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CRCF Honors Herbst With Community Award

Tory Irgang, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, executive director; and Bridget Johnson, John D. Hamilton Community Service Award, chair; present Cristie Herbst (center) with the 2020 John D. Hamilton Community Service Award. Submitted photo

Cristie Herbst made history as The Post-Journal’s first female editor and last night made history, again, as the first virtual recipient of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation’s John D. Hamilton Community Service Award.

“The Community Foundation annually celebrates the very best in community service and volunteerism and never has that celebration been more important than in this year of unprecedented circumstances,” said Tory Irgang, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation executive director.

Throughout the virtual event, which was live-streamed to more than 80 households, many shared stories of working with Herbst, both professionally and as a volunteer.

Former of publisher The Post-Journal, Donald Meyer, kicked off the event with a tribute to Herbst chronicling their working relationship.

“Cristie used her position at the paper to promote and celebrate what is best about the region,” Meyer said. “John Hamilton was a dear friend of mine and when I learned that Cristie was to be honored with this very special award I thought, ‘John would be so proud if he were with us today.'”

For decades, Herbst has witnessed first-hand the dynamic power volunteering can have on a community. As an active volunteer with the former Chautauqua Area Girl Scout Council, she mentored many young women throughout the region as they explored the natural world.

Longtime friend, Susan Wilcox, shared stories of she and Herbst attending Camp Wood E Lo Hi and one of Herbst’s early leadership roles.

“Scouting was such a huge part of our lives,” Wilcox said. “When faced with the reality that we did not have a troop our senior year in high school, Cris and I became leaders for a junior troop.”

Since then, Herbst has ascended into volunteer leadership roles with Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, State University of New York at Fredonia, UPMC Chautauqua and WCA Foundation, to name a few.

Now retired, Herbst continues her service as a volunteer and president of the Board of Trustees at the Chautauqua County Historical Society, which also operates the McClurg Museum in Westfield.

Recently, under her leadership, the Historical Society entered into a partnership with the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Department to operate a museum at the Barcelona Lighthouse. According to Bridget Johnson, John D. Hamilton Community Service Award chair, Herbst’s style of leadership has benefited our region in countless ways.

“Cristie’s interest in understanding the forces that created our communities, as well as the effect of social change, have given her a unique perspective on how we honor the past, address the present and influence the future,” Johnson said.

Following the award presentation, Herbst was visibly moved by the recognition.

“It’s both humbling and astonishing to receive this sort of recognition from your community and I thank you all for your kind words,” Herbst said. “The John D. Hamilton Award feels especially significant to me because of who it is named for. John Hamilton was the epitome of community service in Chautauqua County.”

The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has annually presented its John D. Hamilton Community Service Award since 1994 to recognize an individual’s dedication, leadership and support in furthering community spirit and enhancing the quality of life in the region. It is named for John Hamilton, in appreciation of his tireless efforts and leadership throughout the community.

For those wanting to send Herbst a congratulatory message, the Community Foundation is collecting well wishes, personal stories and photos to be presented to Herbst as a keepsake. Items may be submitted online by visiting crcfonline.org/celebrate or by contacting the Foundation at 661-3390.

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