A newsmaker you should know: Ross twins sharing volunteer award

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Twin sisters Anna and Robyn Madrishin of Ross do everything together.

They work at the same dance school, have the same hobbies and volunteer at the same organization.

So it is only fitting that they are both recipients of the President's Volunteer Service Awards.

The award is to honor outstanding volunteers who have given a significant amount of time in their communities.

They didn't, however, find out they were being honored with the award at the same time.

"I just thought her essay must have been better than mine," said Anna when Robyn learned she had won the award a few days before her sister.

For her part, Robyn thought she was "in trouble" when she was called to the office at North Hills High School, where the girls are seniors.

"When I found out that I won the award, I was shocked and excited," she said. A few days later, Anna learned that she too would receive the award.

"I was pretty happy," said Anna.

The girls were recognized, in part, for their longtime commitment to volunteering at Vincentian Personal Care Home in McCandless.

Dean of students David Barkovich said he nominated the sisters because of that commitment.

"It isn't just a one-time, random volunteering situation but weekly volunteering over a span longer than a decade," he said.

"That is unusual for someone this age."

The girls started volunteering at Vincentian when they were only 7 and participating in the Presents for Patients program with their parents at the home.

"They asked us if we would help hand out the presents and then they asked us to keep coming back," said Robyn. The girls volunteered over the summer months, biking to the home before they could drive.

"We would go in any type of weather -- even when it was raining," said Robyn. Over the years the sisters have helped with a variety of activities, including meals, field trips and the campfires their whole family hosts in the summer.

"Our dad is a volunteer fireman with Laurel Gardens and he donated a fire ring. He oversees the cooking of the weenies and we help with the rest," said Anna. Their father, Keith, is the manager of maintenance at Allegheny General Hospital, and their mother, Beth, is a radiation therapist, so the girls are familiar with health care facilities.

"And our mom loves helping people, so we got that from her," said Anna.

Robyn and Anna are both competitive Irish dancers and teach at Bell School of Irish Dance.

They are also in the Latin Club and the National Honor Society.

One thing they will be doing separately is attending college. Robyn hasn't finalized her college selection and hopes to major in geriatric health care. Anna plans to attend Ohio State University and major in health care management.

"I've really fallen in love with the people that we have worked with at the nursing home. I want to work in that field for the rest of my life," said Robyn.

Anna added, "We want to thank the nursing home for the opportunity to work there all these years. And our parents for teaching us how to give to others."

The girls have received a letter from President Barack Obama and a certificate. They also will be recognized during North Hills High School Awards Night in May.


Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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