Upon hearing that she was this year's recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the WISE Women of Blair County, Cynthia Baney had one initial reaction.
"I thought, 'Oh, does this mean I need to die now?'" she said with a laugh.
But the 67-year-old resident of Hollidaysburg has no plans of slowing down, especially when it comes to her involvement in various organizations and her unfettered service to the community.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Cynthia Baney of Hollidaysburg, the winner of the WISE?Women of Blair County Lifetime Achievement Award, works with props in the prop room at Altoona Community Theatre in Altoona. Awards to seven women in the community will be presented on April 18 at The Casino at Lakemont Park.
"I don't think I've reached an age, and now I have to play golf or something," she said. "I thrive on being involved in things. I need that working together. That's what energizes me, and that's what I love."
Baney joins six other local women as the 2012 honorees who exemplify the WISE Women of Blair County's mission to "empower women and eliminate racism through collaboration, service and education." They are Rachel DiAndrea, Arts and Letters; Autumn Temple, Business and Professional; Rozzie Sky, Community Service Volunteer; Francine Endler, Education; Robin L. Beck, Non-Profit/Government; and Maddie Letsche, Rising Star.
All seven honorees will be recognized at a tribute dinner at 6 p.m. on April 18 at The Casino in Lakemont Park.
If you go
What: WISE Women of Blair County 2012 Tribute dinner
When: 6 p.m. April 18
Where: The Casino at Lakemont Park
Tickets: $45 for individuals and $15 for children 10 and under. For reservations,
call 650-9493 or email wisewomenofblaircounty @yahoo.com by April 11.
Read about the winners
Monday: Rachel DiAndrea, Arts and Letters, and Autumn Temple, Business and Professional
Tuesday:?Rozzie Sky, Community Service Volunteer; and Francine Endler, Education
Wednesday: Robin L. Beck, Non-Profit/ Government; and Maddie Letsche, Rising Star
Baney graduated from Altoona Area High School in 1963, and received a bachelor of arts in theater arts in 1967, followed by an master's of education in rehabilitation counseling in 1971, both from Penn State University.
She has held positions as a senior volunteer coordinator for the Blair County Office on Aging, a prevention specialist for Drug and Alcohol Services at Altoona Hospital and still works in the Office of Drug and Alcohol Services at St. Francis University.
She has volunteered with the Ecumenical Conference of Greater Altoona, the Hollidaysburg Women's Club, Sunrise Rotary, the Unity Coalition and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Baney's work in both acting and working backstage with Altoona Community Theatre also has been a resource to remain involved with her "first passion" - theater.
Through her 15 years of service as the executive director of the Altoona YWCA, Baney showed her commitment to the group's mission, said Shamim Rajpar, president of the WISE Women of Blair County, which is the YWCA's successor.
It was this that led Rajpar and the rest of the Board of Directors to nominate Baney for the Lifetime Achievement Award.
"Cindy, more than just about anybody I know, exemplifies that mission," Rajpar said. "She lives it."
Rajpar cites Baney's greatest accomplishments as her efforts to bridge gaps and promote diversity in the community.
These include starting an interfaith series that showcases traditions, customs, music and food from different faiths through the Ecumenical Conference, and always challenging people to expand their knowledge of different religions and cultures.
"I think in many ways, Cindy calls us all to examine our conscience," Rajpar said.
Baney credits her eagerness to serve the community this way to being a "child of the Civil Rights Movement," as well as following the example of her mother, who was also a "huge volunteer" and involved with the YWCA.
"It's so enriching to find out about other ways of doing things and seeing things," she said.
Baney is very touched, honored and pleased to receive this award, but views it more as the opportunity to take one for the team.
"I don't know that I've achieved anyting," she said. "Rather, these organizations have and I've helped. ... You don't put on a show with one person. If the spotlight person doesn't shine the light on you, then no one will see you."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.