Since 1925, the Catholic Youth Association of Pittsburgh has been dedicated to helping the community's most vulnerable members – children and the elderly. Being there for those who need it most was something Art Rooney Sr. believed in, and it has been said often that his favorite charity was the Catholic Youth Association.
To stabilize the Catholic Youth Association's fragile finances, Mr. Rooney began a tradition in 1974 to stabilize the CYA's fragile finances, and the Art Rooney Award Dinner – an event that has been continued by his son, Dan Rooney, and grandson Art Rooney II – celebrated its 37th year on Thursday, April 15 at the Westin Convention Center.
The event annually honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the Pittsburgh community, and the 2010 winner of the Art Rooney Award was Sy Holzer, President of PNC Bank, Pittsburgh. The award was presented by Art Rooney II, with Dan and Patricia Rooney in attendance.
Sy Holzer joined PNC Bank in 1971 as a management trainee, and by 1987 he was elected vice president. Moving steadily up the corporate ladder, Holzer was named president of PNC Bank in May 1997. Along the way, and continuing to today, Sy Holzer always found time to be active in the community.
Currently, Sy Holzer is chairman of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and he also serves on the board of directors of the UPMC Cancer Center. He was appointed by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell to serve on the Board of Trustees of the University of Pittsburgh. He currently sits on 11 boards of directors, including the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and he also is the Division Chairman of the United Way of Allegheny County.
"Sy is somebody who brings a lot of energy and compassion to the community, and in my remarks, I called him the cheerleader for the city. And that's what he's like," said Art Rooney II. "He has great enthusiasm for Pittsburgh, he has boundless energy and he's always there when there's a cause that needs support. He's always behind the scenes getting things done, and he really deserved the honor. I'm sure he's someone my grandfather would be happy to have his award presented to."
The list of past Art Rooney Award Winners includes legendary sports figures such as Arnold Palmer, Chuck Noll and Joe Paterno; captains of industry such as U.S. Steel CEO Edgar Speer, Heinz's Tony O'Reilly and PPG's Vince Sarni. Recent recipients also include Jim Broadhurst, Chairman of Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, Terry Bradshaw, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, 2007, Jerome Bettis and Jim Rohr, PNC Chairman and CEO.
Over the past 85 years, the CYA has been a neighborhood community center, and it's currently based at the Stephen Foster Center in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. It operates five sites and serves over 2,000 people with over 170,000 services per year.
Included among the CYA's social, educational and health-related programs: a summer residential camp for over 200 boys and girls ages 7-14; meals on wheels; health and wellness activities for seniors; a pre-school program that prepares neighborhood children for kindergarten; transportation programs for the elderly; and an intergenerational program that brings seniors and pre-school children together to share things such as holiday parties and games.
"The CYA provides an awful lot of support, both for the elderly and it also has programs for the youth population," said Art Rooney II. "It's there for people who really are in need. The organization has been at it for a long time, so the people there know what they're doing. It's an organization my grandfather felt strongly enough about that he got behind this dinner many years ago and made sure he was providing support to the organization. It's great to carry on that level of support to an organization that was so important to my grandfather."