Celebrating Community Involvement, Awards Scholarships at Annual Dinner

March 9, 2017

Community involvement is at the core of the mission of the Barryville Chamber of Commerce, and such involvement was celebrated in abundance at the Chamber’s annual Winter Warm Up held on March 4.

About 120 celebrants gathered at the Carriage House to share a buffet dinner and silent auction and raffle opportunities, all with the purpose of raising scholarship money for local students as well as local beautification and charitable projects.

This year there were a record eight outstanding applicants, all seniors at Eldred High School.  Community service is a major component of the qualifying process for the awards.  Scholarships were granted to three.

Lynzee Kelty received $500 to be applied to her college of choice, Pace University, where she will major in pre-med.  Lynzee’s community involvement includes Can’t Hurt Steel, Litter Pluck, Salvation Army, Sunshine Hall Free Library and Trunk or Treat.

Braelyn Kolvenbach was awarded $750 to aid in her studies in Psychology at SUNY.  Braelyn’s community service highlights her involvement in music as well as Eldred Key Elements, Performing Arts Club, the Chamber’s annual Pumpkin Fest, Litter Pluck and Young Life programs.

Receiving the first place scholarship of $1,250 was Max Smyth, who will utilize these funds in his study of Architecture at the University of Buffalo. Smyth’s involvement included his Eagle Scout project at Koinonia as well as other scouting programs and events, NACL Weather Project, the School Garden at Mackenzie Elementary, and the Shohola Pumpkin Festival and 5K.

In his welcoming remarks, Chamber President Ed Gavalla noted that to date the Chamber has awarded more than $25,000 in scholarships to deserving students.   He challenged all present to increase their community outreach.

Advancing the theme of community involvement, Meg Blaut, an officer in the Chamber and also a Board member of the Can’t Hurt Steel Foundation, shared how her brother JJ Hanson’s battle with brain cancer led to an outpouring of community spirit and that the Foundation was birthed to pay-forward that spirit.  The Can’t Hurt Steel Foundation seeks to better the community through education on healthy lifestyles including making available local, organically grown foods on a weekly basis in-season and to provide rapid-response funding to assist families faced with catastrophic illness or events.

Dorene Warner announced the early summer launch of the enhanced Chamber website and series of Facebook seminars aimed at increasing the profile and marketability of the member businesses.

Music was provided by the Robert Kopek Quartet.

A Chamber-sponsored beautification event is planned for the spring, when the flower pots along Route 97 in Barryville will be replanted.  This event is a great opportunity for high school students to collect volunteer hours and meet community members.  Among those cited for their service in keeping the flowers tended were Steve Archibald, Cathy Daboul and Marie Devore.

Among other events, the Chamber also sponsors the Annual Pumpkinfest in October and Christmas tree lighting in December.  The annual membership drive occurs in May and local business owners and artisans are encouraged to join.

By Susan Wade
Times-Hearld Record