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With all that’s happening in the world, WXHC is recognizing community members who continue to be eXtraordinary.

One local person will be recognized each month, nominated by those around them who were touched by their grace.

Click here to fill out the nomination form.


A special thanks goes out to title sponsor, Guthrie.


April

 

Mahlon Irish Jr.

Retired longtime chief of the Homer Fire Department.

Stay tuned for his interview here — coming soon.


March

Tom Whitney

Tom had it pretty tough growing up, spending much of his childhood taking care of his grandfather and disabled parents.

Still, he always found a way to maintain several jobs while fulfilling a plethora of other commitments in the community.

An active Rotary Club member, Tom has cooked in local soup kitchens including over the holidays.

He brought back the Cortland Shrine Club after it was idle for over a decade. Tom serves as club president and also sits on the Board of Governors for The Shriners Hospital for Children in Massachusetts.

Mr. Whitney now finds himself recovering from a crazy incident that led to partial amputation of his leg, while continuing to help area children in need through a variety of programs and initiatives.

In March, he published a book — entitled Handicap This — relating his own life experiences to the common struggles we all endure as humankind.

Press play below:

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February

Bob Messenger

Bob is the local driver coordinator for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) transportation network.

His responsibilities include monitoring the requests from disabled veterans for rides to and from doctors’ appointments at the VA clinic in Freeville and the VA hospital in Syracuse.

After confirming appointments each week, he requests drivers in both Cortland and Tompkins Counties who volunteer to escort the Vets.

Bob provides each driver with necessary information for contacting the veteran and arranging pick up times.

He also works to ensure the two government vans used for transportation are kept in working order — cleaned, sanitized to provide a safe working environment.

Working with the Syracuse coordinator, Bob keeps the local drivers up to date on program changes and requirements, making sure his drivers have all the necessary required documentation, physicals, and training.

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January

Deacon Joseph During

Chaplain, Veteran, Community servant

“Deacon Joe” — as he became commonly recognized — passed away suddenly on Friday (January 22) at the age of 73. He was known for much more than his vocation with the Catholic church.

During served two years in the Army (1967-69) and spent the entire time as Chaplain Assistant at his South Carolina base. He was later honorably discharged with a National Defense medal and expert rifleman recognition.

In 1968, while still in the service, he married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Hull.

Upon leaving the Army, he returned to work for Dermody, Burke & Brown Certified Public Accountants in Syracuse. The firm had gotten him a brief start to an Accounting career before he was drafted into the Army.

His time with DB&B helped During achieve a Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. Later on, he moved his family to Cortland in 1984 to open a branch of the company and finally managed his own accounting practice in 2001.

Over the years, Joe volunteered his time and extensive accounting knowledge with various local charities and non-profit organizations. He was an active member of the Mattydale Fire Department from 1971 to 1981 and became an Honorary Member in May of 1981.

In 1989, During joined the Cortlandville Fire District where he served as District Treasurer for 7 years, then became a District Commissioner for 6 years. He also served as Department Chaplin for both departments up until his death.

In 2006, he completed his seven-year journey to become an ordained Deacon in the Catholic Church for the Diocese of Syracuse.


December

Nancy Estep

“Mission for Holiday smiles”

Nancy took it upon herself to brighten up the holidays for every last resident in Cortland County nursing homes.

Her idea: Personalized cards from the community — she would need about 500 in order to reach everyone.

With that in mind, Estep decided to set up drop boxes at several local businesses.

The response she got was overwhelming.

“We accomplished the goal in just a few weeks. That motivated me to keep going and eventually we had enough cards to give two per-resident instead of just one.”

Estep coordinated safe deliveries with each care facility, all of which expressed interest in returning the initiative next year.

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November

Debbie Brown

Spafford Food Pantry

Debbie and the volunteers work many hours each month to make sure area families have food and clothes.

They also gave school supplies to each child of the families they serve, holiday gifts for children and fresh meals on Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.

The Spafford Food Pantry is located in the Scott Methodist Church on Route 41.

Additionally, Brown runs the Redbird mission that gives gift box to those in need as part of the Methodist Church mission.

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October

Christella Yonta

President, United Way for Cortland County

As soon as COVID-19 broke out in March, Christella led the charge in providing assistance to those in most need.

It started with partnership between the United Way and the Cortland Community Foundation that raised over $75k in a matter of weeks.

Every penny went right back out to support social programs in the area — in total, 17 local nonprofits received help funding through 10 coordinated rounds of grants.

Yonta also worked to manage daily residential food deliveries by Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army, on top of free food & milk drives alongside the CNY Food Bank and American Dairy Association Northeast.

Her dedication to the community recently earned her the 2020 Kathy Cotterill Community Service Award, chosen by her peers and announced at the Cortland Chamber’s Annual Awards last month.

WXHC listeners may recognize Yonta’s voice from the weekly on-air gas & grocery giveaways that run during United Way’s annual fundraising campaign.

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September

Stacy Goldyn-Moller

Owner, Magpie Custom Creations

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Stacy Goldyn-Moller has donated a steady stream of fabric to those making face masks for community members in need.

She also works on costumes for productions at Cortland and Homer High Schools, the Homer Center for the Arts and Cortland Repertory Theatre.

Additionally, Goldyn-Moller does alterations for the annual Prom Dress giveaway held each year by the Cortland Youth Bureau.

Located in the historic Cortland Corset building at 75 East Court Street, Magpie Custom Creations features locally handcrafted fiber items and unique accessories.

The shop also offers sewing and crafting classes for all ages, along with handmade items of all kinds for purchase.

Custom sewing, tailoring and alterations, and embroidery services are also available.

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August

(Classic House Photos)

Darris Mcdowell

Owner, The Squeeze Juice Bar.

Originally from the NYC-area, Mcdowell moved to Cortland and started his business in 2017.

He hosted Cortland’s first ever “Black-owned Business Appreciation Day” on August 8, using the proceeds to buy backpacks and other school supplies for a free give away at The Squeeze on September 1.

Mcdowell also provided a free smoothie event for the community earlier this summer – that event was helped along by donations from several friends who traveled hundreds of miles to attend in support.

During the interview, Darris thanked all who have helped him succeed, like other business owners, city officials and the local Chamber of Commerce.

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