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October 23, 2012

Health center honored for volunteerism

Properties of Merit owners recognized

The Oneonta Community Health Center and six property owners were honored Monday by the Future for Oneonta Foundation at an awards luncheon in the Foothills Performing Arts Center.

The health center was named the foundation’s Organization of the Year.

One of our core missions is ‘to improve the quality of life for the citizens of the greater Oneonta area,’” said Sarah Patterson, vice chairwoman of foundation, quoting the foundation’s charter. “The Community Health Care Center really does that.”

The health center, which relies entirely on community support for funding, has been providing medical care to the uninsured since 2008.

“Being recognized like this reaffirms to us our community roots and support,” said Kay Stuligross, the center’s president.

“We have phenomenal community support,” said Stuligross, who also is a member of the Otsego County Board of Representatives.

She cited several instances in which local groups had held fund-raisers, sometimes without even telling the health center.

“Several years ago, late in the summer, a group of children went to a local blueberry farm, picked blueberries, went to the farmers market and brought the money to us,” she said, citing one of those instances.

Nevertheless, not everyone knows about the center, she added.

“There were people sitting at the table where I was today who had never heard of us,” Stuligross said after the luncheon.

With recent estimates putting the percentage of uninsured in Otsego County higher than18 percent, Stuligross the health center would like to expand its hours beyond the current Tuesday evenings but needs more volunteers. She asked the luncheon guests to refer medical professionals to the center.

Dr. Benjamin Friedell, one of the health center’s founders, briefly described the center’s beginnings and what has happened since then.

“What I did not anticipate, and have been repeatedly awed and really moved by, was the outpouring of support from the community,” he told the crowd.

Also honored Monday were the foundation’s Properties of Merit:

Historic: 5 Irving Place, Lorraine Zimniewicz.

Commercial: Friendly’s restaurant, 377 Main St., Richard Spooner, general manager.

Landscape: 21 Woodside Ave., Gail Niles.

Residential, city: 14 Suncrest Terrace, Charles and Carole Burnsworth.

Residential, town: The Plains at Parish Homestead, Trudy Claudy, executive director.

Most improved: 16 Grand St., Tom Casey.

The Daily Star is one of the sponsors of the Properties of Merit awards.

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