This past week, I was humbled to receive the Monika Andrews Creative Volunteer Leadership Award, which is offered annually to a resident of Brockport, Sweden, or Clarkson in recognition of volunteer contributions to the community.
Here’s a snippet of text from the Award citation:
The Monika Andrews Creative Volunteer Leadership Award Committee—comprised of Patricia Galinski, Linda Ketchum, and Robert Westbrook—had two excellent nominations this year. We are again impressed with the work of volunteers in our community, and once more aware of how pivotal they are to the well-being of Brockport, Sweden, and Clarkson.
This year’s Monika Andrews Award goes to Robert LeSuer, nominated by Erica Linden. Bob LeSuer, a chemistry professor at SUNY Brockport and a relatively recent arrival in Brockport has in the short space of five years compiled an admirable record of volunteer service across a wide range of activities. As Erica nicely put it, Bob “has become an invaluable thread in the tapestry of our community.”
Erica and others who wrote in support of her nomination singled out several of Bob’s volunteer efforts. These include his leadership of Walk Bike Brockport; his service on the village Police Reform and Reinvention Task Force and the Bridging the Closure Committee; and his representation of Walk Bike Brockport on the state’s Empire State Trail Town steering committee. He and his wife Rozenn also joined the roster of Welcome Center Ambassadors. Comfortably moving across apparent town-gown divides, Bob has quickly established himself within a tradition of College faculty who recognize and sustain the inextricable common good that underlies the relationship between campus and village.
As all those who wrote on Bob’s behalf observed, he brings to any group to which he belongs—and to some to which he does not—enviable skills in managing the often frustrating work of committees. A master at forging mission statements, conducting survey research, and leading focus groups, Bob has helped businesses and non-profit organizations alike who have called upon him to help them get their act together, including Lift Bridge Book Shop, the new Village Wellness Consortium, and the Brockport Community Museum. Such groups have expressed their gratitude for the leadership Bob has provided them, leadership—as Kari Pardun says—that is “subtle, supportive, kind, and effective.”
One of the most difficult challenges facing communities such as ours that rely heavily on volunteers to sustain their health is that of reproducing volunteer energy across generations. Young [editorial comment: relative] Bob’s work gives us faith that we are up to the challenge, for as Erica says, he exemplifies “for all ages what it means to care for a place and its people.”
Many thanks go to Erica for the nomination and others who wrote very nice support letters. I will keep these on hand for those days when I need a little pick me up. And I would be remiss not to extend my gratitude to other volunteers in and around Brockport, for it would not be possible to be so engaged if there weren’t a critical mass of wonderful people committed to improving the quality of life for residents and visitors to our community.