Salvation Army honors three people, two student organizations
Westmoreland County Commissioner Charles Anderson was preaching to the choir in Monessen on Tuesday night.
That's because he was talking about the importance of community service at the second annual dinner of the Salvation Army's Mon Valley Citadel at the St. Spyridon Hellenic Center.
And, because the Salvation Army's mission is all about community service, Anderson's message seemed to be well received.
His keynote address came just minutes after the local Salvation Army unit presented community service awards to three individuals and two student organizations.
Honored at the dinner for efforts aimed at making the Mid-Mon Valley a better place to live were:
• John LaCarte, president of both Charleroi-based Model Cleaners and LaCarte Development Co., which has been instrumental in developing tracts of land for residential and industrial use in Speers, Fallowfield Township and Rostraver Township.
• Donora Mayor John Lignelli.
• Monessen High School principal Randall Marino.
• The Interact and Home Economics clubs at Belle Vernon Area High School.
Speaking on behalf of the honorees, Lignelli suggested that, because of the Salvation Army's work, community leaders should be feting that organization rather than having it honor some of them.
Anderson, who became a county commissioner shortly after returning to his native Greensburg following retirement from the Marine Corps, said mentoring by his Swedish immigrant grandfather and father taught him the importance of community service.
And, he said, it was the work ethic he acquired while working in the family grocery store starting as a young boy that helped him accomplish some of the many things he did during his military career, such as landing jets on aircraft carriers, serving as the Marine representative to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon and being the face of the U.S. in several foreign nations.
Anderson said his formative years also helped give him a firm grasp of the importance of religion and prayer — concepts embraced by the Salvation Army.
"Prayer," he said, "is the gift from God that reminds us who we are ... It humbles us and strengthens our faith."
He summarized his message and ended his remarks by quoting the prayer of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals and merchants.
"Lord," Anderson prayed, "make me an instrument of Thy peace.
"Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
"Where there is injury, pardon.
"Where there is doubt, faith.
"Where there is despair, hope.
"Where there is darkness, light.
"And where there is sadness, joy."
Anderson was introduced by Melanie Taylor, a Rostraver Township resident and daughter of Virginia and Ed Monaghan, of Monessen. Taylor is an on-air personality on Radio Star 100.7 and served as master of ceremonies for the dinner.
Maj. Mark Mackneer, the Salvation Army's Westmoreland County coordinator, introduced guests and public officials on hand for the dinner, which attracted more than 200 area residents - up from the estimated 120 who attended the organization''s first dinner last year.
He also put in a plug for the Salvation Army's Red Shield fund-raising campaign.
A 15-piece Salvation Army band provided music before and during dinner, and the crowd was wowed by vocal selections from Jamie Clement.
Bob Burke, managing editor of The Valley Independent and a member of the local Salvation Army advisory board, presented gifts to the honorees on behalf of the citadel, which is directed by Capt. Michael Jung and his wife, Capt. Amanda Jung.
The army's divisional commander, Maj. Robert Reel, presented an opening prayer and Maj. Barbara George provided a benediction.