When Canandaigua native Amber Smith graduated from Keuka College in 2011, she had dreams of the Big Apple.
Forging her own path at the College, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in management, but fleshed out her concentration in theatre and minor in communication studies by investing time acting in campus plays, serving as president of the Arion Players (drama club) and honing leadership skills. For example, she coordinated special events such as an all-arts or improv night for the Arion Players.
When she graduated, there were three potential career options in mind: acting, hip-hop dance or managing her own business.
Now a New York City resident, the dancer/actress/singer has begun to make her mark in choreography, putting her hip-hop dance talents to use in three music videos and now, serving as co-choreographer for the Bristol Valley Theater production of “Rent,” which runs through July 19 in Naples. She is also a cast member.
“In the ensemble, I sing and dance a lot as I play about six different characters minor to the show. Singing and dancing are what I love to do,” said the Canandaigua native.
As a co-choreographer for “Rent,” Smith has choreographed the tango sequence and dance sequence – two of the biggest numbers – with what she calls a “softer side.” Where other versions of the show have portrayed characters dancing with little thought or intent, Smith’s choreography seeks to echo the lyrics and rhythm of those songs in the physical movement, she said.
Audience members may also see elements of hip-hop in the choreography, a nod to Smith’s dance specialty. Her music videos include two for rap artist D’Chrome Foster and one for the rock band dec3. In addition to dance, Smith has sung backup vocals for Foster, and will return to the Big Apple following “Rent” to record vocals for his next album and then choreograph his next music video.
Smith sees great marketability when a performer can sing, act and dance on stage or screen, so she plans to continue choreographing whenever the opportunity arises. Ultimately, however, she would love to utilize her business skills as a manager in the music industry, she said.
“I’d really like to help guide people in developing their entertainment careers,” she said. To that end, Smith believes her Keuka College education prepared her well for success.
She cited faculty members Mark Wenderlich, professor of theatre, and Ann Tuttle, professor of management, for their guidance and encouragement to pursue her dreams, push herself to success and be confident in her decisions. In addition, the “small-town friendliness” that encompasses the campus community has served her well in New York City, where she said people respond positively when she interacts with them in a warm, open way atypical of big-city residents.
“The atmosphere at Keuka College sticks with you and helps you relate to people on different levels,” she described.
If it takes a little while to build up the business side of her career, Smith is not worried. Meanwhile, she stays busy auditioning for roles, taking dance lessons and more on top of her job at a couture children’s boutique inside the Plaza Hotel.
“If someone offers me a part in a show, there’s no way I’d say no,” she explained. “Who’s going to say no when you can sing and dance and do what you love?”
On the surface, the Presbyterian Church, Penn Yan Racquet Club, Lions Club, Christmas for the Needy, and Keuka Care Comfort Home might not seem like they have much in common.
Nor might the Once Again Shoppe, Penn Yan Area Council of Churches Community Action Program, the Back to School Program, and the Elks Club.
But there is one common—and constant—bond that connects each organization to the others. His name is Bill Turner, a lifelong resident of Penn Yan and the 2015 recipient of the Donald and Corinne Stork Award for Community Service. The award will be presented Tuesday, Aug. 11 at a noon luncheon in the Geiser Dining Hall in Dahlstrom Student Center at Keuka College.
The Stork Award was established in 1991 by Keuka College to recognize outstanding individuals who exemplify the College’s commitment of valuing individual initiative for the common good. The award was named after its first recipients, Penn Yan residents Corinne Stork and the late Donald Stork.
Those who know Turner say he’s a person who believes that individuals can change communities for the better. This is just one lesson Turner’s parents instilled in him as a child—a love of his community and a commitment to helping others.
Take the Presbyterian Church, where the young Turner helped his father stoke the furnace. Since then, he has continued to dedicate himself to his church through a variety of roles. He continues his work as a trustee, has served as an elder and a deacon, and sits on the Building and Grounds Committee. He has also been active with the Penn Yan Area Council of Churches Community Action Program Inc., where he has served on its Board of Directors.
For the Christmas for the Needy program, Turner has organized the transportation of toys and food, and makes certain that those unable to get to the distribution site still receive Christmas packages. At the Once Again Shoppe, Turner can be counted on to move and sort donated items or find the right piece of furniture for someone in need, among other projects. He chairs the Building Maintenance and Repair committee there, too.
In addition, Turner has assisted with the efforts of the Back to School program by helping shop, package, and deliver school supplies to ensure students are ready to begin the school year. He is a founding member of the Penn Yan Racquet Club, and a longtime member of the Elks Lodge and the Lion’s Club, where he received an Award of Merit in 2002. Turner has also served as a Town of Milo councilman, been a member of the United States Junior Chamber (more commonly called Jaycees), and has supported efforts to raise money for Keuka Comfort Care Home.
Tickets for the luncheon are $13. Seating is limited, so advanced reservations are advised. Make checks payable to Keuka College and mail to: Office of Alumni and Family Relations, Keuka College, Keuka Park, N.Y. 14478, or reservations may be made online at events.keuka.edu. The reservation deadline is Wednesday, Aug 5.
For more information call (315) 279-5238 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For many area nonprofit organizations, the rhythm of daily operations can leave few resources to tackle special projects.
That’s why the 18-year community service day collaboration between Keuka College and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, known as Celebrate Service …Celebrate Yates(CSCY), is so well-received by nonprofit leaders who welcome volunteers to help with spring cleaning and other projects.
And Sunday’s (April 12) annual day of service set new records, with a volunteer corps of students and community members some 297 strong chipping in at a record 32 nonprofit work sites around Yates County.
“As far as what it means to us, we really appreciate the help,” said Dick Smith, trustee for the Bluff Point United Methodist Church.
Smith was all smiles Sunday, welcoming four women from the Catholic Daughters of the Americas at St. Michael’s Church in Penn Yan to help rake stones pushed by snowplowing from the parking lot into the surrounding grass over the harsh winter months.
“We just couldn’t get it done otherwise,” Smith added, estimating a congregation where as many as 80 percent of parishioners may be seniors unable to labor long and the other 20 percent busy young families with little time to serve. A similar challenge faces St. Luke’s Episcopal in Branchport, where CSCY volunteers, including members of the Penn Yan Rotary and Keuka College women’s soccer team, reported to serve.
One of the Bluff Point volunteers —new Penn Yan resident Deborah Smith — said CSCY was one of the first local events she heard about after joining the Catholic Daughters.
“Good cause, great day, good exercise — all kinds of benefits are coming out of it,” Deborah Smith said, adding the event was also a great way to meet people in her new hometown.
At another corner of the church lot, the nearly 70-degree temperatures and bright sunshine found Deb Thurling in high spirits.
“I’m hoping to bulk up my muscles to bowl better on Tuesday and beat Pastor Judy [Wunder of Bluff Point UMC] and her husband in our senior league,” Thurling quipped.
Thurling’s enthusiasm was matched by four Keuka College students trekking the steep hills of Route 364 near Delooza Road with Rev. Jeff Childs of the Penn Yan United Methodist Church for the church’s two-mile stretch of “adopted” highway. Asked what exotic findings they’d uncovered, senior Brianna Jackson and junior Lakeisha Ford launched into a few bars of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” while sophomore Dakota Warren held out a skeletal bone from a cow. And not just any bone —Warren insisted her classroom training in occupational therapy classes confirmed it was a lumbar bone.
Other findings included a hubcap, a tire resembling a hula hoop, metal building pipes, parts of a house shingle, “and a little sign and a stick to make music,” according to senior Rachel Guthrie.
“I love this!” Guthrie said of her first CSCY experience. “I do highway cleanups at home in North Rose. It couldn’t be a better day.”
And it wasn’t just the great weather or the opportunity to give back that found so many volunteers relishing the moment. At the Yates County Habitat for Humanity site in Dresden, freshman Alyana Murphy said she likes “paying it forward,” but added, “It’s nice to know more about the community where I go to school, and I like how people from the College and community get together to help each other.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by four members of the Keuka College men’s golf team, assigned to the Keuka Lake chapter of the Izaak Walton League on Guayanoga Road. All four students, all first-time CSCY volunteers, were marveling at the quiet they’d discovered while stacking logs and moving brush as three members of the women’s soccer team tackled the windows and floors inside the clubhouse.
“It’s so peaceful, going from the campus to this,” said freshman Mike Parrow, while the sounds of small wildlife and a running stream nearby were heard. “We’re coming back, and we’re going fishing.”
The foursome knew they’d miss next weekend’s hunter safety course due to a golf match in New Jersey against Rutgers-Camden but were hoping to catch an upcoming chicken and biscuits dinner hosted by the Walton League May 2, said freshman Rory Doremus.
“I told them I got the applications right inside and we’re always looking for new members,” Skip Johnson, chapter president, said with a chuckle. “This is fun. I love working with the kids and everything.”
Indeed, many children and families participated this year, increasing the makeup of the volunteer corps to a 58 – 42 percent split between the College and community members, organizers reported.
And perhaps Kristine Mattison, a pre-K teacher at Penn Yan Elementary School serving at City Hill Cemetery in Penn Yan, could be the poster child for the value of starting young when it comes to community service.
“I grew up helping clean the City Hill Cemetery—it was my spring, summer, and fall job. And I still do. A lot of people have family buried here, including some of my relatives. Everyone works together to keep the cemetery clean and ready for visitors. Everyone here is having a great time,” she said.
CSCY is underwritten each year, thanks to the generous support of local businesses and merchants serving as sponsors. The 2015 Day of Service sponsors include: Arc of Yates, American Legion Post 355, AVI Fresh, Chrisanntha Construction, Eaves Family Dental Group, Ferro Corporation, Finger Lakes Realty, Graphic Connections, Keuka College Student Senate, the Office of Alumni and Family Relations, the Office of Student Affairs, Keuka Spring Vineyards, Knapp & Schlappi, Knights of Columbus, K-Ventures, Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge 2030, Lyons National Bank, Phelps Sungas, Stork Insurance, and Tony Collins Class of ’77 Celebrity Golf Classic.
Miracle worker. A joy and a blessing. Compassionate and professional.
These are among the adjectives people have used to describe Penn Yan resident Sandy Carlson, who will receive the 2014 Donald and Corinne Stork Award for Community Service Tuesday, Aug. 12.
The award will be presented at a noon luncheon in the Geiser Refectory in Dahlstrom Student Center at Keuka College.
The Stork Award was established by Keuka College to recognize outstanding individuals who exemplify the College’s commitment of valuing individual initiative for the common good. The award was named after the first recipients of the award, Penn Yan residents Corinne Stork and the late Donald Stork, in 1991.
Described as one of the first people to bring a meal to someone in need, Carlson volunteers her time and talents to such organizations as the Once Again Shoppe, Keuka Comfort Care Home, CROP Walk, and the Yates County Public Health Medical Reserve Corps. A volunteer with the Red Cross, Carlson worked in New York City after 9/11 and in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
A graduate of the Genesee Hospital School of Nursing, Carlson worked at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital’s emergency room for more than 30 years and now serves as a substitute nurse in the Penn Yan Central School District.
A deacon, elder, youth leader and trustee of the First Presbyterian Church, Carlson also serves on the session and is a member of the kitchen and sanctuary committees. An active member of the church’s women’s group for more than 40 years, she serves as the chair of both of the church fall and spring rummage sales.
A board member for the Yates County Christmas for the Needy, Carlson buys toys and stores gently used clothing year-round so that they can be distributed as needed. She also collaborates with her daughter in New Jersey to collect donations from her community for Penn Yan. In addition, she works with various stores which offer discounted items for the needy.
Tickets for the luncheon are $12. Seating is limited, so advanced reservations are advised. Make checks payable to Keuka College and mail to: Office of Alumni and Family Relations, Keuka College, Keuka Park, N.Y. 14478, or reservations may be made online at events.keuka.edu. The reservation deadline is Wednesday, Aug. 6.
For more information call (315) 279-5238 or e-mail email@example.com.
Keuka College’s Community Luncheon Series will continue Wednesday, Jan. 22, with a talk by a former nuclear engineer who has written a novel about the assassination of President Kennedy.
Stan Wilczek Jr., assistant professor of business and management, will discuss “Did Oswald Act Alone? Author Believes He Did, but His Book Tells a Different Story,” at noon in the Gannett Room of Lightner Library.
Wilczek is convinced Oswald acted alone Nov. 22, 1963, but his novel, Last Witness, is filled—as the jacket of the book describes—with “secrets, seductions, sex, lies, cover-ups, and conspiracies.”
“I love writing fiction,” said Wilczek, “because I can write whatever I want.”
He has published three other mystery thrillers: The Kept Secret, The Soma Man, and Death’s Revenge.
Wilczek spent 30 years in the nuclear and utility industry, the last third as vice president and corporate officer. He earned an associate degree in engineering science from Mohawk Valley Community College, a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from SUNY Buffalo, an MBA from Syracuse University, and graduated from Harvard’s Advanced Management Program.
Tickets for the luncheon are $12.75, $2.50 of which goes to the Penn Yan Keuka Club Scholarship Fund. The fund provides an annual scholarship to a local student attending Keuka College. Seating is limited, so reservations are advised.
Make checks payable to Keuka College and mail to: Office of Alumni and Family Relations, Keuka College, Keuka Park, N.Y. 14478. Reservations may also be made online at http://events.keuka.edu. The reservation deadline is Friday, Jan. 17, 2014.
For more information, call (315) 279-5238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.