For selfless actions and service following floods that devastated community neighbors in May, the Keuka College athletics department was honored Saturday afternoon as one of three institutions to earn a national community service award from the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA)/Jostens.
Comprised of athletics administrators from the nearly 450 institutions and 43 conferences competing at the NCAA Division III level, the NADIIIAA recognizes select institutions for impressive community service projects performed by its student-athletes during the 2013-14 academic year. For volunteer efforts during the days following torrential May downpours & flooding that devastated the neighboring Penn Yan community, student-athletes, coaches and administrators within the Keuka College athletics department received the community service award in the NADIIIAA’s one-time project category.
Both the village of Penn Yan and nearby Branchport saw anywhere between five and nine inches of rain fall during the storms. In the wake of the devastation, roadways were flooded, houses and businesses destroyed, leaving residents and business owners with the huge chore of rebuilding their lives.
As part of a coordinated relief effort led by the Rev. Eric Detar, the college chaplain, the Keuka College community came together, taking to the streets to help start the tedious task of cleanup following the storm. During the middle of their preparations for finals, more than 250 Keuka College students, plus several staff and faculty members, boarded busses bound for Penn Yan, intent on helping their neighbors in need in any way possible. These students—many of them student-athletes—spent the better part of three days removing debris from flooded basements and other low-lying storage areas hit hard along downtown Penn Yan. Student-athletes also chose to cancel their annual awards banquet and instead send the food, water and snacks reserved for it to community volunteers instead.
Keuka College athletics was awarded a commemorative trophy highlighting the one-time project honor, and the NADIIIAA and Jostens will make a $1,000 contribution to the general scholarship fund at Keuka College.
Molly McGuigan ’11, the current adventure program manager and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.) co-advisor, received the award on behalf of the Wolfpack’s athletics department. The awards were given out during the NADIIIAA Reception at the NCAA Convention in National Harbor, Md. before one hundred athletic directors, conference commissioners, school presidents and other Division III staff members.
“When we were helping with the cleanup efforts, we certainly weren’t doing it to win a national award,” said McGuigan. “When we were in Penn Yan assisting with the cleanup, it just felt great seeing how our students, faculty and staff dropped everything and ran out to help their community. It was just a natural reaction for us to go and help those in need, and to get this recognition only added to the level of pride I felt about how we reacted to the flooding.”
Keuka College was recognized by NADIIIAA alongside two other schools: Moravian College, which won in the category for an array of projects, and Oswego State, for the ongoing projects category.
Community service has long been a hallmark of Keuka College, with numerous clubs and groups conducting service projects and fundraisers throughout the academic year. The College also hosts an annual countywide day of service, in conjunction with the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, known as Celebrate Service … Celebrate Yates (CSCY).
This strong focus on community service has helped earn the College a spot on the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the past eight years.
“Keuka College is known for its experiential-based learning method, and the emphasis we put on community service within that experiential education. Winning a national award of this nature just solidifies and gives further credence to this component of a Keuka education,” said Dave Sweet, who is in his 30th year as Keuka College’s athletic director.
“To have other athletic directors recognize our student-athletes, coaches and staff for their efforts in assisting our neighbors during their time of need is a huge honor.”
The storms occurred as the members of Keuka’s intercollegiate sports teams were preparing to celebrate their assorted accomplishments from 2013-14 at the annual athletics awards ceremony.
Recognizing the need to step up and help out their neighbors, the student-athletes approached Sweet with an idea: rather than celebrate their own accomplishments, the student-athletes opted to forgo their awards banquet and instead, contribute to the relief efforts. The food, water and snacks that normally would be consumed during the awards ceremony were donated to volunteers who were aiding in the cleanup efforts.
Among the places where volunteer workers came to the aid of those in need were: the Calvary Chapel of Penn Yan, Deano’s Outdoors store, and the Penn Yan Diner, where some nine feet of water had rushed through the basement. Student-athletes who made an impact all spoke of lessons learned through service to others.
Then-sophomores Ally Muller (Bath, N.Y./Haverling) and Liz Warren (Elmira Heights, N.Y./Thomas A. Edison), members of the Keuka softball team, helped a resident remove layers of mud from the basement of her Penn Yan home and cleaned up at both the Wagner Restaurant and Longs’ Cards and Books. According to Muller, people were “extremely appreciative” to receive help.
“They were going through a very stressful moment in their lives, and for people to come help, it showed that we cared while helping these people deal with the emotional toll of the storm,” Muller said. “It was a time for us all to come together and rebuild the town.”
“I went down there because as a human that’s what we’re supposed to do: help each other whenever we can,” said Thad Phillips, Keuka College’s men’s basketball coach.
“Our community — my community — needed help. I was lucky our house had little damage and effects from the storm and flooding, but others I know weren’t so fortunate.”
Phillips went into town with student-athletes Joe Tortolon (Dundee, N.Y./Dundee), Casey Williams (Syracuse, N.Y./Jamesville-DeWitt) and Vinney Zambito (Elba, N.Y./Batavia Notre Dame) to lend a hand.
They helped clean up at the CrossFit location, which had experienced heavy water damage. As much as 10 feet of water came in and left a thick mud coat covering most of the interior of the building. The basketball student-athletes and their coaches also helped remove equipment from the Sampson Theatre.
“It’s always great when our teams win on the field of play. But when they take the values you’re trying to teach to them on the field, and they apply that to their everyday lives, that is truly special, and that’s what everyone did with the cleanup efforts,” Sweet said. “They put others before themselves, and that lesson is one of the things that makes Keuka College such a special place.”
The NADIIIAA/Jostens Community Service awards program was established in 2001 to recognize the many contributions Division III student-athletes regularly make to their campuses and local communities.
“The efforts and selflessness of Keuka College’s student-athletes certainly made an impact on the committee,” said Danielle Drews, director of athletics at The Sage Colleges who chaired the selection committee that reviewed the nominations.
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Keuka College will mark Veterans Day Tuesday, Nov. 11 with a 4:15 p.m. ceremony in Norton Chapel.
Local veterans, their families, and friends are invited to join the College community in the ceremony honoring veterans who have served our country.
College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera is expected to deliver remarks along with Chris Leahy, associate professor of history, who will speak on the meaning of Veterans Day; and Denise Duby, administrative assistant for the Office of Alumni and Family Relations. The founder of a support group for military families, Duby’s son is serving in the Marines. Duran Allen, a member of the Class of 2018 and a veteran, will also speak. Eric Detar, College chaplain, will offer a prayer of remembrance.
The program also includes Jeff Miller ’15 singing the Star-Spangled Banner, and Olivia O’Boyle ’15 singing Hero. Veterans’ names and pictures will be part of a special musical PowerPoint tribute, and each veteran will receive a flower.
The ceremony will conclude in front of the chapel with a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps by members of the Penn Yan V.F.W. Color Guard.
After the service, local veterans are invited to have dinner in the Geiser Refectory, Dahlstrom Student Center. The first 50 veterans who show their military I.D. will receive their dinner compliments of AVI Fresh, the College’s food service provider. Meals can be purchased by other guests for $10.60 each.
Anyone from the community interested in honoring a veteran during the College’s ceremony can contact Laurie Adams, assistant director of alumni and family relations, at (315) 279-5653.The deadline for including a veteran’s name in the program is Friday, Nov. 7.
Twenty-two faculty and staff members were recognized for their service and dedication to Keuka College at Community Day Aug. 19.
Five-year service awards were presented to: Dianne Trickey-Rokenbrod, assistant professor of occupational therapy; Lynne Heath, academic records specialist; Troy Cusson, instructional design manager, Wertman Office of Distance Education; Michele “Mikki” Sheldon, administrative assistant for the Office of Academic Affairs; Jessica Dunkelberger, director of program administration and student services; Christen Accardi, assistant director of marketing; Teresa Ripley, administrative assistant for the Division of Humanities and Fine Art; Eric Detar, College chaplain; Timothy White; resident director and assistant director of housing and residence life; Alex Perryman, assistant professor of finance; Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art; and Jennie Joiner, chair, Division of Humanities and Fine Art and assistant professor of English.
Ten-year service awards were presented to: Kristen Harter, assistant director of admissions, traditional; Janet Lanphear, data entry coordinator; and Carmela Battaglia, professor of occupational therapy.
Fifteen-year service awards were presented to: Mike McKenzie, assistant professor of philosophy and religion; Jason Paige, head men’s lacrosse coach; and Deb Jensen, accounting assistant, payroll.
A 20-year service award was presented to Gary Smith, professor of management.
Merit awards were presented to Rebecca Capek, resident director and success advocate; and Dunkelberger.
Presidential Awards for Sustained Outstanding Achievement were presented to: Ann Tuttle, professor of management; Detar; and Sandra Devaux, graphic designer.
Spurred on by a desire to help nearby neighbors recover from the devastation of Tuesday night’s storm, dozens and dozens of Keuka College students and staff got to work Wednesday clearing out muddy debris in the village of Penn Yan.
A morning email alert sent to all members of the campus community served as a call for volunteers. Due to travel warnings in effect, the College announced shuttle runs every two hours to safely transport any willing workers to posts in town. Rev. Eric Detar, the College chaplain, said he and two other staffers rode in on the first shuttle at 11 a.m.
About a dozen volunteers – mostly students – arrived on the 1 p.m. shuttle but after additional emails from the vice presidents of student affairs and academic affairs encouraging student and faculty support, more volunteers arrived at the shuttle pickup area outside Saunders hall. So many showed up to work, the original schedule was scrapped and shuttles started running every 30 minutes.
“I bet we’ve had between 75-100 volunteers help out,” Detar said by phone about 4:15 p.m. from his post on Main Street. “There’s 10 students walking by me right now, covered in mud.”
The first local business to receive help was the Once Again Shoppe, where volunteers salvaged what they could from thousands of dollars worth of damaged toys stored in the consignment shop’s basement. The toys were earmarked for the annual Christmas for the Needy annual benefit drive – a hallmark in the Penn Yan community – and most of them had to be thrown away in giant dumpsters, Detar said. After the damaged goods were removed, volunteers used Shop-Vacs and shovels to tackle the mud.
“It was just so sad to see all the hard work get ruined, because [Christmas for the Needy] is a huge part of this community,” said Mitch Leet ’16, who has served two years as a community service advocate for the College, and just this year, coordinated the campus’s Angel Tree gift drive. “We were asking people what others could do to help them replace this inventory.”
Detar said College relief efforts were concentrated mostly on local businesses, with College volunteers laboring to removing debris from flooded basements and other low-lying storage areas hit hard by the storm. Workers came to the aid of those at Calvary Chapel of Penn Yan, Deano’s Outdoors store, and the Penn Yan Diner, where some nine feet of water had rushed through the basement, Detar said. The diner is operated by College alumnae Carrie Ahearn.
“Right now, they’ve got an assembly line sending stuff up – it’s mud and trash – from the basement to the dumpster,” he said. “We’ve been working in Long’s bookstore, too, and there’s tons of stuff that needs to be thrown out. Plus, we’ve had students walk through the streets with grocery carts, distributing bottled water and snacks. They’ve talked to some families and helped them a bit.”
Leet and a handful of other student volunteers wound up at the Sampson Theater, where some sets were so waterlogged, “they had to be trashed. It was just awful – people were sinking through the floorboards. The theater wasn’t in great condition to begin with and now this.”
Freshmen Rachel Hurley and Laura Alderson, both occupational science majors, reported for service around 3 p.m. and were also part of the group helping clean out the theater. The two found themselves in a nearby barn, helping unload pickup trucks carting wet wood and salvaged set pieces from the theater into temporary storage.
Hurley said seeing photos online of the devastation prompted her to action. Much of this storm damage reminded Hurley of the flooding many in her hometown of Sayre, Penn. experienced about three years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, she said. At that time, much of the Southern Tier, including cities like Binghamton and Owego, N.Y., were under water for weeks. Alderson’s hometown lies in Warren Center, Penn. and she said she felt awful for those in Penn Yan who could not even leave their houses because the mouths of their driveways were washed away in the storm.
“I feel like I’ve taken advantage of all their amenities at Tops or other stores and now I actually get to give back and help them out,” Alderson said. “On the way back, we were riding in the back of the pickup truck and there were several citizens in Penn Yan sitting on their porches, waving to us and calling out ‘Thank you kids, so much!’ It was precious.”
Closer to campus, the handful of volunteers Leet served with Wednesday wound up at a West Lake Road home, assisting an older couple whose garage had filled with debris as water rushed down the steep hills across Route 54A and through their backyards.
“The water is not rushing as much now, but there are still ‘waterfalls’ coming down in some places, and the road was just filled with debris. We had to hold hands to get across it, and I forgot for a second we were walking in the middle of a road because there was so much water,” Leet said, adding that the couple asked for help documenting the damage for insurance purposes. “They just had mud everywhere in the garage. I took pictures of everything.”
Despite the devastation, working together with fellow students to help neighbors in need, helped Hurley bond with those in the campus community, she said, adding how many faces she was happy she recognized today.
“I think that we realize we can all come together to help people out,” Hurley said.
Community service is a hallmark of Keuka College with numerous clubs and groups conducting service projects and fundraisers throughout the academic year. The College even hosts an annual county-wide day of service, in conjunction with the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, known as Celebrate Service … Celebrate Yates (CSCY). The strong focus on community service has helped earn the College a spot on the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the past seven years.
Detar said College relief efforts would continue Thursday and officials were waiting to hear if support would also be needed at Camp Good Days and Special Times in Branchport, which had reportedly been hit hard as well. Additional emails from campus officials indicated volunteer service shuttles will again run every half-hour, starting at 9 a.m. with the final shuttle returning to campus at 5 p.m.
By Mike Kelly ’14
On Sunday, under sunny skies, more than 218 volunteers – from community members to College students, faculty and staff – spread across 20 non-profit work sites in Yates County to complete community service for the 17th annual Celebrate Service…Celebrate Yates (CSCY) event. Those are the largest numbers of volunteers for the day of service since its record-breaking 248 volunteers back in 2010.
A collaboration between Keuka College and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, CSCY is the one day each year when volunteers join hands across the community to serve the county’s non-profit agencies, completing tasks such as raking, cleaning, repairing and painting. This year’s work sites included camps (Camp Cory, Camp Koinonia, Camp Iroquois), cemeteries (St. Michael’s Cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery), and other non-profit organizations such as Milly’s Pantry, Penn Yan Ambulance Corps., and the Izaak Walton League chapter clubhouse in Guyanoga.
First-time volunteer and Yates County District Attorney Valerie Gardner said she was “thrilled to assist in community projects that benefit us all.”
Gardner’s entire office staff participated this year, handling spring cleaning tasks at the Arts Center of Yates County Sunny Point location in Dundee. According to Gardner, the event served as a “good way to connect [Keuka College and Yates County] and to foster good interaction.”
Given the severity of the winter weather this year, Rev. Eric Detar, co-chair of the CSCY steering committee and chaplain for Keuka College, said he was initially nervous that extended wintry conditions might hinder volunteers from completing the full array of work – often outdoors – that non-profits count on each spring. But with near 60-degree temperatures and sunny skies at the youth baseball complex on Elm Street in Penn Yan, where he was serving with others, Detar let out a sigh of relief.
“It was a beautiful day because the weather was perfect and the community worked together,” Detar said, adding that when it comes to CSCY, he holds firm to a 1968 quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve…you only need a heart full of grace.”
Over at the ARC of Yates on Hamilton Street, Mike Wainwright ’15, was also upbeat, pleased that the weather held out for the day.
“It was nice to be out in the sun and enjoy the day and work with your hands—and nice to be outside after a week of studying,” Wainwright said.
Working in a garden nearby was Haley Jordan ’15, who recently returned from Costa Rica, where the College’s Alternative Spring Break team had conducted community service during the final week of March.
“While there, we talked about how to give back at home and that got me motivated to come back and do community service locally,” said Jordan, a first-year volunteer.
Eric Saltrelli ’15 was also part of the group of CSCY volunteers helping the ARC clean up garden beds and lay sod to prepare for spring.
“I just like to help out the community and help those who can’t necessarily do this and make their surroundings look nice,” the first-year volunteer said, adding: “Any chance I get, I want to help out.”
Around the county, volunteer teams also participated in the first-ever CSCY Selfie Contest, snapping photos of themselves at work sites. Some of the selfies entered into the contest included one of Jordan stepping inside a tall blue recycling bin, Richard Weit ’15 posing with lost shoes on a pole at Camp Cory and the district attorney’s team getting in the spirit with a CSCY committee member at Sunny Point. Selfies were posted across the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter social media platforms and two winners were selected, one winning a Dunkin Donuts gift card and another an iTunes gift card.
CSCY received additional help from a number of Keuka College student athletes who volunteered as teams to serve at Camp Cory. The efforts of collegiate student athletes were mirrored by their high school counterparts, as more than a dozen volunteers affiliated with the Penn Yan Academy baseball teams pitched in at Camp Koinonia in Italy Valley.
Molly McGugian, a Keuka College alumnus and now manager of the College’s Teamworks! Adventure course also assisted at Camp Cory. As a student, McGuigan volunteered with CSCY and was excited to come back to serve her community Sunday.
“It’s a great opportunity for our athletes to get a different look at the community we are in,” she said, adding, “It’s great to see people are still enthusiastic and willing to help.”
This year, CSCY was supported through the generous donations and in-kind goods and services of the following sponsors and business merchants: ARC of Yates County, AVI Fresh Catering, Eaves Family Dental Group, Esperanza Mansion, Ferro, Fitzgerald Brothers, Keuka College Campus Safety, and the Office of Alumni and Family Relations; Knapp and Schlappi, Knights of Columbus, K-Ventures, Lyons National Bank, Ricoh, Roto-Salt, Seneca Lake Duck Hunters Association, Stork Insurance Agency, Tony Collins Class of ’77 Celebrity Gold Classic, and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce.