Friendships can sometimes be compared to a rare diamonds: under the strain of great pressure, they either shatter or are transformed, becoming stronger and even more valuable.
This month's "Hey that's my neighbor" honoree is Mary Laposki Ulczynski, a native of Rayland and long-time resident of the Village of Dillonvale.
Mary was nominated for the honor by two long-time friends: Sally Harris and Mary Lee Borkoski.
Mary Ulczynski (left) is November’s “Hey!?That’s My Neighbor” honoree. She was nominated by longtime close friend Mary Lee Borkoski (right), as well as close friend Sally Harris.
Mary and Ed Ulczynski on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.
Classmates from Warren Consolidated High School recently gathered at a local restaurant. Front row, second and third from left are nominators Mary Lee Borkoski and Sally Harris. Back row, second from right is neighbor honoree Mary Ulczynski.
"There is not a piece of paper big enough to name all the things she does and has done for others," offered Harris.
"You can count on her - that means everything," offered Borkoski.
Harris and Borkoski consider their friend's unwavering ability to see where a need exists and find a way to help meet it with very little overt attention being drawn to it, as being nothing short of those all too rare sentiments of a genuine, heart- felt, spirit-based desire to be generous and share her blessings with others.
When it comes to this Dillonvale resident's willingness to reach out to others and provide some means to help improve their current situations, it seems she came by this personal passion and her skills for it from her mother - it is a trait she gladly looks on as having been a very real quality of life gift. Her mother was regularly involved in activities in support of family, friends, church and community. Her late parents are Mary and Frank Laposki of Tiltonsville.
Mary sees opportunities to share a smile, a simple kindness, her skills as a medically-focused social worker, a prayer, gifts of food goods and the like. She never fails to find a way to share with others what she sees as blessings in her own life.
She has never been the sort to sit back and let others donate time and talents when there is a need to be addressed.
It is a trait - a way of life. Mary's husband of 53 years, Ed Ulczynski, and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are very proud to support in any way they can.
Mary's personal willingness to get involved in projects or activities that will bring a benefit to someone in need has connected her to a number of organizations including the Dillonvale Food Bank and the Dillonvale American Legion Auxiliary at Post #529.
She is a colon cancer survivor and helps guide several of the now well established and regularly active Relay for Life fundraising projects. She serves as a paramedic with the Dillonvale Emergency Medical Services Department along with her husband, Ed Ulczynski. She sits on Dillonvale Village Council, helps lead the local AARP chapter, and works in support of her church and Parish at St. Adalbert's in Dillonvale.
Most of the organizations she is a member of ask her to shoulder the duties of treasurer, as well as being a board member.
At this time of the year in her position as a leader within the local food bank's organizational structure, she is scouring store shelves, coupon sites, and placing calls to vendors in the ongoing effort to obtain food that will be easy for a person to prepare, in addition to being nutritionally sound.
Mindful that those served by the Dillonvale Food Bank are area residents, she makes it a point to affect purchases for the organization through local businesses whenever possible.
Mary's many years working throughout the region as a social worker - who more often than not was employed in a medically related business - enabled her to be at the center of a vast network of individuals, companies and other entities who might prove beneficial to those in need she crosses paths with on a regular basis.
The Dillonvale Food Bank is a local resource which provides a much needed service. A more apt term would be "blessing" - to households in need from the communities of Dillonvale, Mt. Pleasant and Piney Fork.
The organization's once monthly food distribution is held on the third Tuesday of every month, with details available in advance through Ulczynski, or by contacting the St. Adalbert Church office. Food donations are always welcomed, as are gifts of money, which will be used to help purchase items needed for the food baskets by the recipients. Such gifts can also be shared by the food bank to help address conditions that come with a dire financial emergency.
One of the larger donors to the food bank is the Jefferson County-based Walmart Distribution Center. It helps provide access to funds and praises employees who regularly volunteer there.
The effort is also supported by a matching funds commitment made by an anonymous donor. It matches funds collected at St. Adalbert's collection on certain days of the months.
"Anyone wanting to help support us at the Dillonvale Food Bank is welcome to do so whether by volunteering, making a donation of money or goods," offered Mary, noting the program is maintained year round.
Financial donations can be made by mailing them to the Dillonvale Food Pantry, P.O. Box 1, Dillonvale, Ohio, 43917. Donations of goods or requests to help by working as a food bank volunteer can be directed to Mary at 740-769-7773.