Vassar College

Pumpkin Carving Contest Kicks off Community Works Campaign for 2008

Winners chosen Halloween night

The judges said the jack-o'-lanterns entered in Campus Dining's Pumpkin Carving Contest were so creative, it was impossible to pick just one winner. So, they picked four!

And the winners are…Heather Tannenbaum '11 with a Snoopy design; Alex Meade '09 with a portrait of Vassar President Catharine "Cappy" Hill; the team of Sally Slade '08 and Caitlin Rinn '09 with a Pokemon pumpkin; and the team of Elisabeth Watson '10, Erin Elsbernd '10, and Julianna Fiss '10 with an ornate Tiffany-style pumpkin. The lighting and judging happened Halloween night in front of Main Building. The winning pumpkins are now on display at the President's house on campus.

All of the winners will receive the honor of having Vassar President Catharine "Cappy" Hill greet callers on their answering machines or cell phone voice mails. Cappy will record a personal greeting for them, during which she introduces herself and tells callers the winner is not available. For each pumpkin sold to contestants during Campus Dining's Pumpkin Carving Contest, five dollars will be donated to the community organization Dutchess Outreach. This donation marks the official kickoff to Vassar's Community Works Campaign for 2008 today!

About Community Works

Community Works is an annual campaign that is funded by donations from employees and students at Vassar College. Since its inception in 2001, Community Works has provided funding for 27 nonprofit organizations in the Hudson Valley. Last year, the Vassar community raised $88,000 for the campaign. Covering a broad spectrum, the organizations are devoted to everything from providing food and shelter for homeless children to combating global warming. A committee of students, staff, faculty, and administrators chooses recipients.

"We're very grateful for the significant contribution," says Dutchess Outreach executive director Brian Riddell. "Funding isn't as steady and there have been fairly significant cuts. To have the Community Works funds available makes a big difference." Dutchess Outreach has received funding since the program's beginning and has used the donations for a number of things, including assisting HIV/AIDS patients with the purchase of medicine and to provide food for patients and their families. According to Ridell, support from Community Works was also one of the driving forces that helped the Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library get up and running.

Community Works has also supported New Horizons every year. "We became fast allies," says executive director Regis Obijiski. "Students volunteer here. We're all neighbors, so for us to be named in Community Works is all the more gratifying." The funding helps people acquire expensive prosthetics or wheel chairs and also assists in programming for support staff.

This year's campaign supports 10 organizations and will run through mid-December. "We're trying to raise money for groups doing important and innovative work and also to create a great sense of community on campus and to meet the needs of our neighbors," explains Jeffrey Schneider, associate professor of German and director of Community Works. "Our goal is to really try to increase the number of people who have an opportunity to get to the know the agencies. Seeing is believing."

This year's Community Works recipients are...

Battered Women's Services Providing a 24-hour hotline, seven days a week, Battered Women's Services also offers crisis intervention, advocacy services, and counseling, as well as a youth domestic violence prevention program.

Celebrating Community (John Flowers) This grass roots organization sponsors voter education and community building events like an annual Easter Egg Hunt and Father's Day Parade, which attracts more than 3,000 people, and serve to promote community pride.

Children's Media Project Focusing on media and technology, Children's Media Project strives to create a positive teaching and learning environment. The award-winning programs teach youth how to create media, and how to critically evaluate it, along with the messages it carries. Children study and create public service announcements as well as their own short videos.

Circles of Planned Parenthood Circles offers a number of programs to create a safer environment for LBGT youth, including social events and support groups, and provides training and assistance for health and human service workers and school districts.

Dutchess Outreach Serving people facing food shortages, utility problems, or who lack essential medication or supplies, Dutchess Outreach also provides hot meals through the Food Pantry (last year, they provided 57,000 free meals to those in need, including over 1,650 children). The agency also runs the GIFTS program, which provides a nutritious meal to homebound HIV/AIDS patients and their dependent children, and offers resources, including help acquiring medication, for people with HIV/AIDS.

New Horizons A resource for children and adults with disabilities, the center runs 19 community-based residences and assists people to live as independently as possible. The organization also operates Briggs Farm in Hyde Park.

River Haven Assisting runaway and homeless youth for nearly 30 years, River Haven operates a crisis center and a shelter that provides short-term housing. Case managers and residential staff offer crisis intervention services and counseling, and help clients find employment, continue their education, and develop basic living skills. The agency also offers a transitional housing community for older youth (ages 16-21) capable of independent living.

Rural and Migrant Ministry Through programs of youth empowerment and education, this multifaith organization has served rural and migrant people since 1981. The multifaith program works to overcome prejudice and poverty, while celebrating diversity and leadership development. The program also hosts youth arts groups and provides mentoring and scholarships.

Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library Housing a collection of books, videos and programming for all kids, the library has built pride among African American children and will offer an adult research center in the future as well.

Sustainable Hudson Valley Devoted to sustainable development, SHV's goal is to foster economic and community development by promoting the use of renewable energy, integrating food sourcing, and implementing green building practices.

For more information, or to make a donation if you are a member of the Vassar community, please visit

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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

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