More than 100 people turned out recently for TRC Foundation's celebration, honoring donors and others who have supported the organization over the years.
"Welcome to what we plan to establish as an annual event," said Paul Cesana, The Resource Center's executive director.
"What we are here to celebrate tonight is your investment and the return of your investment into the lives of individuals with a disabling condition," said Cesana. "But again, individuals that have a great deal of abilities, enthusiasm, and desire to feel essential, to belong and to deserve to be here, to be part of what is going on in the world; to be exceptional, unique, to have something different to add and contribute, and to have their contributions valued; to be equal, and to have their voice matter, and to have what they have to say be as important as what others have to say."
Robert Ostrom of the Winifred Crawford Dibert Foundation holds the painting the foundation was given in appreciation for reaching the $300,000 mark in contributions to TRC Foundation. With him are Paul Cesana, left, executive director of The Resource Center, and Randy Ordines, the chair of TRC Foundation's board of directors.
Marcus Maloney, the Special Event Volunteer of the Year, poses with Victoria Trass Bardo, the director of the annual Street JAM basketball tournament.
Cesana noted that TRC Foundation awards about $70,000 in grants annually and, over the years, the organization has awarded about $700,000 to improve the lives of Chautauqua County residents with disabilities and other socioeconomic challenges. He then introduced a video that showcased some of the ways in which TRC Foundation funds were used during the past year.
Greg Peterson, an attorney who has been affiliated with TRC since 1976 and who currently serves on TRC Foundation's board of directors, shared a bit of TRC Foundation's history. He said the foundation was established in 1994 and held its organizational meeting in February 1995. Peterson added that in its early years, the fledgling organization was able to grow thanks to the efforts of one man.
"In order to give it some impetus, in order to give it some real credibility, the TRC Foundation really was supported by Carl Cappa," Peterson said. "Carl was going to take this up by the bootstraps and make it something special."
Cappa, the late philanthropist and businessman who served as the chair of TRC Foundation's board for several years, created a golf tournament that has netted more than $1.2 million for TRC Foundation since it began in 1997, Peterson said. Given that TRC Foundation's current assets stand at about $1.72 million, the TRC Golf Classic has been a major contributor to the foundation's financial success.
Besides raising money, Peterson said, events like the TRC Golf Classic, Street JAM and Laurel Run help raise awareness and get people "pausing and reflecting on the developmentally disabled, that they are individuals, and that they deserve the attention and respect that we get."
Harkening back to TRC's early efforts to raise money and awareness, Peterson talked about an initiative that took place in the 1980s in which TRC became the official season-ticket sellers for Jamestown's professional baseball team, which then was called the Expos. The initiative was so successful in raising money and awareness that ESPN aired a story about it. Peterson then showed the video, which included footage of Expos players conducting a baseball clinic with a number of TRC service recipients.
The rest of evening included the presentation of several awards. Marcus Maloney, who has been involved with the Street JAM basketball tournament since its inception in 1997, received the inaugural Special Event Volunteer Award.
"I'm not the most humble man, but I will say that I am humbled by the people that are sitting in this room, the fellow award winners and the honorees," Maloney said. "I am thrilled and honored to be part of this organization."
The Outstanding Sponsor Award went to Lake Shore Savings, which last year agreed to partner with TRC Foundation and become the presenting sponsor of the TRC Golf Classic for three years.
"On behalf of Lake Shore Savings, all of our employees, we are honored and privileged to be a part of this tremendous, great organization," said Mike Brunecz, the chair of Lake Shore's board. He said the bank first became involved with the golf tournament in the 1990s at the suggestion of one of its advisory board members - Cappa.
Randy Ordines, TRC Foundation's current board chair, received the Founder's Award for being one of the signatories on the document that led to the foundation's creation. Ordines said he was appreciative of the award but felt "a little bit selfish as well," explaining that the staffs of The Resource Center and TRC Foundation do an exceptional job at achieving their missions of improving the lives of people with disabilities.
"I take a look around the room at the people who are active in The Resource Center, active in the TRC Foundation, and it's hard for me to stand up here and accept this award," Ordines said.
The celebration also was an opportunity to recognize donors and sponsors who recently reached milestone levels of giving, including:
Winifred Crawford Dibert Foundation
Support Enterprises, Inc.
Lake Shore Savings
Buffamante Whipple Buttafaro, PC
Western New York Foundation
Chautauqua Region Community Foundation
Arthur R. Gren Co.
Hospice Chautauqua County
BlueCross Blue Shield of WNY
First United Church of Silver Creek
HM Insurance Group
TEAM Services, Inc.
E.E. Austin & Son
Axiom Business Machines
Benderson Development Co.
Chautauqua Patrons Insurance
S.M. Cristall Co.
Leonard & Celia DeFrancisco
Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation
Al Gullotti Sr.
Rhoe B. Henderson Agency
Wayne & Elaine Hotelling
Jamestown Dental Lab
Denise & Steve Jones
New Vision Services
R. Erik Seastedt
Allen Short, CPA
Silver Creek Auto Parts
Time Warner/Cable 8 News
U.S. Army Recruiting Station
Dr. David Vona
Jim White's Truck & Auto
Dr. Thomas Putnam
The event was held in TRC's Conference Center on Dunham Avenue in Celoron. The evening began with a social hour featuring hors d'ouevres, wine tastings by Merritt Estate Winery and live music by Razz and Friends. This was followed by dinner catered by B&B Catering.