The Village of Sherman buzzed with excitement as four members of its community received the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation’s annual Axel W. Carlson “Unsung Hero” Award on Thursday.
The Foundation honored Bob Crane, Joel Fisher, Doug Neal and Matt Oehlbeck during a reception in front of nearly 200 people at the Stanley Hose Company.
“The Community Foundation uses the Axel W. Carlson Award as a unique expression of appreciation to recognize the importance of individual effort and volunteerism in our community,” said Randy Sweeney, Community Foundation executive director.
While all four men have varying levels of involvement with the Stanley Hose Company, they were recognized individually for their contributions to the Sherman community.
Crane, nominated by his granddaughter, Danielle Crane, is a volunteer at the Stanley Hose Company and is an EMT, ALS and Recue Captain. He is a chair holder on the Westfield Memorial Hospital Board of Directors and volunteers at the local food pantry when needed.
According to Danielle, “(My grandfather) never hesitates to take time to help those in need. I am very proud of him and want him to know his community is too.”
Fisher, a science teacher at Sherman Central School, has volunteered with the Stanley Hose Company for 20 years. He has been a second assistant EMS, grant writer and currently serves as financial secretary of the organization. Through his grant writing efforts, Fisher has secured over $250,000 for the company to purchase new equipment, take training courses and more. He also serves as a girls youth basketball and softball coach.
“Joel is a role model for other young fathers in this community,” said Heather Croscutt who nominated Fisher. “He loves his hometown of Sherman and works to ensure this community has what it needs to be a good place.”
Neal is also involved with the EMS program at the Stanley Hose Company. In addition, he also volunteers for fundraisers, special events and activities at the company. A member of Sherman Community Church, Neal has lent his talents to help renovate and remodel the church building as well as provide maintenance to the Yorker Museum.
Gerald and Pamela Warner, who nominated Neal, say, “Douglas is always smiling, has a positive attitude, and is a familiar face in the community. He is a beloved and valuable member of the Sherman community.”
Last, but certainly not least, Oehlbeck has been a member of the company since he was 18 years old. Today, he serves as fire chief, a position he has held for the past 14 years. In addition to that, he is a member of the Chautauqua County Fire Advisory Board and Chautauqua County Chief’s Association.
“Matt is the heart of the Stanley Hose Company,” said Fisher, who ironically nominated Oehlbeck. “He is the type of person you can count on in every situation no matter how big or small.
In addition to a plaque commemorating their achievements, each recipient receives $1,000, and $500 to be awarded to a charity, or charities, of their choosing.
Crane selected Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and Stanley Hose Company; Fisher selected Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo; Neal selected Stanley Hose Company and Sherman Community Church; and Oehlbeck selected Stanley Hose Company.
For 32 years, the Axel W. Carlson “Unsung Hero” Award has been presented annually to residents of the Southern Chautauqua region who have made significant contributions to their community through his or her efforts while neither receiving, nor expecting, reward or recognition.