KINGSTON — “It doesn’t matter how great your shoes are if you didn’t do anything in them.”
That was the poignant advice offered by PNC Bank’s Kathleen Dunsmuir on Tuesday as she accepted the prestigious ATHENA Award at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce’s annual EPIC Awards.
The honors go to individuals who have made an impact in their communities. (EPIC stands for Extraordinary People Inspiring Community.)
The ATHENA is presented to someone who serves as a mentor to women and helps them achieve their full potential.
Dunsmuir, vice president and wealth management director at PNC, certainly fits the description. In addition to her role as a banking executive, she sits on the board of directors for five different organizations.
“I found out Athena was the goddess of wisdom. I knew that’s why they didn’t choose me,” Dunsmuir joked. “But her attributes included living authentically, advocating fiercely, acting courageously, building relationships and giving back and celebrating.”
Dunsmuir cited her mother who recently passed away as having all of those qualities.
The event was held at Wyoming Seminary’s Kirby Center for Creative Arts.
Before each award recipient came to the podium, a video was played featuring friends and family congratulating the recipient on their award and accomplishments.
Will Beekman, executive director at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, accepted the Innovator of the Year Award.
“There are so many people in this room doing great things in the community,” Beekman said. “This award means a lot to me.”
Beekman stressed the importance of subjecting children to the arts at an early age.
“I think we are doing good things at the Kirby Center as a team,” Beekman said. “I’m receiving an award that is team-driven. I’m just glad to represent them.”
Beekman and his staff are responsible for nearly tripling the number of events that have come to downtown Wilkes-Barre in the past five years.
‘Work hard and strive’
Alison Zurawski, community relations coordinator at Community Bank, N.A. and the Volunteer of the Year Award winner, got choked up on stage when talking about support from her family.
“I’m sincerely grateful for receiving this award,” Zurawski said. “Thanks mom and dad for always believing in me and encouraging me to work hard and strive for what I want.”
Northeast Sight Services, formerly the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind, received a Community Recognition Award for celebrating 100 years.
While a video played educating the audience about the history of Northeast Sight, Madison Dompkosky sung “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.
A second Community Recognition Award was given to the Family Business Alliance to mark its 20th anniversary.
The Family Business Alliance, based at Wilkes University and Penn State Scranton, tries to help local family businesses grow profitable and successfully transfer management and ownership to the next generation.
The Times Leader Media Group was the platinum media sponsor for the event.