Community Gems recognized for service to others: ‘It’s important to tell those stories’

The Dayton Daily News Community Gems were surrounded by family and friends during the Dragons Family Movie Night at Day Air Ballpark on Friday as they were recognized for their contributions to the Miami Valley.

The Community Gems program presented by Kettering Health recognizes people in the community that go the extra mile to help each other out and improve the lives of their neighbors and community.

“There is a real need to highlight the positive actions, regardless of how big or small, because we believe they inspire others. We have an incredible community, and it’s part of the Dayton Daily News’ job to make sure we showcase that. It’s important to tell those stories,” Ashley Bethard, Editor of Dayton Daily News and Chief Content Officer of Cox First Media said.

Eric Schwartzberg, a reporter with Dayton Daily News, said talking to people throughout the city and region who make a difference in the lives of others has been an “enriching and sometimes moving experience.”

“These are people who have their own lives, their own families, jobs and responsibilities, and yet they still find time to reach out into their community and do something good, oftentimes many things good, without any thought of recognition or recompense,” Schwartzberg said.

The Dayton Daily News recognized more than 140 Community Gems in 2021 and 2022. Those community members and their families were invited to the Dragons Family Movie Night.

Jerry Ferrell, who was nominated as a Community Gem for his efforts in honoring Purple Heart recipients and Gold Star Families by urging government offices, businesses and others to erect signs to give them a dedicated space in their parking lots, brought his 16-year-old son, Alex, to family night.

Ferrell recalled he had no idea that someone had nominated him when he first received the call.

“It’s nice to know that people recognized [my efforts],” Ferrell said. “It was a proudful moment for sure. You go through your daily activities, you do things...things go unnoticed.”

Marina Stokes, who started a candle business to help empower other women through aroma therapy, said she never thought she would be nominated for a program like this. She said the nomination motivated her to keep going and help more women.

“The whole point is to help other women and create the products so that they know they have a way to relax and destress,” Stokes said.

She added that to this day she still does not know who nominated her.

Charles Gau, also known as “Mr. Charles,” said his niece, Tammy Gau, nominated him. For the last decade, he has worked with his West Carrollton church to repair bikes for children and adults. Gau explained that he works on bikes given to him or finds bikes in the trash to recycle and give to a new owner.

He said one of his favorite parts is giving the bikes to children so that they feel special or important.

“I love them all,” Gau said. “I try to do what I can to show them a little attention.”

The Dayton Daily News is encouraging readers to nominate a neighbor, family member, friend, colleague, acquaintance or even someone whose work they’ve admired from afar. It’s simple, all you have to do is share how they have helped others or a cause in the Miami Valley.

Bethard explained that readers could nominate someone for something as simple as a neighbor’s kind deed, to someone who leads a grassroots nonprofit dedicated to a cause that makes peoples’ lives better.

“We encourage readers to continue submitting their nominations for Community Gems,” Bethard said. “We’ve been really thrilled with the response so far, and have truly enjoyed spotlighting the people who make our communities a better place to live.”

To nominate someone as a Community Gem, please fill out the form below. For more Community Gems stories, look for them in our Sunday editions and online at

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