Jaycees Name Outstanding Young West Virginians

PHOTO CAPTION: The West Virginia Jaycees recently honored three individuals with its Outstanding Young West Virginian (OYWV) award. The award recognizes young people who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or through community service. Back row, from left, are Wendy Hodorowski of presenting sponsor The Health Plan, Doug Pell of Main Street Bank, West Virginia Jaycees Chairman of the Board Craig Erbacher, Mallory Clegg of WesBanco, Art Oakland of IBEW Local 141 and Mark West of Perkins Restaurant and Bakery. Bottom row, from left, OYWV recipients Ruth Caruthers, Jeremy Harrison and Caitlin Ahrens.

The West Virginia Jaycees recently honored three individuals, including a resident of Glen Dale, with its Outstanding Young West Virginian award, according to West Virginia Junior Chamber Chairman of the Board Craig Erbacher.

Jeremy Harrison of Glen Dale, Caitlin Ahrens of Fairmont and Ruth Caruthers of Crawley received awards at the Jaycees winter convention held at the Springhill Suites in Wheeling.

The event was presented by The Health Plan with additional support from Main Street Bank, Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, WesBanco and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 141.

Erbacher said that the program is designed to identify and award young people in the Mountain State who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or through community service.

“The mission of the West Virginia Junior Chamber, also known as Jaycees, is to promote leadership development and community engagement among young people,” Erbacher said. “This prestigious annual award serves to recognize individuals between the ages of 18 and 40 who exemplify the best attributes of the state’s young active citizens through service or professional achievement.”

Throughout the long history of the Outstanding Young West Virginian program, honorees have represented the heights of progress in all human endeavors with a special emphasis on volunteerism and community service.

Recipients at the state level are automatically nominated for consideration for the U.S. Junior Chamber Ten Outstanding Young Americans award, a national recognition program in existence since 1939.

∫ Harrison is the co-founder and chief operating officer of Helping Heroes, a nonprofit which provides support services and resources to veterans and their families with a special emphasis on preventing homelessness. A veteran of the Iraq War, he is the author of the book “The Warrior Citizen: A Solder’s Journey to Iraq and Back” and has also developed and taught professional workshops and college courses on social work practice to the veteran population.

∫ Ahrens is a scientist and astrophysicist who at the age of 17 was awarded a U.S. patent for earthquake forecasting methodology. A leading advocate for encouraging young girls to pursue science careers, Ahrens is working to bridge the gender gap that exists in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math through extensive education and outreach.

∫ Caruthers’ son, Corbin, passed away at just three months old from a congenital heart defect. Together, with the American Heart Association, Caruthers lobbied the West Virginia Legislature to secure the passage of a pulse oximetry bill which ensures that every child born in the state will receive a pulse ox test. These tests can help determine abnormalities in a baby’s heart that an ultrasound could miss.