Congratulations, Patricia!

March 2009  ~ Sincerity

For March 2009, the Character Council of Hamburg recognizes an individual for exemplifying the character trait of Sincerity. By definition, Sincerity is eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives. One person who personifies this definition is Patricia Chlebowski. Over the years Pat has served her community in many capacities. In my opinion, it is in her role as Youth Minister at Saints Peter and Paul Parish that Pat has best demonstrated the character trait of Sincerity.

“For almost ten years, Pat, as Youth Minister, has steadfastly and lovingly guided teens along the often-rocky road of adolescence. Under her guidance, the youth enjoy many social activities in a safe environment, and learn the importance of giving back to their community. The very vibrant and active Youth Group participate in a wide variety of service and volunteer opportunities such as serving at monthly Friends of Night People dinners, handling countless tasks at the Response to Love Center, helping with WNED TV fund drives, and even lending a hand at Breakfast With Santa – all under Pat’s guidance. Through her example, Pat teaches the youth the importance of helping others without thought of personal gain. With her kind, honest, and nonjudgmental manner, Pat has earned the trust and admiration of countless teens that have come to view her as friend, advisor and counselor.

With her unparalleled enthusiasm and seemingly unfailing energy in working with the youth of Hamburg, Pat has unquestionably brought the definition of Sincerity to life. In her eagerness to do what is right, many continue to benefit from her commitment”.

Nominated by: Paula Simon, Parishioner, Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church


Congratulations, Barbara!

April 2009 ~ Virtue

For April 2009, the Character Council of Hamburg, Inc. recognizes an individual for exemplifying the character trait of Virtue. By definition, Virtue is moral excellence as evidenced by consistently doing what is right. One person who personifies this definition is Barbara Bonanno. “Barbara has been widely respected in every capacity she has held: teacher of foreign languages (Mount Mercy Academy and Hilbert College); Director of Francis and Marie McGrath Library (Hilbert College); Director of Mission Integration (Hilbert College). These positions have required that Barbara relate well to a variety of constituencies and personalities. Her positions have been highly visible and have required constant interaction and collaboration.

Barbara is known for her ability to sort through differing opinions and conflicting information. Through it all, one thing is for sure: Barbara Bonanno will do the right thing. Additionally, Barbara will do what is right in a thoughtful, compassionate and respectful manner.

I have known Barbara for over thirty years, and I have never seen her deal with anyone or any situation in any way except that which is her natural style: with dignity and grace. I have never heard a single comment that implied something negative about her. I believe I speak for virtually everyone who knows Barbara Bonanno when I say: “You can trust Barbara – she will do what is right”.

Nominated by: Patrick Heraty, Professor of Business, Hilbert College


Congratulations, Bill!

May 2009 ~ Honor

For May 2009, the Character Council of Hamburg, Inc. recognizes an individual for exemplifying the character trait of Honor. By our definition, honor is respecting others because of the higher authorities they represent. One person who personifies this definition is William C. Haas, III.

“I’m sure that many mothers see honor in their children, but the pride I have for Bill has grown throughout his life while I’ve witnessed the exceptional positive effect he has had on those around him. As a parent, you do your best to teach your children honorable virtues and then it’s up to them to decide how they will live their lives.

It has truly been a blessing to watch Bill become the giving and kind man he is. When I think of the honor Bill exhibits, I first think of his relationship with his grandparents. Throughout the process of deciding where he should go to college, thoughts of wanting to stay near Grandma and Grandpa were primary to him. When Bill and his wife, Bryana, were looking for a place to live, they chose the same apartment complex that his grandparents live in to be close by.

So many young adults get busy with all of their activities and their priorities become self-centered. Throughout Bill’s busy workweek, he will stop in to see how his grandparents are doing and catch them up on what’s happening in his life. Grandma and Grandpa aren’t out and about as much as they used to be and look forward to his frequent visits. I’ve seen how my father’s eyes light up in anticipation of their near-daily handshake.

Bill remembers how his grandparents used to come to see all of his various sporting and school events. He recognizes that he learned a great deal from them about how to be an honorable and hard-working family man. Bill has chosen to honor them by taking some of his precious time to show how much he appreciates them and their opinions to this very day.

I’ve watched Bill build friendships with his professors, his co-workers and his church family. He will always be the first one to come to the aid of someone struggling or to spend the time to give kind words to strangers. My son, Bill, is an outstanding example to others of character excellence in our community”.

Nominated By: Karen Kraus, William’s mother


Congratulations, Mark!

June 2009 ~ Justice

For June 2009, the Character Council of Hamburg, Inc. recognizes an individual for exemplifying the character trait of Justice. By our definition, justice is taking personal responsibility for upholding what is pure, right, and true. One person who personifies this definition is Mark E. Hajduk.

Mark has been a member of Security Forces in the United States Air Force and New York Air National Guard for over 30 years. As a member of Security Forces, Mark has been tasked with maintaining military law and order not only at home in the United States, but around the world as well.

“When I think of the word justice, I think it holds two meanings … justice in the literal sense and justice in the moral sense. Mark is a shining example of both. In the literal sense, Mark has upheld the laws and regulations of the United States and of the Air Force. He has performed police duties on multiple Air Force bases both at home and abroad. For example, Mark played an important role in bringing to justice enemies of the United States by assisting in the transport of detainees from combat zones back to protective custody. This was no easy task considering the Air Force, specifically the Air Guard, assumed this important mission during those hectic times following the attacks of 9/11, with very little guidance. Mark was hand-selected by the 107th SFS commander to head up the local team that reported for duty not knowing what to expect. After several missions to the combat zone, his skills and knowledge were recognized and he began training others and writing procedures for these very important missions. To this day, MSgt Hajduk is a ‘counted-on’ professional to perform this duty, always at the ready.

In the broader or moral sense, Mark carries himself daily with uprightness and fairness at all times. He effectively mentors younger airmen and airwomen, always reminding them to do what is right. Mark has, on countless occasions, put himself second to ensure that others are taken care of and that the right methods are always used to achieve just results.

Mark Hajduk authentically lives the core values of the United States Air Force: ‘Integrity First’, ‘Service Before Self’, and ‘Excellence In All We Do.’ It has been my great honor to nominate MSgt Mark E. Hajduk to receive the Character Council of Hamburg’s Integrity In Action award for Justice. Mark is a true patriot who through the years has provided all of us with a shining example of what justice really stands for”.

Nominated by:CMSgt. Paul A. Wiencek, 107th AW/Security Forces Manager


Congratulations, Jennifer!

July 2009 ~ Gentleness

For July 2009, the Character Council of Hamburg, Inc. recognizes an individual for exemplifying the character trait of Gentleness. By our definition, gentleness is showing consideration and personal concern for others. One person who personifies this definition is Jennifer Aroune.

“Jennifer has been a dedicated teacher for my son Liam.

As Liam was about to begin Kindergarten this past year, my wife and I were extremely anxious about how Liam would adjust to the Kindergarten setting and relate to his teacher and peers. From day one, Ms. Aroune helped put our fears, and Liam’s, to rest.

Ms. Aroune was so gentle, kind and loving toward Liam, and so accepting of his difficulties, that Liam immediately formed a bond with her. Kindergarten was no longer such a scary place for Liam or for his parents.

Throughout the year Liam had his ups and downs, but as parents, we knew he would be alright because he was in the hands of such a gentle and caring person. Jennifer Aroune has proven herself to be the type of person who strives to do her very best, both in her work and in the community. My wife and I have benefited tremendously from Jennifer Aroune’s tenderness and thoughtfulness as she often went beyond the call of her employment to help my son or to make my wife and me feel comfortable. We have, countless times, witnessed Jennifer Aroune’s same gentle and compassionate manner when dealing with our children and members of the community.

Ms. Aroune sets an example for which all Hamburg citizens should strive to follow. This community is blessed to have a resident like Jennifer Aroune that exudes the gentleness quality the Character Council of Hamburg seeks to recognize. My wife and I can think of no other person who deserves this recognition more than Jennifer Aroune”.

Nominated by: Thomas A. Nyitrai, Esq., Liam’s father


Congratulations, Josh!

August 2009 ~ Faith

For August 2009, the Character Council of Hamburg, Inc. recognizes an individual for exemplifying the character trait of Faith. By our definition, faith is confidence that actions rooted in good character will yield the best outcome, even when I cannot see how. One person who personifies this definition is Josh Brunner.

“If I was asked to name one exceptional young adult in our community whom I admire for their character and for their outstanding example of faith, it would be Josh. Faith is often said to be accepting of God’s will over our own.

Josh’s faith in God has helped him to have confidence that his actions rooted in good character will yield actions rooted in good character will yield the best outcome, even when he faced incredible adversity and obvious uncertainty.

A person with great faith will accept not only what is asked of him, but will go forth with integrity and perseverance, and do it. No one exemplifies this more than Josh Brunner. Josh will tell you that his faith is the result of a life long process and not defined only by the one seemingly tragic event that occurred in Hawaii a short time ago.

People have always looked up to Josh. He was a leader throughout grammar and high school. He served as a member of the Character Club while a student at Hamburg High School. He was also member of Sts. Peter and Paul’s Core Team during his high school years and frequently spoke to younger students about how to maintain integrity and character while meeting the challenges of being a teenager.

After the accident, Josh inspired everyone with his attitude about life and his acceptance of the great challenge that was put before him. Josh will soon complete his studies at Penn State. He has continued to encourage students, challenging them to build their own character, integrity and faith. Josh was recently added to the national speakers’ bureau of CMG Booking, so that he can continue to inspire others with his great example. On the CMG Booking website, Josh describes how his strong faith is influencing his life:

“My personal story is one of a never ending journey to develop my character and spread my knowledge and faith unto others. I have been through a great journey in the past year and a half or so. I just celebrated my 21st birthday but feel so much older than that. When I really reflect on this past few years I think, man have I grown up fast! The responsibility and maturity level that someone with a spinal cord injury has to have is incredible to me. Faith has helped me with that maturity greatly”. – Josh Brunner

Throughout life, people encounter many different challenges. The challenges that have been put before Josh have inspired him in ways that even he could not imagine. He has met those challenges with the love and support of his family and with his unwavering faith. Our community is blessed to know him and to call him our friend”.

Nominated by: Bert Villarini


Congratulations, Kelli!

October 2009 ~ Patience

or October 2009, the Character Council of Hamburg, Inc. recognizes an individual for exemplifying the character trait of Patience. By our definition, Patience is accepting a difficult situation without giving a deadline to remove it. One person who personifies this definition is Kelli Bohen.

“In September 2007, Ms. Bohen began her position with the Hamburg Central School District assigned as the personal aid for our daughter Mary Grace as she began kindergarten at Sts. Peter and Paul School. Mary Grace has the diagnosis of Down Syndrome. When she began kindergarten her speech and cognitive level were that of a 2½ year-old. Additionally, Ms. Bohen was a public school district employee assigned full time at our private school. Needless to say, Ms. Bohen had her work cut out for her.

There are so many examples to share that show Kelli’s ability to endure waiting or delay without becoming annoyed or upset and her ability to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties. Mary Grace has a way of testing Kelli’s patience in a variety of ways and often throughout the day! Whether it is getting Mary Grace to write her name, walk down the stairs safely, or buy the school lunch, Kelli has utilized multiple strategies that positively impact Mary Grace’s academic and social progress. And what worked yesterday doesn’t necessarily work today!

Mary Grace spent two years in kindergarten, and even now that she is in first grade there are so many of her goals still unachieved. Kelli continues to work with Mary Grace on these goals despite the 2 years of lessons, repetition and regression. Ms. Bohen has been a constant source of support for Mary Grace, as well as for the classroom teachers and therapists that work with Mary Grace.

While we are sure Kelli’s day is filled with frustrations and challenges, she is always happy throughout the school day. She remains positive about the small little signs of progress or achievements that Mary Grace makes. She is always encouraging our daughter, while inspiring the other students in the classroom too.

Ms. Bohen has been able to work well with all of the other adults involved in Mary Grace’s educational program. She has navigated through the rules and regulations of two different school systems, not to mention the various personalities of the staff, and all while gracefully handling the multiple mood swings of Mary Grace. The collaboration between Sts. Peter and Paul School and the Hamburg Central School District has grown and progressed to the benefit of our daughter and many other students in these two years. We really feel Kelli Bohen is one of the key players that has positively impacted this successful partnership.

We are so grateful to Kelli Bohen for so patiently being there for our daughter everyday, and for working to make this new special educational program a success at Mary Grace’s school”.

Nominated by: Tom & Bridget Wood and Family, Sts. Peter and Paul School Family


Congratulations, Barb!

November 2009 ~ Initiative

For November 2009, the Character Council of Hamburg, Inc. recognizes an individual for exemplifying the character trait of Initiative. By our definition, Initiative is recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it. One person who personifies this definition is Barb Brill.

“Not many people can say that the mayor of the town they were moving out of declared an official day just for them as they said goodbye, but not many people are like Barb Brill.

For many years since the Brill family’s move from Pittsburg to Buffalo, Barb Brill has subtly, and not so subtly, changed the lives of countless friends, family members, neighbors, and one of her most cherished commitments, Girl Scouts. In her town of Bellevue, Pennsylvania Barb was one to throw massive block parties, which not only brought together her tight knit neighbors, but the friends and family of her neighbors too, uniting the entire community. Instances like these were well known to the citizens of Bellevue as Barb constantly took the initiative to bring people of all ages together.

Barb also worked tirelessly to provide the children of the Forest Avenue United Methodist Church with a stellar religious education program that was enjoyable and effective. Barb took the initiative to raise her own four children with the strong values, morals, and education provided by the United Methodist Church, while also mentoring a classroom full of children every Sunday during the summer because she knew how important sharing, respect, and kindness were to a developing mind.

When Barb left Bellevue to start a new life in Hamburg, she threw herself into community life taking up a new interest, Girl Scouts. Over the next nineteen years, what started with one troop grew into several troops and as Girl Scout neighborhoods merged, Barb led the leaders of what was formerly the Hamburg and Boston Service Units to become the Creekside Service Unit. Her determination certainly showed initiative in action!

Through her commitment to the Girl Scouts organization Barb’s desire to do more for others allowed many young girls to receive the full benefit that Girl Scouting has to offer. Not a day goes by that Barb is not putting every other person before herself. Her commitment, love, and altruistic actions are more passionate and powerful than anything I have experienced in another person in my twenty-one years.

Barb has demonstrated initiative by taking on the leadership role so that others may succeed and live fruitfully through their lives. Barb’s commitment to a life of service, selfless dedication to others, and love of life, gives her the energy, strength and attitude to fulfill the needs of her family, friends, neighbors, community, and the Girl Scout organization. She is inspiring and appreciated by so many.

I am proud to say that Barb has been my Girl Scout leader, mentor, and friend from the time I entered Girl Scouting as a Daisy Scout through the completion of my Gold Award. For me, giving back to Barb because of what she has given to me is not only important, but an honor, as she has made such a significant impact on my life.”

Nominated by: Julie Sellers