Members of the Geneva and Hobart and William Smith communities gathered for a breakfast to celebrate another year of outreach and aid provided by Success for Geneva’s Children. The breakfast marked the 14th year that the organization gathered on the HWS campus to speak about the accomplishments of the previous year and its goals for the future.
Success for Geneva’s Children President Rev. Jim Gerling L.H.D. ’09 reminded attendees that Geneva’s children are all of our children and we must to what we can to ensure that they have the ability to succeed. Despite hardships the Geneva community might face, Gerling remains optimistic. “We have more than our share of good news to go around,” said Gerling.
Gerling spoke of Geneva’s talented young musicians and the graduating seniors who are heading to some of the best universities in the country. Although these students are full of promise, it is the duty of the community to nurture that talent to ensure success. “When any child fails, we all fail. When one child is hurting, we are all hurting,” said Gerling.
Geneva Mayor Stu Einstein, who is the executive director of Success for Geneva’s Children, presented the data report for the organization, a signature project that sets the organization apart from others in the state. The report is a compilation of data pertaining specifically to children and families in Geneva – not all of Ontario County.
Since 2009, the data report has been a community-based research project performed by HWS students. Collceted through numerous surveys and other means, the data from the report has helped Geneva schools when completing grant applications. In fact, of the past 15 grants the Geneva School District has applied for, 13 were secured, resulting in nearly $8 million for Geneva schools.
In addition, the project is an asset to HWS students who work to compile the report. “Students who compile gain a depth of knowledge about their community that few students ever get,” remarked Einstein.
President Mark D. Gearan encouraged the community to look to the future and addressed Geneva 2020, a strategic goal initiative that seeks to make a collective impact by working together. “Geneva is the perfect place to harness the energy of the community to garner success and make an impact,” said Gearan. “Where do we want to be by 2020 – what are our priorities? We need to broaden our conversation to the whole community and ask: How can we best prepare Geneva’s children?”
Despite many challenges facing the community and its schools today, Gearan remains optimistic that the future is bright for the children of Geneva. “There is spirit in Geneva, people earnestly want to help,” said Gearan. “We can work toward bringing people together.”
Geneva City Schools Superintendant Robert Young, who is also working with the Geneva 2020 initiative addressed the role of Geneva schools and its employees in the future of the city. “We have a job to help students and their families recognize the value of a free and public education. We also have to go beyond halfway; we have to meet their needs and their families’ needs instead of hoping they will find a way to adjust to our changes.”
President and CEO of Finger Lakes Health Dr. Jose Acevedo reaffirmed Finger Lakes Health’s partnership with Success for Geneva’s Children and his willingness to focus his efforts of Geneva 2020. “We have to help the children of Geneva find a goal and a future,” said Acevedo.
Wendy Escalero, a young mother of 18-month-old twins who participated in one of Success for Geneva’s Children’s recent initiatives, the Teen Mother’s Program, spoke of the impact the organization has had on her and her daughters. The program instructed young parents on the importance of childhood literacy as well as the positive impact of classical music on toddlers. Escalero expressed her gratitude and shared the lesson she learned: “A book can change the world – especially for a kid.”
During the breakfast, the first Annual Community Collaboration Award was presented to the Ontario ARC for their continued efforts in Geneva, including their work to bring Jason “J-Mac” McElwain to Geneva High School to share his struggle with autism. “This is a tribute to your outstanding contribution to the Geneva Community and the wonderful work you have done for its children,” said Gerling. The plaque commemorating the ARC’s achievements will hang in the Geneva Community Center.
In the photo above, administrators from Ontario County ARC recieve the Community Collaboration Award.