The 2019 Laura Holmberg Award, which recognizes unsung heroes in the community who have made an impact through volunteer work, was presented to Groton resident, Heidi Goldstein, by the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation at its Women’s Fund Celebration at Ithaca College on Oct. 17.
The award was established in 2006 by Anna Holmberg, a lawyer with Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP in Ithaca, in remembrance of her mother.
Goldstein, who is an active and enthusiastic member of the Ithaca Rotary Club since 1998, was specifically selected to receive the Holmberg Award for pioneering the “Ithaca Rotary Harvest” – a project she launched in 2007.
The project is organized by the Ithaca Rotary Club, which donates $1,000 annually to supplement produce from the Ithaca Farmers’ Market with grocery staples, in a collaboration with the Ithaca School District.
Since 2007, the program has delivered food to 84 families, including 297 children, during the last three Saturdays in August, when federally subsidized meals are not available.
Stacey Murphy, chair of the Women’s Fund Advisory Committee, which selects the award recipient, said of Goldstein, “The Ithaca Rotary Harvest shows one way of how she creatively combined different areas of her life — education, love of children and healthy food — to address a need she saw in her community.”
The “Harvest” project is only one of the many ways Goldstein has made a difference in the lives of children and adults since her arrival to central New York in 1992.
Goldstein was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where she also graduated from Brooklyn College. She carried a dual major in sociology and speech, with a minor in education. It was there that she met and married her husband, Jack.
The Goldsteins settled in Randolph, New Jersey, where they raised their two children, Amy and Joey, until 1992, when Joey finished high school.
Jack always had a passion to own a farm, so he spent a good amount of time researching the area for a prime location and subsequently began searching for the ideal farm to purchase. That farm was in Freetown, New York – just outside of Marathon. He bought it in 1989 but leased it for three years before moving to allow Joey to graduate in New Jersey where he had grown up.
Once the Goldstein family arrived in Freetown, they got right down to business. They established a fully certified organic vegetable farm, which they aptly named, “The Organic Farm.”
All spring, summer and fall for the next 18 years, Heidi and Jack worked their farm by hand, side by side, and sold the fruits (or should I say, vegetables) of their labor at a stand at The Ithaca Farmers’ Market.
During the winter months, Heidi discovered that she needed something to do, so she put her college studies to use and became a corporate trainer, teaching soft skills to employees of various corporations such as advanced reading, stress management, listening skills and others, including teaching a “Preventing Sexual Harassment” course to all 3500 employees of one corporation. A former contact from New Jersey put her in touch with someone here in New York to make that happen for her.
In 1997, Heidi started her own company called “Organic Solutions,” where she did more of the same – teaching communication skills, an “Intro to Americans with Disabilities” course and others.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Heidi was scheduled to do a training at Morgan Stanley in the Twin Towers in Manhattan. That session had been cancelled, so she did not make the trip down.
“After what happened there that day, it changed my life forever,” Heidi said.
In 2009, Heidi and Jack decided to move to Groton to be closer to where their children, and, by then, grandchildren, lived. With one in Ithaca and one in Cortland, they thought Groton was just perfect.
They sold their farm to the Amish, which made them very happy to know that it would remain the organic farm they had worked so hard to establish and maintain, and then made the move to their current home in Groton.
In addition to her devoted work with Rotary, Heidi has also served as an ambassador for the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, a member of the board of directors of the Running to Places Theatre Company and as a member of the Family-Patient Advisory Council at Cayuga Medical Center.
As the president of Ithaca Rotary from 2006 to 2007, Heidi found other volunteer opportunities in the club, including presenting hand washing programs in schools and libraries. She also served as the assistant governor of Rotary from 2014 to 2017.
Just as Jack fulfilled his passion for farming, for the past four years, Heidi has plunged right into developing her own passion for entertaining and telling and/or reading stories to children, but she doesn’t do it without style!Dressed in full costume, Heidi takes on the persona of two different characters – both named after her own mother, Anne.
Heidi is known as “Anna Banana,” as she appears as a clown and entertains people at numerous community events such as the annual walkathon of the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes.
Her other character, “Grannie Annie,” is not a clown because “a clown can’t be a storyteller,” Heidi said. As Grannie Annie, she reads and tells stories to children at the Groton Library, Groton Head Start and Groton Elementary School through the “Izzy Reads” program.
Grannie Annie is also a favorite at the Foodnet Meals on Wheels annual Mac & Cheese Bowl, and Heidi clearly supports that endeavor, as she was sporting a T-shirt from the event when I met with her to write this article. I also noticed her arm loaded with bracelets, which she said she collects from the organizations she believes in and is most passionate about and then proudly wears to show her support.
I asked Heidi how she felt about receiving the Laura Holmberg Award, and she said she was filled with so many emotions.
“I was speechless, overwhelmed and very honored,” Heidi said. “I feel very proud, and my husband, Jack, is also very proud.”
Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-227-4922.
Groton Craft Show
The Groton High School French Club will host its ninth annual craft show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9. Admission is free, and this show has become one of the school’s biggest and most well-attended events of the year!
There will be over 100 vendors with a variety of crafts and items for sale that are varied and quite extensive, including homemade crafts and woodwork, handbags, jewelry, quilting, embroidery, goat’s milk soaps, baked goods, original artwork, clothing and more.
Vendors will be located in both gymnasiums, the cafeteria and the school library, with parking available in front of the school as well as on the high school gymnasium side.
The French Club also runs a silent auction, bake sale and two concession stands. New this year is a “Check your bags” station. For a nominal fee, you can “park” your purchases in a secure area while you continue shopping and claim them when you are ready to leave.
The Groton American Legion on Main Street will host a roast pork and dressing dinner at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 in honor of Veteran’s Day. The meal is free of charge for all veterans and one guest. Call the Legion at (607) 898-3837 to reserve your seats.
Ridge Runners spaghetti supper
The Ridge Runners of Groton Snowmobile Club will hold a spaghetti supper from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 at its clubhouse, 748 Salt Rd., one mile north of Route 90. Meals include all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatballs, salad bar, dessert bar and beverage. Cost is $9 for adults and $6 for children age 4-12. This is a perfect way to enjoy a unique dining experience in a rustic country setting. Take-out dinners are also available.
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