Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011

It has been a little while since my last post, and I apologize for the delay, but again, the days just go by so fast!

In my last post I told you all about the Camp Good Days COURAGE BOWL, which is the annual football game between the St. John Fisher College Cardinals and the University of Rochester Yellowjackets. Camp Good Days COURAGE BOWL VII was played on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at Sahlen’s Stadium in Downtown Rochester and I am happy to report that we had another fantastic event! We had a great night, with perfect football weather, we were able to generate some revenue to support our programs and services, and most importantly, it was an exciting and memorable experience for the campers from Camp Good Days who served as Honorary Coaches and Honorary Cheerleaders with each team.

A special thank you to all those who supported the Camp Good Days COURAGE BOWL through their partnership, generous sponsorship, program book advertisements, in-kind donations, and volunteer service. We would never be able to have such a successful event without all of them!

Well on the subject of football, I had the opportunity last Thursday to attend the St. John Fisher College’s Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner, with some of our former players, as the 2006 Fisher Football Team was inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with the teams from 1971, 1981, and 1996. Congratulations to all of the inductees! On Friday, I stopped by the St. John Fisher College Alumni Golf Classic and was given the opportunity to speak to all of the participants and share CANCER MISSION 2020 with them.

Now that the Courage Bowl has been played for this year, we will be focusing more on CANCER MISSION 2020 and developing action steps and plans for moving this important initiative forward, based on comments and discussions that came out of the Congressional District Cancer Summits held in August. Stay tuned for more and please join us in this effort by visiting the website, and signing the petition!

As part of my role here at Camp Good Days and specifically our Partners Against Violence Everywhere (PAVE) Initiative, I serve as the Chairman of the Project Exile Advisory Board and have been pleased to do so since the program’s implementation in Rochester on September 28, 1998.

We all celebrated the 13th Anniversary of the Project Exile Program at the Project Exile 13th Anniversary Report to the Community Breakfast yesterday at the Rochester Plaza Hotel.

Our Keynote Speaker was Joseph D’Amico, Superintendent for the New York State Police. Joseph A. D’Amico was nominated by Governor Andrew Cuomo on December 22, 2010, and was unanimously confirmed by the New York State Senate as the 14th Superintendent of the New York State Police on January 31, 2011. Prior to his confirmation as Superintendent, D'Amico served as Chief Investigator for the Office of the New York State Attorney General, and had a 27-year career with the New York City Police Department, where he served in many patrol and investigative assignments in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, ultimately rising to the rank of Deputy Chief.

Also providing remarks were William Hochul, United States Attorney for the Western District of New York; Sandra Doorley, Assistant Monroe County District Attorney; Patrick O’Flynn, Monroe County Sheriff; William Taylor, Special Counsel for the County of Monroe, and James Sheppard, Chief of the Rochester Police Department.

Project Exile was started in Rochester in 1998, when I was asked to attend a meeting in a Federal Judge’s chambers, where I met then Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, Denise O’Donnell. At the time, the Rochester community was desperately searching for a means in which to address the crime and violence plaguing our community, as Rochester’s homicide rate was around 70, giving us the distinction of having the highest per capita homicide rate of any city in New York State. In addition, the previous holiday season three uniformed Rochester police officers were shot and wounded, but thank God were not killed. At the meeting, I learned about the highly successful Project Exile program that had been implemented in Richmond, Virginia by an Assistant United States Attorney.

As a result of that meeting, Project Exile was implemented in the Rochester community on September 28, 1998. Project Exile operates under the direction of the Project Exile Advisory Board, comprised of representatives from local, state and federal prosecutors and law enforcement, as well as businesses, clergy, and community organizations, who meet once per month throughout the year, at the Federal Building, to share information and improve communications among those who are waging the battles against illegal guns and drugs in our community.

The Project Exile program has continued to thrive and grow through three administrations; five United States Attorneys for the Western District of New York; two Law Enforcement Liaisons; four FBI Special Agents in Charge; two County Executives; two District Attorneys; two Sheriffs; three Mayors; and four Chiefs of Police.

Under the leadership and direction of Camp Good Days’ PAVE Initiative, the Project Exile program in Rochester has been recognized and highlighted at various local, regional and national seminars and conferences; and has served as the impetus for other community-based initiatives such as the Rochester Youth Violence Partnership at the University of Rochester Medical Center and Project T.I.P.S., which stands for Trust, Information, Programs & Services and includes community agencies and law enforcement personnel working in selected neighborhoods to rebuild trust amongst residents and share information.

According to the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms and the Rochester Police Department, over the past 13 years, the Project Exile program has helped to remove more than 13,000 illegal guns from the streets of our community, and the homicide rate has not reached the high levels we saw prior to Project Exile.

One can only imagine the devastation and despair that could have come as a result of these illegal guns remaining in the hands of those who ought not to have them. The collaboration and cooperation amongst and between all of the Project Exile partners is truly unique and exemplary and it is because of their continued and diligent efforts that we are able to improve the quality of life for some of our fellow citizens and strive to make the Greater Rochester community a safer place in which to live, work and raise our families.

In other news, our current fiscal year is coming to an end, as our year goes from October 1st through September 30th so we are now in the process of planning and budgeting for what will be our 33rd year of providing programs and services for children and families touched by cancer. There is much to be done, but we are all taking this time to reflect and develop the plans that will enable us to continue being a premier service organization that truly makes a difference in people’s lives.

We do have one remaining program for this current camping season and we will host the Women’s Wellness II Program, for women dealing with any form of cancer, next weekend, Friday, October 7th through Sunday, October 9th. We will also be having a Yard Sale at the Camp that Friday and Saturday from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM so if you are in the Branchport area, stop by and get some great deals and help out the children and families we serve!

On a personal note, the Fisher Cardinals took a tough loss to Hobart College last Saturday, so I hope that practice goes well this week and we can come back this Saturday and defeat Alfred!

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