The weather was the only thing that was cloudy the morning of the GCC Foundation Annual Campaign Kickoff Breakfast. Over 50 smiling faces could be seen bright and early to get the inspiration and information they need to begin their volunteer work to raise funds for students and programs at Greenfield Community College.
One of the faces in the crowd was Recorder staff reporter Kathleen McKiernan, who captured the heart of the remarks shared with the crowd by GCC student Stephen Zacek, alum Mareike (Every) Muszynski and President Robert Pura in the newspaper’s coverage the next day, excerpted here:
Growing up, Mareike Muszynski didn’t see herself as the academic type. No one in her mother’s family had gone to college and the Maine native didn’t think she could succeed.But eventually, Muszynski, 38, wanted an education, and she moved to western Massachusetts, where she had family and where she found Greenfield Community College.
With its supportive, engaging professors, GCC quickly propelled Muszynski forward, giving her confidence in herself as a student. Although the Greenfield woman did not want to leave the school that helped her become a leader, she enrolled in Wellesley College. Years later, she now works as a social worker, professor and consultant specializing in anti-racism initiatives. “This would not be my life if not for GCC,” Muszynski said.
When Stephen Zacek, 20, came to GCC three years ago, he was looking for a place to feel comfortable. It didn’t take too long after meeting his teachers and becoming part of the business club and Phi Theta Kappa. During his time at GCC, he lived at home and began working in his chosen field — hospitality and marketing — ahead of all his peers at four-year schools. He began working at the Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. He is now the co-banquet manager there and has applied to the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say they wish GCC was a four-year school,” Zacek said. “It’s so accommodating and it is really a community. I couldn’t be happier with where I am today.”
Referring to this year’s campaign theme, Inspiring Hope Through Education, GCC President Bob Pura told those gathered that “hope is real and sustaining when the doors of education are truly open.” Looking out at the gathered campaigners, he added that “here in this room, hope, which is at the heart of education, is realized. You make hope and education real and you make sure it is sustainable.”
The Greenfield Community College Foundation is pleased that the 2014 annual campaign, Inspiring Hope Through Education, will be led by honorary chairs Chia Collins & Michael Cohen at the helm, and managed by annual campaign co-chairs Rich Fahey and Joseph Ruggeri. The 2014 campaign has established the goal to raise $825,000 by May 31st in support of students and programs at Greenfield Community College.
Honorary Chairs Chia Collins and Michael Cohen of Northampton, are founders of Lightlife Foods, Inc. in Turners Falls. The couple gladly agreed to serve as honorary chairs, noting the impact the college has had on the lives of their employees and their families for decades. Their decision to serve as honorary chairs to help the success of the campaign was an easy one. “Greenfield Community College is an incredible resource in our community,” they said, “one of the finest community colleges in the Commonwealth, opening the door to a wide range of students who might not otherwise have access to higher education.”
GCC President Bob Pura and the 2014 Annual Fund Campaign team are also pleased to welcome Rich Fahey, recently retired Advertising Director for the Greenfield Recorder, as co-chair this year, joining Joseph Ruggeri in the leadership role.
“I didn’t need convincing when I was asked to help out with this year’s GCC Foundation Annual Campaign,” said Fahey. He recalls when GCC opened its doors on Federal Street in 1962, becoming this community’s college. “My wife and daughter attended GCC. Many of my friends and my children’s friends attended GCC. And many more people from our community will attend far into the future. Being the co-chair is an opportunity for me to help get the word out that it is us, the people of Franklin, Hampshire and Windham Counties and beyond, through our generous support, who are vital to keeping GCC alive and well and essential to the community.”
GCC native Joseph Ruggeri is returning for his second year as co-chair of the GCC Foundation Annual Fund Campaign. Ruggeri is a rising community leader, owner of Ruggeri Real Estate in Greenfield since 2005, who hopes to model an elevated level of civic engagement and support for GCC for other members of his peer group. He explained that his initial contact with GCC was through current GCC Trustee Chair, Rob Cohn, who approached him about the need to support the vital role GCC plays in our community.
“I realize how much of a resource the college is for Greenfield, for the region,” he said. “The campus itself, the opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to affordably engage in both social and learning contexts really enhances our community in a significant way. The strength of the economy will ebb and flow, but GCC will always be a foundation of long-term sustainability. “
Campaign co-chair Fahey sums it up, noting that “if everyone in our community thought about how GCC has directly or indirectly enhanced their life or the life of a family member or friend, and made a gift to the GCC Foundation Annual Fund Campaign in appreciation, GCC could continue its good work indefinitely.”
For more information about the GCC Foundation and supporting the annual campaign, go to www.gcc.mass.edu/give or contact Regina Curtis, Executive Director of Resource Development & GCC Foundation, at 413-775-1600