Congratulations to the recipients of the 2020 Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Awards!
To acknowledge some of the many people who supported their communities during the COVID-19 shutdown, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) created the Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Award. The award honors local heroes in communities that PHC has partnered with through Community Heart & Soul, a humanities-based initiative that uses resident stories and community conversations to spark collective decision-making and action.
“The recipients of these awards displayed resilience, compassion, and action in time when their communities needed it most,” said Jen Danifo, PHC’s Senior Program Officer. “This is what Community Heart & Soul is all about and PHC is honored to have the opportunity to uplift their work.”
Follow the links below to learn about our 2020 Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Awardees and how they served their communities during a time of crisis, including a virtual award ceremony and interview with each recipient.
Citizen’s Fire Company #1 (Mount Holly Springs)
Citizen’s Fire Company #1 (Mount Holly Springs) has long played a vital role in the community, not just in its job of keeping residents safe but also helping with fundraisers and education programs.
The team responded to the COVID-19 shutdown by working to keep the town’s spirits up in spite of the restrictions, including drive-by-birthday celebrations for those unable to leave their house.
Frank Sill (Upper Chichester)
Frank Sill (Upper Chichester) draws from a deep well of local knowledge and civic engagement experience.
When the pandemic hit, Sill took action and tapped his robust network of community connections to help collect and distribute masks to first responders. He also worked closely with senior citizens countywide to make sure they were getting the support and assistance they needed.
Gary and Tina Solak (Cameron County)
Gary and Tina Solak (Cameron County) are radio hosts at WQKY (98.9 FM) based in Emporium and used their platform, including social media, to keep their listeners informed about the latest crisis information.
The Solaks supported local businesses and created an online forum for sharing information, providing a space for much needed conversations.
Lee Scandinaro (Meadville)
Lee Scandinaro (Meadville) assessed the needs of his community and determined that food accessibility was a major issue. He then worked to establish a vital school lunch program which will provide food to area children through the summer.
Scandinaro is deeply rooted in his community and works collaboratively with residents and local organizations to assist those in need.
John Hartnett (Meadville)
John Hartnett (Meadville) is president of the Meadville chapter of Not One More, an organization dedicated to providing resources and support to people in recovery.
John quickly transitioned Not One More’s group meetings to an online platform at the start of the COVID-19 statewide shutdown, ensuring life-saving access to a virtual support network.
Carlisle Community Action Network (Greater Carlisle)
Carlisle Community Action Network (Greater Carlisle) is a group of 70+ community members that meet weekly to discuss actions and responses to COVID-19.
They jumped into action to meet the needs of Carlisle and reached across cultural divides to ensure everyone had a voice in the process. CAN hosted discussions and provided much need resources.