A newsmaker you should know: Trafford woman wins first state honor

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Many people in Lucy DeHaven's Trafford community compare her to the Energizer Bunny.

"Lucy is just energy. She is so encouraging and very driven. She always wants to try new things," Sarah Baird of Level Green said of the 85-year-old Mrs. DeHaven, who has lived in Trafford since 1946.

For her more than 45 years of volunteer service to the Trafford community, Mrs. DeHaven has been named the Pennsylvania recipient of the first Salute to Senior Service program, sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care, a franchise network that provides home health care.

She will be recognized at a luncheon next Thursday at the Home Instead Senior Care office in Hempfield.

Trafford Councilman Frank Bruno nominated Mrs. DeHaven for the award.

"I can honestly say I have never seen the level of positive volunteerism this one woman brings to the table," he said in his nomination.

Committed to the Lions Club of Trafford, Mrs. DeHaven in 1995 started the Trafford Leos, a youth group that she has advised for 17 years.

The Leos, ages 12 to 18, help with the Lions Club and other community service activities, and they promote drug and alcohol prevention by performing puppet shows to elementary school students in the Penn-Trafford School District. The club was the first of its kind in the area. Since its founding, other such groups have formed.

Mrs. DeHaven has always considered each member of the Leos one of her own.

"I just love kids. They still come back to visit me every year when they get back from college," she said.

Last weekend, Mrs. DeHaven traveled to the Pennsylvania Lions Convention in Hershey to attend seminars for Leos Club advisers.

"I like to know all the new things and hear about what the other clubs are doing," she said, adding that she has no intention of relinquishing her position as adviser anytime soon.

The Trafford Leos have 23 members. Their short-term goal is to raise $1,000 through bake sales and raffles for the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County.

Mrs. DeHaven still describes a trip the Leos took to New York City 10 years ago -- to deliver $1,000 to children left homeless from the 9/11 attacks -- as one of the most memorable tasks she has undertaken with the group.

She was president of the Lions Club in 1995 and '96, and for her humanitarian work, she has received two Melvin Jones awards, named after the founder of Lions Club International. In 2005, she was Trafford Senior Citizen of the Year.

Through the Lions Club, she also helps with food drives for the Westmoreland County Food Bank and fundraising for the library, fire department and scholarships for seniors in the Penn-Trafford School District.

"Every dollar we make in the town goes back to the town," she said.

She also is active in several other Trafford community organizations. She has been involved with the Trafford Women's Club for more than 40 years, the Trafford Light Up Night committee since it began 20 years ago and the local senior citizens' group for the past 15 years.

"I have more fun at Christmas time when I play Mrs. Santa," she said, describing her trip with "Santa" on a firetruck to light the tree at the Trafford police station. "Then we go to the Legion, and we give treats to the kids."

In true Mrs. Santa spirit, she makes 300 chocolate Santas to present to the children herself.

Mrs. DeHaven has spearheaded many projects to benefit the community, including a senior citizen room in the new Trafford municipal building and a movement to make all parks in Trafford smoke-free.

She also makes all the food and cookies for the Senior Citizen Prom each year, Miss Baird said.

"She dances with everyone and makes sure everyone is having a good time," Miss Baird said.

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Laurie Bailey, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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