By Gary Stewart
This year’s edition of the annual Cornell Town-Gown Awards – aka the TOGOs – will be a special one.
That’s because there will be remarks from all the presidents of Tompkins County’s three higher-ed institutions: Shirley Collado (Ithaca College), Orinthia Montague (Tompkins Cortland Community College) and Martha Pollack (Cornell University).
The event – which is free, open to everyone, casual and nice for children – will take place from 9:30-11:30 a.m. this Saturday, December 2, in Kulp Auditorium at Ithaca High School. In addition, Cornell students will be conducting a food drive for the Kitchen Cupboard from 9:30-10 a.m. in the Kulp Auditorium lobby, an annual TOGOs tradition; if you can attend, please bring a nonperishable food item or make a donation at the door.
As is customary, community members who have or are retiring from high-profile elected or appointed positions will be thank for their service. That includes departing members of Tompkins County Legislature, non-profit leaders Carl Haynes (Tompkins Cortland Community College), Bob Riter (Cancer Resource Center), Dale Schumacher (The Learning Web), Rachel Lampert (Kitchen Theatre) and John Gutenberger (Cornell Community Relations), and many others.
This year, TOGOs will also be awarded to three town-gown partnerships, all of which have an IC, TC3 and CU component. One of those awards will be recognition of student leaders at Cornell, Ithaca College, and Tompkins Cortland Community College.
The students conducting the food drive are part of the Meinig Family Cornell National Scholars Program, the roots of which go back to 1944, when Cornell’s trustees sought a way to encourage the growth of responsible, intelligent and caring leaders. Out of this effort, the trustees created the Cornell National Scholars program and, in 1999, Peter Meinig ‘61 – who sadly passed earlier this year – and Nancy Schlegel Meinig ’ 52, endowed the program.
Meinig Family Cornell National Scholars show extraordinary potential for development as leaders at Cornell, and as alumni they invariably are active contributors to their communities. They come from across the United States and represent all seven undergraduate colleges.
Most importantly, they uniformly care.
“I think that reaching out to local families who don’t have enough food lies at the center of what community is: Bearing each others burdens and ‘doing life’ with each other,” said Megan Goyette, a Cornell freshman. “It’s not an act of ‘charity,’ but rather a building of friendship, family, and love for those around us.”
“I believe that it is important to help area families who do not have food in their homes because many lack the resources to buy enough food to sustain their families,” added Marianne Uy, another first-year student Meinig Scholar and first-year student. “Food is essential to perform well in school and at work, and without food, it is hard for families to break out of the cycle of poverty. For this reason, those who have the resources must be servant leaders and help those who do not.”
We hope to see you at the TOGOs, a celebration of town-gown life, our talented, caring community and collaborative spirits.
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East Hill Notes are published the second and fourth Mondays of each month. Gary Stewart is assistant vice president of Cornell Community Relations.