Monday, October 23, 2017


“Youth Bureau Holds Annual Awards Reception”

BIG FLATS- Each year the Chemung County Youth Bureau and Board recognize the good work of individuals and agencies in delivering quality youth services in Chemung County.

Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli and Youth Bureau Director Bob Harris presented the awards at the 33rd Annual Awards Reception which was held today at the Big Flats Community Center. 

The Donahoe Award is given annually to an adult to recognize and honor outstanding contributions made to the youth and families of this community.  The award was established in 1984 and is named in honor of its first recipient, the Honorable Judge Daniel J. Donahoe. The 2016 Donahoe Award was presented to Barb VanDine.

Barb was recognized for her 46 years working in the Health Education field.  Barb demonstrates a true passion for the importance of better health and wellness policies in our schools and has advocated to increase and enhance health, nutrition, physical education, and healthier meals for students in our community so that they can lead a healthy lifestyle.

Barb started her career in 1970 by working as a middle school health education teacher and worked in this capacity until 2004. During that time, she always went above and beyond as part of the school’s teaching staff and was actively engaged with students as their Student Council Advisor, School Store Manager and National Middle School Honor Society Advisor.

Since her retirement from the Elmira City School District in 2004, Barb continues to be engaged in our community, in our schools and with our youth. She has been an active member of the Eat Well Play Hard Grant Committee, the YWCA Youth Summit Committee, the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Community Partnership, the Elmira City School District Student Support Network, the Elmira City School District Health Advisory Committee, Southern Tier Aids Task Force, the Adolescent Chemical Dependency Coalition, the Creating healthy Places Coalition and the Yellow Umbrella Organization just to name a few.

The Summer Cohesion Synergy Award was established in 2004 to recognize an individual, group or organization that has best demonstrated or exemplified the overall true meaning of partnership and collaboration as it impacts the Chemung County Summer Cohesion Program. The 2016 Summer Cohesion Synergy Award was given to Tanglewood Nature Center. Tanglewood has been educating our community about the natural world since 1973 and has provided both on-site and classroom activities for two decades, and maybe longer. From Pine Cones to Pond Scum, Tanglewood offers a selection of just about every nature curriculum to Cohesion each summer. Summer Cohesion kids have tromped, run, and wandered up and down the trails, in and around the pond and through the museum. Close examination of snakes, spiders and Bernice, their tortoise, makes the Tanglewood field trip one of the more popular ones each summer.  Elaine Spacher, Executive Director and Ian McLauglin, Naturalist, accepted the award on behalf of Tanglewood.

The Program Excellence Award recognizes the special efforts of local youth service projects, programs, and events.  The award was established in 1987. Nominees and Certificate of Recognition winners for the Program Excellence Award included the Girls on the Run of the Southern Tier, the goLEAD Leadership Program, the PAWtners Program, Reality Check of Chemung, Schuyler & Steuben Counties, the Scouting for Food Program, and the Steele Library’s Teen Hang Out Night. This year’s award winner is the Glove House Evening Reporting Center Program.  The program is a collaborative program between Glove House, the Chemung County Department of Social Services, Chemung County Probation and Chemung County Children’s Integrated Services. Modeled after other “best practice” programs, it provides structured after school and evening supervision for at risk youth between the ages of 10 and 17 within an environment that is safe, secure and supportive.

The Polly Sanders Youth Scholarship was established in 1995 for youth who have made a unique or significant contribution to the community or who have overcome a major obstacle in their personal life.   In 2002, the Chemung County Youth Bureau and Board renamed this scholarship in honor of Chemung County’s first Youth Bureau Director, Polly Sanders, who was a strong advocate for youth.  The two $750 scholarships were awarded to Hali Gunderman and Izzie Moran.

Hali Gunderman is a senior at Elmira High School and is the daughter of Pamela and Charles Gunderman. Hali will be attending SUNY Geneseo in the fall and plans on pursuing a career in the pediatric medical field. Hali was recognized for her several years of community involvement, volunteerism and the contributions she has made to our community during her career as a high school student. She has served as a volunteer with Special Olympics, Josh Palmer Tournaments, the Self-Less Elf 5K Run and Arnot Hospital. Hali is also a very active member of the North Chemung Baptist Church assisting with the food pantry there and various church dinners. As a high school athlete she has participated in JV Softball, Outdoor Track and Cross-Country as well as Ski Club and Marching Band. In addition, Hali has also been a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, Key Club and National Honors Society. What is most impressive about Hali is how well rounded she is. She balances school, is a stellar student and a scholar athlete. She is a very accomplished young person who strongly believes in giving back to her community.

Izzie Moran is a senior at Elmira High School and the daughter of Tara Moran. She will graduate from Elmira High School this June and plans to attend Corning Community College in the fall where she intends on pursuing a degree in the humanities and social sciences. Izzie was recognized for her extraordinary level of resiliency and her ability to transform the challenges in her life to building blocks of character and strength that has helped to shape the outstanding individual she is today. Izzie has been a summer recreation counselor with the Summer Cohesion program for several years. She has been actively involved in the 171 Cedar Arts Hip Hop Dance Team, Horseheads girls softball team, Elmira High School Marching Band, Elmira High School choir, Southport recreational basketball, Elmira high school JV football, geometry peer tutor, Elmira Gymnastics Club Coach for youth and a volunteer with the Arctic League

Refreshments for the event were provided by the GST BOCES Culinary Arts Program. Students in the program prepared all the food and also served as wait staff at the event.

For more information contact the Chemung County Youth Bureau @ 737-2907.


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