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Keuka College News

Students, Community Residents Team Up to Make a Difference Through Celebrate Service… Celebrate Yates

By Desiree Ford ’13

Volunteers got their green thumbs together for the Community Garden

On Sunday, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jim Blackburn welcomed the 184 volunteers for the Celebrate Service…Celebrate Yates (CSCY)  community service day  by sharing the new Keuka College mission statement:“To create exemplary citizens and leaders to serve the nation and the world of the 21st century.”

Dean Blackburn welcomes volunteers to the kickoff ceremony (Stephanie Lockhart '15)

For the 16th year, CSCY volunteers showed just how exemplary members of the College and community truly are by stepping up to serve 24 non-profit agencies across Yates County. Each year, non-profits, including youth camps, community centers, churches, libraries, fire departments and more gain a helping hand from area residents and Keuka students  who come together to pitch in on spring cleaning projects.

CSCY is a collaboration between the College and Yates County Chamber of Commerce, with support from local merchants and business sponsors.

Community service is nothing  new for Class of 2016 members Preston Vick, Jake Altman, and Rich Weit, who signed up for CSCY with other members of the Keuka men’s soccer team. While CSCY is not something the players are required to do, team members still volunteer for the day, Altman said. The trio worked with others to rake leaves  at Camp Cory on the east side of Keuka Lake,

“I was a part of a youth group back home and have worked benefit dinners,” Vick said.

Before he came to Keuka, Weit helped serve at car washes where proceeds went to cancer foundations.

“It’s fulfilling … we’re out here participating and tackling different tasks,” Vick added.

The soccer players weren’t the only ones familiar with volunteering.

After Vietnamese students Linh Thuy Tran and My Tieu Dao heard about CSCY on Saturday night, they were among the first walk-ins in line early Sunday afternoon. They worked together raking leaves and hanging sponsorship signs at the Penn Yan youth baseball fields for preparation of the season opener May 4.

Kelsey Harmer at the Izaak Walton League clubhouse

“In my hometown I do charity work for [a local] school, grow some plants, and clean-up the school and the garbage in the village,” said Tran.

Dao also has participated in community service at her college in Vietnam. Both students agreed that CSCY not only impacts the community but also the volunteers.

“It’s [a] benefit for us too, because it makes a clean environment for everyone who lives here,” said Tran.

College students weren’t the only ones who volunteered Sunday. Many local residents also came out to lend a helping hand, including Joshua Shipman, 17. The homeschooler said he has been volunteering at the baseball fields for as long as he can remember with his grandfather, who is the field manager. The start of spring is when it begins to get busy there.

Branchport residents Noah and Eric Detar hang signs at the youth baseball fields.

“We are used to a lot less volunteers, so this is great,” Shipman said of the dozen-plus volunteers assigned to assist in preparing the property. Thanks to the work CSCY volunteers completed, only a few “last-minute” tasks such as chalking the fields would be left, he said.

At  one of the Catholic Charity homes at 167 Main St. in Penn Yan, Matthew Bean and Sara Evans were serving as on-site supervisors for volunteers. Evans has been with the organization for seven years and said it has  received help painting, cleaning and raking each year.

Erin Scott helps clean up the Women's Center garden beds on the Keuka campus (Stephanie Lockhart '15)

This year, volunteers helped clean hard-to-reach places inside the home and also helped weed the garden beds outside. Both Bean and Evans spoke highly of the volunteers that come out each year.

“[They are] always very helpful, sometimes entire church groups join in. One year we had 12 volunteers,” Bean recalled with a smile. In addition, many of the Keuka students who have volunteered at the homes have returned in later years “and we know that we can always count on them.”

Added Evans: “You notice the difference in Keuka students. They are so nice and hard-working. The students bring back fresh ideas, too.”

Jose Cervantes '13 paints at YCRR fitness center

Further up the road at the Yates County Community Center, Executive Director Pam Griffith put seniors Reis Cunningham and José Cervantes, and freshman Matt Hey to work applying a fresh coat of paint to the inside of the Fitness and Wellness Center.

“[The painting] will be pretty close to finished today because of their help,” said Griffith, whose site received help for the second year, but was supervising the work herself for the first time.

Griffith said she was impressed with the scope of the CSCY event and said it was a great opportunity to learn more about Keuka students and the community service allowed students to learn about the not-for-profit organizations in Penn Yan.

Even though Cervantes is graduating this spring, he has been participating in CSCY for the past two years and said it is an event he would continue doing each year if given the chance. He transferred to Keuka from another school, but never heard of community service opportunities happening around that campus, he said, adding “that’s why Keuka is so different.”

Holding a paint roller, Hey agreed with Cervantes that giving back to neighbors would leave them feeling successful because of the work accomplished.

“Community service,” he said, “is just something that makes you feel good .”

(Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15)

The 16th Annual CSCY was supported this year through the generous donations and in-kind goods and services of the following sponsors: Arc of Yates County, AVI Fresh Catering, Eastview Veterinary Clinic, Eaves Family Dental Group, Esperanza Mansion,  Ferro, Fitzgerald Brothers, Graphic Connections, Keuka College Campus Safety, Student Senate, and the Office of Alumni and Family Relations; Knapp and Schlappi, Knights of Columbus, K-Ventures, Lyons National Bank, Morgan’s Grocery, Penn Yan Area Council of Churches, Ricoh, Roto-Salt, Seneca Lake Duck Hunters Association, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital, Stork Insurance Agency, Tony Collins Class of ’77 Celebrity Golf Classic, and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce.

For more images and stories on this annual event, visit


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