At your service: December 28, 2011

The year’s end always brings me to reflection. This week, pen in hand, finds me surrounded by ballots for the Catskill Best Service Awards. As I work on counting the ballots I find myself recalling the names of those who were nominated, year after year, for service above and beyond the call of duty. These are a few who despite or perhaps because of overwhelming circumstances this year, gave of themselves in ways some would consider extraordinary but that is for them business as usual.

Dorothy Maffei is the savvy businesswoman best known as the mastermind behind Home Goods of Margaretville; she has tirelessly applied that same energy to the community at large. Several years ago, she gave life to the county’s efforts to position itself as a tourism destination; just one example of the projects she spearheaded is the Pakatakan Farmers’ Market. When Irene dealt a harsh blow to the area, Dorothy did what she always does – she put her all into helping others and the move to restore and rebuild. True to her nature, she continues providing behind the scenes support even as I write this.

You could say that the losses sustained by Eric Wedemeyer this year brought him to his knees; that is, he got down and started cleaning up the mess. The Granary Building could as easily have been razed; he moved the offices and set about reconstruction. This alone is commendable; yet, he also gave both financial and moral support to others in their efforts to recover from similar losses. Back in their offices this week, the Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties crew continues to serve the community as a business and as caring individuals.

Quarltere’s Garden and Market Place has long been the place people went when they needed something for their home. That took on new meaning this year when Lauren and Allen turned their greenhouses into storage and distribution centers for the relief effort. The people who gave the community its first Holiday Parade in a generation, this year banged the drum to get people what they most need at a critical time.

A case could be made that it is simply her job to help out, but Peg Ellsworth, in her role as executive director of the MARK Project, has taken contribution to another level. Her tireless efforts exceeded people’s expectations for assistance because she made it all personal. She and the MARK team dug in with people trying to dig out. Rather than “help” people, they worked to enable people to help themselves and hold their heads even higher than before from their accomplishments.

I could easily name at least a dozen others who as individuals or in groups stepped outside their comfort zones to provide much needed aid – you know who they are. Make sure that those who made a special difference to you this year get their recognition. There is never too much thanks to be given to those who serve in the volunteer fire departments, to teachers who help children work through their emotions in such disasters and those who work through the churches. Remember those business people who kept their doors open, have reopened or are still rebuilding, reward their trust in the community with your business.

Have a good and prosperous new year; I raise my glass to every single person who this year did something special to help a neighbor.