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Stepping up to make Rochester a better place

The 2016 Greater Rochester Awards will honor 13 individuals and six organizations for their contributions to the area’s nonprofits.

A ceremony recognizing the finalists and honorees will be held Oct. 14 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The event is presented by the Rochester Business Journal and the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc. and sponsored by Bank of America Corp.

Nominations were received in seven categories. Honorees have been selected in six of the categories:

Board Leadership: presented to nonprofit board chairmen and chairwomen who have enhanced the mission and reputation of their agencies through effective leadership, fundraising, strategic planning, community collaboration and problem solving. This year’s recipients are Maggie Bringewatt, chairwoman of St. Ann’s Community; Thomas Kelly, chairman of Rochester Rehabilitation Center Inc.; and Arlene Wilson, chairwoman of PathStone Corp.

Career Achievement: presented to staff members not in senior management who exhibit innovation, leadership and creativity to help deliver measurable results. The recipients are Jan Mascari, manager of the central supply room, St. Ann’s Community; Jody Todd Manly, clinical director of Mt. Hope Family Center, and Cher Niedermaier, Westmoreland house manager for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, N.Y. Inc.

Community Champion: given to individuals, volunteers or staffers whose efforts with local human service nonprofits have made a significant positive impact on the community. The award will be given to Sarah Heieck, regional sales representative, Pfizer Inc.; Karen Lustick, board member at Thompson Health and East House and volunteer with the Partnership for Ontario County; and David McNitt, volunteer reader and coordinator of the Reach Out and Read program at Anthony L. Jordan Health Center.

Executive of the Year: given to an executive with a record of innovative leadership in delivering services with a measurable positive impact. The recipient this year is Mary Walsh Boatfield, president and CEO of CP Rochester, Happiness House and Rochester Rehabilitation Center. Ability Partners Inc. is the passive parent corporation of the three agencies.

Rising Star: given to staff members who have demonstrated a fast-track record of accomplishment and growth of responsibilities in delivering agency services. The honorees are Krystle Ellis, director of operations and community programs, Wilson Commencement Park; Tanya Thurman, planning and evaluation policy specialist, Action for a Better Community Inc.; and Bethany Williams, special needs coordinator, Child Care Council Inc.

Outstanding Corporate Volunteer Group: presented to a group of co-workers or affinity group members who have come together in the last year to make a difference in Greater Rochester through their collective volunteerism. The recipients are volunteer groups at Eastman Kodak Co., Harris Beach PLLC and Lawley.

Three finalists have been selected for the Bank of America Impact Award, presented to a program that has demonstrated measurable, positive results. The finalists are the Center for Youth’s Safe Harbour Program, Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc.’s Health Care Coordination Service and Veterans Outreach Center Inc.

The winner of the Impact Award will receive $10,000 from Bank of America and will be announced at the Oct. 14 ceremony.

Profiles of the honorees and finalists:

Board leadership

Maggie Bringewatt
Recognizing the dramatic changes taking place in the long-term care marketplace, Maggie Bringewatt took on the challenge of chairing both the strategic planning committee and the master planning task force at St. Ann’s Community. Her efforts drove efficiency throughout the organization and helped solidify its long-term capacity to serve the community.

Bringewatt “has been an active leader who is not simply willing to accept management initiatives but who challenges management to justify its proposals and plans, taking her fiduciary responsibility to the institution seriously,” says board member Kent Gardner, chief economist of the Center for Governmental Research. “Her term as chair caps an extraordinary period of service to St. Ann’s.”

Michael McRae, St. Ann’s president and CEO, says Bringewatt “consistently and appropriately” challenged him regarding his ideas for the direction of the organization. “Once those ideas were refined and agreed upon, she was then incredibly supportive as an advocate for bringing them to life,” he recalls.

Bringewatt enjoyed a 35-year career in housing planning, development, and property management. Her desire to volunteer came from the good example set by her mother and the Sisters of St. Joseph, who “modeled service to the community as a basic component of life,” she says.

Bringewatt’s contributions to the region undoubtedly will last for decades to come. “Maggie has left an indelible mark on St. Ann’s Community,” McRae says. “She has helped to position us to continue meeting the needs of Rochester’s older adults well into the future.”
—Travis Anderson

Thomas Kelly
Those who know Tom Kelly well describe him as a remarkable volunteer whose genuine warmth and caring attitude help make him an effective leader whom others easily embrace.

Kelly first partnered with Al Sigl Community of Agencies in 1982, offering his financial expertise and a passion for serving others while using his skills to build consensus and lead people forward. “He led us through a modeling process to show how Al Sigl could use philanthropic dollars to leverage tax-exempt bond financing to accomplish our construction goals,” says Thomas O’Connor, the organization’s president. “Al Sigl was the first not-for-profit organization in upstate to utilize civic development bonds and take advantage of significant interest-rate savings. Tom’s model was right on target.”

Still active with the organization as an honorary board member, Kelly continues to provide sound counsel. “When Rochester Rehabilitation Center turned to us for help in restructuring their finances, Tom came back to take on the role of board chair,” O’Connor says. “He assembled a new board and led a turnaround that took the agency from a seven-figure operating deficit to a break-even position in one year.”

During more than three decades of volunteer work, Kelly served the Al Sigl Community of Agencies in many capacities, including finance committee member, treasurer and board chairman. “From the first day I walked into the building, I was struck by the level of commitment I saw,” he says. “It’s been an extraordinarily positive experience for me.”
—Travis Anderson

Arlene Wilson
As a member of PathStone Development Corp.’s board of directors, Arlene Wilson provided visionary leadership and flexibility when it was needed most.

PathStone is a nonprofit community housing development organization. Wilson joined its board of directors in 2007. Eight years later, when board chairman Mark St. John died, she became even more integral to the organization’s success.

Wilson was elected interim chairwoman in January 2016 and board chairwoman two months later. Without missing a beat, she successfully continued her predecessor’s work, colleagues say. “We are extremely fortunate that she was willing to assume such a daunting leadership role with no prior notice,” says Stuart Mitchell, PathStone president and CEO.

Wilson has guided PathStone’s housing division and executive staff as the organization examines ways to deliver quality, affordable housing in a more effective and efficient manner.

“I am a firm believer in the old adage, ‘To those to whom much is given, much is expected,’” she says. “I have taught my children that we each have special gifts and talents. Our first task in life is to discover what those gifts and talents are; the second task is how to use them effectively for the greater good.”

When not volunteering for PathStone, Wilson is the executive director of the Yates County Cornell Cooperative Extension. At New Bethel CME Church, she is the historian, Facebook administrator and a member of the board of Christian education.
—Travis Anderson

Career achievement

Jody Todd Manly
Children who are victims of trauma around the world have a friend in University of Rochester professor and researcher Jody Todd Manly. 

Manly, who is the clinical director at UR’s Mount Hope Family Center, has spent 30 years studying the effects of violence and maltreatment on children and providing clinical services to victims and their families.

“I have been challenged and encouraged by the possibility of healing, even in the face of tremendous adversity, and the resilience that children can display when they have support, available resources and positive relationships,” Manly says.

Manly moved to Rochester from her native North Carolina in the early 1980s to earn a master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology at UR. A staff member at Mount Hope Family Center ever since, she also is a senior research associate and assistant professor in the university’s Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology. With fellow experts around the country, she conducts research on the effects of trauma, depression, maltreatment, poverty and violence on children. She also trains professionals and provides workshops around the world.  

Manly, who was appointed this year to the board of directors for the World Association for Infant Mental Health, is motivated by the determination of others in her field.

“I have been inspired by the courage and dedication of international colleagues who are working tirelessly on behalf of young children around the world, including those impacted by wars, natural disasters, political unrest and other traumatic events, who have the potential to bring peace and reconciliation to the world,” Manly says.
—Richard Zitrin

Jan Mascari
In 1972, Jan Mascari decided to give a career in health care a chance.

“I was familiar with St. Ann’s, and it felt like, ‘Oh, that’s a good fit,’” she says.

Over 44 years later, she hasn’t changed her mind.

St. Ann’s Community has long served Rochester-area seniors: St. Ann’s Home provides skilled nursing care, and seniors who live independently on their own or with some assistance make their homes at one of two residential communities.

Mascari joined St. Ann’s Home as a nurse’s aide, and by 1982 had been promoted to central supply manager of St. Ann’s Community. Things were a bit primitive back then, she recalls, including the still used to make solutions for treatment.

Nowadays, Mascari oversees a warehouse full of medical supplies and over a thousand pieces of medical equipment. Though she orders supplies on the internet, she still relishes the challenges of her job, such as helping nurses hook up new medical devices.

Perhaps most of all, Mascari loves helping St. Ann’s staff look after the people who live there. After she retires in November, she will take her memories with her.

“I’ve seen a lot here over 44 years, and it’s been very satisfying and rewarding,” she says.
—Mike Costanza

Cher Niedermaier
Tragedy brought Cher Niedermaier to the job she loves.

Niedermaier was a home and hospital tutor for a local BOCES in 1994 when her youngest son, 8-year-old Joel, was struck by a car and killed. The experience completely altered the direction of her life.

“When a parent loses a child, you either get better or you get bitter,” the 64-year-old Marion resident says. “It was my goal to get better.”

One of Niedermaier’s students encouraged her to volunteer for Ronald McDonald House, one of three operated by the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, NY Inc. Families of children in town for medical care stay in the houses.

One visit to the Ronald McDonald House and Niedermaier was in love. Three years later, she was hired as house manager.

After nearly two decades of making sure that her Westmoreland Drive establishment runs smoothly, Niedermaier still feels a charge when she walks through the door.

“What gives me energy is knowing that you’re making a difference for these families in a way that nobody else can,” she says.
—Mike Costanza

Community champion

Sarah Heieck
Sarah Heieck lost both of her parents to cancer as a teenager, and the Geneva native has never forgotten how her hometown helped her survive and thrive.

“This community did so much for me at a tough time in my life—literally picked me up, educated me and delivered me into adulthood,” says Heieck, a regional sales representative for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.

As president of Geneva Scholarship Associates, Heieck raises money to help local students attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges. In addition, as chairwoman of the programming committee for the Geneva Boys and Girls Club, she has created programs that unify her local community while raising funds to support after-school programs. For example, Heieck created Kids Night Out, for elementary school-age children. It’s a night of entertainment for the kids—and a free night off for their parents. The monthly event raises revenue for the Boys & Girls Club of Geneva.

Heieck also helped initiate collaborations among previously competing nonprofits to combine efforts, share resources and better meet community needs. Thanks to her leadership, talks are underway between the local YMCA and Boys & Girls Club that promise to improve services and each organization’s financial position.

“Each waking day is spent repaying this city in every way she can find,” says Chris Lavin, executive director of the local Boys & Girls Club. “From mastering social media to guiding nonprofit executives and rallying support across community divides, she has become a model of the civically engaged citizen.”
—Travis Anderson

Karen Lustick
After growing up in suburban Washington, D.C., Karen Lustick moved to Canandaigua and was struck by the sense of community she found. She soon became part of it, volunteering with organizations such as Thompson Health, the Partnership for Ontario County and East House Corp.

It didn’t take long for Lustick to make a good impression on the locals. In 2011, while serving as president of the all-volunteer Thompson Health Guild, she provided such good service that she was mistaken for a full-time employee. “Karen is passionate and driven, and she wants everything she is involved with to be done perfectly,” says Michael Stapleton, Thompson Health CEO. “She is a genuinely caring person who wants the best for everyone she encounters.”

Bonnie Ross, executive director of Partnership for Ontario County, agrees. Lustick is “an energetic and dynamic volunteer,” she says, “whose dedication is unsurpassed when it comes to the health and safety of youth and families.”

Officials at East House in Rochester have witnessed the same dedication. They say Lustick made a difference right away, helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars to assist people dealing with mental illness and chemical dependency.

In fact, Lustick’s tirelessness is something of legend. “If you asked my friends, they’d swear I put something in my latte every morning,” she says. “The truth is, when I witness the positive impact the organizations I support have on their clients, it reinvigorates me and inspires me to keep going.”
—Travis Anderson

David McNitt
For 13 years, David McNitt has championed books and reading for the children at the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center in Rochester.

McNitt taught mathematics at Monroe Community College for more than three decades.  Today he volunteers at Jordan Health Center almost every week. Seated in the waiting room, he reads to children as they wait for their appointments.

In addition, McNitt coordinates the health center’s Reach Out and Read program. Based on a national literacy effort, it distributes new books to children who come in for routine doctor appointments. McNitt maintains a rotating supply of books that he encourages families to take home and read.

“He knows reading as a family is something that may not always be a priority to many of our families, which may have other pressing responsibilities,” says Sakinah Miller M.D., the Jordan Center’s chief of pediatrics. “However, if we are able to model—during the limited time that they are here for their medical appointment—how important reading is, perhaps the child will remember that and pick up a book at a later date.”

Staff members understand that McNitt does not seek personal gain or public recognition for his efforts. “Reading has always been a personal passion and I’ve always been a fan of libraries,” McNitt says. “For children, it’s a big deal that someone they don’t know spends time with them and reads to them.”
—Travis Anderson


Mary Walsh Boatfield
Helping people in need has been part of Mary Walsh Boatfield’s life since she was a girl growing up in Irondequoit. She found volunteering to her liking early on, and her destiny was determined when she became friends with two developmentally disabled girls in her Girl Scout troop.

Boatfield has gone on to become a friend to thousands of disabled people through her life’s work. She started out in the 1970s as a speech pathologist and administrator at Lifetime Assistance. In 2001, Boatfield became a chief executive when she was hired to head Happiness House in Ontario County.

Her role and responsibilities have grown in the last several years. CP Rochester and Rochester Rehabilitation Center have aligned with Happiness House and Boatfield is CEO and president of all three. Together they employ more than 700 people and have an annual budget of $33 million.

“One of the best vocations in the world is serving as CEO/president in a nonprofit organization,” Boatfield says. “I can walk down the hall and be part of so many wonderful things. I’ve seen children whose parents were told they may never be able to walk take their first steps as they crossed the stage for preschool graduation. I also experienced firsthand teaching a 30-year-old man, who lived most of his life in an institution, his first words.

“The greatest gift is the opportunity to serve as an advocate and visionary for individuals and their families.”
—Richard Zitrin

Corporate volunteer group

Eastman Kodak Co.
 A group of Eastman Kodak Co. employees has taken the revamped company’s new motto—Printing for Good—to heart with a book project aimed at kids in local low-income neighborhoods.

Several thousand books were printed and donated to children to bolster reading skills and success in school. Last spring, Kodak worked with Mercury Print Productions and Ann Esch, a local author and retired teacher, to print free copies of her book, “Pawing Through Rochester, The Adventures of Spike,” to give to 3,000 children in after-school programs through the United Way of Greater Rochester. The goal: to keep kids reading over the summer. 

In May, about 20 Kodak employees delivered books and spent a day in classrooms reading aloud the tale of a dog named Spike and his journeys around Rochester.

“The children were so excited when they realized they were able to take a book home,” says Mary Pat Lally, executive administrative assistant to Kodak’s chief technical officer, Terry Taber. “I felt like Kodak and the United Way really made a difference in their world that day.”
—Richard Zitrin

Harris Beach PLLC  
The Harris Beach law firm and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester have nurtured a close relationship for more than a decade. Harris Beach employees embrace the organization as volunteers at the clubs’ facility in the 19th Ward. They help in other ways, too, from an annual golf tournament to a wine-tasting event.

In August 2015, Harris Beach lawyers stepped up big time in the Boys & Girls Clubs’ darkest hour after three young men were killed and four people injured in a drive-by shooting outside the community center. Harris Beach lawyers provided legal counsel, helping administrative staff craft statements to release to media and the community following the tragedy.

A Harris Beach employee, Paul Gardner, also dedicated his time as project manager in a recent renovation and expansion at the center.

“To put it simply, Harris Beach is part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester family,” says Dwayne Mahoney, the organization’s executive director. “When we were faced with the tragic shooting last year, it was Harris Beach that called us and helped us get through those next few traumatic days with statements to the press and being present at our facility when no one asked them to. They were there because they’re always there when someone is in need.”

—Richard Zitrin

Community service is so important to employees at Lawley that it is built into the insurance agency’s business model. Six staff members known as Team Lawley Cares coordinate the Rochester office’s financial and volunteer support to a number of nonprofits.

The list of agencies benefiting from Lawley’s help this year includes Al Sigl Community of Agencies, Open Door Mission, LeRoy Food Pantry, Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Junior Achievement of Rochester, Heritage Christian Services, Arc of Orleans County Camp Rainbow, Mary Cariola Children’s Center, Lifetime Assistance and Nativity Prep Academy. Lawley employees also support families with Thanksgiving dinner supplies and Christmas gifts.

Over the years, Lawley has developed particularly close ties to the Al Sigl Community of Agencies. Lawley managing partner Philip Andolina joined the Al Sigl sports committee in 1999 to work on tennis and golf fundraisers. He eventually became a member of the Al Sigl Foundation board of governors.  Another Lawley volunteer, Matt Weins, now chairs the Al Sigl sports committee.

“Many of us have seen our friends or family in need, as well as ourselves, at various times in our lives,” Lawley employee Kathy Sweers says. “By volunteering, we can give back something to the community and make it a better place. We have a passion for the organizations and causes that we work with. In return, we have received appreciation, smiles, new friendships and more.”
—Richard Zitrin

Rising star

Krystle Ellis
Krystle Ellis has won high praise for her work in the last two years helping hundreds of low-income women and their children create better lives for themselves.

Ellis is director of operations at Wilson Commencement Park and Sojourner House at PathStone. Colleague Anita Marrero calls Ellis “a visionary” who understands the issues of disadvantaged people and works tirelessly to promote social justice and community development.

“Krystle is always on the lookout for those things and programs that are not working, versus what is working, and turns them around, making them successful. Her gift is very rare,” says Marrero, director of family support services at Wilson Commencement Park and Sojourner House. The residential program is for low-income, single moms who are developing skills to improve their family stability.

Ellis created a life skills mentoring program for single women that addresses job readiness, credit scores, dressing for success, and dealing with some of life’s hardest challenges, such as depression, domestic violence, anger management and rape.

“Krystle has the ability to see the problem, define the areas of concern and rally together the right people to provide solutions that will last for years,” Marrero says. “Her wisdom goes far beyond her years.”
—Richard Zitrin

Tanya Thurman
Action for a Better Community administrators knew they had a keeper when they hired Tanya Thurman in 2001. She began in a temporary position studying the outcomes of residents who had left the welfare rolls, then took a full-time offer as planning and evaluation policy specialist. Over the years, Thurman has become a familiar face and voice during discussions about poverty, youth and human services.

“In many cases, Tanya argues forcefully for low-income people to not merely be represented at community tables, but to be there themselves, to speak for themselves,” says Aaron Wicks, ABC’s vice president for planning and evaluation. “If that means rescheduling meetings to different times and locations, thinking about transportation barriers, child care issues or something else, Tanya believes those things can—and should—be done to ensure everyone has an equal voice at the table.”

Thurman immersed herself in the issue of youth violence after two teenagers killed ABC staff member James Slater in 2007. This led ABC to create the Milestones program for at-risk youth.

Social justice advocacy runs in Thurman’s family. Her late father, the Rev. Charles Thurman, was a respected community leader for 38 years as pastor at Second Baptist Church in Mumford.

“It is certain that he is looking down on our community with pride at the citizen his daughter has become and the way she has advocated for those among us who are so rarely heard,” Wicks says.
—Richard Zitrin

Bethany Williams
Bethany Williams had known since high school that special education would be her life’s work.

She set her sights on a career in the field after graduating from Brockport High School in 2002, first heading to the University of Buffalo for undergraduate work and then to St. John Fisher College for her master’s degree. Six years ago, shortly after finishing at Fisher, Williams joined the Rochester-based Child Care Council as special needs services coordinator. She works with families and child care providers to improve care for children with special needs in Monroe, Livingston and Wayne counties.

Williams is passionate about her work. It can be challenging at times, helping parents find child care for children with disabilities, training providers in how to care for children with special needs and keeping licensed child care providers informed on the council’s programs. Williams twice has obtained additional state funding to expand services by offering specialized training and technical assistance to child care providers.

“Growing up in a family of educators, I learned that every child can learn when they are given the right tools and opportunities,” Williams says. “As I began my teaching career in public schools and in child care centers, I found that this was very much true. Being able to support children with special needs to reach new milestones, as well as train child care providers, is a very rewarding experience. It is something that I look forward to each and every day.”
—Richard Zitrin

Impact award

Center for Youth’s Safe Harbour Program
Several years ago, a 17-year-old girl who had attempted multiple times to escape from a sex trafficker was rescued by law enforcement. Only after connecting with the Center for Youth’s Safe Harbour program, however, did she find a safe place to live and receive the medical and mental health care she so desperately needed.

Similar stories have played out many times in the Rochester region. “Many victims struggle to leave their traffickers, who make promises to provide love, financial support and a sense of family,” says Carla Palumbo, CEO of the Legal Aid Society. “The Center’s Safe Harbour team works day after day to stay connected with these young victims, providing non-judgmental services, support and understanding.”

Founded in 2013, Safe Harbour provides case coordination that allows for children and teens to be connected quickly with services they need to recover and thrive. It also offers free training to county agencies and community partners to improve the identification of trafficked youth.

In 2015, Safe Harbour received more than 200 referrals of victims or at-risk youth from throughout Monroe County. Children ranged in age from 7 to 19 years old.

“When the Safe Harbour team responds, it does so with the expertise, compassion and dedication required to make certain our most vulnerable young people are treated with respect and care,” says Elaine Spaull, executive director of the Center for Youth. “Their determination to keep our kids safe makes them heroes in my book.” 
—Travis Anderson

Lifespan’s Health Care Coordination Service
Health care costs can be controlled while improving patient care, and Life-span of Greater Rochester has the data to prove it.

Its Health Care Coordination Service helps people who need coordinated care, have multiple chronic illnesses and encounter barriers that delay or prevent them from receiving health care. Patients who participate in the service have predictable histories of noncompliance with medical appointments and treatment, as well as low health literacy.

A 100-patient pilot program launched in 2014 has expanded to serve many more people. Licensed practical nurses supervised by registered nurses act as coordinators, working in the health care setting and in patient’s homes. “Our team strives to close the gap between the health care system and the older adults’ social needs, as well, to help people remain in their homes as long as possible,” says Annie Wells, director of care transitions.

Lifespan’s data show that the program supports compliance with medical directions, resulting in significantly fewer emergency department visits and hospitalizations among enrolled patients. Patients and their caregivers report less stress, a greater willingness to communicate with medical professionals and a better understanding of medications and the importance of taking them regularly.

Not only did the pilot program improve life quality for patients, it showed a one-year cost avoidance of $1.6 million.

The program is a breath of fresh air for care managers, says John Scruton, who fulfills that role at Grace Family Medicine in Rochester. “In the midst of chaotic and difficult coordination efforts, their expertise in navigating complex situations is readily apparent.”
—Travis Anderson

Veterans Outreach Center Inc.
The success of Veterans Outreach Center Inc. can be described in part with simple numbers. Last year, the organization helped nearly 400 local veterans find employment with jobs that had an average wage approaching $14 an hour.

Veterans Outreach Center remains the only veteran-specific, one-stop shop in the Rochester region, providing free training at every stage of transition for military men and women. Through its employment and job training program, the organization offers assistance with life skills, job readiness and occupational skills needed in specific, in-demand occupations.

“Every person who works here has a genuine passion for helping veterans, and it shows in the work we do every day,” says Jennifer Gibson, director of development.

With staff representatives on the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council, the center meets with employers to develop skill- and job-specific training for those who have served their country in the military.

Veterans Outreach Center partners with area schools, colleges and the Veterans Business Council to develop job-driven training programs. The center works with Rochester City School District’s Office of Adult and Career Education Services to offer welding, electrical, and automotive boot camps. It also works with Literacy Volunteers of Rochester to provide tutorial support and with Rochester Educational Opportunity Center to offer culinary opportunities.

In addition, the center partners with Rochester Institute of Technology to provide veterans with electronic assembly training and certification. Particular employers have committed to interview all graduates with the goal of hiring them upon completion of the class, Gibson notes.
—Travis Anderson

10/7/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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