The Jenco Foundation Fund
Do you know a visionary leader in your community? That person who has always gone above and beyond to make others’ lives better? It’s someone you know is a hero, but you wish everyone else did too. The Jenco Awards were created to honor these individuals, the people who work passionately in the service of others in Appalachian Ohio.
The 2016 Jenco Award nominations are now closed. Thank you to those of you throughout the region who nominated unsung heroes in your community. Please sign up for the Foundation’s e-newsletter to receive updates about the 2017 Jenco Award nominations and other news from FAO!
The Jenco Awards, which began in 2002 to uphold the legacy of Father Martin Jenco, are cash awards for individuals in Appalachian Ohio who have performed noteworthy community service in the region.
The Jenco Award recognizes individuals for their service contributions. Though these efforts need not be religious in the formal sense, they demonstrate direct, caring action that contributes to the quality of life of individuals living in Appalachian Ohio. Jenco Awardees are celebrated for visionary leadership in the service of others. Their commitment to others is not simply a part of their daily jobs; it is a passion. Nominations are encouraged across all areas essential to quality of life, including health and human services, education, environmental stewardship, community and economic development, and arts and culture. Watch a video showcasing the stories of the 2015 Jenco Award winners here:
The 2015 Jenco Awardees are:
- Bill Crawford of Columbiana County
- Donna Sue Groves of Adams County
- Margaret Fredericks of Washington County
- Jodie Hunt of Lawrence County
- Nancy Sams of Washington County
- Iva Sisson of Meigs County
Watch the 2014 Jenco Award winners tell their stories here:
Celebrating the Work and Legacy of
Lawrence Martin Jenco was born November 27, 1934, and grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Joliet, Ill. After studying at St. Joseph’s Seminary in the United States and the Pontifical University in Rome, he was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1959. Jenco joined a small religious community called The Servants of Mary (O.S.M.). His ministry took him to many different countries where he worked among the oppressed of the world, including Australian aborigine alcoholics, California migrant workers, Indian lepers, and Cambodian refugees.
Jenco was serving as director of Catholic Relief Services in Beirut, Lebanon, when he was kidnapped by Shiite Muslim extremists on January 8, 1985. Two months later, AP correspondent Terry Anderson was also kidnapped and held at the same undisclosed location as Jenco. When Anderson learned that a priest was being held captive nearby, he asked to see him. The bearded, white-haired Father Jenco heard Anderson’s confession — the first in 25 years — which to Anderson represented “my first formal step back to the church.” Later, Jenco and Anderson shared a cell where they spoke often of their spiritual odysseys and of the role of the church in ministering to the poor and underprivileged.
Jenco was released after 19 months in captivity, while Anderson was destined to remain imprisoned about five years longer, until 1991. But as Anderson later told a radio interviewer, his time spent with the priest in the early years of captivity was instrumental in helping “build a structure I could hold onto” in the years to follow.
Once freed, Jenco resumed his ministry by serving as chaplain at the University of Southern California, providing outreach programs to the Hispanic community. He spoke often of his experiences as a hostage and emphasized the need to forgive. He and Anderson remained friends until Jenco’s death from cancer in 1996.
Anderson calls Jenco “a wonderful personal example. . .the closest thing to a saint I have ever met.” In June 2001, Anderson honored his friend through the establishment of the Father Lawrence Martin Jenco Foundation to continue the legacy of compassion and giving Jenco spread to so many.
Jenco Foundation Fund
A field of interest fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO), The Jenco Foundation Fund was established to provide an award to a citizen of Appalachian Ohio who has demonstrated visionary leadership in serving Appalachian Ohio. Traditionally, the Jenco Award has been given to an individual demonstrating the heroic qualities that were evident in Father Jenco’s ministry. The recipient’s work did not need to be religious in the formal sense, but demonstrated direct, caring action that contributed to the quality of life of individuals living in the Appalachian region.
In the past, the Jenco Foundation Fund has honored a wide array of exceptional individuals in Appalachian Ohio and West Virginia who have been active in furthering Father Jenco’s vision of philanthropy.
Past award recipients include:
2003: Irene Flowers, community development and creator of Kilvert community center; Elise Mitchell, advocate for mental health; Susan Burt, youth development and creator of High Rocks school for girls in West Virginia;
2006: Robert Smiddie, Rhonda Bentley, Sister Brendan Conlan,
Lorraine Myers, Arlene Sheak, and Adrienne Nagy.
2007: Dr. David Deci, medical outreach to the homeless, Theresa McCune,
Henry Burke, Margaret Tabler, and Frank Hare.
To learn more about 2015 Jenco Award recipient Donna Sue Groves, read her story of service.
To learn more about 2014 Jenco Award recipient Gary Goosman, please read more about his commitment to his community.
To learn more about 2015 Jenco Award recipient Jodie Hunt, please read more about her call to feel hungry kids.
To learn more about 2014 Jenco Award recipients Joan and Wayne Fontaine, please read more about how their passion for gardening feeds people in their community.
To learn more about 2015 Jenco Award recipient Bill Crawford, please read more about how he helps kids shine.
Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
PO Box 456
35 Public Square
Nelsonville, OH 45764
For more information contact the Foundation at 740.753.1111