Because he grew up playing sports at the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club, Gary Hall has long been a supporter of the place. Now it appears his passion in helping the club to thrive has spread among his company, WTS in Lewiston. Three of his employees will be honored for their service to the club at an awards luncheon on Wednesday.
The top award, dubbed the "Gary P. Hall Award" by club leaders in gratitude for Hall's service, will be presented to Hall's business partner, Michael Oliver.
Oliver was just out of college in 1980 when he was hired at the environmental consulting firm by Hall. As he rose to eventual co-ownership of WTS, he has grown into as strong a supporter for the Boys and Girls Club as Hall has been, according Rebecca Vincheski, the Boys and Girls Club's chief officer.
"Gary Hall is very passionate about the club," Vincheski said, adding, "Mike Oliver exudes the same passion."
Among other support activities, Hall and Oliver have hosted a fundraising golf tournament for the past 25 years, with proceeds going to the club. The gym at the 17th Street Boys and Girls Club, is named in honor of Hall, who also sits on the board of directors.
On Wednesday, the club is also celebrating its 80th birthday and the theme of the annual awards luncheon is "Happy Birthday." The luncheon will take place at noon Wednesday at the Como Restaurant, 2220 Pine Ave., and tickets are $20.
Club leaders provided a list of all the award winners, and cited the reasons each was honored, below:
• James Showers — Academic Appreciation Award. Showers, a Niagara Falls resident, is the principal of Cataract Elementary. He supports the club's Extended Day staff by providing opportunities to enhance the program.
• Cindy Ciccarelli – Appreciation Award. Ciccarelli is employed by Wal-Mart in Niagara Falls and has been instrumental in getting water for the club's 5-K run. She keeps the club leaders informed of ongoing grants through Wal-Mart, which provide children and programs with much needed items and monetary support.
• Susan Granto – Caring Award. Granto is employed at WTS, Inc. in Lewiston. She was a driving force for the Charity for Kids golf and fishing tournament which benefitted the Boys & Girls Club and went above and beyond her duties to make the event one of the most successful fundraisers.
• Shelly Laper – Champion of Youth Award. Laper is a kindergarten teacher at Cataract Elementary. She is very helpful to the club's extended day program and allows staffers to utilize her classroom and its contents to benefit the programming for members.
• Michelle Watson – Community Service Award. Watson has been a volunteer for the clubs annual auction for over 15 years. She helps to set up the evening before the auction and on the day of the auction she is the lead closer and takes care of the closing processes. She has also brought in many of her family and friends to volunteer as well, helping to make the auctions a huge successes.
• Ken Thompkins – Friendship Award. Thompkins is employed by Bryk & Sons and newly elected to the Niagara Falls City Council. Years ago his daughters attended the club's gymnastic program where he developed a friendship with club leaders. He has continuously donated many items to the children as well as securing tickets to Niagara University sporting events and providing the children with many perks associated with those events.
• Annie Fields-Chapman – Good Neighbor Award. Fields-Chapman recently retired from her position at the Niagara Falls Housing Authority. For the past three years, she has given the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club teens the opportunity to participate in a week-long summer camp that included kayaking, birdwatching and nature projects, activities that club leaders consider priceless for the children.
• Yvonne Anderson – Helping Hand Award. Anderson is employed as assistant to Gary Hall, president of WTS. She coordinates food donations, Christmas opportunities, and activities at WTS for the club members. In 2015, Anderson was the coordinator for the Charity for Kids Golf & Fishing Tournament. This huge event resulted in raising awareness and money for the youth of Niagara Falls.
• Mike Siqurdson – Making the Difference Award. Siqurdson is the new manager at Wegman's, Military Road. He approached the club with an idea to create a garden in the club backyard. He and his staff provided all the volunteers, and he secured all the materials for the garden from different companies. The effort also resulted in much needed landscaping around the building. Some of Siqurdson's staff also provided nutritional programming at club summer day camps.
• Kim Davis – Shining Star Award. Davis, mother of two girls, has been part of the clubs program for nine years. Davis is receiving this award for the work she does for the club's All-Star Cheerleading program. She has been the driving force behind almost all the cheerleaders' fundraisers, helping to keep the cost of the program affordable to all participants.
• Miranda Kraus – Special Recognition Award. Kraus is employed by Walgreens on Grand Island and was instrumental in getting volunteers for the club's 5-K run. She also provided extra "goodies" for each runner's shoe bag.
• Ashley Pascuzzi – Spirit Award. Pascuzzi is an employee of the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club as well as a full time student at the University at Buffalo School of Law. She is receiving the Spirit Award because she emulates the true meaning of the Boys & Girls Club movement. She volunteers with the Niagara Stealth Cheerleading program to "make sure the girls sparkle everywhere they go."
• Gail Gariano and Mary Utnik — Volunteers of the Year. These women are being honored for their assistance in making the club's 33rd annual Auction a "huge success."
• Sandra Coyle – Youth Advocate Award. Sandra is a pre-k teacher at 79th Street Elementary School. She provides the club use of her classroom for its kindergarten and first grade program.
• Deputy Commissioner Carl Cain – Humanitarian Award. Cain is receiving this award because of his volunteer work at the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club. He has been a volunteer in many capacities including board president. This past year he was taught youth in the club's fencing program and plans on teaching an anti-bullying program in the spring.
• Mike Oliver – Gary P. Hall Award. This award goes annually to a person who is selfless, generous, compassionate and makes a difference in the community, mirroring the qualities of the man it was named after, Gary P. Hall. Oliver has been a supporter of the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club for years. He and his family have provided both financial and volunteer support. His efforts and dedication has helped the club make a difference in countless numbers of children's lives.