Making a positive impact in the Corry community is a reason to celebrate.
"We have so many individuals and businesses that work unheralded in our community, churches and schools," said Corry Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Hornick. "Most of them work behind the scenes, and it's wonderful to showcase all the good things they are doing."
Hornick, along with Chamber board members and community members, honored four of the Corry area’s outstanding residents Saturday night during the organization's annual recognition awards ceremony. The event was held at the VFW in Corry and the emcee was Chamber President Peter Albright.
The 2014 honorees are Lisa Puckly, Citizen of the Year; Kathleen Cruz Spinazzola, Young Professional of the Year; Madison Myers, Student Volunteer; and Wendy Neckers, owner of The Painted Finch Gallery, Business of the Year.
"This is a phenomenal group of honorees," Hornick said. "They represent all the characteristics we are looking for when selecting recipients."
The honorees, who each received a glass trophy, were nominated by members of the community and selected by the Chamber board.
The first recipient was seventh-grader Madison Myers, daughter of Craig and Nikole Myers. Myers attends Corry Area Middle School, and has a wide variety of interests and is involved in several active community groups.
She is a member of the First United Methodist Church youth group, which provides volunteer and charity work. She is also a member of the Golden Gallopers 4-H group, where she shares her knowledge and helps her peers learn about horses.
Myers is passionate about skateboarding and is active in Skate Corry PA with her father. She has been a political activist for skateboard privileges because she wants to see more kids get outside and be active.
Myers also volunteers at home, where she helps her 10-year-old sister, Lani, with homework. She also helps take care of her younger twin siblings, Quincey and Samson.
The next honoree was Spinazzola, the editorial coordinator at The Corry Journal. Her education has been almost entirely in the arts. After graduating from Corry Area High School, she went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in dance and dance education from The Boston Conservatory and Teachers College, Columbia University.
After performing, touring and teaching professionally all around the country, Spinazzola spent six years in Tennessee at Nashville Ballet, working both as faculty and as administrator of the school. In the capacity of administrator, Kathleen worked closely with the finance, marketing and public relations departments to develop the ballet school’s $1.5 million operating budget.
In 2013, Spinazzola decided to return home to Corry to raise her son, Chase, and be close to family. She keeps her skills sharp by working at The Corry Journal, where she was hired as writer and proofreader. Her role at The Journal has expanded to include a wide range of responsibilities that go far beyond her original job description.
Now that she is settled back in, Spinazzola looks forward to working with the Corry Area Arts Council and helping to bring fine arts to the community.
"Thank you for this recognition. It is very humbling to me," said Spinazzola upon receiving her award. "I've lived all over the country and I have never heard the word 'community' as much as I do right here in Corry. It's what people talk about."
Spinazzola added that she has watched many residents work tirelessly to make Corry what it is today and strives to follow in their footsteps.
"I only hope to be able to do the same great things," she said. "I want to contribute as much as I can to this great town."
Neckers was the next citizen to receive her award.
She began drawing and painting at a very young age. As a teenager, Neckers spent a great deal of time learning to draw people by sketching the models in Sears’ catalogs. She took every art class available in high school and went on to earn an associates degree in commercial art from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
She was eventually hired by the institute to represent the college as a caricature artist during large festivals in downtown Pittsburgh.
After graduation, she worked at William K. Larson Advertising in Jamestown, New York. Later, she went to work for Brentwood Music in Nashville, Tennessee, creating their CD, video and book covers, as well as trade show displays.
Neckers brought those skills back home when she returned to Clymer, New York, by working on murals, set and T-shirt designs for the Clymer and Corry community theaters and school activities.
She eventually joined the Corry Artists’ Guild, where she met several other artists who had worked as professional artists in other cities.
The idea of a gallery began to take shape and after their fifth child went off to college, Neckers and her husband, Doug, decided it was time to open the Painted Finch Gallery. Doors opened in July of 2012. Today, it showcases the work of about 50 artists, most of whom are local.
"There are so many wonderful businesses, so this is really an honor for me," said Neckers, who shared the success of her gallery with employees Carol Fielding and Mark Hulings. "I'm speechless."
Puckly, who grew up in Corry, accepted her award at the Chamber's Citizen of the Year.
Puckly is the bookkeeper for the family-owned auto body shop, Puck’s Restoration, as well as the owner of Country Clippin' hair salon. For the past year, she has been the hairstylist for the residents of Colonial Terrace.
Puckly enjoys spending time with her family and is an avid genealogist. Along those lines, she has been working as a volunteer for the Corry Area Historical Society for four years and has held the positions of president and treasurer within the organization. Most recently, Puckly was named the museum’s curator.
Along with other members of the historical society, Puckly has been active in the recent museum renovation. Drawing from her past experience as a homeschooling mother, she has worked with the other volunteers to draw in families and friends by making history come alive with events such as Hands-on-History and Night at the Museum.
She is married to Rod Puckly and they have two children, Zack and Joe Puckly.
"Support means everything and the Chamber is so supportive of our businesses and community," Puckly said. "My community is here."
Puckly added that it's not just the birth and the death of residents that are important, but what we do in the middle.
"I encourage people to keep making memories so we can keep them in the best kept secret (Corry Historical Museum) just right down the street from here."
One last and unexpected award was presented to Hornick, who is going into her fourth year on the job.
"There is not enough money to buy that kind of commitment," Albright said. "We would like to present a small token of our appreciation for the work you do for us, but even more for the community."
Hornick said she enjoys her position and all the individuals and businesses she works with.
"It's an honor to call you my friends," she said. "It's an honor for me to be here."