Over 200 help with Celebrate Service...Celebrate Yates

Mike Kelly, Keuka College ‘14 Special to Chronicle-Express
Sarah Purdy, Yates County Administrator, and Earle Gleason, Director of Veteran’s Service Agency, helped with a school supplies project for Milly’s Pantry. For more photos from CSCY, see the "Seen on Scene" gallery on The Chronicle-Express.com homepage.

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 on Keuka Lake. 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, 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 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 will be selected, one to win a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card and another to win an iTunes gift card.

CSCY received additional help from a number of student athletes who volunteered en masse to serve at Camp Cory. This year, CSCY was supported through the 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.

The CSCY steering committee plans to bring the event back in the spring of 2015 for its 18th year.