Allegheny County Youth are Recognized for Community Service in the Arts and Sciences

My focus was on a need I saw in myself and in Pittsburgh to bring young vocal talent to people who wouldn't ordinarily experience it, and to provide young singers with an opportunity to perform," wrote Arlette Buckley, when she received the Third Annual Carnegie Centennial Award for Music. Arlette, a 21-year-old music student at Carnegie Mellon University, created an outreach project to provide musical programs to nursing homes and assisted care facilities. Half of the CMU School of Music voice majors, and some piano majors, volunteered for Buckley's project. She trained and inspired younger students to continue the project after her own graduation, and was nominated by CMU for her service to the public and her impact upon other students.

This self-motivation and initiative mark each of the 1998 award winners. Each awardee volunteered long hours and worked energetically to share a love of art, or literature, or science or music with others. These are the four disciplines upon which Andrew Carnegie founded his Carnegie Institute and Library, and are the basis upon which young people between the ages of 15 and 25 in Allegheny County are honored by the Centennial Award Committee. Nancy L. Rackoff, co-chair of the committee, says they "look for young people who have seen a need in their community and responded to that need with creativity and leadership…without any thought for reward or recognition." The awards were begun in 1995 when Carnegie Institute and Library celebrated their centennial anniversary.

In science, Karrielee Noterman, age 17, inspired others by her volunteer work at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Her devotion to ornithology influenced thousands of people during her three years as an interpreter and presenter of conservation and environmental issues. She faithfully volunteered during weekends and summer breaks, handling the insects and rodents that make up the diets of birds, and telling children about the harmful effects of plastic rings from pop cans on wildlife. She motivated people to take an active interest in the survival of rare species, like the Bali Myrnah, a bird so endangered that more of them live in institutions than in the wild. When a Snowy Owl escaped its lodging, Karrielee sat for six hours in the park outside the National Aviary watching the bird's actions on a nearby rooftop, and she was instrumental in its safe recapture. Her nomination by the Aviary pointed out how important her example and teachings are to the next generation of ornithologists, many of whom will remember how a young volunteer at the National Aviary took so much time to talk to them when they themselves were just getting started.

Emily Kaleida of Oakland Catholic High School brought literature into people's lives through volunteering at the Radio Information Service on Pittsburgh's South Side, a service for the blind and visually handicapped. Seventeen-year-old Emily works on the station's database, its mailings, and its fund raising efforts. An excellent student at Oakland Catholic High School, she reads to a blind student at school, and takes blind neighbors to Mass, and she volunteers to speak at the Girls Club. She was nominated by Oakland Catholic High School, which noted "her sweet character and unassuming demeanor" and yet how "By acting upon her values she has positively impacted the community and our school."

Paola Cabal, a 22-year-old artist and student at Carnegie Mellon University, showed remarkable determination in creating a mural on the outside wall of the United Cerebral Palsy Center for Personal Development in Oakland. She recruited friends, students and curious passersby (of whom there were many) to advance the painting, and worked diligently to prove, in the words of the nominating statement, "that hope and beauty can be evoked in something as unassuming and simple as a concrete wall." The mural, "Shadowtracings," reveals the shadows cast by trees along the Centre Avenue side of the building. "What I am doing by tracing these shadows onto the wall is making a permanent record of the progress these trees have made so far in their growth," said Paola. After cleaning a large graffiti-covered wall, she created in its place a public source of visual encouragement for people with physical or developmental disabilities. Her project has been the source of many opportunities for interaction between the community and the staff of United Cerebral Palsy, which nominated her.

Winners of the Carnegie Centennial Award receive a $250 cash award, a lifetime pass to Carnegie Museums, and a replica of the appropriate sculpture outside the museum, representing their discipline. The nominating organizations also receive a $250 cash award and their choice of an educational resource or program to attend. Unlike awards to young people for athletic skill or academic distinction, the Carnegie Centennial Awards awards honor community service in the arts and sciences, which Andrew Carnegie considered most important.

—R. Jay Gangewere

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