The Leaders Circle 2011 program honored four Indiana County residents for outstanding community service at a program Thursday at Rustic Lodge in White Township.
Leaders Circle was established to jointly recognize award winners selected by three major organizations: The Athena Award was presented to Kay Smith; the Civic Leader of the Year honors, presented to a man and woman each year, went to Walt Lewis and Jennifer Myers; and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania President's Medal of Distinction was given to Ed Bratton.
The IUP honor is the university's highest non-degree award.
Bratton, a previous winner of the Civic Leader of the Year, was recognized for his support of student scholarships and projects that benefit the university and community, said David Werner, the interim president of IUP.
"IUP is very proud to honor Mr. Bratton with this award," Werner said. "He is a true humanitarian who cares deeply about his community and this university."
Bratton, an owner of Giant Eagle supermarket in White Township, helps to fund the Edward Bratton-George Hathaway Endowed Scholarship for athletics, supports the IUP Crimson Commons, and contributed $1 million to the construction of the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex. The university's athletic department honored him with the Bell Ringer Award in recognition of his contributions to sports programs.
Bratton also has received civic service and humanitarian awards from the Boy Scouts of America, United Way of Indiana County, the Red Cross and American Cancer Society.
Myers, a nominee of the Quota Club, also is a board member and volunteer at the YMCA of Indiana County.
Myers said the organizations' projects that assist woman and children are at the heart of her service.
"At Quota, we are an international organization but what we do locally serves disadvantaged women and children," Myers said. "That ties into my involvement with YMCA. A lot of what we do is raise money and support Big Hearts Little Hands and the scholarship program that lets disadvantaged people come to the Y, especially children."
Myers, a vice president at S&T Bank, said she meets her mission through Quota's support of Alice Paul House, The Salvation Army and Indiana County Community Action Program.
Although she has been a top leader and organizer of many Quota projects, "I thank all the Quota members," Myers said. "It is an organization and we do work together. It takes everybody to make that all work."
Lewis, a partner and co-founder of the Indiana CPA firm Smith Lewis Chess & Company LLP, was nominated by his associates for Male Civic Leader of the Year.
Lewis, a past recipient of the IUP Distinguished Alumni Award and member of the IUP Business Hall of Distinction, serves in the mentoring program for business honors students and helped establish the IUP Center for Family Business.
He also has been a director of Indiana Regional Medical Center and Indiana Healthcare Corporation,
"The fact that I've been able to be involved with two of the major institutions in Indiana, IUP and IRMC, has really been rewarding to me," Lewis said.
"IUP always has and always will hold a very special place in my heart. It's been just a significant part of the economics and development and well-being of Indiana County. My involvement there to me has been really special."
Lewis said volunteer service at Indiana Hospital, as it was known when he started, has been a challenge.
"So many community hospitals were being absorbed by larger institutions, and the focus of the board has been to keep IRMC as a community hospital," Lewis said. "That has been very difficult.
"It's been the most stressful involvement I've had as a volunteer but definitively the most rewarding."
Lewis also has served on the boards of Indiana County Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Indiana County. Lewis also has been active with the Rotary Club, Little League, Jimmy Stewart 75th Birthday Celebration and St. Thomas More University Parish.
Smith, also a past Civic Leader of the Year award winner, has promoted community beautification projects as a member of the Welcome to Indiana board, and helped the United Way of Indiana County to exceed its fundraising goal as the campaign chairwoman in 2008.
Smith was nominated for the Athena Award by the Indiana Rotary Club, where she has taken part in numerous activities and projects and now serves as president.
A co-owner of Gatti Pharmacy in Indiana, Smith is a member of the National Community Pharmacist Association auxiliary and supports its scholarship program. As a member of PRO PAPA Missions America, she has volunteered on 13 missions to Central America and others overseas.
Smith said her grandparents and parents demonstrated to her the practices of being leaders in career and community.
"Twenty years ago I had a spinal tumor that encompassed most of my spine and two brain tumors that followed," Smith said. "And going through things like that, you say, 'I have been blessed because I have been though this.' I said, 'Thank you, Lord, how can I give back?'
"That made each day more precious to me and made me re-evaluate my priorities."
She also has served as president of the American Association of University Women and as a member of the Indiana Regional Medical Center Health Advisory Committee.
Her other community service initiatives have been through Graystone Presbyterian Church, Salvation Army, the Historical & Genealogical Society of Indiana County, Indiana Arts Council, Jimmy Stewart Museum, New Century Club and Downtown Indiana.
"I have lots of experiences and it's kind of my mantra, I guess, to do as much good as I can," Smith said. "Life is too short, for me at least."
Smith said she doesn't anticipate slowing down or taking a rest from her activities.
"I have been blessed with lots of energy, I guess," Smith said.
She said she also learned from receiving medical care for her health challenges.
"It's OK to receive. You give people great joy when you receive from them," Smith said. "It's good to graciously give and to graciously receive."