The Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation received Operation Our Town’s top prize at the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Club on Thursday.
Established in 1999, the foundation serves children living in public housing, strives to help break the cycle of poverty and wants every child to reach their potential in life, regardless of family income, according to its mission statement.
“My mother was the cornerstone. She inspired me, which is why I came back to take up the torch she had lit. All she wanted was to help all the children in the community. said founder Dr. Zane Gates, who named the foundation after his mother.
“We have a million stories about children who came to us who were in danger and who are doing well today. We couldn’t do this without Operation Our Town,” said executive director Toni Bilik.
Operation Our Town co-founder and president Michael Fiore said the foundation was like a diamond in the rough.
“Over the past 23 years, the work they have done has been an important contribution to our community. Toni and Zane have given their hearts and lives to this community and their children,” Fiore said.
In addition, Blair County Law Enforcement Awards were presented in six cases. Recognized were:
–Patrolman Jarod Pisarchik and Detective Jon Burns of the Altoona Police Department for investigating a case involving an Altoona man accused of setting fire to a house with six people, including three children, inside.
– Sergeant. Chris Moser and Detectives Burns, Eric Heuston and Dennis Tymensky of the Altoona Police Department for an investigation leading to arrests in an armed robbery at Juniata Cards, 1019 N. Fourth Ave.
– Constables Chris Rosenberry, Tyler McConnell, Tyler McClellan, Nicole Gripp and Justin Hollern of the Logan Township Police Department for their efforts leading to the arrest and conviction of an Altoona man charged with shooting a woman in Greenwood after a drug-related robbery.
– Detective Sergeant. David Hoover of the Logan Township Police Department and Blair County First Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith for their efforts leading to the arrest and conviction of a Blair County man on numerous charges of child rape, involuntary deviant sex and related charges involving an 8-year-old boy sentence.
– Sergeant. Derek Swope, Cap. Caleb Nixon and Moser of the Altoona Police Department and Constable Jarod Quist of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office for their efforts to lead to arrests in two drug busts in which police seized nearly 10,000 packages of heroin with a combined street value of $170,000.
– Moser of the Altoona Police Department, Quist and Constable James Walstrom and K-9s Billy and Novak of the AG’s Office for their efforts in leading to the arrest of two individuals involved in what has been described as one of the largest methamphetamine seizures in Blair County history.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.