By Jared Lindell
Volunteers are often the backbone of a community. Many of the major projects, events, and programs within the community are able to occur due to overwhelming volunteer support. However, how often do we hear the names of these volunteers, who help build a stronger community? Very often, these individuals work behind the scenes, seeking no reward or recognition for their work. This is why the Axel W. Carlson Award was created. Each year, the award recognizes that one special unsung hero of the community, whose volunteer efforts have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
One needs to look no further than Roxanne E. Miller of Frewsburg to find the definition of a true unsung hero. Roxanne, who is the 2005 Axel W. Carlson Award recipient, sought out to improve the quality of life for the young people of her community. She did so by creating the Trinity Relief Zone (TRZ) in 1999. The TRZ is a faith-based community outreach facility and program with a goal to provide a positive environment to youth (K-12) in the area. The TRZ, which started out by providing programming every Saturday night, has now branched out into afterschool activities, tutoring/mentoring programs, and fellowship for attendants.
The most amazing aspect of the TRZ is Roxanne took an idea and decided to make it into something bigger than herself. This was largely due to the fact that she has three children of her own. Roxanne states, “I wanted my three boys to have the opportunity to have a positive outlet away from home. This led to the idea to create a program that can provide a positive outlet for youth of the whole community.”
While the TRZ and related programming originated in Frewsburg in 1999, it has since reached many surrounding communities as well. Nearly 50 youth attend the facility each week from all over Chautauqua County, whether for fun activities, fellowship, or tutoring. Many of these youth find a home in the TRZ, as they become connected with adults and friends, learn social skills, and develop a positive life outlook. A large number of the TRZ’s volunteers are also from surrounding communities including Maple Grove, Falconer, Kennedy, and Jamestown. In addition, the TRZ has become a model for other such facilities in Olean and Cattaraugus.
Further demonstrating the traits of a true unsung hero, Roxanne did not just establish the TRZ but can be found volunteering her time every Saturday night and after hours during the week. All this while working a fulltime job at WCA Hospital as an Ultrasound Technologist and also raising a family of her own. It is her dedication to local youth, the community, her profession, and family that have given her the title of the 2005 Axel W. Carlson Award recipient and an unsung hero.
Roxanne E. Miller is the perfect example of a person who took an idea and built it into something for the entire community to benefit from. There are many such individuals in the community with similar stories that will never be heard. The Board and staff of the Community Foundation thank every volunteer who has helped build a greater community and applaud Roxanne for all she has done for the Chautauqua Region!
Published in the June 12th edition of the Jamestown Post-Journal