On his swing through southwestern Pennsylvania for a private fundraiser, President Bush is bestowing the President's Volunteer Service Award on Lydia Humenycky of North Huntingdon.
Humenycky left her job in advertising in 2005 for a more independent experience in the Peace Corps. She was assigned to serve in Togo in West Africa. She says there was the intial shock of adapting to a new culture, but over time she found her footing and made close, meaningful friendships. She spent two and a half years abroad serving as an adviser to small businesses.
When she returned to Pennsylvania she says she reveled in things like running water, electricity and internet access. Her experience abroad was profiled in a local newspaper and somehow the White House got wind of it. She says she couldn't believe it when the email appeared in her inbox--it's not everyday a person receives an email from the White House. Today she'll greet the President when he arrives and will have a moment to chat with him before he gives her the award. The President's Volunteer Service Award was created in 2002 and has been given to over 400,000 volunteers.