During its 14th Annual Dinner Celebration, The Boys and Girls Club of Geneva named Professor of Education Pat Collins “The Boys and Girls Club Volunteer of the Year for 2010” and honored HWS as the “Community Partner of the Year.” State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio read a state proclamation recognizing Collins for his volunteer efforts and congratulated him and the Colleges, noting the critical role that the Colleges play in the life of Geneva.
“Thank you for honoring me with this award because in doing so, you are honoring the idea that theatre is at the center of community,” said Collins, after receiving the award.
Collins started volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club in its first year of existence, working with children in arts and literacy programming. Over the past five years he has served on the Geneva Community Center Advisory Committee, and was instrumental in establishing the Center’s Black Box Theater. He has since staged several community productions there. In 1986, Collins helped establish the Geneva Youth Theater Guild and headed that organization until 2004. In partnership with the Geneva Theatre Guild and the Geneva Recreation Department, he founded the Nancy Curvin Playground Players, and for many years directed and produced plays for the Geneva High School Drama Club. In addition, he has directed several children’s plays at Hobart and William Smith, producing main stage productions for school-aged audiences in conjunction with his course, Theatre and the Child. In 2009 he was one of the first recipients of the Theatre Association of New York Fredric Blumberg Distinguished Volunteer Award.
“It doesn’t get much better for a college president than tonight,” said President Mark D. Gearan. “To have a faculty member receive this kind of award is amazing. Pat distinguishes himself by his good work and by his humility. He is an extraordinary person.”
In honoring the Colleges, Michael Bersani, chair of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club, said, “The Geneva Partnership wouldn’t happen if you didn’t create a culture of caring at Hobart and William Smith. HWS students help our students in whatever way they need – to read, to write, with their homework. If one of our kids is interested in playing lacrosse or becoming a poet, or a chef, HWS students are there to help. We couldn’t get by without this kind of partnership. They are role models and mentors.”
Bersani noted that for many years, the Colleges have provided guidance, volunteers and expertise to the Boys and Girls Club. For the second year, the Colleges’ Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning has included the Club as part of its Americorps VISTA programming. This year’s VISTA coordinator is dedicating 10 hours per week at the Geneva Community Center coordinating HWS student volunteers at the Teen Center and its Goodman Street (K-6th grade) locations, and helping to run the youth garden and Healthy Habits programs.
In addition to providing regular volunteers, the Club sites are active locations for the Colleges’ Day of Service projects. Gearan serves on the Geneva Community Center Advisory Committee, Provost Teresa Amott is a member, and two William Smith students are honorary members of the Club Board.
Both Collins and Gearan were presented with a work of art created by a member of the Boys and Girls Club.
“We are deeply honored to be recognized in this way. Working with the Boys and Girls Club is first and foremost a great privilege,” said Gearan. “I thank you for the opportunity you have given our students. They are only here for a short time – four Falls and four Springs. And when they leave, they leave with a great affection for Geneva and for the volunteer opportunities they have experienced. In many ways, the mission of the Boys and Girls Club and the Colleges is the same. We are both transforming lives and making a difference. It is in that spirit of cooperation and citizenship that I thank you.”