Letter to Editor published in Shawangunk Journal, September 10, 2015 under the title Summer Program deserves recognition!
I find it outrageous that those attending Rochester’s Town Board meeting on September 3rd – including two reporters – did not hear a word about our outstanding summer program because Councilwoman Cindy Fornino, Town Board Liaison to the Youth Commission for the past year, had “nothing to report!”
Personally, year after year I had trouble finding the appropriate superlatives to describe our excellent program. This summer 70 children participated (16 of them benefiting from Oremus Foundation scholarships) and August 21, the last day of the program, marked a uniquely emotional moment – the conclusion of fifteen wonderful years of having MaryAnne Gates as program director. That day some kids had tears in their eyes because the perfectly organized, superbly diverse, lovely 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 fifteen 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 next summer’s program!
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.
Learning about how shocked I was to hear that Councilwoman Fornino had “nothing to report” after seven weeks of a fantastic summer program, MaryAnne Gates, the program director for 15 years, replied: “It’s ok. We know how well the program did and will do. We are the ones that matter. The children are the ones that matter… Those people having nothing to report have never been there to witness the greatness of the program and all the people that helped run it. We know what a great job we did to make a difference in all of those children’s lives. BECAUSE WE CARE.” And, as MaryAnne also said in a recent Q & A piece: “Caring is sharing and sharing is love.”
Remember? A picture is worth a thousand words…