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Dan Hust | Democrat

Gerry Skoda was happy to present a Sullivan First Achievement Award to Ellen Levine of the South Fallsburg Action Committee for its outstanding contributions to the South Fallsburg area.

Renaissance Winter Expo is a gathering for 'divine joy'

By Dan Hust
FERNDALE — February 23, 2010 — “The Garden Lady” herself came to Ferndale Saturday to share her wit and wisdom with a room full of hundreds of Sullivan Renaissance volunteers.
“What do you want to grow?” she asked the capacity crowd inside the CVI Building, where Renaissance is headquartered.
For the next hour, C.L. Fornari gave idea after idea, from new and innovative plants to traditional and colorful flowers to growing and spacing techniques to maximize their visual appeal.
“Gardens give us more than just those pretty flowers,” the Massachusetts author, gardener and professional speaker explained. “Gardens engage us intellectually.”
Most importantly, she said, gardens “give us a place to connect to our community” – the focus of that day’s annual Sullivan Renaissance Winter Conference & Expo.
A slew of how-to seminars took up most of the morning, all in preparation for this year’s always-lively Renaissance competition, now in its 10th year.
But the most poignant part of Saturday’s get-together focused squarely on the “doers,” the people who have made Renaissance – and its forebear, Sullivan First – the success it has become.
Honored with Achievement Awards were the following:
• Cherise Barasch for her continuous efforts to engage Monticello’s Cooke School students in projects and her commitment to helping them make a connection to the natural environment.
• Ruth McCoy, a 2009 Renaissance intern, for her volunteerism as a youth leader in the community.
• Joe Tinari for his efforts in making the Fosterdale Motor Lodge the first certified green lodging facility in Sullivan County.
• Damian Velez for his volunteerism and ongoing contributions to the community.
• Chris Williams of SYDA for his volunteerism and ongoing contributions to the community.
• South Fallsburg Action Committee for its ongoing participation in Sullivan Renaissance and the outstanding work that volunteers have accomplished these last few years.
• Temple Beth’el in Kauneonga Lake for the new sign as an example of best practices for signage.
• Rock Hill Health Mart Pharmacy for construction of the new pharmacy and Cardinal Square, which demonstrates best practices.
• Canal Towne Emporium in Wurtsboro for preservation of the historic character of the building, which demonstrates best practices.
“We create beautiful things as volunteers,” Fornari observed of the winners. “... We are able to experience the divine joy of coming together for a common purpose.
“... Sometimes all it takes is one person saying, ‘Let’s do this!’” she added, with an image of Renaissance founder Sandra Gerry behind her.
Program Director Glenn Pontier then directed volunteers’ minds forward, urging them to make the same difference these people and groups have made throughout Sullivan County.
“Let’s plant some seeds!” he called out to the crowd.

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