In an emotional display, Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. (COI) dedicated a building Thursday in the name of an employee who passed away unexpectedly in December.
A special dedication ceremony was held at 9 a.m. in front of what is now called the Michael G. Yerico Administration Building at 17 W. Courtney St. in Dunkirk.
Each one of us makes a difference every day ... and no one exemplified the heart and the soul of community action than Mike Yerico," COI Executive Director Roberta Keller said.
OBSERVER Photo by Shirley Pulawski
Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. staff and friends and family of Mike Yerico gathered to dedicate the facility at 17 W. Courtney to the memory of the former employee on Thursday. From left: Bill Vogt, Bud Woloszyn, Ed Carbrook, Diane Hewitt-Johnson, Doug Fricke, Bonnie Scott-Sleight, John Hamels, Roberta Keller, Linda Yerico, and Maureen Abbott.
During his 12 years at COI, Yerico was a manager, senior manager and division deputy director. Keller said he is remembered fondly by customers, staff and management.
Yerico's wife, Linda, gave a brief, but emotional reaction.
"He was always happiest when he was helping people. ... People would come up to him when they'd see him out and thank him. Of course to me, he was a great man," she said, as she thanked the group for the dedication activities.
A special bronze plaque was created featuring the likeness of Yerico, along with outdoor signage with the building's new name.
"I want to let everyone know from the family, that on the behalf of the board of directors, we are very, very proud to be able to do this today. Everybody on the board knew Mike. ... I know Mike would be humbled by this, but at the same time, you know, I think he'd say, 'Cool,' right?," COI board chair John Hamels said. "This should be a lasting tribute to all of you, that one person from Chautauqua Opportunities, can make a difference, and is going to be here for a long, long time."
A memorial fund in Yerico's honor was also created to benefit area homeless persons. According to Keller, the amount collected so far is $1,250 in donations.