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Jeri Bjorling Memorial Distinguished Volunteer of the Year Award

Each year, since 1981, United Way of Hancock County has presented the "Distinguished Volunteer Award" to an individual who has demonstrated dedication and willingness to serve the community through their overall involvement with United Way as a volunteer and leader, as well as with other organizations in the nonprofit sector.

In 2012, the award was renamed the "Jeri Bjorling Memorial Distinguished Volunteer Award" in her memory. She died in November of 2011. She was the current United Way board chair when she passed away. Jeri served a successful 30-year career in banking, including First Federal, Huntington Bank, Sky Bank (formerly the Ohio Bank), Bank One (formerly Diamond Savings and Loan). More recently, Jeri worked as a sales manager for Rowmark (Clear Path).

While career focused, Jeri spent her entire life giving back to the community, civic and charity involvement and served on a variety of boards of directors and trustees. Many of the organizations she impacted include The United Way, Children's Mentoring Connection, Handbags that Help, Hope House, American Business Women's Association, and Hancock Reads. Jeri was also a former deacon for the First Presbyterian Church in Findlay. Jeri touched many lives through multiple organizations, and it gave her the greatest joy. One of her favorite civic events was Camp Fire USA's Incredible Kid Day, and she was the driving force behind their "On Behalf of Youth" Award.

Jeri was the first woman member of the Findlay Kiwanis Club, and a graduate of Hancock Leadership, 1989. Jeri was the first winner of the Athena Award, given by the Findlay-Hancock County Alliance in 2000, for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.


United Way of Hancock County has announced Michael “Chick” Padula 2017 recipient of the Jeri Bjorling Memorial Distinguished Volunteer Award.

Padula is retired from Cooper Tire and Rubber Company where he served his 24-year career in many positions including: production engineer, electrician, plant engineer, staff engineer, special assignments engineer and plant assistant human resource manager. He is currently the president of the Findlay Area Human Resource Association (FAHRA). He has an associate’s degree of applied science in electronic technology, a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and a master’s degree in business. He has taught human resources and organizational development classes at Owens Community College, the University of Findlay and Tiffin University.

Padula’s selection is due to his ongoing volunteer activities for United Way of Hancock County as well as many other community organizations. Prior to his retirement, he led internal United Way fundraising efforts at Cooper Tire while serving on the education, health and financial stability impact teams for United Way. Impact teams evaluate grant requests and make recommendations for the distribution of funds to local nonprofit organizations. While retired, he continues to chair one of the two education impact teams. He is also a member of the transportation coalition and the Raise the Bar Hancock County high school/post-secondary committee.

At a recent FAHRA meeting, Padula mentioned that volunteering for Special Needs Day is his favorite volunteer opportunity. During the event, he helps the children go fishing. He has also been a volunteer for Car Tunes on Main since its inception in 2007. Some of the events he has volunteered for include: United Way’s Days of Caring, Open Arms’ Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Coats for Christmas, 1 Matters Hancock County, and the Hancock County Home Builders Association annual golf outing.  He also volunteers for The Arts Partnership, Habitat for Humanity and was on the Halloween parade committee for five years.

Padula is a 2012 Hancock Leadership graduate, a 2013 Government Leadership graduate and serves as a poll worker in Hancock County.


Past Recipients

Dave Whikehart, 2015

Doug Hiegel, 2014

Jeanne Rustic, 2013

David Cassidy, 2012

Jeri Bjorling, 2011

Harold "Puck" Rowe, 2010

Larry Busdeker, 2009

Randy Lohoff, 2008

Dick Schaefer, 2007

Beth Heck, 2006

Tom Donnell, 2005

Duane Jebbett, 2004

Deb Arce, 2003

Don & Karen Manley, 2002

Robert Howard, 2001

Sandy Kozlevcar, 2000

Peg Logsdon, 1999

Don Badertscher, 1998

William Recker, 1997

G. Norman Nicholson, 1996

Barbara Deerhake,1995

Ivan Gorr, 1994

Joe & Claire Davis, 1993

John Arnold, 1992

Marjory Kennedy, 1991

William Sackman, 1990

Charles Hymes, 1989

Robert Feller, 1988

G. Fred Graf, 1987

James Brucklacher, 1986

Grant Young, 1985

William Ruse, 1984

Jack Harrington, 1983

Edwin Heminger, 1982