2017 Person of the Year
Middle Smithfield Township's finalists for the 2017 Person of the Year Award were Thomas Gansel, Diane Jiorle, and Jan Korb. An independent panel of judges selected the finalists from all those nominated for Middle Smithfield Township’s annual Person of the Year award. The judges announced the Person of the Year at the Volunteer Appreciation Banquet on November 17, 2017.
The Person of the Year received $2,000 toward their cause and the two finalists received $750.
2017 Person of the Year
Jan Korb was nominated for his work at the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry. The food pantry has provided approximately 10,000 meals a year for the last 5 years. Jan not only gives his own money towards the food pantry, but also used his own money to purchase a truck to help transport food.
Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry is a food pantry located at 332 McCole Road in Middle Smithfield Township. The pantry provides food items and some clothing to people in need, with no residency restrictions. They are open the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month from 1-6 pm.
Thomas lived in New Jersey for most of his life with his dad, mom and brother. Thomas also has extended family in Texas and Virginia.
He was made aware of service from the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Catholic Charities when their house was flooded in 1999 by Hurricane Floyd. They were there right away to help them when they lost everything.
He spent most of his school years in parochial school. He went to a private Catholic High School called Immaculata in Somerville, NJ where he graduated in 2010. His love for community service started there. Throughout his high school years he volunteered at spaghetti dinners with an organization called SHIP and he food shopped for the elderly. He got involved with the Rotary Club of Dunellen-Green Brook, NJ, through his mother, who was very involved with the club and she even served as president one year.
During this period, he learned and embraced the motto, “Service Above Self.” He attended many meetings, helped with many fundraisers and attended four Rotary District 7510 Conferences where he met many Rotarians and was exposed to the needs of people not just from New Jersey and the United States, but from all over the world.
He moved to Pennsylvania in 2010, two years after his father died. He started school at Marywood University in the fall of 2010 and got involved with Campus Ministry right away. He helped with many projects that helped younger kids such as Fall Fest and Kidstuff. He helped at the St Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen and helped with cleaning out homes that were flooded by hurricanes. He walked dogs with the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter. The biggest project that he did in Marywood was his service trip to Biloxi, Mississippi, in 2013, where he went with a team and we helped paint and put down flooring for new homes they were still rebuilding from Katrina.
Fast forwarding to 2017, he started to get involved with the Monroe County Young Democrats and joined their Civic Action Committee to which he was later appointed Chair. One of the projects he researched was the Bushkill Reformed Church’s Community Dinner on Thursdays from 5-7pm. When he first arrived, the other volunteers made me feel very welcomed he knew he wanted to keep doing this on a weekly basis. He did whatever they need him to do and they are a great group of volunteers. He never realized the amount of people who need a hot meal in Middle Smithfield and other neighboring townships. One of the things he is trying to accomplish is leading by example so that others, mainly young people, will do the same. Hopefully the future will hold more ways for him to serve.
Diane Jiorle was born and raised in Monroe County, and her family has lived here for several generations. Her and her husband, Dan, have been married for 34 years and have four wonderful sons; Tyler, Ethan, and twins, Luke and Levi.
Tyler and his wife Shelly just had twin sons, Carter and Conall on November 6th, and Shelly brought a grandson into their family named Taylor.
Diane says that being a mom and now a grandmother is her biggest blessing.
She has felt so grateful to be a part of The Angel’s Closet for the last 15 years or so. She enjoys helping people and really loves talking to the moms, grandmothers or guardians who call for help. She originally started helping at The Angel’s Closet to get her “baby fix” because her sons were no longer little and she missed those days.
Being a part of this became so much more for her; God gave her the gifts of hospitality and service and she is so glad to be able to use them for The Angel’s Closet.
About the Judges
An independent panel of judges volunteered to select the finalists:
- Bob Phillips, Judges Committee Chair, Former CEO Pocono Mountain Chamber of Commerce
- Al Compoly Jr., 2016 Person of the Year Finalist, Operation Chillout
- Tim O’Donnell, 2015 Person of the Year Finalist, Kiwanis Club of the Poconos
- George Roberts, Owner, George Roberts Productions
- Gary Smith, Gary in the Morning, Pocono 96.7
- Marcia G. Welsh, President, East Stroudsburg University
- Connie Roberts, Alternate Judge, George Roberts Productions