Heart & Soul Hero Award: Gary & Tina Solak

October 26, 2021

Congratulations to Gary and Tina Solak (Cameron County) for receiving one of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council’s first ever Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Awards!

The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent shutdown brought many challenges to cities and towns across the world as they adapted to social distancing and other health and safety requirements. Despite the difficulties, Pennsylvania’s residents showed their resilience and strength by working together to meet the needs of their neighbors. 

To acknowledge some of the many people who supported their communities during this time, 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.   

Gary and Tina Solak, nominated as a team by Jessica Herzing, were among six recipients recognized as Heart & Soul Heroes for their outstanding community service. Each awardee receives a certificate, virtual award ceremony, and a spotlight article. 

“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 and host of the Heart & Soul Hero virtual award ceremonies. “This is what Community Heart & Soul is all about and PHC is honored to have the opportunity to uplift their work.”

Gary and Tina Solak were selected to receive a Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Hero Award for their exceptional service to Cameron County and the surrounding areas during the COVID-19 shutdown. The couple 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. Both are involved in their local community and felt it was their duty to provide timely and accurate information.

In support of local businesses affected by the shutdown, the Solaks encouraged the public to purchase gift certificates and shared resources for grant and loan programs. Tina created an online forum for sharing information, providing a space for much-needed conversations.

“We immerse ourselves in our community and we’re just looking out for our neighbors and giving them the information that they need,” said Tina Solak. “We don’t think of it as anything special, this is our job.”

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