2021 Jefferson Award Recipients Announced

Local News
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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — Chemung Canal Trust Company, Corning Enterprises and WETM-TV today announced the recipients of the 2021 Jefferson Awards for Public Service, at a luncheon held at the Elmira Country Club.

In total 3 area residents were recognized for their commitment to our community and the exemplary contributions they have made to help improve the quality of life in the Southern Tier. This year’s recipients include:

Mary Ellen Monahan

Mary Ellen Monahan retired from a lengthy career in public education only to transfer her efforts and enthusiasm into the volunteer role of Program Director for the Salvation Army in Corning, NY. Utilizing her professional credentials and prior public education experience, she immediately developed and implemented a New York State licensed educational program for children through the Kids Café after School and summer programs, at the Salvation Army’s facility. For more than a decade Mary Ellen has directed this program, volunteering 50 – 60 hours each week, leading an effort that delivers tutoring for reading, homework help, crafts, physical exercise as well as providing nutritional snacks and dinner. During the summertime, the program offers field trips providing cultural experiences, in addition to reading activities, crafts, and swimming along with breakfast, lunch, and snacks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mary Ellen and the program pivoted to provide educational support and supervision throughout the day, during the school year, for students unable to virtually attend classes from home. Each week, nearly 50 students benefitted from this “virtual learning program” hosted by the Salvation Army. She sought funding for computers and WiFi connectivity, providing important technology resources to students in need, in addition to the educational support of their academic progress. Over the past decade, Mary Ellen’s efforts have led to more than 2,500 students being served by these programs. Her countless volunteer hours involved with these essential programs have created a supportive, safe learning environment for some of the most underserved students in the Corning community. She has developed lifelong relationships with many of these young students, serving as a mentor and cheerleader for their future activities. Mary Ellen has made and continues to make, an important difference in our community.

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TERESA SMITH

Teresa is a volunteer who has generously donated her time and talent, for many years, to a variety of Steuben County organizations, like 171 Cedar Arts, the Corning Branch of the YMCA, and the Bob Rockwell Memorial Fund, just to name a few. But, with the onset of COVID, Teresa shifted her volunteer priority to assisting individuals and families experiencing food insecurities. In support of the efforts of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, Teresa assembled a group of dedicated volunteers and they helped to create and staff a food hub at Corning Painted Post High School. Teresa served as the Steuben County Food Hub Coordinator. Under her leadership, the group received food from the Food Bank’s distribution center, established an efficient system to pack emergency food boxes and managed the transfer of the boxes to multiple organizations for delivery to those in need. Teresa and her team were nimble and flexible throughout the process. They accommodated spur-of-the-moment pick-ups, when needed, and helped ensure that county residents had access to food. The food hub processed anywhere from 600 to 1,200 food packages per week, and – on one unique occasion – the crew packaged up 1,600 emergency food boxes for seniors across the Food Bank’s six-county service area. Teresa’s organizational skills and collaborative work style helped establish the Steuben County Food Hub as a model for our region, developing tools and processes to drive efficiency, creating tracking metrics to measure results and identify those in need. The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine were confusing and chaotic. For those out-of-work – either temporarily or permanently – food insecurity was a real crisis for many. Thanks to Teresa and her “Food Hub” crew those most in need were identified and helped, easing some of their struggles during a very difficult time.

CARL TABER

Carl is a fourth-generation Schuyler County resident with a passion for addressing the health, safety, and community development needs throughout the Southern Tier Region. A life-long farmer, Carl is described as a humble and genuine man who brings a “dawn to dusk” work ethic to all the organizations he volunteers with. Most recently he has volunteered his time, talents, and tools to develop a new agriculture cluster in Schuyler County to help create improved farming practices in hopes of increasing agricultural manufacturing employment at local and regional companies. He eagerly accepted the challenge and extra workload of cultivating an experimental test plot, seeing this as an opportunity to bring a new crop to our region, helping local businesses and the future of farmers within our communities. Having been an active volunteer for the Farm Bureau and Cornell Cooperative Extension, Carl now serves as Chairman of the Schuyler County Industrial Development Agency and Board Member of SCOPED (Schuler County Partnership for Economic Development). Through his leadership and direction, these economic development groups have collaborated with businesses and municipalities to assist in the completion of more than $130 million dollars in projects, benefitting Schuyler County and our region as a whole. Carl has also served as a volunteer Firefighter for the Mecklenburg Fire Department for more than 30 years. During that time he has served as the company’s Vice President and Fire/Police Captain and currently serves as an Emergency Medical Technician, fire trucker driver trainer and as a mentor and teacher

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for all Department volunteers and trainees. His efforts with the fire department truly embody the Fireman’s Oath: “to serve unselfishly, with concern for others, willingness to help those in need and courage to perform.” All of Carl’s nominators agreed, he is a modest man who has played a key role in shaping the current and future economic and social fabric of Schuyler County.

The award recipients were introduced by Michael J. Wayne, retired Senior Vice President & Director of Marketing of Chemung Canal Trust Company, who commented on the recipient’s extensive resume. Each honoree received an official gold Jefferson Awards medallion from Anders M. Tomson, President & CEO of Chemung Canal Trust Company, Christine Sharkey, President of Corning Enterprises, and Tina Castano, Vice President and General Manager of WETM.

At the luncheon, it was announced that Mary Ellen Monahan has been selected to represent the Southern Tier at the national Jefferson Awards event, which will be held virtually this September. Ms. Monahan also received a piece of Steuben Glass, entitled “Shining Star.”

The Jefferson Awards for Public Service, which recognizes ordinary people who do extraordinary things without any expectation of recognition or reward, were established by the American Institute for Public Service. The Institute was founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard. This is the 17th year the Southern Tier has participated in the program and honored area residents.

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