NELSONVILLE — As a grandmother, Iva Sisson knew how important computers were to her grandchildren’s academic performance.
But, until her granddaughter told her that some of her classmates couldn’t do their homework because they didn’t have access to a computer, Sisson didn’t fully realize the need in Meigs County. As soon as she knew about that need, she acted.
That individual initiative was recognized with a 2015 Jenco Award from the Jenco Foundation Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. Sisson and her five fellow awardees were recognized recently at FAO’s Celebration of Legacy reception at Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville for their service and leadership throughout Appalachian Ohio.
Sisson’s fellow 2015 Jenco awardees include Bill Crawford of Columbiana County, Margaret Fredericks of Washington County, Donna Sue Groves of Adams County, Jodie Hunt of Lawrence County, and Nancy Sams of Washington County. A video highlighting their work premiered at the Celebration of Legacy and can be found on the Foundation’s website, www.AppalachianOhio.org.
Sisson was celebrated for the creation of Computers for Students, a program to refurbish computers and put them in the hands of students who need them. She partnered with local businesses to collect old computers and donations to offset the cost of computer refurbishment, Connect Ohio to refurbish and update the donated computers, and local schools to find students who needed a computer at home. The refurbished computers are distributed to students throughout Meigs County who do not have access to a computer at home and want to do better in school. Since February 2014, nearly 250 students have received computers from the Computers for Students program and Sisson doesn’t want to stop there.
“As long as there are students in Meigs County who need reliable access to a computer for homework, we will work to make sure they get what they need,” Sisson said. “It is such an honor to be recognized with a 2015 Jenco Award. This work has only been possible because of countless people who believe in getting students access to the technology they need to succeed in school.”
The Jenco Foundation Fund and its annual award are named for Father Lawrence Martin Jenco, a longtime Roman Catholic priest who gave generously of himself to serve others throughout his life. Most notably, Father Jenco’s service took him to Lebanon in the 1980s to serve as director of Catholic Relief Services.
While serving as director, he was kidnapped in 1985. During his 19 months in captivity, Father Jenco continued to serve others, providing a necessary listening ear to others being detained, including fellow detainee, journalist Terry Anderson. After his release, Father Jenco returned to ministry, providing outreach to underserved groups until his death in 1996. Anderson created the Jenco Foundation in 2001 to continue Father Jenco’s legacy of compassion and giving to others.
“The Jenco Awardees are all shining examples of what each of us can do if we decide to make a difference in our communities,” Sharon Hatfield, Jenco Foundation Fund committee member, said. “Together, they show us how arts and culture, community development, human services, and education are vital to the people of Appalachian Ohio and our region’s quality of life.”
Since 2002, the Jenco Awards have been recognizing visionary leadership in the service of others throughout Appalachian Ohio. Nominated by fellow community members who witness their service and visionary leadership in action, Jenco Award honorees are selected through a competitive selection process and committee review. Jenco Award recipients receive an individual cash award to use in the manner most appropriate to their leadership.
For more information about the Jenco Foundation Fund and Award and how to recognize visionary leaders in the community, visit www.AppalachianOhio.org or call 740-753-1111.