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Boys & Girls Clubs to honor garden volunteer

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Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 9:58 am

GENEVA — The Boys & Girls Clubs of Geneva will honor a master gardener as its Volunteer of the Year later this month.

Stephen Wyckoff will be recognized Oct. 25 at the club’s 17th annual dinner.

In addition, the city of Geneva and the city school district will be honored as the club’s Community Partners of the Year.

Though the Boys & Girls Club has many dedicated volunteers, Executive Director Arlene Francis said Wyckoff stood out for his years of commitment and sheer volume of time he dedicates, particularly in the past year.

“Steve Wyckoff has put in a tremendous amount of time this year and has really enhanced the experience with the garden club,” Francis explained.

Wyckoff is devoted to planning and operating the Community Garden Center on the club’s home turf, the Geneva Community Center. The garden is used by the Teen Center’s Garden Club, the club’s Roots & Shoots group for children 2 to 8 years old and the Geneva Senior Citizen’s Club.

Wyckoff volunteers on a weekly basis, planning activities and hosting other volunteers, including Hobart and William Smith Colleges students.

To the club’s young gardeners, Wyckoff imparts not only the tricks of a green thumb, but the science behind it.

“Right down to the simplistic terms like, ‘It’s not dirt, but soil,’” Francis noted with a chuckle. “Steve is a wealth of knowledge.”

Wyckoff has a way with the children, she added, noting he has been able to share some of his skills with other volunteers.

“He gets to know the kids and picks up on their strengths, which is what we’re really all about,” Francis elaborated.

Wyckoff also assists with the teen program and various club projects, and provides resources for staff training. He keeps a constant watch on other community endeavors and is quick to let the club know when other Geneva initiatives might align with their own efforts, Francis explained.

“He’s a phenomenal wealth and resource in the community for those who are willing to tap into him,” she added.

Perhaps his best quality, Francis stated, is modesty.

“He just doesn’t understand why he should be Volunteer of the Year, and that’s even more endearing,” Francis remarked.

As for the Community Partners of the Year, Francis said the school district is overdue for the recognition.

“What a wonderful partnership from the very beginning,” she commented, noting their close relationship stretches back years and includes numerous school officials serving on the board and program committees.

That cooperation includes things like caring for the grounds and letting the club use the school gym for basketball programming.

The club has benefited from school partnerships related to the 21st Century Grant and the School Innovation Fund, collaborating on programs that benefit students, she added.

Francis praised the district’s new superintendent, Trina Newton, for her support, and said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Lawrence Wright has long been a supporter of the club.

“It’s a great partnership,” she said.

The city of Geneva’s support of the club also has been hugely important, she noted.

“They have partnered with us by supporting us through city funds for youth development programs that the Geneva City Recreation does not do,” she explained.

The city’s support has been essential in expanding opportunities and opening up programming that benefit the whole city. That includes things like the Geneva Senior Citizen’s Club’s use of the community center, recreation department programs hosted there, a basketball league at the high school and even city police mentors.

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