In Rozzie Sky's religion, it's called Tzedakah.
The Hebrew word literally means "righteousness," but is most commonly used to signify "charity."
"It's giving back," said Sky, this year's WISE Women of Blair County honoree as a Community Service Volunteer. "We have so many blessings, it's really a privilege to give back to the community that gives us so much."
Mirror photo by Patrick?Waksmunski
WISE?Women of Blair County Community?Service Volunteer honoree Rozzie Sky coordinates the American Cancer Society’s Grocers Day fundraiser each year, among other efforts.
The 70-year-old retired reading specialist, who worked in the Hollidaysburg Area School District for 18 years, was nominated by more than a dozen community members for the award, most likely because the list of organizations she volunteers for is just as long.
Sky said it's "absolutely an honor" to receive the award and be compared to the people who have been honored before. But the philanthropist who does everything from coordinate the American Cancer Society's Grocers Day fundraiser to acting as a committee member for the Greater Altoona Jewish Federation's annual film festival, doesn't do what she does for the recognition.
"I like working behind the scenes," she said. "I get plenty back just from the different organizations that I help. I guess this is like the whipped cream on top of the sundae."
One would be at a loss to find an area of the local population that Sky hasn't affected by her efforts. Her benefactors include Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, the Blair County Arts Foundation, the MS Society, the Easter Seals and the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society. But Sky considers her greatest accomplishments to be the children she has helped, both in her career and her volunteerism with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Home Nursing Agency's Healing Patch and by providing scholarships to Penn State Altoona students.
"When you see how some children live and the problems that they put up with, you just want to reach out and help the kids," she said.
Fellow community volunteer and philanthropist Ann Benzel, who was one of the people who nominated Sky for the award, said she "epitomizes everything good" and is a role model for everyone.
"She's always been there serving the community and finding a way to help," Benzel said. "She never seeks satisfaction, but she receives great satisfaction knowing she's helping someone in need. Her community service is above and beyond serving on a board or committee."
It's Sky's random acts of kindness that make her most deserving of this award, Benzel added, like collection clothing, food and school supplies, or providing holiday gifts or financial support to those who come to her.
"Just saying her name makes me smile," Benzel said. "But it's the knowledge of the woman behind the name that makes me keep smiling."
Sky said she hopes her service shows others in the community that there are many opportunities to be helpful and get involved instead of "leading selfish lives."
"I love the community," she said. "I love the people in it. I feel like anybody that says they have nothing to do should look around and see where they can volunteer and help out."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.