Huntington resident, local organizations go “Extra Mile” to improve their community

Posted November 6, 2020.

HUNTINGTON – A Huntington resident and two local organizations received recognition Friday afternoon for their significant contributions to making the City of Huntington a better place.

Mayor Richard Strick signed a proclamation designating Friday as “Extra Mile Day” in the city and recognized the Huntington County Health Department, Huntington North High School’s JROTC program and resident Janice Carter for their contributions to the Huntington community this year.

Started in 2009 by the Extra Mile America organization, “Extra Mile Day” will be celebrated this year by approximately 500 cities nationwide. The group’s mission is to empower individuals and organizations to make a difference in their communities through service and volunteerism.

Shawna Balsiger, volunteer coordinator for the City of Huntington, explained how each of Huntington’s honorees has made an outsized impact across the city.

The Huntington County Health Department was chosen for the strong leadership it provided in addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency, she said.

“While this year has not been easy on anyone, the Huntington County Health Department has indeed stepped up to serve our community and deal with hard-to-solve problems,” Balsiger wrote in a submission to Extra Mile America. “We are thankful for their diligence in answering questions, communicating safety protocols and actively managing a crisis no one saw coming.”

Huntington County Public Health Nurse Emily Schamehorn said everybody at the Health Department is glad to be able to serve the community through this difficult year.

“It’s great for our efforts to be recognized in this way,” Schamehorn said. “Especially this year.”

The Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Huntington North High School was selected for the leadership and community service opportunities it provides to the more than 80 students enrolled in the program.

“When you consider there are 80-plus students, that is a huge impact,” Balsiger wrote. “Even though this program is only a few months old, we have already witnessed the impact they have on our community. We cannot wait to see how they continue to change Huntington for the better.”

Each JROTC member is required to put in more than 40 hours of community service each year.

“A lot of these students have taken that and run with it,” retired Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bobby Blair, a Huntington North JROTC instructor, said. “And we have much more planned.”

Alongside of “Extra Mile Day,” Huntington North’s JROTC members will be on hand Saturday to assist park maintenance crew in setting up the city’s annual Christmas display at Sunken Gardens.

Huntington resident Janice Carter has been the Huntington Volunteer Coordinating Department’s most consistent volunteer, one who has participated in almost every public volunteer event this year, Balsiger said.

“She is always the first to say yes to a project and never does anything halfway,” Balsiger wrote.

Among the projects Carter has helped tackle have been watering plants downtown on a weekly basis and bringing a nearly 5,300-square-foot flower bed back to life at Waltonian Gardens.

Carter said that volunteering helps her feel closer to the community.

“It just makes you feel like a big part of it,” she said. “It makes it feel like home.”

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