North Huntingdon volunteer receives accolades yet stays humble
Her list of volunteer work in the Norwin area includes her church, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and food bank, to name a few. Still, Brenda Kacvinsky does not expect to be honored for it — even as accolades continue to mount.
Kacvinsky, 56, of North Huntingdon was selected as the first winner of the Neveu Award, which was presented last month by Calvary Church of Irwin. The award celebrates what others do in the Norwin area to make the community better, said Nick Poole, Calvary's pastor.
“I was so surprised. I never expect it would be me to get the award,” Kacvinsky said.
The award came with a $1,000 check, some of which Kacvinsky gave to the Rotary Foundation to help recent hurricane victims. The remainder will go to other worthy projects, she said.
Poole said Kacvinsky “has given of herself with a servant's heart in numerous ways throughout the Norwin area.”
Kacvinsky has “lived a life of service through her involvement in numerous organizations including the Norwin Rotary Club and (her parish) Immaculate Conception Church, among others,” Poole said.
Kacvinsky said she has been open to volunteering and giving of her time for worthwhile initiatives for decades. She is quick to point out she has not done it alone. She credits her family — husband, Mark, with whom she will celebrate a 40th anniversary in November; son, Mark, and his family — with making it easier to offer her time and talents to help others.
“My husband and my family pitch in with a lot of things I do,” Kacvinsky said.
She deflected individual praise for her work, saying that she has worked with committees in the organizations and clubs in which she has been involved.
“We do it as a group effort,” Kacvinsky said.
Her journey of community involvement began about 25 years ago when she was the office manager, bookkeeper and events coordinator at the Monroeville Chamber of Commerce.
“I had community leaders that got me involved in the process,” Kacvinsky said.
She also was an active member of her Irwin church, leading a committee in 2006 that raised $14,000 for Immaculate Conception. She also has helped lead the Christian Mothers and Ladies Guild.
“She helped infuse many new and younger women into the organization,” said the Rev. John Moineau, priest at Immaculate Conception.
Kacvinsky said she remains active in her church, helping to plan its 150th anniversary next year.
“Faith plays a big role in my life,” said Kacvinsky, a native of Fredericktown, Washington County.
As a member of the Norwin Rotary Club, she helped the local service organization raise over $6,000 for the End Polio Now campaign. Kacvinsky has donated over $1,000 to the Rotary Foundation for works of charity all over the world.
She was president of the Norwin Rotary Club in 2012-13 and received the 7330 Rotary District “Governor's Crystal Citation Award,” which is given to clubs that have shown outstanding effort and achievement throughout the year.
“She is one of our most active members since she joined,” said Don Morrison, current president of the Norwin Rotary Club. “She's all for community service.”
In 2007, Kacvinsky received the Paul Harris Fellow Award for outstanding service to the Norwin Rotary Club, which exemplifies Rotary International's motto of “Service Above Self.”
“The Norwin Rotary Club is probably my true love. They're a great group of people,” Kacvinsky said.
Kacvinsky, who is the office manager for R.J. Staso Heating and Air Conditioning in North Huntingdon, was named “Person of the Year” by the Norwin Chamber of Commerce in 2010.
“She is what I call a ‘worker bee,'” said Rosanne Novotnak, president of the Norwin chamber. “Community volunteerism runs deep in that family.”
Kacvinsky also volunteers for “Fresh Express” with the Westmoreland County Food Bank.
Through the Rotary Backpack Program, she helps deliver backpacks filled with school supplies to needy children.
“It really helps people in need,” Kacvinsky said.
She has managed to remain active while coping with chronic back pain caused by a head-on collision in Washington County about 25 years ago while en route to visiting her parents.
The pain came on strong 15 years ago and remains with her daily. She has undergone neck and three back surgeries and now has an electrical device implanted in her spine to interfere with nerves that transmit pain signals to her brain.
Despite that pain, she is not finished volunteering.
“You've gotta give back when you've been blessed. You gotta give back,” Kacvinsky said.