(Photo: Staff photo)
NEWARK – LEADS Community Action Agency, an organization which helps local people in need, honored its leaders, board members, employees, volunteers, sponsors and partners at its annual luncheon Friday at Heritage Hall.
LEADS offers food, clothing, affordable housing, home repair, free quality pre-schooling, health and nutritional assistance, help with utility bills and energy efficiency programs.
Clifford Mason was named the LEADS Community Leader of the Year, Cindy Hottinger the Employee of the Year and John Whittington as Board Member of the Year.
Mason, a 1979 Lakewood High School graduate, served as Hebron mayor for 20 years and Hebron councilman for six years, township fire chief in Groveport, firefighter/paramedic in five central Ohio communities for almost 33 years, deacon at Hebron Christian Church, and works at Hoskinson Funeral Home and the Licking County Coroner’s Office.
Mason was appointed by the governor to the State Emergency Response Commission for a two-year term.
“It’s not me, it’s a community accepting this award,” Mason said.
Cindy Hottinger, the LEADS home base administrator for Delaware, Licking and Union counties for Head Start and Early Head Start, began as a Head Start volunteer, then Policy Council member and coordinator assistant.
She has also worked at LEADS in health, nutrition, transportation and social services, but spent most of her time at LEADS as a client specialist/family service worker.
“I appreciate the honor, but mostly I appreciate the people I work with because we’re nothing without our co-workers,” Cindy Hottinger said.
Also honored were Newark Fighters Local 109 as Community Volunteer of the Year for its fundraisers for children’s charities, Jackie Williams as Head Start Volunteer of the Year, and John Rizor as Community Services Division Volunteer of the Year.
Park National Bank, Hebron Christian Church and David Day earned special recognition for volunteer services.
The 25-year service awards went to Sherry Day, Dom Crawmer and Cindy Hottinger.
LEADS CEO Ken Kempton said, “Often times we’re identified as the organization that does Head Start, or the organization that does housing, or the organization that does weatherization. We’re trying to make a concerted effort to provide additional information to the community to make sure everybody is aware of what LEADS is involved in.”
Originally the Licking Economic Action Development Study, now just LEADS, was formed in 1965 and incorporated in 1966 to help economically disadvantaged residents of Licking County. LEADS Head Start services have expanded to include Delaware and Union Counties, and an affordable housing project in Knox County.
State Sen. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, told the more than 200 in attendance at the luncheon, “Helping people is not just the job of government, and not the sole responsibility of business, but helping people is the responsibility of all of us. The strength of our communities is found in the strength of our volunteers.”
LEADS has 233 volunteers and 107 employees. It’s 2017 revenues were $9.2 million and its expenses were $8.3 million. Child education accounted for more than 60 percent of the revenues and expenses.