduce the impact of drug trafficking. The Appalachia HIDTA, which serves counties in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, was recently named the 2015 Outstanding HIDTA of the Year for its leadership in bringing unique substance abuse prevention and education resources to regional youth. The “Drug Prevention On The Move!” initiative features an interactive mobile classroom and a simulated impaired driving experience. The “Give Me a Reason” program distributes free drug testing kits to parents with the goal of giving young people a tangible reason to avoid illicit drugs and facilitating productive conversations about substance abuse between parents and children.
The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Wheeling operates a Family Violence Prevention Program to provide education, support, and services to victims of domestic violence. The program offers a variety of services to victims, including transitional housing, an emergency shelter, crisis hotline, court advocacy, support groups, safety planning, monitored parent-child visitation, employability programming, batterer’s intervention and prevention programming, and free 911 cell phones. The program has established a Teen Dating Violence Prevention initiative that employs a dedicated advocate at several local schools to provide counseling, education, and other resources to empower students to understand and pursue healthy relationships. The YWCA Family Violence Prevention Program has also been instrumental in bringing the “Coaching Boys into Men” curriculum to several local schools to promote respectful behavior among student athletes to and help prevent relationship abuse, harassment, and sexual assault.
Reverend Dr. Darrell Cummings is the Chairman of the West Virginia Human Rights Commission and the Pastor of the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple in Wheeling. Cummings has dedicated his life to public service and community engagement since he was first licensed as a minister at the age of sixteen. Cummings was recognized as the 1997 Wheeling NAACP “Man of the Year,” and the 2003 West Virginia Educators Association “Civil Rights Leader of the Year.” He was also honored by former West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, III as the 2010 Distinguished Mountaineer of the Year. Cummings also provides support to incarcerated individuals by serving in the Chaplain Department of two state prisons.
Sergeant John Schultz joined the Wheeling Police Department since 1995 and has built a career dedicated to public safety. As a Prevention Resource Officer at Wheeling Middle School, Sergeant Schultz consistently finds creative and impactful ways to empower and inspire local young people. He was recognized as the 2014 Prevention Resource Office of the Year. During a June 2015 field trip to Wheeling Park Pool, Schultz was instrumental in saving the life of an eighth grade boy who nearly drowned after becoming unresponsive in the pool.
The United States Attorney’s Awards ceremony was held at the United States Courthouse in Wheeling today. A variety of Northern West Virginia community leaders and advocates were in attendance.