By Ted Waddell
FERNDALE June 24, 2003 On Thursday, June 19, the Sullivan County Chapter of the American Red Cross of Greater New York held their 6th Annual Gala Awards Reception at One Cablevision Center in Ferndale.
Dr. Louis Rodrigues, chairman of the Sullivan County Chapter, welcomed the assemblage to the awards ceremony.
Scott Samuelson, proprietor of the Bradstan Country Hotel in White Lake, served as master of ceremonies. Reception music was provided by the Carl Deitz Jazztet.
The Leadership Award was presented to Martin and Marcia Braunstein, owners of the M&M Automotive Group in Liberty. It was presented by Joel Lerner.
In describing this extraordinary couple, Lerner said they served the local community well while raising three sons.
Marty Braunstein is past president of the Monticello Lions, Monticello Rotary and Temple Sholom, working his way up the ladder through various positions at each organization.
That is Martys way, a commitment on everything he does, Lerner said. This year, he is chairing the Rotary Hospital Golf Tournament and is practicing his golf expertise with his grandchildren.
Then there is the other half of this extraordinary couple, Marcia Braunstein, said Lerner. Marcia is active as a board member of United Way and a past board member of Temple Sholom. Together, they are members of the Sullivan County Partnership, the Liberty Chamber of Commerce and co-chairs of fund raising for the United Way in 1998-99.
Their business logo is The Sweetest Deal in Town, but to Sullivan County, Marcia and Marty are the sweetest people in town, he added.
The Spirit of Sullivan Award went to Sandra Gerry, founder of Sullivan Renaissance. It was presented by Sullivan County Clerk George L. Cooke.
Sandra Gerry is a lady who makes a difference, a woman who has turned a negative into a positive for all of us, he said of the recipients efforts to spearhead a renaissance of the county as director of the Beaverkill Foundation.
She has always known that Sullivan County . . . [has] beautiful rolling hills, captivating water sources and the most enchanting sunsets ever experienced, he said. Our county is rich in diversity, with many neighborhoods and communities, proud traditions and strong family connections.
The passion of Sandras renaissance is to provide new opportunities for rebirth and revitalization, and we must undertake this in full cooperation and coordination with the citizens of our communities, he added, calling Gerry The Lady of the Renaissance of Sullivan County.
The Community Service Award was presented to John J. Bill Sipos, owner of Mr. Willys Restaurant & Catering, and supervisor of the Town of Forestburgh. It was presented by Al Frangipane.
It is common knowledge that it is not advisable to be in business and dwell in politics, said Frangipane. However, Bill has managed to balance both while satisfying both customers and constituents.
While noting that Sipos is the driving force behind playing fields at Monticello High School, Frangipane said, He opens his doors [at Mr. Willys] to CASA for their annual Christmas party.
CASA is the Court Appointed Special Advocates program, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of our countys youth . . . an organization that is the voice of the children in our court system.
In accepting the award, Sipos said, I believe that people should help people and families should help families.
According to the local supervisor, the Red Cross came to the aid of several area families in the wake of a serious ice storm several years ago.
I called for help, and they were there, he recalled. They did an outstanding job when that emergency struck us.
Regina Wagner received the Quality of Human Life Award. It was presented by Anna Niemann, a former student of the well-respected teacher who now serves as coordinator of guidance services at Sullivan County BOCES.
I first met this wonderful lady in junior high, said Niemann. She was my 7th and 9th grade English teacher.
Her dedication to young people has affected the quality of hundreds, if not thousands, of young lives, she added.
Wagner was an English teacher at Jeffersonville-Youngsville Central School for 12 years and then served for nine years as a guidance counselor. Before returning to J-Y (now part of the merged Sullivan West CSD), she worked for the Liberty school district as director of guidance.
She was recently elected to the SWCSD board of education.
Regina gives 110 percent to any organization that she becomes involved with, said Neimann.
According to Bette Popovich, director of the local American Red Cross chapter, it has been serving county residents since 1917, whenever help cant wait.
For more than eight decades, we have been there for the people of Sullivan County, she said. The work of the [local] Red Cross is made possible by more than 220 area volunteers who contribute their most important resources their time and commitment by volunteering.
Noting that the local chapter helped 272 people during the last 12 months, she said, In calm and crisis, the American Red Cross will be there for Sullivan County.
Popovich described the annual gala as a major fundraiser for the local chapter in its efforts to provide programs and services: disaster response, disaster education programs and a youth outreach.
This year, the local Red Cross met their goal of raising $72,000 but has spent about $120,000 to provide direct assistance to disaster clients.
Popovich said that, by the time all the gala pledges are in, about $32,000 will have been added to the county chapters coffers.
That leaves us a little bit of a gap, said Popovich.
For more information about the Sullivan County Chapter of the American Red Cross of Greater New York, located in Mongaup Valley, call 583-8340, 1-877-REDCROSS or go to their Web site at www.nyred cross.org.