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Top WNBA Player Presents
$15,000 to Youth Group

Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

A BIG CHECK: New York Liberty star Rebecca Lobo (center) helps members of the Grace Lutheran Youth Group hold up their Fleet All-Stars first prize check. Standing with Lobo, from left to right, are Rev. Kris Anderson, Michelle Peters, Danielle Peters, Ruth Brustman, Robin Crotty and Angela Fortin.

By Rob Potter
NORTH BRANCH - February 18, 2000 —The hall at the Grace Lutheran Church in North Branch was filled with anticipation shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday evening.
Grace Lutheran Youth Group members, adult church members, parents, boys from Cub Scout Pack 106 in Jeffersonville, other community members and several youngsters wearing number 50 “Rebecca Lobo, New York Liberty” basketball jerseys all anxiously waited for Lobo herself to arrive.
Then a wave of excitement gripped everyone as the door opened and Lobo, who was a member of the 1995 University of Connecticut NCAA Champion women’s basketball team and on the gold-medal-winning 1996 U.S. Olympic team, walked down the steps into the hall.
She smiled and, upon seeing so many youngsters sporting her jersey, joked that there must have been a sale on them at area stores.
While Lobo spoke with several children and adults and signed scores of autographs, the main reason for her visit to North Branch was to present a $15,000 first place check to the Grace Lutheran Youth Group from the Fleet All-Stars Program. Rev. Kris Anderson and the youth group members first found out back in December that they had captured the top prize in the Upstate New York Fleet All-Stars Program.
Fleet All-Stars is a community service program that encourages kids to make a difference by volunteering to complete projects that improve their towns and villages. The program recognizes youth-oriented organizations or school groups in several Northeastern states, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In 1999, more than 46,000 youngsters participated in over 445 community projects throughout the Northeast.
“Every one of you is definitely a Fleet All-Star,” Callicoon Fleet Bank Branch Manager Ruth Brustman said to the group members. “I encourage you to continue to improve your community.”
The 11 members of the Grace Lutheran Youth Group, with the help of Anderson and church members and community residents, spent over 160 hours creating “Room at the Inn.” The Room is a three-story building that was converted into a thrift store on the first floor and transitional housing apartments for teenage mothers on the second and third floors.
“This is really impressive,” Lobo said. “I congratulate all of you for doing a wonderful job. This involved teamwork, and you all learned that you need one another to get something done.”
Anderson and the youth group members plan to use the $15,000 to build a community playground behind Room at the Inn.
“We hope to have it up by mid-summer,” said Anderson. “And we plan to invite representatives from Fleet for a grand opening ceremony, since they helped make it possible.”
After signing dozens of her basketball cards, jerseys and even a couple of basketballs, Lobo explained that she has visited many winning groups in the Fleet All-Stars Program and that the group from Grace Lutheran Church was among the few that stood out from the others.
“I was really impressed for a couple of reasons,” Lobo explained. “First, because of the number of kids involved and the commitment they had to the project. What they have accomplished really benefits the community. They could serve as role models to some adults.”
The members of the Grace Lutheran Youth Group are Robin Crotty, Angela Fortin, Bobbi Hubbert, Brian Hubbert, Kelly Lackey, Kyle Lackey, Nicole Marchese, Nick Olsen, Scott Olsen, Danielle Peters and Michelle Peters.
“It’s pretty exciting to meet a WNBA player,” sixteen-year-old Danielle Peters said. “It’s not too often that famous people come to our town.”
“It’s definitely exciting,” added her sister, Michelle, 14. “I‘ve never met a professional athlete before.”
And they never expected to win the top prize.
“When we heard we won something in the program, we thought it might be second or third place,” said Danielle. “But first place was a great surprise.”

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