Volunteer awarded for yearslong dedication to Plum

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 8:18 p.m.

When Polly Schmeck first moved to Plum from Pittsburgh in 1961, there was no library in the area.

So she got to work right away.

With Schmeck's help, a mobile library soon was established to bring books to people weekly when requested. But that was not enough for the enthusiastic new resident.

Along with other library advocates, Schmeck worked to accumulate funds and rally community support, which brought about the first library in Plum in the 1990s, which was located on Unity Center Road.

For all of her hard work in the area, Schmeck, 81, was given the Citizen Recognition Award presented by the Plum Borough Council on Feb. 11.

“No matter what the project, Polly left her fingerprint,” Plum resident Valerie Yockey said. Yockey and Schmeck worked together on several community projects, including the establishment of the library.

“There were a lot of tenacious women (involved),” Yockey said, remembering sitting in on the first meeting in 1988 that was held in the kitchen of a resident.

Schmeck continued to sit on the library board and played a role in the creation of the current library on Center New Texas Road.

She said she also got involved in many other projects through her church, St. John the Baptist; through the schools because her husband, Tony, served as an administrator there; and in any way she could find that would benefit the community.

Yockey, who is the chairman of the Plum Borough Democratic Committee, also remembers helping to start the annual holiday Sugar Plum Days festival. Schmeck was instrumental in organizing it, Yockey said. .

Schmeck worked as a nurse in Pittsburgh and brought her passion for the medical field to Plum when she organized a local meeting of the Allegheny Well Baby Conference in the borough.

The event provides vaccinations and checkups for babies.

Over the years, Schmeck said, she has served as an elected borough auditor, volunteer on the Plum Beautification Committee, volunteer with the Allegheny Foothills Historical Society, and she frequently volunteers at the Plum Senior Community Center where an award for volunteerism and community service that is given to a senior in the area was renamed to “The Polly Award.”

“If there's ever a person who really exemplifies community support, it's my mother,” said John Schmeck, former mayor of Plum.

During his term as a borough official, John Schmeck said, his mother was very supportive and an inspiration to him and the six other Schmeck children that were raised in Plum.

“Her life was always dedicated to people and she taught that to all of us,” John Schmeck said.

Polly Schmeck is known for voicing her opinions, John Schmeck said.

“She told people how she felt and was always honest,” he said.

John Schmeck said that his mother's words and actions taught him an important lesson: “If you do what's for the people, at the end of the day, nothing else matters.”

Matthew DeFusco is a reporter with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2311 or mdefusco@tribweb.com.

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