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Candidates sought for Yates award

| Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, 11:42 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
An award in memory of Irene Yates, pictured above in 2011, this spring will be given to an Armstrong County high school senior who has a history of volunteerism. Yates was a volunteer at the Ford City Library for more than 30 years.

Volunteer Irene Yates was the face of the Ford City Public Library for nearly three decades.

Since her sudden death at 87 in 2012, her legacy of giving back to the community has continued.

An annual award established in her memory is in its second year of benefitting area high school seniors who will continue their education and who have shown a commitment to community service and volunteering.

Last year, Irene's daughters, Toni Yates and Elaine Morgenstern, presented the first Irene Yates Memorial Volunteer Award of $500 to Amy Wright of Ford City. Applications for the award this year will be accepted until April 15.

“Amy really deserved the award,” library director Anita Bowser said. “She was really committed to the community and had need of it.”

While in high school, Wright helped raise funds for the library by participating in The Library Players' production of “High School Musical” and “A Christmas Story.” She volunteered at ACMH Hospital and at the Children's Institute in Pittsburgh.

Wright, who is enrolled in an accelerated pre-medical program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, never met Yates.

“The way people speak of her, I can imagine what a wonderful person she was,” Wright said.

Donations for the annual award poured in after Yates' accidental death on July 10, 2012, when she was hit by a postal carrier truck while retrieving her mail. A committee of library staff, volunteers, patrons and Irene's children was formed, and it was decided to use the donations to set up the annual $500 award.

“It is in keeping with Irene's spirit of volunteerism,” Bowser said.

Those who knew her recall her quick wit and welcoming smile. Notes on the award application attest to her volunteerism: “Volunteering was like a regular job to Irene; she rarely missed her Wednesdays and Fridays at the library. She was dependable, cheerful, and had a ready smile for everyone — all qualities of a committed volunteer.”

Applications for this year's award will be available in February in the library or in high school guidance offices. Information about the award and application can be found at www.armstronglibraries.org/Irene.

The winner of this year's award will be announced on May 31.

“We still miss Irene every day,” Bowser said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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