2013 Special Events Committee – Back row: Reina Merkelbach, Roland Randall, Mary Ann George, Mike Bell, Barb Steciak
Front Row: Delores Restante, Alice Fake, Pat Kelly, Dora Czarnecki, Mena Cerone, Diane Roberts
by Jane H. Malin, Exec. Dir., Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts
The Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts lost two of its strongest supporters and very dear friends during this past holiday period. With deep sorrow, I, the Board of Directors, and everyone associated with MVCA acknowledge the passing of Mary Ann George (May 1934 – Nov 2020) and Patricia Carney (Mar 1950 – Dec 2020).
These two ladies gave tirelessly of themselves for the Arts Center, participating on the Special Events Committee, organizing bus trips and charitable fundraisers, arranging parties and receptions. Working primarily during the tenure of MVCA Directors, Matt Mielnick and Ed Bielejec, the Committee was a fun-loving group, as well as a highly effective fund-raising arm of the Arts Center. In 2013, the Committee members were featured honorees at the annual MVCA Gala Recognition Dinner for their service and support. (see featured photo above)
Jayne Ritz remembers Mary Ann George as a long-time member, “…who worked hard, particularly with her friend and partner-in-crime, Delores Restante. Always, always Delores & Mary Ann worked endlessly. Over the years, that Committee raised so much money for the Arts Center and had a great time in a very classy way!” To this day, as the current Director, I give thanks for that Committee’s legacy. We still replicate many of their decorating touches at our recitals and receptions, but never quite with their flair!
Ed Bielejec worked with Mary Ann on many occasions. He recalls the Special Events centered around Canal Celebrations and Pre-Christmas Sales that this extraordinary team took on. “Mary Ann was a powerhouse and you always knew she was in the room. She was a lively, fun person who would enliven their BeDazzled Sale events with humor and fun, making the time fly by,” said Bielejec.
Pat Carney organized numerous bus trips to Broadway and Toronto, Canada, for wonderful weekend theater trips. Her trips sold out every time and people scrambled to secure tickets. “[Pat] was very, very successful… and her trips were one of the main income generators for the Center,” added Ritz. Pat loved the Arts, as a musician, as an enthusiast of the theater, and as an artist.
“I remember [Pat’s] smiling face and positive spirits livening up the office at the MVCA. She was constantly on the go with planning and implementing 2-4 trips per month to Toronto, Boston, New York, Tanglewood, etc.,” recalls Bielejec. “She was a caring person who put her heart and soul into the Art Center, providing excitement, enjoyment, and fun to many people. Her bus trips were so much more than just a means to get from point A to point B. From presentations and talks to provide insight into what the group was about to experience to Mimosas, treats, dinner, and shopping. The trips were much more than just the end of the journey.”
“The Special Events Committee was a remarkable group who dedicated themselves to creating unique and engaging experiences for members and friends of MVCA. They did substantial fundraising for the Center,” said Fr. Steve Scarcia. This committee was a force unto themselves. They worked on trips to famous Art Museums, often two-day trips during which several museums and gardens would be visited, and according to Jayne Ritz, “…they could throw a grand party!” The “Taste of Little Falls” was always a highlight of the year.
I asked Roland Randall, one of the few men allowed to be part of the Events Committee, to recall some of his times with Mary Ann and Pat. “These ladies and my time with them are some of my favorite memories. I remain thankful and proud to be one of only two men to be welcomed and embraced by the Ladies as official members of the Committee. They soon added ‘friends’ to their title, as well. Mike Bell and I have remarked many times how lucky we felt to be included in so many challenging, wonderful projects, from bus trips to Dinner-and-a-Movie to Broadway and various museum tours.”
Mary Ann and Pat, indeed the entire Committee, are such a big part of MVCA’s history. They will continue to be a part of this organization for years to come. We will be forever indebted for their support.
The Arts Center is grateful to all the donors who have given to MVCA in memory of Patricia and Mary Ann. You have helped their legacy continue through your generous gifts. Those who wish to contribute can go to our website, www.MohawkValleyArts.org, and make a donation in their memory.
MVCA is always seeking new members and dynamic people to lead events or participate on committees. Any interested parties should contact Director@MohawkValleyArts.org our call (315) 823-0808.