It’s The Volunteers…Always
The volunteers make an organization. They set the tone and move it forward, backwards, or sideways. One person who has moved the Good Neighbor Food Pantry forward is Mike Lourenso. And, he has known from the beginning what the pantry needs or doesn’t need. He first came to the pantry to supervise the monthly food delivery. He joined the pantry when the food shipment was only 2000 pounds. This month he supervised the delivery of 11,000 pounds of food.
And, of course, his skills have been a real blessing in the food delivery department. If ever an activity need the policeman’s skill at herd and traffic control, this is it. Every month, on a given morning, a group of volunteers converge on the pantry, work like crazy, and then leave. Whew. All of the monthly volunteers are grateful for the delivery day skills he shares.
But Mike didn’t just come because he was asked. Before he set one foot in the pantry, he asked a lot of in depth questions about our mission, our attitudes about food, poverty, and hunger, our role in the community, our goals, our space, how we operated on a daily basis, etc.
Then, in the first few months, he would arrive at the pantry unannounced, work a few minutes as he checked things out, and then leave. As he began to understand the needs of our quickly growing pantry, he began to offer suggestions and help.
Mike has worked almost every job in the pantry. He makes trips to Albany to bring back food. He goes to training classes. He attends pantry inspections and he knows members of the food bank in both locations.
But, Mike does not just work in the pantry. He’s active in the Woodstock Democratic
Committee. He’s a Certified First Responder with the Rescue Squad. He’s a member of Company 2 and Company 5. He’s a Fire Commissioner.
Mike doesn’t limit his interests to the Woodstock area. He’s Vice-Chairman of the New York City Police Department Police Self Support Group which helps severely injured or severely ill police officers. Mike has been active in this group for over 20 years. Not everyone can join this elite group. Qualifications for entry require that an officer be severely injured.
The commitment that Mike shows to our pantry is surely displayed in all the things that he does. Our pantry is fortunate that he has joined our team. Our community is fortunate that he has joined not only the pantry but the WDC and the Fire and Rescue Squad as well.
Thank You For All You Do
At this time of year, especially this year, we are more aware of what we are grateful for. Not only personal gratitude, but for the extraordinary effort of hundreds of thousands of other citizens who are at the forefront of protecting the integrity of our water, air, soil, public health and communities.
It strikes awe that this large group of people can put their mundane concerns aside to do work for the benefit of everyone. This includes the ten to twelve thousand who gathered from all over the country in Washington, DC, to send a message to President Obama that he must reject the Keystone XL pipeline (Tar Sands). This includes the hundreds from all over the state who convened in Dansville and Binghamton for two days of hearings about the DEC regulations to frack in New York State. This includes the dozens of local citizens who volunteered their time and cell minutes at Village Hall to call New Yorkers to attend these two DEC hearings in Dansville and Binghamton.
The awe doesn’t stop here. To quote the young people, it’s “awesome” to witness so much in the moment how human collective energy can result in such positive outcomes. You can be part of this wave of energy and influence. Do your best to clear your calendar and attend one of two more DEC hearings at Sullivan County Community College on Tuesday, November 29 or in New York City on Wednesday, November 30. More info at https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/fracking/ny-speak-out-against-fracking/.
Ruth Molloy, Rosalyn Cherry
Tragedy Of The (Woodstock) Commons
The Tragedy of the Commons is the phenomenon of self-interested individuals exploiting shared resources beyond the point of this exploitation being in any person’s self-interest. It is a concept used to promote sustainable development, not so much privatization of land as the prevention of “overgrazing” of common resources.
Here in Woodstock, RUPCO currently is building a project purportedly to help low-income housing needs. RUPCO has been and is in violation of many conditions of its special use permit, essentially the permit for the whole project. After a celebratory, unanimous approval of the project just a year ago, the Planning Board, until recently chaired by Paul Shultis Jr. lately has been all for pulling RUPCO’s permit. Seems to me like Shultis is a bit sore that RUPCO’s smooth talk was just that — talk. It never feels good being taken for a fool. I tried to tell the Planning Board, for a couple of years, that RUPCO was a sleazy outfit. How did I know? I have education and experience in a policy field, have been reading project plans for years, and I can smell a rat, which I did.
Anyway, turns out the Planning Board is not authorized to pull the permit. Only the Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO) is authorized. So, Iris York put together a crystal clear letter with attachments, and sent it to the Building Inspector/ZEO, Ellen Casciaro. Ellen took her time, but eventually put together a Stop Work Order, signed and dated it October 25th. Then, Supervisor Jeff Moran told Ellen not to serve the order on RUPCO. Reason? None was given. Ellen said that to keep her job, she does what Moran says. Period.
Jeff Moran was elected two years ago after losing the Democratic primary. He did accept the Working Families Party endorsement. The Working Families Party is basically an offshoot of the Democratic Party, historically pro-union. Thing is, in Ulster County, until just this year, the guy calling the endorsement shots for the Working Families Party was Guy Kempe, RUPCO’s palm greaser. He blew the gig earlier this year, otherwise he would still be farting around Kingston as a small pond party boss. Moran paying Kempe back for Kempe’s endorsement in 2009? The pieces fit. Or, Moran will do anything to avoid a lawsuit, no matter the cost to the property rights of Woodstockers.
Common resources, often overgrazed, include the people’s good will. My good will, and the good will of many of my neighbors, has been overgrazed. I have spent many, many hours and dollars presenting findings to the Planning Board and Town Board. My opponents are the pseudonymous, the despotic, the hypocritical, and the rancid bill of fat at the bottom of the pork barrel. These people have lied, expected something for nothing when it suited them, and taken for granted what the fair pay me handsomely to do.
Woodstock’s recent election results will perpetuate the seething abrasion that is Woodstock public life.
Join The Artists’ Salon
About a year ago Yale Epstein and I came up with a concept for a Woodstock Artists’ Salon. Our goal was to gather many of our area’s visual artists together once a month to discuss our lives within the contexts of our individual creative existences; what is art, why do we make it, how do we attempt to make livings at it, what can we learn from each other, etc.?
With the co-sponsorship of the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum and the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce we’ve enjoyed a series of meeting which have served to enlighten all attendees in many surprising ways, but our appetites have grown. We now seek to gain more insights into the worlds of other creators. If you are a writer, a filmmaker, a video artist, a musician or performer, etc., we would like you to join us. Our next gathering will take place at the WAAM on Thursday, December 1st, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Admission is free. We look forward to seeing and learning more about you.
For more letters, see print edition.