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Leni Santoro | Democrat

AN EXPECTANT CROWD waits for the start of this past Monday’s Renaissance Awards Ceremony under the Pavilion at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. At left, walking down the aisle, is State Senator John Bonacic, who annually secures state funding for the program.

The Rewards of A Renaissance Summer

By Leni Santoro
BETHEL — August 17, 2007 — On Monday evening the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts played host to the 2007 Sullivan Renaissance Awards. Participation in the Sullivan Renaissance beautification program hit record highs this year as community volunteers spent the spring and summer months on a total of 46 projects since initial grants were awarded in March.
The evening began with an old-fashioned picnic of hot dogs, watermelon and cookies. For the children an activity area was lead by artist Matt Sherman. Basket Landing was on hand providing musical entertainment. It was an evening of soft breezes and happy faces.
Soon it was time to take a seat and listen to a warm welcome from Sandra Gerry and then stand for the singing of “America the Beautiful” by Norman Graves of Daytop who sang the first verse a cappella, then encouraged the audience to join in.
This year, as in years previous, each project recipient received a framed certificate of excellence from Sullivan Renaissance, as well as individual certificates from Rep. Maurice Hinchey, State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther. The projects were judged for aesthetic improvement, collaboration, youth involvement, permanence and an ability to be maintained.
Brand new this year, the “Special Recognition Awards” were announced by Jerry Skoda, a member of the Sullivan Renaissance Steering Committee, and presented to groups and individuals that had exhibited excellence in their area.
Even Sandra Gerry herself received an award. Skoda presented Gerry with a photo of his pumpkin patch so that she might choose the greatest pumpkin of all.
In all, thirteen Phase II grants – ranging from $1000 to $10,000 – were awarded to projects in Categories A and B.
The community of Kauneonga Lake received the Golden Feather, a $50,000 grant made possible by NYS Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther. It was presented by her legislative director, Steve Wilkinson, to the Category C project that exhibited the highest level of excellence in all aspects of their three-year project. Major funding for these seven community development projects came through a $75,000 grant secured by NYS Senator John Bonacic.
Not to be overlooked, too, was the participation of the young people in the audience who have come to be so much a part of all that Renaissance does. From the small ones tugging at their mother’s sleeves to the Sullivan Renaissance interns trained by Workforce Development and BOCES instructor, Robert Hayes, it was clear to see that with such enthusiasm the spirit and driving force for beautification in Sullivan County will go on proudly into the future.
Sullivan Renaissance is a beautification and community development program principally funded by the Gerry Foundation. Youth participation is supported in part with grants from the Louis R. Cappelli Foundation, and Bank of America Charitable Foundation. Additional funding has been secured by NYS Senator John J. Bonacic and Assemblywoman Aileen M. Gunther. For information about Sullivan Renaissance , contact 295-2445 or

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