EBENSBURG – A plan was in place to blacktop over the historic “Patton Pavers” bricks in the century-old road by the Portage Area Historical Society.
But Irene Huschak could not accept losing that part of her hometown’s heritage.
So she designed a plan to save some 1,500 bricks. The road was preserved.
Huschak and Admiral Peary Area Vocational Technical School students also reinstalled other bricks, using them to create Memorial Terrace last summer. The project was one of many volunteer efforts done by Huschak in her life.
On Thursday, she was honored for her contributions to the community with the Charlie Vizzini Volunteer Award, which was presented during a surprise ceremony at Noon-Collins Inn, in Ebensburg.
“It’s such an honor, but I do this because I just love my community,” Huschak said.
“It’s wonderful that I can give back after all they’ve given to me. It’s just an amazing honor.”
Huschak’s other contributions include raising money to help provide children with passes to the swimming pool at Portage Crichton McCormick Park.
“I remember, as a kid, walking two miles, every day, through the woods, by myself, to the park,” Huschak said. “That’s why it’s important to me when I heard they were struggling to get the kids down there.
“Let them go and enjoy the park, too.”
Throughout the years, she has volunteered with the historical society, organized a ladies tea and created the town’s community yard sale.
“Giving back comes from the heart, and I think whenever somebody gives back it makes them feel good,” Huschak said.
“I don’t need an award. I just feel good in my heart that I give back to the community. Anything – the church, the school, the park, the historical society – it’s all a pleasure for me. I just love every minute of it.”
Huschak won the award that is open to volunteers who live in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives 72nd District.
The honor is named after Vizzini, a volunteer in the office of state Rep. Frank Burns, D-East Taylor, 72nd District.
“We pick the person who exhibits what it truly means to volunteer and give back to your community,” Burns said. “Hopefully by doing this we’re encouraging other volunteers to do more and step up and help their community. Because it’s when the community all pulls together, that’s when our communities can be successful.”