Caroline Murray/Recorder staff The Lazarou family was honored by the United Way of Montgomery County Thursday with the Jeanne R. So Award during the annual dinner at the Raindancer Steak Parlour. From the left: Michael Demars, Jeff Lazarou, Joice Lazarou, Rob Sherlock, Chris Lazarou-Sherlock and Bob Sherlock.
Caroline Murray/Recorder staff Horace J. Inman Senior Center Executive Director Jeannette Stevens-Daury was honored by the United Way of Montgomery County with the Delores Knutsen Award Thursday at the Raindancer Steak Parlour in Amsterdam. From the left: Frederick Quist, Jeannette Stevens-Daury and Jeanne R. So.
By CAROLINE MURRAY
United Way of Montgomery County recognized local community members for their volunteer work and service Thursday during the annual dinner at the Raindancer Steak Parlour.
The organization's board members, board of directors, administration and sponsors gathered to honor a select group of people for their dedication and commitment to the community.
Hagaman resident Jeannette Stevens-Daury, executive director of the Horace J. Inman Senior Citizens Center, received the Delores Knutsen Award. Amsterdam's Lazarou family received the Jeanne R. So Community Service Award.
The organization's interim director, Frederick H. Quist, said Stevens-Daury has played a significant role in helping the Inman Center garner corporate investors during the past 10 years.
He said she has worked side by side with the local United Way to explain to businesses and corporations how donating benefits not only the Inman Center, but the 11 other agencies United Way supports.
"She has been very instrumental in our employee campaigns," Quist said.
Stevens-Daury has worked with the local United Way for 10 years, or since she started her position there. She recently made the decision to say good-bye to the center and move to Virginia Beach to be closer to family.
Stevens-Daury said her husband recently passed away and it is time for a change of scenery.
Her time at the Inman Center has been -- although admittedly stressful -- also a joyful and rewarding experience. Stevens-Daury said when she first started her job, the center was defeated. She realized a need for increased membership and started adding more programs such as Zumba and painting classes.
She has also worked closely with the United Way to gain the interest of area businesses and corporations.
"People need to know where their dollars are going. So when they do an event ... they ask one of the agency reps to come along with them and talk about our agency and explain to the potential donors what we do and how we appreciate their donations," Stevens-Daury said.
And for the past 10 years she has spent endless hours doing just that.
Thursday, she sat humbly waiting to receive her award. She said she was blown away by the honor and will miss her time at the center as well as her time working with community members and the United Way.
"I think it has been a good 10 years, but it is time for a change," she said. "I am thankful for all the support from the United Way, the board of directors and the community as a whole, who have supported the Inman Center through the years. I will miss it."
Jeanne R. So, a past award winner and community volunteer, said she was on the Inman Center's board when she met and hired Stevens-Daury.
She served as her mentor and has watched her grow.
"She is a protege of mine, and a friend," So said.
So said living in Amsterdam gives people more opportunities to network and give back because it is a small town.
On Thursday, she presented the Lazarou family with the Jeanne R. So Community Service Award, which is named after her as its first recipient.
"We were surprised and honored," Chris Lazarou-Sherlock said.
Chris Lazarou-Sherlock and her cousin Jeff Lazarou started the Dolly Day Golf Tournament after their uncle, Aristotle "Dolly" Lazarou, passed away in 2005.
He was a graduate of Wilbur H. Lynch High School and a U.S. Navy veteran.
Dolly Lazarou lived in Amsterdam and was a member of the municipal golf course where he was a former city champion. He never married or had children of his own, but was Amsterdam's first Big Brother in Montgomery County's Big Brothers and Big Sisters program.
After his death, his family wanted to honor him by starting a golf tournament from which all proceeds go toward youths of the community.
Jeff Lazarou and Chris Lazarou said they also dedicate the tournament to Dolly Lazarou's brother George, who recently passed away.
They said George Lazarou founded Amsterdam's Cinderella Softball League and was a teacher in the area.
In previous years, the Lazarous have donated to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Montgomery County, the Amsterdam Little Giants, Catholic Charities Food Pantry and the RAMS Organization to save modified sports in the city.
In the past three years, the family has donated $85,000 to the United Way, which cover many of the agencies they used to help fund.
"I'd like to thank all the corporate sponsors and golfers," Jeff Lazarou said. "Without them we wouldn't have a tournament."
At the awards ceremony, the United Way also honored all 30 of its corporate sponsors. This year, both Amsterdam's Target manufacturing and retail company were recognized as the top corporate investors.
Without those sponsors, United Way would not be able to fund agencies such as the Inman Center, which Stevens-Daury has worked hard to save during the past 10 years.
"Montgomery County United Way serves agencies that serve the population here in Montgomery County," Quist said.