If Penn Yan had a superhero, it could be Norm Koek. With the kind of passion Batman has for his beloved Gotham City, Norm’s deep dedication to his hometown and its residents has been felt for decades.

Throughout the years, Norm has been the definition of the word “volunteer.” He has given his time and talents as a builder, landscaper, firefighter, secretary, treasurer, travel agent, and statistician, among other roles.

In recognition of his decades of steadfast service, Norm has been named the 2019 recipient of the Donald and Corinne Stork Award for Community Service. The award will be presented Tuesday, Aug. 13, at a noon luncheon in the Geiser Dining Commons, inside the Dahlstrom Student Center at Keuka College. Check-in begins at 11:30 a.m.

In his nomination letter, Penn Yan resident Bill Turner said Norm is someone who never says “no” to an organization or individual in need of assistance.

“Wherever there is a need for volunteers, Norm is always willing to help,” says Bill, who received the Stork Award in 2015.

Norm’s résumé is impressive: Decades-long memberships in the Penn Yan Fire Department, the Penn Yan Elks Club, and the Lions Club; longtime service as a statistician for Penn Yan Academy football; and volunteer work with the Penn Yan Honor Flight.

Norm is also a member of the Penn Yan Moose Lodge and a past village board member. And like any superhero, he’s on call 24/7, fighting fires, assisting those with mobility issues, or lending his support for local fundraisers.

Norm is a loyal Lion, serving as secretary and treasurer, and a member of the group’s Outlet Trail Maintenance Committee. He also coordinates Lion’s Club crews to build wheelchair ramps for those who need one – more than 250 during his years of membership.

He can also be counted on to assist the Lions in any venture, from helping at club-sponsored wrestling and golf tournaments, to bagging candy for the children’s Halloween parties, to collecting funds for the annual Christmas for the Needy campaign. For his efforts, Norm has received the Lions Club’s Outstanding Lion, Lion of the Year, District Lion of the Year, Melvin Jones Award, and Membership Club Award honors.

As a member of the Penn Yan Elks Lodge, Norm serves on the “Just Say No” Drug Awareness Committee, aimed at fifth-graders in the Penn Yan and Marcus Whitman schools. He has been named the Elk of the Month and Elk of the Year, and has received the Lodge’s Community Leader and Patriotism awards.

Assisting with the Penn Yan Honor Flight, Norm helps local veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War visit the war memorials in Washington, D.C.

“In 2013, he raised enough funds to help send 12 local veterans and their chaperones to Washington,” says Bill. “This is the most veterans from any one area that have ever been sent. And enough funds were left so he was also able to get a bus to transport them to and from the Rochester airport.”

Since then, Norm has continued his fundraising efforts, with the latest group visiting Washington over the spring.

“Norm never seeks out recognition for the value and benefit he brings to the community as a whole, nor the individuals his service benefits,” says Bill. “I know that Norm will wear the honor of receiving the Stork Award very well.”

The Stork Award was established in 1991 by Keuka College to recognize outstanding individuals who exemplify the College’s commitment to 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.

Tickets for the luncheon are $15. Seating is limited, so advanced reservations are advised. Register online at www.keuka.edu/event/stork19 prior to the reservation deadline of Tuesday, Aug 6.

For additional information, contact Kathy Waye, Keuka College’s director of community relations and events, at 315-279-5602 or email community@keuka.edu.

DeWitt Clinton Award

At 5:30 p.m. July 17, Koek will be honored by the Grand Lodge of Masons in New York and the brothers of Milo Lodge 108 with the presentation of the DeWitt Clinton Award for dedicated service to the citizens of Yates County at the Masonic Hall, 129 East Elm St., Penn Yan. 

Those planning to attend should RSVP to Timothy Culver, Secretary at 315-536-4234; Email: timc@culverins.com