By Manley J. Anderson
It was business as usual today for veteran volunteer worker Elizabeth A. “Betty” Hyde, 84, of the Senior Citizens High Rise Apartments at 303 W. Fifth St., Jamestown.
She was getting ready this morning to go off to work.
Today it was at the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County.
“This is my day to go to the United Way,” Ms. Hyde said.
For her, volunteerism has become a way of life. Retired after more than 40 years as a buyer for the former Bigelow’s Department Store, Ms. Hyde has made a second career of volunteer work on behalf of about a dozen community organizations.
Her dedication to volunteer work on their behalf brought her the fifth annual Axel W. Carlson Award of a plaque and a $1,000 check in a ceremony Wednesday afternoon in the lobby of Jamestown’s Municipal Building.
The award is made possible by Carlson’s bequest to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and honors an individual involved in community service without expectation of personal recognition or financial gain.
Ms. Hyde was nominated for the award by Judy Brentley of United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, Freelin “Chip” Conn of Jamestown Area Meals on Wheels, and Mildred Yahn of the Crystal Ballroom Senior Citizens Center in the Hotel Jamestown Building.
The award recipient said of the recognition given her, “I felt so honored. I was so thrilled I couldn’t sleep last night. I really didn’t feel I deserved the honor.”
Others felt differently.
Among them was Robert D. Young Jr., chairman of the foundation’s committee to select the award winner.
“Her willingness to do anything and everything without hesitation has been a godsend,” Young said.
The individual plaque and check making up the award was presented by Mayor Donald W. Ahlstrom, who also unveiled a permanent plaque to be on display in the Municipal Building lobby.
Brief talks also were given by Gregory L. Peterson, president of the foundation that makes the award possible, and Frank E. Wakely, its executive director.
The mayor issued a proclamation in honor of the occasion and proclaimed Wednesday as “Elizabeth Hyde Day” in Jamestown.
Ahlstrom’s proclamation listed agencies to which Ms. Hyde has contributed on a volunteer basis during the last several years.
They include United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, Jamestown Area Meals on Wheels, Visiting Nurse Association of Chautauqua County, Reg Lenna Civic Center, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Crystal Ballroom directors, Jamestown Housing Authority, SS Peter and Paul Altar and Rosary Society, WCA Hospital, the YWCA and the American Red Cross.
The Ahlstrom proclamation cited Ms. Hyde for “her tireless efforts to make life better for all those around her through volunteer service to the community and her fellow man.”
“Retirement can be what you make it,” Ms. Hyde said. “Without volunteer service I’d be an old lady sitting in a rocking chair feeling sorry for myself.”
On accepting the award, the recipient expressed appreciation to those who nominated her, the foundation making it possible and to the mayor. Members of Ms. Hyde’s family were introduced, along with former award recipients present. They were William and Lucy Bellavia and Segundo Pantojas.
More than 100 people attended the award ceremony and the reception that followed.
As for what she will do with the $1,000 that is part of the award, Ms. Hyde said this morning, “I haven’t given it much thought yet. I’ll make a donation to the foundation that made it possible. And I might take a little trip – not very far. But that’s in the future.”