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Maria Wright will receive the James A. McKee Association Outstanding Community Service Award on Saturday, April 18. (Photo by Lauren Heaton)

Maria Wright will receive the James A. McKee Association Outstanding Community Service Award on Saturday, April 18. (Photo by Lauren Heaton)

McKee group honors Wright

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In 1995 The Yellow Springs Senior Center lifted its age requirement so that Maria Wright, then 30, could join. She instantly became the youngest member by several decades, and has been sitting at the front desk several days a week since then to greet people, share news, connect villagers to the services they need, and provide friendly company to anyone who wants to come to the Senior Center and chat for a while.

For her years of dedicated service, the James A. McKee Association will honor Wright with the 2015 Outstanding Community Service Award at its awards dinner on April 18 at the Springfield Marriott. In her nomination letter Joan Horn wrote:

“The soul of helpfulness, she knows the village so well that she can direct someone to a certain place in town, tell them where they might find good food, sign them up for Senior Center classes or trips, and share what she knows about life in our village. She is up on who has come home from the hospital, or who has just given birth, or who has died, or who is moving away … Then, armed with this information, she discreetly passes that on to the appropriate people to bring a casserole to a recuperating patient, or send a card to a new mother, or steer someone to a job opening.There seems no limit to her energy and her willingness to help others, even beyond the village limits.”

Born with spina bifida, Wright has been wheelchair-bound since middle school. But she is mobile and has an independent spirit that has served her as a strong advocate for accessibility in the village. She convinced Yellow Springs High School of its need for an elevator, though she graduated before it was installed, earning physical education credit by hoisting herself up the four flights of stairs for classes there. She has also advocated for making the downtown area more handicap-accessible, has volunteered for local election campaigns, especially for her sister and long-time school board member Angela Wright, and has been active in serving the Clifton Presbyterian Church community.

In an interview last week, Wright said she likes being at the Senior Center because she feels she can help people who are ill or aging, to feel connected and supported.

“It’s the social aspect, the fellowship — getting people out and helping them feel less isolated.”

To reserve a seat at the dinner, contact Harry A. Lipsitt at 767-8061 or, preferably by April 10.

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