Diana Pfaff
972-252-7476 or 800-247-8464

IRVING, Texas (July 2008) - The City of Irving recently recognized two Irving residents with the High Spirited Citizen award, given to individuals who have exhibited longtime dedication and service to the community.

Bernard Manale, an Irving resident for 26 years, has donated countless hours of service to numerous organizations throughout the city. During the past five tax seasons, Manale has facilitated the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistants (VITA) Program, training and organizing students in the Irving Independent School District on how to help citizens prepare their income tax returns. These students complete weekend training and pass an IRS certification exam in order to serve as VITA volunteers.

In addition to making tax returns easier for Irvingites, Manale has also helped make recycling easier. As an active member of the Master Composters of Irving, a volunteer organization through the City\'s Solid Waste Services Department, Manale has worked events such as the Cans for Fans aluminum drive, the Clothing Round Up and the Trinity Trash Bash. He also served on the Keep Irving Beautiful Committee, and for more than 20 years has been a tutor for the Irving Public Library\'s Literacy Program and serves on the Literacy Advisory Committee. In 2002, Manale was named the Literacy Program\'s Tutor of the Year.

Another longtime Irving resident, LaDelle Blackburn, was also honored with the High Spirited Citizen distinction. In 1987, the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) brought Blackburn on board to serve as the bureau's first customer service liaison. On her retirement last year, Blackburn was one of 14 Irving CVB customer service representatives. Affectionately called the Golden Girls since most are older and all are women, they serve as on-site concierges; their job is to meet, greet and assist groups that hold their meetings in Irving. As the first \"Golden Girl,\" Blackburn served as a customer service mentor and trainer for more than two decades.

Irving CVB executive director Maura Gast credits Blackburn for numerous accolades the Bureau has received over the years. "Our walls are lined with customer service awards,\" states Gast. \"Many of those awards can directly be traced back to the two decades of LaDelle\'s customer service commitment to our clients and her effort in mentoring others."

Blackburn was also a founding member of Plymouth Park Methodist Church, and has been active with the church since 1956. A member of the Irving Health Care Auxiliary for 35 years, she volunteered on a weekly basis at what is now Baylor Medical Center, logging nearly 6,000 volunteer hours. Now a life member of the Auxiliary, Blackburn served as the organization's president from 1974 to 1976.

The High Spirited Citizen program was initiated in 1988 by the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau. Its purpose is to encourage the spirit of volunteerism. To date, more than 400 of Irving\'s \"unsung\" heroes have been honored with the award. To nominate an Irving resident for the award, contact Jane Kilburn at 972-252-7476 or download an application form at www.irvingtexas.com/media/high-spirited-citizens/