For the first time ever, recipients of the William Werkheiser Community Services award had a dual recipient. Knowing these two incredible activists, you will agree that they can never, ever be separated. They are literally, everywhere.
One would think that the story I’m about to tell you of Irv and Jody Weinreich is straight out of a movie on Lifetime Movie Network but it is a reality. Jody who was orphaned at a young age at Bethany children’s home ironically enough met Irv who also an orphan residing at the same institution. First becoming friends their relationship fostered into love and eventually marriage.
Jody has been a lifelong seamstress. She had worked in several garment shops. Her first job was at South Manufacturing and ended at Tama Manufacturing. Altogether she worked over 40 years in a union shop and was a member of the ILGWU.
Irv began his employment at the Allentown Housing authority. He then went to Cedar Brook where he tried to form a union with AFL-CIO but without success. He finished his employment at JB Reilly where health issues forced him into early retirement.
Jody and Irv are lifelong volunteers and the bar has been set so high that we are inclined to think not many could meet their humanitarian examples. Besides Jody’s countless hours of crocheting making items to donate, they have volunteered countless times at Safe Harbor, Lehigh Valley Hospital, Volunteers of America, Community of Living in Wilkes-Barre, Third Street Alliance, just to name a few.
After retirement, Jody accepted the Retiree Action Program Coordinator position with our union. Irv still manages to be Commander at the Local VFW where he himself being a Vietnam veteran gave back to his fellow brothers in arms.
Most notable to me was Project Cape. Jody and Irv with the help of Gregg Potter and Camelot for Children helped 12-year-old Zachi Telesha’s dream come true. He was an Allentown boy fighting cancer, who found strength by inventing his own comic book of superheroes. Shortly before his death, he asked his family to remember him by hosting a superhero party every fall around his birthday and inviting other children from the LV who were also being treated for cancer.
Perhaps many years ago at Bethany Children’s Home Jody and Irv themselves dreamt of a cape they could wear so they could be superheroes. Thanks to unsung heroes like Jody and Irv this dream is met every year. Jody crocheted masks and Irv helped with the designing of the capes.
The list goes on and on to what Jody and Irv do on a daily basis to help those in need. You would think being placed in an orphanage and fighting that battle alone would be enough to dampen their spirits. But the reverse happened. They rose out of their despair found Hope and Light and give that to everyone they meet every day.
They are remarkable human beings, and the world is a better place because they are in it.