Charity in Action Awards to Honor Compassionate Commitment

CHARLESTON—Catholic Charities West Virginia’s (CCWVa) will host its second annual Charity in Action Awards Luncheon in Charleston on Oct. 25. The agency will honor three individuals who have demonstrated compassion through dedicated volunteer service to adult learners, refugee families and families who face food insecurity.
“At Catholic Charities, we are on a mission of love to end poverty, one family at a time,” said Beth Zarate, CCWVa chief executive officer. “We are blessed and inspired by many partners who walk this journey with us, and we’re honored to recognize three of these dedicated individuals.”
The luncheon will also feature honorary speaker Bishop Mark Brennan. Since being installed as ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bishop Brennan has made it a priority to travel the diocese to get to know the faithful, to listen intently, and to pray with members of faith communities.  “I thank you for your commitment to living charity through your actions and for all that you are making possible in the lives of others,” said Bishop Brennan.
The 2019 honorees are Dick Ash of Huntington, Sandy Koncir of Eliza-beth, and Donna Smith of Vienna.
Dick Ash is retired from the Huntington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and lends his time and skill helping others increase their literacy, numeracy and higher-level academic skills. Recognizing that education is one of the first steps on the ladder of self-determination and independence, Dick donates several hours of his time each week at Catholic Charities’ Center for Community Learning and Advancement in Huntington. Dick is also a volunteer for DNA NPE Friends and Cabell Huntington Hospital.
“Dick has a way of putting learners at ease by allowing learners to set the pace of instruction, and he has the ability to explain the most complicated math terms in a way that is accessible and easy to comprehend,” said Emily Robinson, CCWVa Western Region director. “These qualities, in addition to his unconditional positive regard for each learner, make Dick a person that lives Charity in Action every day.”
Sandy Koncir has been an active volunteer with the Catholic Charities Mobile Food Pantry since its inception in 2012. The mobile outreach van brings healthy food assistance to low-income families in rural communities classified as food deserts. Sandy helps manage the inventory of food and supplies, and also helped create procedures for the program overall.
“Sandy has the passion for assisting and aiding people who do not have the basic needs of life,” said Deborah Schaffer, Parkersburg resident and retired former CCWVa Parkersburg Region director. “She has compassion for people of all walks of life. She treats everyone with dignity and respect.”
Donna Smith is a champion for refugee families in West Virginia, and is a dedicated volunteer for the Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services program. Donna was instrumental in the resettlement of a large refugee family by providing cultural orientation and helping the family get acclimated to their new city. She is also very active in her community, and is a member of the Board of Governors for West Virginia University at Parkersburg, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation Board, the Parkersburg Catholic Schools Foundation Board, Altrusa International of Parkersburg West Virginia Foundation Board, and several other organizations.
“Donna’s work with our Parkersburg family is invaluable,” said Elizabeth Ramsey, CCWVa Migration and Refugee Services director. “She is truly our ‘boots on the ground’ there, and the family would not have had such a successful resettlement without her. Donna has welcomed the stranger with open arms and has been a true friend to the family and Catholic Charities.”
The honorees will be recognized at the Charity in Action Awards Luncheon in Charleston Oct. 25. Proceeds from the event will benefit programs and services in CCWVa’s Western Region. Tickets are available at