PARKERSBURG - Wood County Habitat for Humanity will be recognizing a longtime volunteer and leader with an award named in his honor which will be used to honor others who help the organization.
Gwen Miles, volunteer coordinator for Wood County Habitat, said the Ray of Light Award has been created in honor of Wood County resident Ray Boso, who has been involved in Habitat since 1995.
Before becoming involved in Habitat, Boso spent most of his life as a farmer in the Belleville area of Wood County, except for a two-year stint with the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II. He has also volunteered over the years at the West Virginia Oil and Gas Museum in downtown Parkersburg and remains active in that regard to this day.
Longtime Wood County Habitat for Humanity volunteer Ray Boso is being honored by the group with the creation of an award in his honor, the Wood County Habitat for Humanity Ray of Light Award.
Boso became the organization's construction supervisor in 1996 and provided guidance and tutelage to many volunteer laborers and home recipients through 2005, Miles said. During that time, he helped build 32 homes, from Wood County's eighth house up through the 39th, she said.
In 2001, Boso took a nine-month leave to fight cancer and then returned for three more years before officially retiring in 2005 at the age of 81, Miles said. Even after his retirement, Boso has remained a supporter of Habitat. In 2008, he built a playhouse that was raffled off and raised nearly $3,000 for Wood County Habitat, she said.
"Ray was a really important part of our early growth," said Alvin Phillips, executive director for Wood County Habitat, adding Boso was great with the families and volunteers involved in the construction projects.
"It's very appropriate," Phillips said of the new award in Boso's honor. "We need to honor our volunteers."
A plaque for the Ray of Light Award will be displayed in the Habitat office at 1450 Seventh St. in Parkersburg. Miles said the plaque will be unveiled and dedicated in Boso's honor Sunday during the 10:45 a.m. service at his church, Stephenson United Methodist Church in Parkersburg.
Boso and his family are expected to be in attendance. Miles said any of the volunteers or home recipients who worked with him over the years are invited to attend the program.
The first two recipients of the Ray of Life Award will be named in June, with their names added to the plaque for display in the Habitat office. Miles said there will not be a set period for when new recipients are named, such as annually, but will instead be decided based on merit and service as needed.
"It will be based on outstanding and faithful service and a generous donation of time and talent," Miles said of the recognition. "It doesn't have to be construction either, just somebody who gives their heart and soul to whatever they are doing."
Parkersburg resident Phyllis Sigley was the recipient of Wood County Habitat's 31st house, built in 2001, and she said it was wonderful working with Boso, who let her provide input on the design of the house she helped build and moved into.
"He was a blessing to work with," she said, adding he was always ready to help anyone learn new skills during the home-building projects.
"He definitely deserves to be recognized," she said.
Wood County Habitat's next event will be a Blitz Build on June 1-2 at 4416 15th Ave. in south Parkersburg, on the 63rd house. Miles said 50 volunteers are being sought for an intensive two-day work session on the home. Several groups are scheduled to work on projects in June and July for Habitat, she said.
Work is nearing completion on the 61st and 62nd homes by volunteers, while adult education students at Washington County Career Center are working on the 60th home for delivery later, she said.