Business angels

Local organizations work behind the scenes to help their communities

By MARY GREENE

REGION — Over the holiday season, we have featured various individuals who act as angels in our community—they are the selfless people who work behind the scenes, without much fanfare, to alleviate suffering and help those in need. We also recognize that many businesses act as angels in the community, using their organizational skills and special talents for the good of others. Here we wish to highlight several businesses that go above and beyond the call.

Bold Gold Media, headed by Vince Benedetto, has used the power of radio as a force for good. The organization, which hosts various radio stations and shows, has cultivated a “culture of community involvement,” said Benedetto. “We believe in local radio, and success lies in what is between the songs. Our job is to entertain, and we certainly try to do that, but we always have it hooked into the local community. It’s fresh, and it keeps local people in tune.”

Bold Gold Media owns and operates seven radio stations in New York and Pennsylvania. Locally it is headquartered in Honesdale, PA, with its Thunder 102 station broadcasting out of Liberty, NY. It also has a station in Scranton, PA.

Thunder 102 is a new station, only 18 months old, and is the only New York station run by Bold Gold. It features a morning show with Paul Ciliberto and Mike Sakell, and “ Sakell and Ciliberto in the Morning” has done a lot, said Benedetto, to connect with the community.

“During the floods of ’06,” said Benedetto, “we literally shut down the business aspect of Thunder 102 for one and a half weeks. We were the disseminators and coordinators of information, keeping the community informed as to what was happening and acting as a networking group.” This led to the American Red Cross blood drives, where Sakell collected supplies in a Wal-Mart parking lot for flood victims and others in need.

Benedetto is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Bosnia, and the needs of troops overseas are always on his mind. He participated with other organizations to collect supplies for the troops at Monticello Raceway, and live music shows such as Thunderfest (featuring Lone Star at the Monticello Raceway last July) and Thunder Bash have also raised funds.

“We generally are ‘yes’ oriented,” said Benedetto. “If the community needs something, we do our best to support that. I like to think we use our influence as a force for good, and the coolest part is the listeners who have supported us. We can do all we want, but without the listeners, we can do nothing.”

Another organization, in the southern part of Sullivan County, has worked quietly every year to bring joy to children—if you can call a bevy of Harley Davidsons “quiet.” O’Toole’s Harley-Davidson shop in Wurtsboro conducts a toy drive for the Head Start program in Woodbourne. On one special day in December, a motorcycle brigade heads over the hills—with Santa in the sidecar—to surprise the children at the Woodbourne Head Start during their Christmas party.

The tradition was begun by shop owner John O’Toole 21 years ago. About the toy drive, he said, “It’s fun. We wrap all the gifts and we deliver them. We recognized a need in the county, among children and among families too. Sometimes this is the only toy a child will get, and there is always a family or two that needs a little extra help. It can be sad, but we try and focus on the good parts. Every Christmas, every child deserves something special.”

The Eldred Preserve is another organization that has gone above and beyond in its efforts to be a positive force in the community. Its activities over the past year have been many and varied, including participation in fundraisers for the United Way and the Alzheimers Foundation. The preserve has done a fair number of charity functions on their own extensive lodge and restaurant grounds in Eldred. They hosted an Easter Bunny breakfast for children, with crafts and dancing with the Easter Bunny. They also hosted a December holiday event for children where participants made two toys from wooden materials, one to keep and one to give away.

The Eldred Preserve also created the popular “Santa is coming to town” event that took place earlier this month, featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with elves and other characters. The “sleigh” visited locations in Eldred and Yulan, creating magic for kids of all ages.

The preserve partnered with Thunder 102 to hold fundraising dances in the spring to support troops overseas, and they spent three days with Thunder 102 outside the Monticello Raceway collecting supplies for the troops.

Lou Monteleone, marketing director and facilities manager of the Eldred Preserve, is pleased with the response his activities receive. “Like with the Santa parade, people came from all over—from Cochecton Center, Narrowsburg, everywhere.”

Why does he do it?

“The community needs it,” he said. “As much as we can get involved, that will benefit the kids here and how they grow up. We stress the giving part around the holidays so kids learn how to do that, and they also have fun.

“As long as I am able, I am going to continue to do it for the kids and for the community. It gives them some hope,” he said.

TRR file photo by Eileen Hennessy
Volunteers help wrap Christmas presents for local Head Start children at O’Toole’s Harley-Davidson in Wurtsboro. (Click for larger version)
Contributed photo
Thunder Bash, a community party held by Thunder 102 last April, was one of a number of events run by the station where some of the proceeds go to community causes. (Click for larger version)
TRR photo by Eileen Hennessy
The Eldred Preserve presents a variety of community events for families and children, including Santa’s Workshop, at which children make one wooden toy for themselves and another to give to a needy child. (Click for larger version)