On Friday, September 2, 2011, representatives of the Alfred-Almond Alumni Association (AAAA) met with representatives of the Alfred United Methodist Church (AUMC) at the law offices of Pulos and Rosell in Hornell, New York. The purpose of the meeting was to formally transfer stewardship and control of music scholarship money from the AUMC to the AAAA.
For about two (2) years before the meeting, the AAAA and the AUMC had investigated and strategized, working together toward this unique event. The meeting culminated with generations of connectivity coming together for a single purpose, to help Alfred-Almond graduating seniors and their families to pursue their college education.
It all started back in 1998 and 1999 when Bill and Robert Pulos and their families donated Ten Thousand Dollars ($ 10,000.00) to the AMC in memory of their mother, Juanita Whitaker Pulos. At the time, the Pulos family worked closely with elders of the Church, Glenn Fairchild and Bob Love, Sr. The parties put together a scholarship program entitled the “Alfred United Methodist Church – Juanita Whitaker Pulos Music Scholarship.”
The goal of the AUMC scholarship program was to invest the monies donated by the Pulos family and use the interest earned to support an annual award made to recipients chosen among graduating seniors from area high schools intending to pursue music education in college.
“Our mom spent years with the Alfred Methodist Church with many life-long good friends from the Alfred Area. Her funeral service was held in the AUMC. When this idea arose in the late ‘90’s, we naturally approached two of the men from our childhood (Glenn and Bob) that were close friends with our mom and were pillars in their professional and church community to help us with nurturing this idea. Our family and the Love family were neighbors on Jericho Hill for decades, we all went to school together. Glenn Fairchild was President of the Alfred Lions Club when we joined the club in 1982, he also sang in our mom’s choir at church. Trusting them to help us get this program started was a ‘natural’ ” said Bill Pulos.
For over ten (10) years, the AUMC scholarship program annually awarded sums between $ 250 – 1,000 to one or two scholarship recipients from the local area. “We were more than happy to help with this program that honored Juanita’s contributions to the community and it was a great way to help high school seniors get a better start in college. We were able to award about Seventy-Five Hundred Dollars (7,500.00) during this period, simply from earned interest” said Glenn Fairchild.
As the years went by, the AUMC – JWP scholarship program stood the test of time by weathering the dot.com crash, 9/11, the “great recession” and the “2008 stock market flash crash.”
Along the way, in parallel fashion, the AAAA began its rise to scholarship prominence, beginning its growth spurt with the election of Lee A. Ryan of Almond as its President in 2000. For the last eleven (11) years, the AAAA annual scholarship program has grown annually from Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($ 250.00) per year to Forty Four Thousand Dollars ($ 44,000.00) this past June, 2011.
During this time, the Pulos family approached Lee and Donna Ryan of the AAAA in 2004 with the idea to create a memorial scholarship in their mother’s name with the AAAA. The Pulos family and close family friend Virginia (Buchanan) Van der Veer offered to provide the seed money for this program, committing funds for ten (10) years. For the next two years, 2004-2006, the Ryans (and a very supportive AAAA board) worked with the Pulos family developing procedures and process for this scholarship program which is known as the “AAAA-Juanita Whitaker Pulos Fine Arts Scholarship”, first awarded by the AAAA in 2006 and annually since then.
“In the last five (5) years, the AAAA has proudly awarded almost Twelve Thousand Dollars ($ 12,000.00) to deserving Alfred-Almond students intending to pursue their college education in the field of fine arts; vocal/instrumental music, visual and theater, in the memory of Mrs. Pulos,” said Lee Ryan of the AAAA.
“In the time since, the AAAA has been blessed to have others come forward to provide seed money for new memorial scholarships, using the “Pulos” model. We’re very grateful to all our donors and we have recently begun a management relationship with Genesee Valley Trust Company (GVTC) in Pittsford, New York to enhance our programs and take all of this generosity to the next level,” said Donna Ryan, secretary of the AAAA.
These scholarship programs have prospered, even as the United States financial markets suffered its decade in history. As time went along, however, it became evident to the AUMC that the original purpose of the AUMC-JWP program could not be fulfilled as envisioned, simply because of economics. In 2008, Bill Pulos first approached Glenn Fairchild, then approached AUMC finance committee members Kim Lowrey Gayhart, (his A-A classmate from 1973), along with Ward Votava (his Boy Scout Troop leader) with the idea to synergize the scholarship programs to help them achieve their goals.
With that thought in mind, on September 2, 2011, the AUMC, the AAAA and the Pulos family entered an agreement providing that the AUMC would transfer the original Pulos funds plus remaining interest ($10,000.00+) to the AAAA for inclusion in the AAAA-JWP scholarship program. “After speaking with Glenn Fairchild, our church membership considered the idea and eventually voted to transfer the funds to the AAAA to carry forward the worthy purposes of the JWP scholarship program,” said Kim Gayhart.
When everyone one from the constituencies came together on September 2nd, it was evident to all that this was a natural process, born from generations of connectivity. As the formal ceremony carried forward, these relationships were discussed and celebrated.
Kim (Lowrey) Gayhart’s mom, Pat Lowrey, was a long-time elementary teacher, as was Glenn Fairchild’s wife Pat Fairchild. Pat Lowrey taught at Whitesville Central school from 1950 – 1967 [where Glenn and Pat’s son Greg Fairchild (a former A-A swimmer as were Bill and Robert Pulos) is now a teacher]. Pat Lowrey also taught at Alfred-Almond from 1967-1981. Robert Pulos was one of her first A-A elementary students. Pat Fairchild first taught 4-5 years in Holley, NY and then taught at A-A 1968-1992. Pat Lowrey and Pat Fairchild were both on the A-A elementary faculty together 1968-1981.
The three (3) children of Lee and Donna Ryan, Jeff, Jenny and Heidi all had both Pat Lowrey and Pat Fairchild as teachers at Alfred-Almond.
Juanita Whitaker Pulos began teaching at Alfred-Almond in 1950, the same year Pat Lowrey began teaching at Whitesville. One of Juanita’s favorite students was Donna (Burdett) Ryan, in grade school, high school and in the mid-1970’s. To this day, every Sunday Donna Ryan plays Juanita’s personal piano now located at the Alfred-Almond Bible Church.
Donna Ryan was a charter member of the Alfred-Almond National Honor Society. Kim Lowrey, Bill and Robert Pulos were later members as well.
Shortly after Donna’s graduation from A-A, she and husband Lee Ryan began the Ryan Nationwide Insurance Agency in Almond and Hornell. “We were privileged to count, as faithful clients for many, many years, the Pulos family, the Lowreys and the Fairchilds.
It was in the later part of the 1960’s that the husbands of Pat Lowrey and Pat Fairchild (Reed and Glenn) together with Bob Love became long-time colleagues at Alfred State College, Reed as an Administrator with Glenn and Bob as Professors.
As the discussion and celebration of these relationships continued, all agreed that life in our small town(s) has been good and each is grateful for all the blessings and the connections shared that led to this happy event. All agreed that the AAAA is in a good position to move forward and that this sharing of resources will benefit Alfred-Almond graduating seniors for years to come.
“We’re very grateful to the AUMC and the Pulos family for helping the AAAA to continue its mission of doing its best for graduating A-A seniors. The infusion of the AUMC funds has helped us get on board with GVTC to bring our efforts the best possible results for all concerned. Thank you to all for making this a reality,” said Lee Ryan at the ceremony’s end.
AUMC meeting with AAAA at the Pulos and Rosell law office Sept 2, 2011
Kim Lowrey Gayhart – AUMC (AA Class of 1973), Bill Pulos (AA Class of 1973), Donna Burdett Ryan – AAAA (AA Class of 1958).
Robert Pulos (AA Class of 1975), Glenn Fairchild and Pat Fairchild– AUMC (AA faculty 1968-1992), Lee A. Ryan – AAAA (AA Class of 1955).