Volunteer By Trade
By Gavin Paternitti
July 13, 2015
FALCONER – After multiple decades and countless hours of selfless volunteerism and community service, Geraldine “Jeri” Yauchzy has now been justly rewarded for her efforts.
Yauchzy was the center of attention Sunday afternoon at the Falcon’s Nest in Falconer, where, surrounded by dozens of longtime friends and an amalgamation of family members, she was announced as this year’s recipient of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation’s Axel W. Carlson Award.
“This is certainly something that I never expected to have happen, but it is a tremendous honor,” Yauchzy said. “When you volunteer, you are taking a little bit of time out of your schedule and setting it aside to make a difference in someone’s life. I can’t really say that I’ve done more than other people have done, it’s just always been a big part of my life.”
In order to become a recipient of the Axel W. Carlson Award, an individual must be nominated. Yauchzy was nominated by Sue Seamans, director of the Falconer Public Library, with whom Yauchzy has worked extensively in the past.
“Jeri has impacted so many of us at an individual level, and she’s a good citizen,” Seamans said. “She gives of her time constantly, she is always thinking of things she can do for others and she quietly goes about her job. These things, and all of her efforts, should not go unrecognized.”
The list of Yauchzy’s specific volunteer efforts is extensive, having previously assisted the following organizations in one capacity or another over the years: American Heart Association; Roger Tory Peterson Institute; Lutheran Social Services; Eastern Star; First Baptist Church in Falconer; the Falconer Beautification Committee; and the “Eye on the Future” club of Falconer.
In addition to being named this year’s recipient, Yauchzy was also presented with a number of other recognitions. Among the other honors bestowed upon her included: a certificate presented by Sam Ognibene, superintendent of Falconer Village Public Works, on behalf of Falconer Mayor James Resell; three separate proclamations from Congressman Tom Reed, state Sen. Cathy Young and Gov. Andrew Cuomo; the engraving of her name on two plaques – a larger one bearing the name of all past and present award recipients that is displayed at the Community Foundation and a smaller plaque that she will keep; a $1,000 check; and a $500 check that is to be split amongs her choice of two charities – the Falconer Public Library and the Falconer Region Community Fund.
Finally, a proclamation was issued by Vince Horrigan, Chautauqua County executive, proclaiming Sunday, July 12, 2015, “Geraldine Yauchzy Day” throughout the entirety of Chautauqua County.
“What really makes our community and our county great are people like Jeri,” Horrigan said. “I often say there are two kinds of people: brick throwers and bricklayers. Brick throwers will always tell you exactly what’s wrong with everything, but bricklayers identify what they can do to help, they roll up their sleeves and they get to work. This proclamation talks about a true bricklayer in this community.”
Also known as the “Unsung Hero” award, the Axel W. Carlson Award is administered annually to a Chautauqua County resident who has made significant contributions through his or her efforts while neither receiving, nor expecting reward or recognition. Recipients must also have made an impact in their community, or responded to a community or individual need.
The award was established in 1986 in honor of Axel W. Carlson, a Swedish immigrant who made his home in Jamestown and bequeathed a large portion of his estate to the Community Foundation upon his death in 1981. Recipients of the award are honored with a plaque bearing their name, a $1,000 check and a $500 check to be donated to their favorite charity or charities.