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Giving back to community ingrained in CMAC operations

Volunteers from Constellation Brands work the wine tent during CMAC concerts, collecting tips that will ultimately be matched by the beverage company and donated back to the community. (Provided)

Volunteers from Constellation Brands work the wine tent during CMAC concerts, collecting tips that will ultimately be matched by the beverage company and donated back to the community. (Provided)

This summer, when bands such as ZZ Top, Keith Urban and Dave Matthews Band take the stage at the Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center they can do so knowing that their concerts will in one form or another give back to the community.

CMAC, as the center is known, is a nonprofit that participates in a number of philanthropic efforts. Its core giving-back program involves selling Constellation products, like wine by the bottle in a tent at the venue, said Lynn Freida, CMAC’s executive director.

“Our Constellation Brands employees actually donate their time to work that tent and all of their tips that are generated throughout the season are then matched by Constellation and donated back into the community,” Freida said. “On average it’s about $10,000 to $15,000 each year.”

CMAC supports F.F. Thompson Hospital, the Canandaigua Family YMCA and last year also supported the Spot at Canandaigua Primary-Elementary School, a program that gives underprivileged school children much-needed clothing and school supplies. CMAC helped provide backpacks and school supplies to kids last year.

“We hold a flu-shot clinic that F.F. Thompson provides at the Canandaigua YMCA in October for uninsured and underinsured each year,” Freida said. “It’s a nice benefit to the community and I know they appreciate that.”

Funds donated to the YMCA support youth programming, Freida added.

“Marvin Sands, our founder, was very philanthropic and very passionate about YMCA,” she added. “One year we helped purchase a medicine ball game that kids can play to get them active in one of the youth rooms. Each year there’s a different need there that we try and support.”

CMAC also participates in Chairs for Charity, which allows concert-goers to donate $5 to “rent” a lawn chair for the duration of a show. The charity changes each night, based on the choice of the local real estate agents helping Premium Mortgage — which donated the chairs—run the booths.

CMAC also has teamed with the Gorham Rotary Club the last several years, allowing the Rotary to sell concessions at concerts. The Rotary sells popcorn and beverages, candy, candy bars and hot coffee, said the Rotary’s treasurer Thomas Harvey.

Some of the Rotary’s philanthropic efforts include scholarships and awards for the Marcus Whitman School District. The Rotary also does a number of community beautification projects, including the purchase of a gazebo for a new park in the Town of Gorham, as well as landscaping and flower plantings.

Harvey said each year the Rotary is able to raise between $8,000 and $11,000 from its CMAC concession sales, as well as another $500 or so from a tip jar set up at concerts. The group helps with a local food pantry and in the last few years has purchased more than 100 turkeys for families during the holiday season. The club holds an annual senior citizens dinner and supports Embrace Your Sisters, a group for women who have had or currently have breast cancer.

Last year the Rotary was able to send a family — whose father was undergoing chemotherapy — to a Philadelphia Flyers hockey game and meet the team’s alternate captain Wayne Simmonds.

“If there’s a family that experiences a tragedy we’ll lend financial support,” Harvey said.

CMAC funds also are used to help the Rotary’s Camp Onseyawa, a summer camp for children with disabilities.

“It’s two weeks at the end of August, and we usually get around 100 campers that couldn’t experience going camping otherwise,” Harvey explained.

Internationally, the Rotary has been involved in buying a fishing boat for a remote village in Fiji and has donated to literacy groups worldwide to help with those efforts.

“All of that is made possible through the concession stand at CMAC. It’s our major fundraiser for our club,” Harvey said. “It provides an opportunity for people to do local service. CMAC has been dependable for us and consistent.”

vspicer@bridgetowermedia.com / 585-653-4021 / @Velvet_Spicer

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