It took me about one minute into a phone conversation with Melissa Seibert to know that without a doubt she was the perfect pick for About’s “Person of the Year.”

“Oh my goodness, no,” Seibert exclaimed when I told her the news, her voice starting to shake. “And on the day we buried Ashley.” Army 1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf, a former Marlboro Township resident, was killed in action Oct. 22 in Afghanistan. The tears were coming now, as she went on to talk about the military programs and everything that must be done to bring attention to the military and the support that it needs.

As she spoke about “her soldiers,” it was immediately clear that her passion and commitment run deep. Her position as military services outreach manager isn’t a role that she just fulfills. She lives it.

While at home for her photo shoot, Seibert told story after story about her soldiers. Sending them off, welcoming them home, assisting those left behind — even saving the lives of soldiers overseas and near suicide.

She takes each of them to heart, and wears her heart on her sleeve with no apologies. Her energy is contagious.

“She’s like that from the time she gets up to the time she goes to sleep,” her husband, Mark, said with a grin as she dashed to another room to find quilts that were made locally for wounded and fallen soldiers.

Her story is exactly what we hoped to bring to the “Person of the Year.” Our intent with this feature each year is to spotlight good work and good people from Stark County. The selection criteria for our “Person of the Year” are simple: A local person who made a significant impact on Stark County in the previous year. Last year’s recipient was Bob Shearer, CEO of Shearer’s Foods.

About Weddings

Putting together the About Weddings issues always makes me feel nostalgic about my wedding day. Much of this issue focuses on the first dance that couples share as husband and wife. Many couples are now opting to coordinate a first dance with professionals to make the moment even more special. My husband and I swayed back and forth to “From this Moment” by Shania Twain — no fancy waltzes or practiced dances for us. Trust me, with my two left feet, it was just as well. We asked our followers on Facebook to tell us the song they danced to at their wedding.

Darla A. Brown

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