TUNKHANNOCK — Diane Hegedty glowed, basking in applause, as she accepted a gift and a certificate honoring her “enormous energies and goodwill.”
Her achievements were just a small handful of many recognized Friday during the Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Mental Health and Developmental Services Celebration of Abilities at Dietrich Theater.
Each honoree received a painting donated by the artists from the Arts Through Abilities studio in Kingston, and a personalized certificate of recognition, which highlighted the individuals’ unique achievements.
Presenter Laura Davis sang Hegedty’s praises.
“We can always count on her to give 100 percent,” Davis said. “Her energy is endless.”
State Representative Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake, offered a few comments during the event.
“Today I see people who are accentuating their talents and abilities by their work in this community,” Boback said.
She championed the progress made at the state level in accommodating special abilities, and offered some election-year reassurance that she intends to continue working in Harrisburg for the needs of the mental health community.
Erica Rogler, executive director of Dietrich Theater, accepted an honor on behalf of the theater.
Dave Wilson, chairman of the MH&DS advisory board, said it was presented in recognition of the efforts the theater makes in providing a recreational and educational venue, often at discounted rates, for the people his organization serves.
“They have truly helped individuals with intellectual disabilities celebrate their talents and unique abilities,” Wilson said.
MH&DS presented Rogler with a painting by Miranda Kropa titled “Diversity at the Theater,” which, once revealed, sent an emphatic “ooh” through the audience.
Later, between photographs with Kropa and Baker, Rogler commented on the theater’s commitment to the the special needs community.
“We believe in celebrating everyone’s abilities at the Dietrich,” she said.
Crowd favorite Pauline Lawson received the morning’s final honor, in recognition of “many years of untiring and unselfish giving of her time, talents and energies,” the certificate read.
The honor credits her with bringing recreational opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities in Wyoming County.
“I did not expect anything like this. I didn’t realize how much I was appreciated,” Lawson said. “You just do it.”
Over a period of seven years, she said, she worked alongside others to offer recreation opportunities at discounted rates, including movies, dances and trips to Knobels Amusement Resort.
Lawson said her brother Ray “Sonny” Robinson served as the inspiration for her efforts.
Though she stopped organizing events for health and family reasons, she said she’s kept in touch with many of the people she served. In her absence, she said, transportation and logistical issues hamper the efforts of those who continue her work.
“I would like to see something in full swing again,” she said, “but it’s hard.”