Casino Night Celebrates Geneva Scholarship Associates – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Casino Night Celebrates Geneva Scholarship Associates

The Geneva Scholarship Associates (GSA) will host its annual Casino Night on Saturday, Nov. 7, in celebration and support of the community-driven organization that has provided endowed scholarship funding to academically and financially deserving high school students from Geneva, N.Y., since 1968.

With reception food, raffles and prizes donated by the community, the evening of gaming brings together current and past GSA scholarship recipients and their families, the GSA Board of Directors, Geneva residents, supporters and members of the HWS faculty and staff.

GSA President Sarah Wethey Heieck ’97 says she is honored and proud that Casino Night, GSA’s largest fundraising event, has been well supported for such a long time, with the Geneva community itself accountable for the greatest percentage of money raised at the event. 

“There is something to be said about how this community comes together for a common goal,” says Heieck, who has lived in Geneva for most of her life, is a past recipient of a GSA scholarship and has been working as a volunteer for GSA for years. “My experience in the past years has been deeply gratifying. In the few years this current board has been together, we have tripled the proceeds. We have also sold out of tickets to Casino Night two years in a row.”

Since 1968, 165 HWS students have benefitted from GSA scholarships. This year, there are 24 GSA scholars on campus receiving funding totaling more than $90,000.

GSA began when then-HWS President Dr. Albert E. Holland partnered with local businessmen Neil Marvin, Leonard Kornet, Pete Albert, Ed Cuony, John Parrott Sr., Don Pierrepont, Frank Pullano, Castner Rapalee, Fred Reynolds, Bob Saunderson, Wilbur Smith and Bill Whitwell Sr. to create a way to include more Geneva High School and DeSales High School graduates in the Colleges’ enrollment.

Today, that partnership continues to exemplify the many collaborative efforts that underscore the significant relationship between the Geneva community and the Colleges. The 14 members of the Board of Directors — which consists of past GSA recipients, parents of former recipients and community supporters — work with two HWS campus liaisons to raise funds that continue the program’s success. 

“I cannot express how thankful I am to have a community support me like they have in the past three years,” says GSA Scholar Michael Doeblin ’17, an American studies major and education minor. “I hope to be able to give back someday to those who have done so much for me.”

In addition to the support of individual community members, the GSA Board of Directors has a robust plan to grow the endowment that includes a number of local businesses.*

This year, Casino Night prizes — many donated by those businesses — include gift certificates to local hotels, spas and salons, restaurants and gift shops, four tickets to a New York Rangers game, and a coveted tour of Saranac Brewery.

The event will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Vandervort Room of Scandling Campus Center. Tickets are $30 and will be sold at the door, and are also available in advance at the HWS Office of Advancement, from GSA Board members, or online.

All proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorships and donations will go directly to the GSA.

Earlier this week, Heieck and GSA scholar Teaganne Finn ’16 were featured on a segment of WHEC-TV News 10 NBC’s “Rochester in Focus,” during which they discussed the upcoming Casino Night and the impact of GSA. A video of the episode is available online. The interview with Heieck and Finn begins at 10 minutes, 40 seconds.

* Local businesses supporting GSA this year include: Five Star Bank, Ports Café, Geneva Club Beverage, Sodexo Food Service, Border City Car Wash, Geneva Granite, Guardian Industries, Phelps SunGas, Inc., Midley, Mirras & Ricci, LLP, Bank of the Finger Lakes, Community Bank, NA, Generations Bank, Lyons National Bank, Shuttleworth Asphalt Sealing, and Massa Construction.

The photo above features recipients of Geneva Scholarship with President Mark D. Gearan.

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