The last day of Rochester’s summer program on August 21 marked a uniquely emotional moment – the conclusion of 15 wonderful years of having MaryAnne Gates as its program director. That day some kids had tears in their eyes because the excellent, lovely, perfectly organized, superbly diverse program was ending.
I totally agree with what our Youth and Recreation Dept. Director Carol Dennin said: MaryAnne is “definitely one in a million!” I had the privilege to see her work with the children only for the last 4-5 summers, but she was our director for 15 years – one third of her entire life! – and I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for her, knowing firsthand what sacrifices are made when one dedicates the summers of her life to bringing joy to the children! Probably this was written with MaryAnne in mind: “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.”
After 15 years, she definitely would miss the kids and we would miss her; thankfully, we have her legacy, what she helped create in Rochester – a world of love, friendship, and positivity… She has passed the baton to Dyani Fitzpatrick, who already started to plan for next year!
The strongest feeling I had – as participant to the summer program – is that we’re enriching the lives of children and they’re enriching ours! I treasure the joy and happiness brought by adorable kids calling my name, holding my hand, sharing a hug, pointing out things they discovered on our field trips.
This year I chaperoned these kids: Adrianna, Angela, Beatrice, Cameron, Chris, Elsa, Josh, Kaila, Lacey, Nick, Niomi, Ryley and Savannah. I thank them all for the special moments spent together. I’ve tried to capture their journey with my camera and the pictures can be seen on “Town of Rochester Youth & Community Center” Facebook page.
Congratulations and thanks to all the people behind the summer program. This summer 70 children participated in the program (including 16 children who benefited from Oremus Foundation scholarships). It’s too little to say “thank you” and “we’ll miss you” to MaryAnne Gates… The best way to show our appreciation is to live by MaryAnne’s words: “Caring is sharing and sharing is love.”
Town of Rochester Youth Commission member
As published in Blue Stone Press, September 4, 2015, page 15.