The room filled table after table until it reaches nearly 250 people. They had come up Interstate 81 and down the Thruway to receive an honor reserved for the most dedicated of our community servants. The annual NonProfit awards were being handed out at the OnCenter in Syracuse. The honorees were living proof of the invaluable work done by nonprofit's large and small.
I was asked to be the Master of Ceremonies of the luncheon organized by BizEvents and the CNY Business Journal. We had some fun with Twitter and posting selfies and videos of the group. But, it was the quality of the work being done to make our communities safe, healthier and more culturally interesting that was truly impressive.
My personal favorite of the afternoon was Rev. Dr. Maria Scates of the Johnson Park Center in Utica. She has singlehandedly led an effort to recreated the Corn Hill neighborhood of Utica was for generations has been the poorest in the city. Her introduction was so profound she received a standing ovation. She has turned vacant lots into flower beds. She has turned drug dealer street corners into safe spaces. She has turned rundown rental properties into resident owned homes.
I diverted from the script to offer her a moment to share some of her story. She was every bit as effective as a communicator as her record of success indicated.
She was also one of many stories of success highlighted today. It was my pleasure to take part.
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