Lam and Lina Hood share Center for the Performing Arts 2019 Distinguished Service Award
Lam and Lina Hood grew up during the Great Depression in families who subsisted on the basics, but they found ways to enjoy various events and give back to their communities. The couple’s volunteerism and unwavering support for the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State—as ushers for more than 20 years and members since the mid-2000s—earned the Hoods the center’s 2019 Distinguished Service Award.
“They are shining examples of engaged volunteers and donors,” center Director George Trudeau said. “They have reached out to engage many others in our community to join with them in supporting the Center for the Performing Arts. This is a very well-deserved recognition of their outstanding service.”
The couple were close to retirement—Lam as dean of Penn State’s College of Agriculture and Lina at Conferences and Institutes at Penn State Outreach—when she said she realized they were missing “lots of good things here at the university.” They joined the center as volunteer ushers as a way to stay abreast of the center’s events.
In 2006, Lina joined the center’s new Volunteer Event Staff Advisory Board, and the couple also became event sponsors. From 2011 to 2018, Lam was a member of the center’s Community Advisory Council, the final two years as council chairman.
“I think the important thing for us has always been to sponsor,” Lam said. “We’ve supported the center in a whole lot of different ways. I think when I was on the council, it felt like we needed to step up and do more than we’d been doing. … The whole idea was to try to encourage others to step up.”
One way he aimed to rally support for the center was to co-sponsor an event with others. He said he understands that for some sponsors the price tag might be hefty, “so sponsoring with a small group of people or another couple is one way to give back without breaking the bank.”
The couple’s contributions to and involvement in the community didn’t stop with the Center for the Performing Arts. The Hoods contributed to the College of Agricultural Sciences and created a Penn State scholarship for adult learners. He worked with Habitat for Humanity and shared his passionate about the issue of affordable workforce housing in Centre County. Lina helps out with Centre Volunteers in Medicine. Both are members of The Arboretum at Penn State’s Founders Circle and ardent supporters of Mount Nittany Health. They also participate in social circles in their housing development, enjoy a variety of Penn State sports and support volleyball boosters.
They said that helping others helps to make the community better for everyone. The spirit of the award—which recognizes dedication, contributions and service to the center—pairs neatly with the Hoods’ longstanding ideology.
“We’ve always had the philosophy of giving back to the community in a variety of ways, not just financially, because the community provides so much for us,” Lam said.
The Distinguished Service Award has been given annually since 1996.