Axel W. Carlson was a Swedish immigrant to Jamestown who strongly believed in helping people in need, but in the process of doing so never looked for reward or recognition. So upon his death in 1981, he left a substantial portion of his estate to assist the people of this community. He did so by starting a number of charitable funds at the Community Foundation. In 1985, the Axel W. Carlson Fund was set aside with the intent to honor those individuals who, like Axel Carlson, give all they have to help people in this community, while expecting nothing in return.
This year’s award recipient, who exemplifies this self-giving spirit, is Sarah R. Pollaro. Mrs. Pollaro, who currently resides in Jamestown, has been volunteering at St. Susan Center nearly every day for past 20 years. While there are many volunteers who willingly give their time, Mrs. Pollaro has done so despite the remarkable fact that she is 90 years of age. Not only has Mrs. Pollaro demonstrated her unselfish nature through her actions but also through her spoken philosophies on life. “I thank God that I am here to do the work that I do,” states Mrs. Pollaro. She continues, “I don’t even realize the things I am doing. These people need help and are there, so I help them.”
The people she speaks of are the many families and individuals in need who arrive at St. Susan Center for daily meals. The Center, informally known as the Soup Kitchen, was established in 1984 to provide meals to the hungry and needy in the greater Jamestown area. Mrs. Pollaro has been volunteering there since day one. Judy Christian, who is the Executive Director of the Center, and nominated Sarah for the Axel W. Carlson Award says, “Sarah makes the world around her better just by being there. In many ways, St. Susan Center would not be the place it is today without her help. The spirit she has provided is uplifting to all those who attend and work at the Center.”
In regard to receiving the award, Mrs. Pollaro continues to show the humble traits that make her an ideal recipient and says, “My parents deserve the award because this is the way I was brought up to be,” and she continues, “We all have so many blessings we should be thankful for and doing this type of volunteer work has been the biggest lesson of my life.” Adding to that sentiment, Ms. Christian concludes by sharing another of Sarah’s life philosophies, “Sarah told me once that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it with all of your heart.”
The Community Foundation will continue to search for the diamonds in the rough like Sarah Pollaro. Though these individuals may not desire recognition, they are a true gift to our community and those they help. If you know anyone who fits this profile keep them in mind for next year’s award. Help us recognize those who make this community so great!