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“ExtraORdinary People" is a series by The Observer-Reporter that recognizes the unsung heroes in our own community. Every month, a panel of community and philanthropic leaders will select one winner from your nominations, and we will share their story with our readers. Nominate your hero today!

ExtraORdinary People winner volunteers time for community projects

Pizza shop owner has organized hundreds of fundraising events

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Mackenzie Randall/Observer-Reporter
Della Faryna, right, president and secretary of the Ellsworth Lighting Fund, works with vice president and treasurer Janet Gazi to determine if the LED lights that are attached to a reindeer-shaped metal structure are operational or need to be replaced.
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Mackenzie Randall/Observer-Reporter
Della Faryna, right, and Janet Gazi examine the lights on a star-shaped Christmas display. Order a Print
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Mackenzie Randall/Observer-Reporter
Della Faryna, who has been instrumental in raising money for the Christmas light display in Ellsworth, inspects a bulb on a holiday-themed metal structure. Order a Print
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Mackenzie Randall/Observer-Reporter
Della Faryna of Ellsworth, right, works with Janet Gazi to move holiday light displays stored in the basement of the Ellsworth Borough Building. Order a Print
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Mackenzie Randall/Observer-Reporter
Della Faryna tightens a light attached to a holiday display that will be displayed at Christmastime in Ellsworth. Order a Print
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Mackenzie Randall/Observer-Reporter
Della Faryna is as generous with her business, Fox’s Pizza in Bentleyville, as she is with her time. Order a Print

When Della Faryna’s children enrolled in Ave Maria School in Bentleyville 32 years ago, she jumped into fundraising to help raise money for school-related activities and events.

It soon became evident that Faryna, 56, of Ellsworth, was a talented event planner, throwing fun and successful spaghetti dinners, bingo fundraisers, cash bashes and raffle sales.

While Faryna showed an ability to raise money, she had an inability to say no to charitable causes when schools and organizations asked for her advice or participation. Over the past three decades, Faryna estimates she has organized or participated in hundreds of fundraisers and events.

“It just kind of snowballed. People liked what I was doing, and they would ask me, ‘Would you help us?’ and I said, ‘Sure,’” said Faryna. “So we started raising money for different organizations. I like making other people’s troubles less. I enjoy doing it, and it’s helping them, so to me it’s a win-win situation. I can’t say no. That’s my biggest problem. My husband says I need to learn how to say no, but if you see a need and you have the time, and you have the gift of knowing how to do it, you should help.”

Faryna, who owns Fox’s Pizza Den in Bentleyville, serves as president of ELF (Ellsworth Light Fund), which raises funds for the borough’s Christmas lights display; is a member of the Bentleyville Public Library board of trustees, and organizes the Ellsworth Volunteer Fire Department Christmas Gift Bash, an annual fundraiser for the fire department, where her husband, Frank, is a retired fireman and her son, Frank Jr., is a volunteer firefighter.

“I like making other people’s troubles less. I enjoy doing it, and it’s helping them, so to me it’s a win-win situation. I can’t say no.”

- Della Faryna

“She has done so much for the community. She is always helping people. She’s just a really, genuinely good-hearted person who would do anything for anybody,” said Wendy Richards, a retired state police trooper whose ex-husband, David, a sergeant in North Strabane Township Police Department, started the Blue Ride, a popular motorcycle ride that benefits local charities, with her. Faryna has volunteered with the charity ride.

Richards met Faryna 27 years ago at the pizza shop, where law enforcement officers and firefighters (who eat for free, Faryna’s way of thanking them for their service to the community) frequently stop for lunch or dinner.

“Della is one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. There aren’t too many people like her. And it’s not just one thing she’s involved in. You’re talking about several organizations she’s helped,” said Richards.

Faryna has always been a hard worker.

Originally from Charleroi, she moved to Ellsworth after she married her high school sweetheart, her husband, Frank, 38 years ago.

Faryna, who worked on and off at various jobs when her two children were little, started working at the pizza shop to help pay for her daughter’s dance classes and other family expenses.

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Della Faryna is as generous with her business, Fox’s Pizza in Bentleyville, as she is with her time.
Mackenzie Randall/Observer-Reporter

Two years later, the owner, who was selling the pizza shop, told Faryna, who was well-liked by employees and customers, he wanted her to buy it.

So, she did.

Faryna, as generous with her pizza shop as she is with her time, regularly provides free and discounted pizza for community and school events.

“The community has been good to us. We’ve made a lot of great friends and met a lot of great people,” said Faryna. “When my kids were small, the community supported them, so now it’s my turn to give back to them.”

In 2009, Faryna was diagnosed with colon cancer – the same disease claimed her mother’s life when Faryna was 8 years old – and complications led to a slow recovery.

Faryna has cut back on the time she spends at the pizza shop, but she remains active in the community.

“Right now, my main thing is to continue with the fire hall, and my focus is to help the library and to try to make the light display better every year,” said Faryna.

Mark Segetti, Ellsworth Borough Council president, said Faryna has been instrumental in raising funds to update and expand the town’s Christmas lights display, which has grown to include a manger scene and a large, $12,000 “Season’s Greetings” sign that was erected in the borough park.

“There are always a few people who step up every time there’s something that needs to be done, and Della is one of them,” said Segetti. “It’s been a big effort. We’re very proud of our lighting and Christmas lights, and we get a lot of compliments. We’re a small community, and that’s why we’re really proud of it. Della has been an instrumental part of it.”

Faryna doesn’t plan to stop volunteering anytime soon.

She has two grandchildren, Caleb, 8, and Cavin, 2 1/2, and she’s gearing up to participate in their activities.

Already, she’s thrown pizza parties and held ticket sales for Caleb’s Cub Scout troop.

Faryna credits the help of others for making fundraising events successful.

“It’s everybody who’s involved that makes it work,” said Faryna. “Everyone on board helps. I have a great family and a lot of really good friends, and we all work together.”

Della Faryna has selected the Washington Area Humane Society and Washington City Mission as the recipients of the $500 donation underwritten by Range Resources.

ExtraORdinary People Nomination Form

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

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