The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 13, 2012

Tribute to Women | YWCA will honor nine for community service

BY TOM LAVIS
TLAVIS@TRIBDEM.COM

JOHNSTOWN — The YWCA of Greater Johnstown will honor nine women from the area for their contributions to the community during the 26th annual Tribute to Women on May 31.

The event will feature a reception at 5 p.m. and a dinner at 6 at  Pasquerilla Conference Center, 301 Napoleon St. in downtown Johnstown.

The Rev. Sylvia J. King of the Prospect section of Johnstown is making a difference in the lives of others and has been chosen as the 2012 Yellow Rose honoree.

The Yellow Rose Award, chosen by the YWCA board of directors, is presented to a person who strives to create opportunities for women’s growth, leadership and power to promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people.

Other honorees are nominated by their peers, who submit a biography about the nominee and her contributions.

A selection committee reviews the biographies with the names removed and makes selections based on the merits of the information provided.

The recipients are Aspen Brianna Mock, arts and letters; Linda Fanale, business; Megan Livingston, community service; Karen Chirillo, education; Annamaria Grunza, lady liberty; Patricia Felton, nonprofit; Betzi White, professions; and Allison Felix, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Yellow Rose Award

After living in Detroit and Chicago, King returned to her native Johnstown to answer God’s call.

King is pastor of Christ Centered Community Church Inc., a faith-based community outreach ministry serving the needy in Greater Johnstown.

In April 2008, with the support of her congregation and others, the Community Outreach Center opened at 227 Market St.

King mustered enough volunteers to begin offering such community services as HIV education and counseling, recovery and relapse prevention counseling, peer counseling and mentoring.

Other services offered at the outreach center include women’s health and physical fitness, GED preparation, resume writing and letter writing.

In 2008, the center relocated to 531 Somerset St. in the Kernville section of Johnstown.

Since moving, additional services were implemented under the guidance of King to include a youth mentorship program and youth financial entrepreneurship classes.

She has developed partnerships with a multitude of community organizations to work on behalf of the disenfranchised, displaced and excluded.

She is a graduate of St. Francis University, where she received a degree in accounting.

King also is the branch manager of AmeriServ Financial’s Windber office.

She is the mother of a son, Brandon King.

Arts and Letters Award

Aspen Brianna Mock of Windber is the recipient of the Arts and Letters Award.

Mock, an English teacher in the Forest Hills School District, is the daughter of Terry and Elsie Mock of Windber.

Her favorite teaching topics are Shakespeare, writing and dramatic literature.

After receiving bachelor’s degrees in English literature and theater from Pitt-Johnstown, Mock earned a master’s degree in English education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

She also has studied Shakespeare at Oxford University in Oxford, England.

Mock wrote and directed “A Semblance of Hope,” which premiered at Arcadia Theater during the annual Pink Tie Affair to raise funds for cancer research.

The play is the story of a woman whose breast cancer is in remission and the lives of her family and friends.

She is also actively involved in her community as a board member for the Outstanding Young Woman Scholarship program and a member of Windber Business and Professional Women.

She continues to write and is seeking to publish “A Semblance of Hope” as well as a collection of short stories.

Business Award

The Business Award goes to Linda Fanale of Westmont.

Fanale is the chief financial officer of Windber Medical Center and Winder Research Institute.

 Her responsibilities include finance, billing, human resources, purchasing, contract management, medical records, information systems, utilization review, registration, home health, hospice, plant operations and the dietary department.

A graduate of Bishop McCort High School, Fanale earned a degree in accounting from Penn State and a master of business administration from the University of Pittsburgh.  She also is a certified public accountant and a certified health care financial professional.

Windber Medical Center and Windber Research Institute have $46 million in assets and employ more than 500 people. Fanale oversees an operating budget of about $60 million.

Fanale serves on the finance committee of Our Mother of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in Westmont. She is on the board of directors of Senior Choice Inc., which operates three nursing homes in Cambria, Somerset and Indiana counties, Atrium Manor, the Patriot and Beacon Ridge, respectively.

She is the daughter of Louis and Linda Crocco, and has been married to her husband, Butch, for 20 years. They are the parents of an 11-year-old daughter, Amanda.

Community Service Award

Megan Livingston of Richland Township is the honoree in the community service category.

Working as a senior learning solutions analyst for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the best parts of Livingston’s week are spent in the basement of Westmont Presbyterian Church with her high school youth group or talking with the girls in the YWCA’s Rise & Shine Mentoring Program, which she started with Mary Parson two years ago.

Livingston also founded the YWCA’s Cinderella Project, which has outfitted hundreds of area girls in prom attire over the past six years.

She helped establish the Young Professionals of the Alleghenies (YPA), where she is a board member and community outreach co-chairwoman, coordinating volunteer efforts to support more than 35 local charities.

Livingston is a participant in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee and serves as the 2012 marketing chairwoman.

As a member of Westmont Presbyterian Church, she participated in two Hurricane Katrina relief trips to New Orleans and a recent trip to Bowery Mission in New York City to work with the homeless. For the past three years, Livingston has been recognized with the Jefferson Award for Community Service through Highmark.

She is married to Scott Livingston and is the daughter of Wayne and Debbie Seese,  retired Forest Hills School District teachers.

Education Award

The Education Award goes to Karen Chirillo of Upper Yoder Township, who is the Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center health assistant instructor. For the past 30 years, she has taught certified nurse’s aides and dental and medical assistants, laying the foundation for a career in health occupations.

After her graduation in 1969 from the University of Pittsburgh, she began work as a public health nurse for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and finished as the director of Public Health for Somerset and Bedford counties in 1978.

Using her nursing, planning and grant-writing skills, her program has been awarded the Lee Initiative Grant five consecutive years. These grants have generated more than $50,000, all of which have been used to benefit students. The highlight of the grants has been the establishment of the Lee Initiative Nurse’s Aide Training Center, a state-of-the-art training center that has served and will continue to serve hundreds of students aspiring to enter the health-care field.

Since 1988, Chirillo has been a volunteer for the American Heart Association, basic life support instructor and training center faculty for Conemaugh Health System.

She serves as an advisory committee member for Hiram G. Andrews Center’s nursing assistant program.

Chirillo and her husband of 42 years, Richard, are the parents of a daughter, Samantha.

Nonprofit Award

Patricia Felton of Richland Township is the recipient of the Nonprofit Award.

Felton is the director of the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center at Windber Medical Center.

As director, Felton uses her nursing background to direct a multidisciplinary team of professionals to provide patient-centered care focusing on the mind, body and spirit, which is the Planetree philosophy of Windber Medical Center.

She oversees the day-to-day operations and provides clinical and regulatory oversight for two research protocols for the Clinical Breast Care Project with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, plans and implements survivorship programs, provides community education, ensures patient access to breast screenings and is instrumental in fundraising events.

Felton has made numerous presentations to various groups regarding the importance of annual breast cancer screenings. Her interaction with the young women of the region, including the Girl Scouts and high school and college students, has built positive relationships between the care center and the community.

She recently launched the “Take the Pink Pledge” campaign, which encourages women to get annual breast cancer screenings.

She and her husband, Russell “Rusty” Felton, are the parents of two children, Samantha, 12, and Jakob, 10.

Felton is the daughter of Ronald and Monica James of Johnstown.

Lady Liberty Award

The Lady Liberty Award goes to Sgt. 1st Class Annamaria Grunza of Westmont.

Grunza’s military career began when, as a junior at Westmont Hilltop High School, she joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1997.

In 2004, the 1-104 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB) in Johnstown deployed to Kosovo in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Grunza became the stay behind soldier. When units deploy, there are soldiers who stay behind to serve as liaison between the deployed unit and the soldiers’ families. Grunza was responsible for the support of soldier readiness and mobilization.

She was hired as the senior human resources sergeant for the battalion in 2004. Grunza also serves as the family liaison officer for the units’ family support group. Working with and assisting families while they are stationed at home, training or deployed.

She is married to Stephen Grunza of Johnstown. They have a 1-year-old son, Gabriel.

Born and raised in Johnstown, she is the daughter of Albert L. Zawalish Jr. and Barbara M. Gray.

Professions Award

Betzi White of Portage is the honoree in the professions category.

White is the licensed social worker administrator for Cambria County Children and Youth Services, the agency working to prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of children.

White is a 1980 graduate of Pitt-Johnstown with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

She was hired by Cambria County Children and Youth Service in 1988 and promoted to casework supervisor in 1993. She was responsible for teaching, mentoring and helping caseworkers build critical thinking skills.

When the CYS administrator retired in 1998, family court Judge Norman Krumenacker encouraged her to apply for the position.

Because she lacked some required skills, White enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, Child Welfare Education for the leadership master’s degree program.

She graduated in 2001 with a master’s degree in social work, with concentration in administration and community organization and a certificate in child welfare.

She returned to CYS as a casework supervisor and worked as acting administrator until being promoted to the position in 2003.

She and her husband, Gary, are the parents of three children.

She is the daughter of Bob and Margaret Mainhart of Summerhill Township.

STEM Award

Allison Felix of Westmont is the first recipient of the award.

Felix is the director of the St. Francis University Science Outreach Center, which promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the community.

Felix advanced her interest in science and environmental health by earning bachelor and master degrees in biology.

While completing a master’s degree, she began teaching and coordinating the environmental health and safety program at the former Cambria County Area Community College.

She strives to increase the number of students pursuing an education in applied science fields, and support K-12 schools and their students in specific curriculums.

Felix serves as the regional lead for the central Pennsylvania STEM Region.

She serves on the board of directors of CBM and Natural Biodiversity. She also serves on Lift Johnstown, the Greater Johnstown School District’s engineering education advisory committee, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College’s math and science advisory committee, the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corp.’s STEM career advancement project advisory committee and the Pennsylvania STEM girls collaborative project’s leadership committee.

Felix and her husband, Don, of Westmont are the parents of three children.

Felix is the daughter of Richard and Sara Gregory of Jenner Township.

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