Volunteer Slaubaugh honored by Youth Health Service

The Inter-Mountain photo by Brad Johnson Presenting Jess Slaubaugh with the 2017 Youth Health Service Volunteer of the Year award are, from left, Tammy Rizzio and Peggy Johnson, co-executive directors of YHS, Jennifer “J.J.” Johnson, the family service coordinator for the Home Ties Strengthening Families Center, located at YHS, and Slaubaugh.

Editor’s note: This is the fifth article in a weekly series that highlights volunteers in the region who have served for many years or who go above and beyond to help local organizations, churches and nonprofit agencies. To make a suggestion, please call The Inter-Mountain’s newsroom at 304-636-2124.

ELKINS — Jess Slaubaugh’s hard work and selfless generosity with her time were recognized this month, as she was named the 2017 Youth Health Service Volunteer of the Year.

Slaubaugh began volunteering for Youth Health Service five years ago, when Jennifer “J.J.” Johnson, the family service coordinator for the Home Ties Strengthening Families Center, located at YHS, suggested she might enjoy taking part in an activity.

“I started in her parenting class,” Slaubaugh said. “She asked me if I wanted to be a parent volunteer and it just grew from there.

“Since then, I’ve helped with the gift exchange, the Trunk or Treat event, the Cookies with Santa, all these events for local kids and families,” she said. “We’ve increased them every year. We’re going to meet in January and plan out next year.”

Slaubaugh said she’s been happy to see that attendance for those events have steadily increased over time.

“The events grow every year. Trunk or Treat more than doubled this year,” she said. “The Cookies with Santa event keeps growing every year.”

Johnson said Slaubaugh has been tireless in donating her time and energy.

“Jess is my volunteer, so she helps me plan, organize and set up all the activities,” Johnson said. “She helps publicize them. I couldn’t do the events without her.

“Over the years, she’s become involved with me planning and organizing the events throughout the year. She also volunteers on the Human Rights Committee with Youth Health,” Johnson said. “She’s a great asset to Youth Health Service.”

Slaubaugh said volunteering for Youth Health Service has been very rewarding.

“I like all the events, because I get to see the smiles on the kids’ faces, and the parents love it and I get enjoyment from that,” she said. “I love it all. I’m there to help the community.

“When the kids say ‘thank you’ that means it was a good job by me and I’ve done something to help people.”

She said at many YHS events her husband, Brian Slaubaugh, and their children, Alice and Cecil, volunteer their time along with her.

“It’s a family activity,” she said.

Slaubaugh said her favorite memory from her time volunteering came this past Halloween.

“This year we brought my dad’s tow truck to the Trunk or Treat,” she said. “A little boy was all excited and he said, ‘I’ve always wanted my picture taken with a tow truck.’ His face lit up and he was so excited. I think it made his year. He had us turn on the truck lights. He loved it.”

Slaubaugh also stressed how much admiration she has for Johnson.

“She is very caring,” she said of Johnson. “She goes out of her way to help everybody. I couldn’t be the person I am today without her. She keeps me going.”

Slaubaugh has no plans to stop volunteering any time soon, and she has high hopes for the future.

“I just hope the events keep getting bigger and bigger,” she said.