The Axel W. Carlson Award is an acknowledgment and celebration of one person in our community known for giving of their time and resources without thought of public recognition to further a cause or help an organization.
Mrs. Avery, who was nominated by the Salvation Army, was selected to receive the award based on her service to that organization through the Children and Family Outreach Program (CFOP).
The CFOP offers individual and group counseling to children & families in abusive situations. It was established after the demise of AMICAE, starting part-time and moving to full-time as demand increased. Children in the program range from 4 to 12 years old and are often referred from other agencies – the Department of Social Services, schools, etc. Many of the CFOP participants are still in abusive situations.
Mary Avery is the only CFOP volunteer, spending approximately six to nine hours per week at the program. She often spends her own money and time to do something special for children, such as sending postcards to each child when she is on vacation or taking participants in the summer program to Allen Park.
Avery also helps the program by driving the CFOP van to transport the children to various locations, buying Happy Meals for the kids when they are on a trip and donating art supplies. She also donated a much-needed microwave to the program.
“Mary Avery’s volunteer service has aided a segment of our population that, in situations of abuse, will always need our help – the children,” stated Randy Sweeney, Executive Director of the Community Foundation. “The love and care that she dedicates to each child, the willingness to spend her own money to do a little bit extra for the kids – all done quietly and without the expectation of recognition or recompense – makes her truly worthy of being named an Unsung Hero of our community.”
Mrs. Avery is a retired elementary school teacher with the old Chautauqua school district. She and her husband Charles have one son and two daughters as well as eight grandchildren. Mrs. Avery’s hobbies include children, sewing and golf.
The award, currently in its seventeenth year, is named after Mr. Axel W. Carlson, a Swedish carpenter in Jamestown who was known for his quiet kindness and charity to others less fortunate than himself. His generosity led to the establishment of a fund here at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation that bears his name as well as an award to celebrate his ideals.