Planned Parenthood recognizes supporters at annual dinner

VALCOUR The commitments of those who support womens reproductive rights were officially recognized at the 37th annual Northern Adirondack Planned Parenthood Gala. The organization honored three of its supporters at the Valcour Conference Center Oct. 5. Susan Delehanty, chairperson of the NAPP board of directors, presented the first award for the evening, the organizations 2008 Volunteer of the Year Award. Betsy Metz of Plattsburgh received the recognition for her ambition, encouragement and ability to be a friend to all the staff who have the pleasure of sharing her company. Metz, who joined the board of directors in 2004, is serving her second term, volunteering on the organizations gala and the fund development committees. For the past two years, Betsy has wowed us all with her tenacity and fitness as she pounds the pavement asking local businesses for gala auction items and helps to solicit underwriting gifts and sponsorships for the event, said Delehanty. Betsy has written countless notes on appeals and called all of her friends to encourage them to come to events. She even spent the afternoon helping polish silver for our June tea party. In addition to her work as a board member, Delehanty said Metz is always ready and willing to lend a hand with a project. When receiving her award, Metz took the opportunity to share the spotlight with the staff, volunteers and supporters of Planned Parenthood as being those who have gone the extra mile and who also deserve recognition. Im absolutely astonished to be here, said Metz. We provide tremendous services to our community and the people really depend on it. Its a pleasure to be involved. This year, the second annual Cyndi Topnick Pink Boa Award was given to Sheila Wilson, a health educator with the Plattsburgh City School District. According to presenter and NAPP chief executive officer Kathie Wunderlich, the Cyndi Topnick Pink Boa Award is presented to an individual or group who publicly supports the organizations mission and works within their organization or sphere of influence to build strong networks. Educating the community regarding sexual health, advocacy and sexual assault is among the list of achievements of which the honoree must also have been committed. [Sheila] continues, even under some community pressure, to have NAPPs educators in her middle school classroom several times throughout the school year, said Wunderlich. Her dedication to her students far surpasses what is required of her she goes above and beyond to make students feel welcome and comfortable in sharing and in collecting information to help make safe choices about their health. Topnick wasted no time crediting the life of Cyndi Topnick, who succumbed to cancer in 2007. We are just better human beings for having known her, Wilson said of Topnick in her acceptance address. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this award. Theres no price tag for what you do. Its truly remarkable and I thank you for coming into my classroom. Timothy Merrick, a former NAPP board of directors chairman formerly of Plattsburgh, was awarded the organizations fifth annual Voice for Choice Award. The award is presented to an individual who has used community forums to express support for pro-choice issues and is visible in the community as an advocate for reproductive justice. Since joining NAPPs board of directors in 2004, Tim has shown himself to be committed to reproductive freedom, said presenter Anne Hobson, who credited Merrick for his 2006 run for Sen. Elizabeth OC. Littles 45th Senate District seat. In the most public way, by running for office, he publicly supported reproductive rights. Before his bid for a seat in the Senate and most recently moving to New York City, Hobson said Merrick was always known for raising questions related to NAPPs picketers at Plattsburgh City Council meetings, writing letters to the editor regarding pro-choice issues and hosting NAPP events in his own home. Though no longer chairman at the local Planned Parenthood, Merrick urged the chapters members to do what they can to support the pro-choice movement. Please pull levers for pro-choice candidates and please pull out your wallets to vote in another way, for Planned Parenthood, not just next month, but every month, he said. If we want our freedoms passed down to our children and our childrens children, itll be up to us please, guard your freedom. During the evening, NAPP also recognized outgoing board members Ingeborg Sapp, Linda Byrne-Luguri and Gussie Baker.

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