Oxford Citizens of the Years: Boardman, Carmean and Fuehrer honored by Kiwanis Club

OXFORD — When considering nominations for Citizens of the Years the selection committee each year must look through an impressive number of contributions and avenues of service for each. The category is intended to recognize local folks who have given of themselves over many years and that usually means nominees who have given in multiple areas, rather than just one.

That is certainly true of the honorees for 2022.

The committee has chosen three people with many years of community contributions over a wide range of areas and interests. Recognized as Citizens of the Years are Linda Slager Boardman, Kathy Carmean and Ann Fuehrer.

Linda Slager Boardman

Boardman is retired as a fourth-grade teacher in the Talawanda district with a reputation as intelligent, caring and respectful to, and respected by children and their parents.

Outside of the classroom, she was a founding member of the Oxford Food Pantry, served on the Talawanda City Schools “climate” committee, board member and president of PFLAG — Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays — serving on the Leadership Team of the Coalition for a Healthy Community and T-CAPE — Talawanda Community Advocacy for Public Education.

In one of the nominations for her recognition, Sabina Jewell wrote of Boardman’s efforts to head up the Rainbow Reading Program for PFLAG, raising money, researching and purchasing books for local schools, including preschools and day cares.

“These books promote inclusion for all: celebrating diversity, ethnicity, race, religion, physical ability as well as gender identity and sexual orientation,” Jewell wrote. “Close to $6,500 has been raised to purchase and distribute over 400 books to date.”

Boardman’s work with the local coalition was described in a nomination letter from Amy Macechko, director of the coalition. She praised the honoree’s efforts as the Milford Twp. representative to the Leadership Team as well as organizing the “Plant the Promise’ campaign.

“As a result of her efforts (representing the township), numerous projects have come to fruition including mulch for the new playground in Somerville and overseeing the construction and installation of multiple Little Free Libraries to promote the love of reading,” Macechko wrote, moving on to “Plant the Promise” in which thousands of red tulip bulbs are planted each fall to serve as a reminder in the spring to everyone when they bloom that everyone has a role in building a healthier community.

Of that effort, she wrote, “Linda has spent countless hours organizing the list of over 70 locations throughout the Talawanda School District, making contacts with sites and planting tulip bulbs on behalf of the coalition. This task is essential to the overall success of the campaign and Linda’s passion for this project is evident by the time and energy she puts forth in making it a reality.”

Boardman’s efforts with T-CAPE were recognized by Kathleen Knight Abowitz, who spearheaded the social media site and later won a seat on the Talawanda Board of Education after withdrawing from the T-CAPE operation.

“After her retirement, Linda agreed to work with me in supporting the Talawanda Community Advocacy for Public Education group, a social media advocacy group for local public education. She has served as volunteer manager and chief content provider of this free site since 2019. T-CAPE is not affiliated with the school district, but was formed as a non-partisan effort to inform and empower citizens to promote a high-quality, inclusive public education system,” Knight Abowitz wrote, noting the group now has 517 members promoting information and respectful discussions. “The idea behind T-CAPE is that public schools are better when the communities they serve are engaged with, informed about, and have a voice in their school district’s work.”

Noting the divisions within the Talawanda district, the nomination went on the state, “Linda has worked hard to keep the site as one where people can exchange passionate and diverse viewpoints but not insult or degrade each other. This is incredibly important because there are very few opportunities for parents with different political or ideological viewpoints to come together in an inclusive space to gain information and share diverse viewpoints.”

Kathy Carmean

Carmean retired as an elementary school teacher in the Oak Hills School District and brought a volunteer effort begun there to help school children in the Talawanda School District. A nomination by Marilyn Curry noted that the volunteer project began thanks to a skill Carmean developed as a child.

“Kathy learned to knit as a young girl and now she applies her skill to helping children. (She has probably set a record for volunteering using her knitting skills.) Knitting mittens, hats/scarves for children has been going on for the past 30 years of Kathy’s life,” Curry wrote. “It started at Springmyer Elementary School in the Oak Hills School District where she was an elementary teacher. She knitted hats, mittens and scarves for all of her students. Every November she would check the color of each student’s coat and then knit the hat, mittens and scarf to match their coat. When she moved to teaching third grade, some students wished to have mittens and scarves (no hats).”

The nomination letter said that knitting effort continued for children in the Talawanda District following her retirement and it has been continuing for the past 10 years.

“She works closely with pre-school teachers and social workers in the Talawanda district for the number of sets that are needed for each school. She knits about 120 sets for children in preschool through second grade in each elementary building (Bogan, Kramer and Marshall) per year! She buys the yarn and knits all year to keep up with the demand that begins in November,” Curry wrote. “Every set she makes is lovingly packaged for each child.”

That work is not all of Carmean’s volunteer service to help school children. The nomination letter for her as a Citizen of the Years noted she also volunteers at the free store in Cincinnati called “Crayons to Computers,” where teachers can obtain school supplies that certain students need, such as pencils, paper, rulers and more.

That is not a totally separate effort, however.

“When Kathy volunteers, she brings two to three dozen sets of mittens, hats and scarves for teachers to select for their students,” Curry wrote.

Carmean’s volunteer service efforts, however, are not limited to her knitting skills. She also serves as advisor to the Chi Omega sorority on the Miami campus as well as the chairperson of the sorority’s corporation board.

She also helps with the Oxford Museum Association’s Apple Butter Festival in the fall and Arts and Crafts Fair in the spring, volunteering in the concession stand each day.

“I am in awe of what this quiet, kind woman has done for our community and for the future generations,” Curry concluded. “She has been diligently working behind the scenes helping young children in elementary school, guiding young women in college and volunteering at Oxford Museum Association fund raisers. And surprisingly, she has been doing this unnoticed for years.”

Ann Fuehrer

Local residents facing challenges have had a champion in their corner for more than 40 years with the efforts of Ann Fuehrer, who is one of the three people recognized as Citizens of the Years by the selection committee for 2022.

A nomination for her receiving the honor said she embodies the definition of the award.

“She has been a devoted advocate for over 40 years to members of the Oxford community who face challenges big and small. Over the decades, she has volunteered at the Family Resource Center, TOPSS, Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice. Oxford Homeless Coalition and at Hopedale Unitarian Church; while raising her daughter, she also volunteered for the governing board of Oxford Ice Crystals,” wrote Rebecca Howard in a nomination letter to the committee, which is made up of previous recipients. “Ann is modest, she is humble and she works tirelessly and quietly, without fanfare, for the betterment of the Oxford community, which comes as naturally to her as breathing does to the rest of us.”

The nomination goes on to say Fuehrer gives of her time, her heart and her soul to helping those whose voices are often neglected, ignored or marginalized and does so without expectations of thanks, compensation or recognition.

“She does so because, simply, she believes it is the right thing to do. She has given her time and energy in multiple capacities throughout Oxford as a local resident who recognizes that many people do not have the resources and advantages that others take for granted,” Howard wrote.

Fuehrer came to Oxford from Illinois after accepting a position in the Psychology Department of Miami University. She retired from Miami in 2019 and moved from being a dedicated volunteer for the local food pantry to being the Executive Director as it transitioned into a new name with an expanded focus as Talawanda Oxford Pantry and Social Services. She remained in that position for two years during which time she worked through challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and a move from their old location to a new one on College Corner Pike as part of the Family Resource campus.

“Not one to stay idle for long, she has recently moved from being a dedicated volunteer with the Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice to being their part-time office manager, though the work she does for them and in the community goes well beyond her part-time status,” the letter stated.

Howard summarized Fuehrer’s driving motivation by writing, “She is a devoted advocate who understands that every member of a community matters and deserves respect.”

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