When G. Randolph "Randy" Worls started working for the Wheeling Park Commission as a youth golf counselor 60 years ago, he knew how important Oglebay and Wheeling parks were to the youth of the Ohio Valley.
As he has grown in his employment with the park commission, eventually taking the helm, he has made certain that tens of thousands of underprivileged youngsters and their families had the chance to enjoy all the parks have to offer, free of charge. Today Worls, chief executive officer of the Oglebay Foundation, continues to pursue the financial avenues to further that tradition.
On Thursday night, Worls was honored with Youth Services System's Good Samaritan award during the YSS Good Samaritan tribute dinner at Wheeling Park's White Palace. A crowd of well-wishers, friends and family members packed the ballroom.
Photo by Heather Ziegler
Youth Services System Executive Director John Moses, from left, and wife Jo congratulate G. Randolph “Randy” Worls, who received the YSS Good Samaritan award Thursday. To the left of Worls is his wife, Betty.
Other Good Samaritans have included Ron Klug, Judge George Spillers, Lary Loew, Dr. Bernard Grubler, Dr. Lee Jones, Ann Thomas, Kathleen Hogan Schenk, Ronald C. Mulholland and Sister Constance Dodd.
Hawaiian born Roger Waialae, head football coach at West Liberty University and longtime personal friend, said Worls embodied the "aloha spirit to be kind and giving." Waialae also quipped that Worls' first major decision at the parks was to allow bikinis at the Oglebay swimming pool.
Worls, never one to enjoy the spotlight, kept true to that Thursday when he suggested his award be passed on to the YSS board, staff and volunteers who work in the trenches each day taking care of troubled youths.
Taking the stage, Worls simply said, "This is unbelievable." He then gave a snapshot of the various activities he, the park commission and select employees have worked to maintain and improve upon for the youth of the valley.
He noted the largest park commission program for children - Access to the Parks - has provided free admission for 20,000 youths and their families over the past 30 years. The free summer day camp has facilitated 60,000 visits from children since 1952 and continues today.
Working in tandem with YSS, Worls said the park commission provides many opportunities to change the lives of young people who may have few others advantages. The park commission has been able to mentor youths and even provide employment opportunities for teens ages 14 through college via donations and funding raised by the park system.
"We send out 3,000 invitations to kids and their families every year to come and use the pools, golf, tennis courts. For all the programs we offer, it costs about $700,000 a year ... all through donations," Worls noted.
He credited park commission President and Chief Executive Officer Doug Dalby and employees Rod Haley, John Hargleroad and Mike Potts for facilitating the day-to-day operations of the youth programs.
A highlight of the night was a film that provided an intimate look at the programs YSS provides and testimonials from youths who proclaimed YSS as their "safe place" and family.
John Moses, YSS executive director, and Darryl E. Clausell, YSS board chairman, thanked Worls for his work for YSS and the community at large.