Pittsburgh Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award Gala hosts everyday heroes
By Kate Benz
Published: Sunday, March 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Doing unto others received a well-deserved plug on March 30, where five finalists were being lauded during the Pittsburgh Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award Gala.
“This is our second year. Last year, it was pretty informal and we thought, ‘This is our hometown — we need to do it big,' ” said Julie Hendry.
A joint effort from Direct Energy and Trib Total Media, the event at the Heinz History Center saw friends and family rally around the men and women of the hour, who were humbly taking a bow.
“I think it's absolutely phenomenal. She's my inspiration,” said Jennifer Strang of her friend, Maria Vondas. Vondas created Christianpalooza in honor of her son, Christian, who passed away from terminal brain cancer. Proceeds from Christianpalooza benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
WPXI's Jennifer Abney did the honors as emcee, “You all deserve this and so much more,” she shared, before welcoming politico Rich Fitzgerald to the podium. “Pittsburgh is a great place ... the five people being honored here tonight are really emblematic about what makes (this city) so special,” he said.
Sentiment shared as the “congratulations” came fast and furious for fellow finalists Lutual and Sarah Love and their anti-bullying campaign within the A+ School districts, Carol McCaskey and her Backpack Initiative to Fight Hunger program at Deer Lakes Elementary, and Roberta Hall (aka, Ms. Bert) for a tireless dedication to the Wallace Avenue Soup Kitchen of Naomi's Way — which includes a 4 a.m. wake-up call.
“She's set the bar for us,” said Hall's pastor, the Rev. Thelma Mitchell. “She's remarkable. You feel like you need to run to keep up with her.”
From the start, general consensus resolved that all of the finalists were applause-worthy examples of selflessness, although it was Teresa Amelio who walked away with top honors. A volunteer for the North Hills Community Outreach, she donated land to establish the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden (named after her mother), which grows fresh fruits and veggies that are distributed to families in need through local food banks. More than 300 fellow volunteers of the project have provided nearly 10,000 pounds of food to more than 1,000 families.
“I think it's fantastic ... just to think about what a couple can accomplish is really amazing,” offered DE's Todd Sandford.
Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-380-8515.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lights! Glamour! Action! crowd throngs to Heinz Field
- Flash!: ‘Celebration of the Arts’; Drink for Pink party