2023 NPD Honorees


Seated l-r:  Dr. Sergul Erzurum, Dr. Chander Kohli, Karen Kohli
Standing l-r:  Macenzee Gaal, Rick Blase (Rick's Ranchwear), Jon Dunn (Birdfish Brewing Company),  Nicole Fond (Friends of PLYMC)

2023 Outstanding Philanthropist

Dr. Chander and Karen Kohli

2023 Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist

Birdfish Brewing Company

Birdfish Brewing Company was founded in 2014 and is an independent family owned and operated brewery.  The Brewery first opened its doors on S. Main Street in Columbiana during November 2015.  Our initial location housed a one-barrel brew house and tasting room.  This small location provided us with the ability to create new beers and provide a rotation of great craft beers for customers to enjoy.  We used this space to provide entertainment by showcasing local artists and musicians each weekend. 


During 2018, we completed an expansion to our current location on E. Park Avenue in Columbiana.  This expansion included a seven-barrel brew house and a larger space for customers to enjoy.  We were able to scale our early beers for the one-barrel system continuing to provide fresh craft beer.  This space provides enjoyment for the whole family and our commitment to the local musicians remains.  

As a family owned and operated business, we strive to make an impact in the community we serve and live in.  This notion is held deep in our beliefs and resides in our mission:


To bring the local community together to enjoy fresh craft beer and create unforgettable memories with the people we love and the people they love.

This is a statement we stand by and operate under.  We continue to remain dedicated to the goal of providing fresh craft beer and a space for our community to enjoy.  We will accomplish this by remaining committed to our community in all aspects of our business.

2023 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser

Dr. Sergul Erzurum

Sergul Erzurum, MD, as a pediatric ophthalmologist, has cared for children’s eyesight over the last 30 years in the valley. Her support of a school-based vision health initiative for K-12 students allowed the creation of free in-school eye exams and prescription glasses for all students in the Mahoning Valley.

Sight For All United is a locally based non-profit organization whose mission is to help every person reach his/her visual potential, educate the community on the impact of poor sight, raise awareness of eye health issues, and remove barriers for access to care.

To bring an in-school vision van to our community, Sight For All United partnered with United Way of the Mahoning Valley, Nouns DAO, Classic Optical Laboratories, Fitz Frames, Leonard Fisher Family Foundation, Cafaro Foundation, Vision To Learn and Essilor Vision Foundation. A year long process of fundraising and meeting with community leaders such as United Way of the Mahoning Valley, Cafaro Foundation, Leonard Fisher Family Foundation and Nouns DAO, allowed Sight for All United to obtain the necessary commitments and funding to purchase the first Vision Van in the valley. These relationships allowed Tim Ryan’s office to hear about this tremendous program and invited Sight for All United to apply for a $550,000 federal grant to fund a new mobile vision clinic with the needed specialty equipment.

In addition to Dr. Ezurum’s work to secure a federal appropriation, she participates in Sight for All United’s annual Golf Fore Sight fundraiser and the Annual Eyeball of the Mahoning Valley. Since its inception in 2016, the group has provided 1.45 million dollars in services through monies raised.

Dr. Erzurum demonstrates exceptional leadership skills in recruiting, coordinating, and motivating volunteers for fundraising projects. Dr. Erzurum recruited NEOMED and YSU students to start Students for Sight to support Sight for All.

Sergul Erzurum’s leadership and vision has given the Mahoning Valley the opportunity to change the face of education for our children and to lower barriers that will inhibit learning, reading, attention, academic development, and graduation success.

2023 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraising Group

Friends of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County

The Friends of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (PLYMC) Bookstore is proud to be a source of additional funds which benefit the public libraries in Mahoning County for Children’s Literacy Programs. The Library Children’s Programming that everyone knows best is the Summer Discover/ Reading Program, which is offered to every child in Mahoning County, is one of the main recipients of the funds the volunteers raise. Children that read through the summer come better prepared for school in September.

The store, which opened in 2003, is owned and operated by the Friends of the PLYMC, an independent 501c3 organization with a Board of Directors, and is comprised of 40+ volunteers who work in the store. It features once read donated books in a newly renovated, convenient, and pleasant surroundings. The store is open six days a week all year, with volunteers working shifts. There is no paid staff in the store.

The bookstore volunteers conduct special sales with themes and host local author events to help local authors get launched in the community. They also help many school districts who received grant money to supply cases of books for the classrooms and the school libraries. The Friends volunteers also help the local prisons with cases of books for their inmates.

The Library would like to offer a very special thank you to the wonderful volunteers who freely give of their time to staff the store six days a week. The work of this auxiliary group also extends to fundraising in different branches of the library. We see in their efforts a love of libraries, books, reading, and the advancement of children’s literacy programs. The Library Board of Trustees, Executive Director, Development Director, and Library Staff hold these volunteers in high regard.

It is the hope of the Friends Volunteers that all customers who walk through the doors of the Friends of PLYMC Bookstore located in Poland Library have a pleasant visit and leave with a desire to return. In doing so, they are supporting great children’s programs at their local library.



2023 Legacy Award

Dr. Richard Shale

During his lifetime, Dr. Richard (Rick) Shale, longtime English professor at YSU, history enthusiast and dedicated philanthropist, invested time to thoughtfully plan what would happen to his trust and assets after his passing. 

With his family’s deep roots in the Mahoning Valley, Shale embraced the local community and culture, celebrating its nuanced history and taking advantage of the many enriching events and activities all around the Valley. He contributed much of his time, many talents and personal wealth to a large swathe of organizations and initiatives during his lifetime, but while history played a huge role in Shale’s life, he also saw the benefit of planning for future support of those initiatives.

“Rick began planning for future gifts long before most of us do,” says Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation. “He knew that he wanted to continue supporting the many organizations and initiatives that impacted his daily life and saw having a plan as a necessity to ensure that would happen.”

Over time, Shale crafted a blueprint where several organizations would receive future gifts from his estate, which totaled more than $6 million when he passed away in 2022.

At the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, the Rick Shale Fund was established with five broad areas of interest for the fund – local history, the arts, parks, education and social services.  at the end of June with a distribution from the Rick Shale Trust of just over $3.7 million.

During his lifetime, Rick served on the boards of many local charities as well as the national board for Phi Kappa Phi. Annually, he supported many organizations and established and funded both a scholarship at Youngstown State University and an endowment fund to support various activities at Youngstown State University including the Maag Library, The YSU English Festival, YSU Theatre among others. Additionally, he established and funded a $100,000 scholarship at his alma mater, Ohio Wesleyan University during his lifetime. When he reached age 70 ½ he enhanced his annual charitable giving by utilizing the qualified charitable distribution option available from his traditional IRA required minimum distributions. The cumulative total of these annual gifts was in excess of $200,000.

Rick was an avid supporter of the Butler Institute of American Art, the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, and Mill Creek Metroparks, to name a few of his favorite charities. He supported numerous other organizations throughout his life, with gifts ranging from modest to major.

Rick never imagined that he would be in a position to be philanthropic, but after years of thrifty saving and sound investments, he realized an opportunity to give back and looked forward annually to doing just that. Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley will long feel the effects of Rick's philanthropy and his devotion to a community and a university that he loved so much.