A local couple say they were pleasantly surprised after being presented a prestigious award — one that has not been presented in more than five years — at a Wapakoneta organization’s meeting this week.
The Rev. Elaine Mikesell and her husband, Dr. Alan Mikesell, of Wapakoneta, were awarded the “Service to Mankind Award” by the Wapakoneta Sertoma Club during the club’s meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
“It was a shock,” Elaine Mikesell said after being presented the award. “This is the neatest thing that has happened to me in a long time.”
Sertoma Secretary Deb McElroy said this is a special award, and it is not just given at random, as the last award the club presented to an individual was in 2007.
“Elaine and Alan go to my church and they are the most selfless people I know,” McElroy said. “They will do anything to give, and they do so routinely.”
McElroy said the Mikesells fit the criteria of the award, as they do all they can to help others.
“It takes someone special to go and see this,” McElroy said of the countries they visit and the children they meet during their travels.
Alan Mikesell, a former endodontist in Wapakoneta, and Elaine, a retired nurse and minister at St. Paul United Church of Christ, were presented this award to recognize their service to others. The couple travels to different countries, including Ukraine and El Salvador, through the Sharing American’s Resource Abroad (SARA) Program.
SARA is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to offering medical training and assistance to improve lives around the world.
The couple helps build homes, brings medical supplies and visits the children in these countries on their trips, along with Alan Mikesell providing medical assistance to the people in need.
“I do this because Alan wants to,” Elaine Mikesell said. “He says we have been blessed to give a blessing to others.”
Alan Mikesell said that they travel to other countries to give because it is a reward for the couple. They are planning to travel to Ukraine again in July.
“It’s one of the biggest rewards I have every year,” Alan Mikesell said of his travels each year.
“It’s a way we can continue to ministry,” his wife said.
During these eye opening experiences, Elaine Mikesell said it is an opportunity to change lives.
“This is an opportunity that will change your life, break your heart and open your wallet,” Elaine Mikesell told Sertoma Club members.
She noted this award is extra special because her husband was a Sertoma member in the 1980s.
After being presented the award, the couple showed a couple of movie clips of children in the countries that they have visited.
“There is a town on the western coast of El Salvador, and it shows you how young boys go diving into muddy, murky water,” Elaine Mikesell said. “These little boys make a living by diving for clams in this muddy water. They then put them into a bag, and when the bag gets full they sell them for 50 cents. Then they will go to school in the afternoon.”
Alan Mikesell noted there are approximately 300 children in a school that they visit and the couple brings them toys — such as Beanie Babies and Matchbox cars — because these are things that the children do not have.
Elaine Mikesell also noted during the presentation that the couple enjoys visiting a children’s orphanage while in Ukraine.
“It’s one of our favorite place to go,” Elaine Mikesell said. “They love to see us, and we love to see them.”
“We try to take the youth with us to help plant seeds for the future,” Alan Mikesell said. “We can’t do this forever.”