NALC honors its 2010 National Heroes of the Year
|NALC's National Heroes of the the Year for 2010: (seated, from l) Deborah Czarny and Penny Bell, Muskegon, MI Br. 13; James Dupont, Rogers, AR Br. 1514; Larry Gunkel, Wichita Br. 201; Jeffrey Vollmar, Freehold, NJ Br. 924; (standing, from l) J.D. Stewart and Jack Hayes, Seattle Br. 79; Salli Hislop, Salt Lake City Br. 111. (Not pictured: Thomas Nehlen, Youngstown Br. 385.)
Several letter carriers were recognized for their heroism and community service at a special event Oct. 7 in Washington.
The 2010 National Heroes of the Year are:
Eastern Region Hero: Jeffrey Vollmar, a carrier from Freehold, NJ Branch 924, was delivering mail when he heard a young woman shout that her house was on fire and her mother was still inside. Without concern for his own safety, he ran into the smoke-filled house and found her on the second floor, disoriented. After bringing her outside, he ran back into the house and put out most of the flames.
Central Region Hero: Youngstown Branch 385 letter carrier Thomas Nehlen saw smoke on his route one morning, billowing from a house. He entered without regard for his own safety and helped the residents clustered in the kitchen reach safety outside. Then later that same afternoon, delivering mail in another part of town, he helped a 12-year-old boy who had crashed his bicycle into a van in traffic. Ohio State Chair John Dyce accepted the award on Nehlen's behalf.
Western Region Hero: Salli Hislop was on her mail route when a customer’s dog ran to her truck, barking urgently. Recognizing this as unusual behavior for the dog, the Salt Lake City Branch 111 letter carrier investigated and found the customer lying on his front porch, apparently suffering a heart attack. She performed CPR. Paramedics later revived him, thanks to Hislop’s prompt attention.
Special Carrier Alert: Muskegon, MI Branch 13 carrier Penny Bell was concerned when she noticed mail piling up in an elderly customer’s mailbox, and more worried when she noticed that the hard-of-hearing women’s TV wasn’t on loud as usual. She asked her sub, fellow Muskegon carrier Debbie Czarny, to check on the customer the next day. Seeing the same signs, Czarny pounded on the door, heard a faint voice and got into the house with a neighbor’s key. They found the resident on the floor, where she’d been for four days, disoriented.
Humanitarian of the Year: Larry Gunkel helps feed 35,000 families across Kansas and runs a Food 4 Kids backpack program that provides food over the weekend for several thousand Kansas schoolchildren. Gunkel, former president of Wichita Branch 201, where he began his involvement with feeding people, now is retired and is food program manager for the Kansas Food Bank.
Branch Service Award: Seattle Branch 79 letter carriers were recognized for their work building homes for Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricans Katrina and Rita. Representing the branch were Jack Hayes and J.D. Stewart.
National Hero of the Year: James Dupont had just finished delivering mail on his rural Arkansas route when he saw a truck and car collide head-on. The member of Rogers, Arkansas Branch 1514 pulled the driver from the truck and, as the vehicle caught on fire, saved a passenger engulfed in flames. He then managed to bend open the door of the burning car to rescue that driver—injuring himself in the process.
The 2010 Heroes of the Year represent the efforts of thousands of letter carriers who not only deliver the mail to 150 million households six days a week, but often assist or save residents in situations involving accidents, fires, crimes or health crises.