Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Article mentioning the Jail Ministry Program

December 24, 2009

Tier churches hail holiday message of peace

Faith invoked to counter grief, loneliness in time of war
By William Moyer

Christmas, and its refrains of peace and goodwill, dawns today on a worldly stage where American troops carry rifles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"No matter what happens around us, we can have a peace in our heart that sustains and strengthens us," said the Rev. Daniel Walton, pastor of the Little White Church in Conklin. "That is what Christmas is all about -- the giving of peace."

Not necessarily a literal peace -- although peace is a prayer of all Christians -- but an inner peace to traverse even a "blue" Christmas, an increasingly acknowledged downside to the glad tidings of the holiday.

The time from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day can accentuate grief, loss or loneliness, according to a local Lutheran pastor.

"It's OK to feel conflicted at the holidays; it's OK to feel sad; it's OK to remember what you've had and lost," said the Rev. Nadine Ridley, co-pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Vestal. "In the midst of that pain, there is hope; there is good."

Ridley said one way to find peace is to express the inner angst of a "blue" Christmas.

She suggested finding a "faith container" -- a trusted friend, professional counselor, pastor or relative -- to talk about the loss rather than pretend everything is all right. In doing so, a grieved person lessens the burden of carrying unexpressed grief, Ridley said.

After worship services on Christmas Eve, which included carols, communion and candlelight, Christians in the Southern Tier awake today to celebrate Christmas, one of the holiest days in Catholic and Protestant churches.

Not all Christians celebrate Christmas today, though.

Hundreds of Orthodox Christians in the Southern Tier will observe the Feast of the Nativity on Jan. 7. Commonly known as Orthodox Christmas, the date for this celebration is set by the older Julian calendar.

Christmas came a day early Thursday for inmates at the Broome County Correctional Facility in Dickinson. They received gift boxes from the jail ministries program of the Broome County Council of Churches.

About 400 inmates, regardless of religious affiliation, received gift bags with playing cards, note cards, stamps, candy and other small items donated by local churches, said the Rev. Joseph Sellepack, executive director of the Broome County Council of Churches. The bags were decorated with Christmas symbols by children in local churches.

"It's just something to let the inmates know we're thinking about them," Sellepack said.

Christmas, in both Eastern and Western churches, emphasizes Christianity's tenets of life, light, peace and goodwill, despite unsettled events making headlines today.

"This message is proclaimed each and every time someone carries on the work of love, grace, mercy and compassion ... such serving does not often make the headlines, but it happens in acts of faithful living every day," according the regional bishops of several denominations with churches in the Southern Tier.

The message was issued by Gladstone B. Adams, of the Episcopal Diocese; Marie Jerge, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Marcus Matthews, of the United Methodist Church; and Robert J. Cunningham, of the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse.

"These are difficult, challenging times for so many people, and can be quite frightening ... ," added Bishop Matthew H. Clark, of the Rochester diocese, which includes four Catholic parishes in Tioga County. "It can be so very overwhelming ... We can forget that there is so much more good in the world than bad."

Although the actual day when Jesus was born is unknown, Christmas evolved into a Christian celebration of his birth in the centuries after his death to coincide with secular winter festivals. Christians eventually fixed Dec. 25 as the permanent date for their observance

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives at Pennsylvania State University, roughly 108,200 of Broome County's estimated population of 196,000 residents identify themselves as Christians, including mainline Protestants, Evangelicals and Catholics. In Tioga County, about 18,000 people among the estimated population of 51,000 are listed as Christians.

CHOW article in Press & Sun Bulletin

Southern Tier program keeps kids fed over weekends

BINGHAMTON -- For 240 students in Broome County, help comes every Friday in a plastic bag.
Students in four Broome County districts -- Johnson City, Binghamton, Whitney Point and Harpursville -- receive help from the Food Bank of the Southern Tier's BackPack Program, which provides food for the weekend to children who might otherwise go without enough to eat those days.

With the ongoing recession, the Food Bank has seen an increase in requests, said Youth Programs Coordinator Jennifer Bertron, who spoke to Binghamton Rotary Club 64 about the program Tuesday with Deacon Edward Blaine, program director of the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. The program is slow to add new slots, however, and has a waiting list.
The "backpack" is a plastic bag filled with food for the child over the weekend, and contains items such as pudding or fruit cups, canned soup, granola bars and tuna or peanut butter. About 10 percent of the food comes from food drives and 20 to 30 percent through the food bank's national network; however, most of it must be purchased in bulk due to the nature of the items. It costs $120 to supply one child with food over the course of the school year -- about 40 bags, she said.
Children are usually identified by a school nurse or social worker, and the program is confidential.
"This has been good for families who have lost jobs," Bertron said.
Blaine also noted that food aid is essential during the winter, when families need to pay for heating.
The food bank is always looking for volunteers -- in groups of about 12 to 15 people -- to put together the food packs on the second Wednesday of every month at the CHOW warehouse, Blaine said. The packing sessions run from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

WBNG Coverage of the Backpack Program

Binghamton Backpack Program
By WBNG News

Story Created: Dec 22, 2009 at 5:23 PM EST

Story Updated: Dec 22, 2009 at 5:46 PM EST

Watch The Video

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Hundreds of students will take home nutritious meals for the holiday break

Multimedia Watch The Video Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse Director Ed Blaine spoke to Rotary International about the Backpack Program.

It provides kids with individually packaged food that they can prepare on their own, without a stove.

Blaine says nearly 40 percent of children qualify for a subsidized lunch during the school year.

This program makes sure the they have something to eat when they're not in school.

"The needs getting more and we're trying to get enough volunteers and enough of a program assistance here in Broome County that the Food Bank of the Southern Tier can expand the program in Broome County and really reach out to more children," says CHOW Director, Ed Blaine.

The program served more than a thousand kids during the 2007-2008 school year.
CHOW packs up the backpacks on the second Wednesday of every month.

If you'd like to donate your time or money to the program, call CHOW at (607) 724-9130.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Binghamton University Article


December 10, 2009 Volume 31, No. 15

Campus community remembers Antoun

By : Katie Ellis

Kind and gentle, generous with his time — these are the words most frequently used by friends and colleagues to describe Richard Antoun, 77, professor emeritus of anthropology, who was stabbed to death on campus Dec. 4.

A sociocultural anthropologist, Antoun earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Williams College, his master’s in international relations from Johns Hopkins University and his PhD in anthropology and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard. A Fulbright Scholar in Eqypt early in his career, he conducted field work in Jordan, Lebanon and Iran among other locations.

Antoun taught at Indiana University prior to joining the faculty at Binghamton in 1970 and was also a visiting scholar/professor at the University of Manchester in England, American University of Beirut, the University of Chicago and Cairo University. He authored six books, including the popular Understanding Fundamentalism: Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Movements, retiring from Binghamton in 1999 and serving as a Bartle Professor until December 2002.

Antoun’s scholarly interests centered on comparative religion and symbolic systems, as well as the social organization of tradition in Islamic law and ethics. Colleague Michael Little, distinguished professor of anthropology, said Antoun was “very sensitive to Islamic culture.”

Donald Quataert, distinguished professor of history, knew Antoun for more than 20 years.

“My wife and I had lovely dinners with him and his wife, Roz, and saw them frequently when Dick was walking with Roz,” Quataert said.
Professionally, their research interests were quite different, but there was a great deal of overlap. “We were both involved in the Middle East and North Africa Program and had overlap with graduate students. I would often serve on comprehensive exams for his students and he very often for me for comprehensive exams and dissertation committees, most recently last spring.”
Antoun played these roles with gentleness, Quataert said. “He was very kind to the students. Often he would ask penetrating questions, but not threatening or undermining ones. He always asked questions in a constructive way. The students who knew him have all written about how kind he was, what a gentle man he was.”

For H. Stephen Straight, professor of linguistics and of anthropology, Antoun was the peacemaker. Straight joined the University at the same time as Antoun, and noted that “in a department that over the last 39 years could be fractious, he was always the peacemaker, never taking sides and always ready to lend a hand to make for a happy outcome, or at least a peaceful one. He was able to seek an amicable way out of any dispute and make it come out the best for everyone.”

As a scholar, Straight said what stands out most for him was Antoun’s “ability to get beneath the surface to understand the deeper reality of people’s daily lives … their values and the strategies people employ to make their way in life.

“A major focus of interest for him was local village politics,” Straight added, “yet he was in some ways the least political person I’ve ever known, and perhaps that’s the mark of a higher level of politics.”

Little noted that Antoun was a Boston Red Sox and Binghamton Bearcats fan, as well as a good storyteller. He recalled one story Antoun related to him about when he was a student.
“His grandmother was a native Arabic speaker,” Little explained. “He had studied formally and he came home one holiday to visit and decided to speak Arabic to her and she thought it was the funniest thing she had ever heard. His language was very formal and the classical equivalent to speaking to his grandparents in Elizabethan English,” said Little, adding that Antoun did, of course, become fluent in Arabic as he worked in his field.

Little also reiterated that Antoun was a gentle person, but not in a weak way, noting he showed his strength often in department meetings and as a non-violent participant with groups such as the Peace Action group.

“He was active in peace movements and as close to a pacifist as anyone I know, but he would stand up for principles,” Little said, adding that Antoun was also able to work under physically tough conditions in the field, including when he suffered a collapsed lung in a remote area years ago.

Antoun is survived by his wife, Roz, his son and daughter-in-law, one grandchild, two sisters and his wife’s children and grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Friday, Dec. 11, in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Sanctuary, 183 Riverside Drive, Binghamton, where Antoun was an active member. Visiting hours will be from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and the service will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Expressions of sympathy in his memory may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton to support interfaith programming, or to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW).

The University is also planning a memorial service in the future and details will be announced as they are finalized.

Press & Sun Article Mentioning CHOW

December 8, 2009
Wendy's to help stock CHOW's shelves

REGION Wendy's will give a coupon for a free Frosty to anyone who brings a non-perishable food item to its restaurants during December.

The food will be donated to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse of the Broome County Council of Churches.

The restaurants are located at Main Street, Binghamton; Upper Front Street, Chenango; Main Street, Endicott; and Vestal Parkway East.

From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, 20 percent of sales at the four restaurants also will be donated to CHOW.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Press Release 12-8-09


Binghamton, N.Y., Dec. 8, 2009 . . . . . Four Wendy’s restaurants in the area are supporting the Broome County Council of Churches’ CHOW Program to help feed the hungry with two promotions during the holidays.

First, anyone who brings a non-perishable food item (no glass containers please) to the restaurants during the month of December will receive a free frosty coupon. Secondly, on Wednesday, December 16, during the hours of 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., 20% of all proceeds will go to CHOW (Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse).

The four Wendy’s restaurants are located on Main Street and Front Street, Binghamton; Main Street in Endicott, and the Vestal Parkway East/Rt. 434, Vestal.

CHOW is experiencing a 25% increase in requests for food this year. Wendy’s offered a similar promotion last year to help CHOW, according to Deacon Edward Blain, CHOW program director.


Donations Funds In Memory of Antoun

By WBNG News Story Created: Dec 7, 2009 at 1:14 PM EST
Story Updated: Dec 7, 2009 at 1:16 PM EST

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Binghamton is setting up two funds in memory of Richard Antoun.

The funeral service will take place at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Binghamton.

Calling hours start at 11:00 am Friday, December 11.

The service begins at 12:30 pm.

The church has established two funds to take donations in memory of Antoun.

One is for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, or CHOW.

The other is for Interfaith Programming.

Make checks payable to UUCB, 183 Riverside Drive, Binghamton 13905.

Those wishing to donate can mark the memo line of their check for either fund.

Operation Safeguard

Operation Safeguard in Binghamton
By WBNG News

Many violent situations could have been prevented, had those who noticed warning signs come forward earlier, which is why New York State's Office of Homeland Security created Operation Safeguard.

Multimedia Watch The Video Action News reporter Gabe Osterhout explains how local police and churches are learning how to utilize the program to prevent future violence.

Several groups met at the Broome County Council of Churches office in Binghamton to discuss ways to keep people safe in large groups.

Specifically in church.

But it could also be used for large gathering places like the American Civic Association or Binghamton University.

"If you see warning signs of suspicious activity in regards to problems in and around, particularly today was discussion about houses of worship or your congregations, don't be afraid to pass that information on," says Major Mark Smolinsky of the Broome County Sheriff's Office.

The New York State office of Homeland security's Operation Safeguard supplies a toll free number.

It urges you to call them with any concerns of suspicious activity.

You can give your name confidentially and local law enforcement agencies will check out the situation.

"It's always a case where people Monday morning quarterback issues after the fact and we see warning signs of this or that comes out. This is a proactive approach for preventing things of that nature," Smolinsky says.

There are several warning signs people can look for.

"Strange language, interesting behavior, the way someone's casing a building, some of the questions they are asking," says Rev. Cris Mogenson of the Broome County Council of Churches.

Bottom line, if you see something that looks out of the ordinary to you, call the hotline.

It could prevent the next public tragedy.

In Binghamton, Gabe Osterhout, WBNG-TV Action News.

If you see or hear something suspicious and would like to report it, you can call the New York State Terrorism Hotline at 1-866-SAFE-NY.

That's 1-866-723-3697.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hi Greg,

I just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas in case I don't see you before then.

When I needed a friend God sent me you,Jack

Friday, December 4, 2009

FIA Volunteers Advisory Committee news

November 5th Committee Minutes:
Committee reviewed the slate of names for committee recruitment and those interested, as well as those who declined and those not asked at this time. The committee selected the following candidates: Ellen Rury from StafKings Home Health Care; Deb Kerins from RSVP; Dorothy Gardner, UHS/Stay Healthy Center; Darlene Ninos, Temple Concord; Bonnie Brown, Temple Concord and Emily Gunzenhauser, second choice from Temple Israel. Joanne read the by-laws section Committee Composition, and the desire for 12 members. She will contact the new members, send them the by laws, and invite them to attend the December meeting. All terms begin January 7, 2010.

Dining for Dollars will be held on Thursday, March 18, 2010. The Lives of Commitment Awards Breakfast Signature Committee meets later this month. Event is May 7, 2010.

Year to date referrals to the program are 120. We are accepting wheel chair ramp referrals for 2010. Applications will be sent out in January. We look forward to receiving United Way Venture grant of $5,000 for that project for 2010. Zach reported status of the Healthier Lifestyle Mentoring program. He is also trying to start a Wii Senior Bowling League. Joanne reported on the Train the Trainer class for Powerful Tools for Caregivers. She and Kathy Medovich are co-facilitating a six session class at the Council of Churches which began 10/13/09. Plans will be made to repeat the class in the spring, 2010.

The program will once again work with Home Instead Senior Care with Santa for Seniors for program care receivers. Volunteers are needed to deliver gifts.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Press & Sun: Mark your calendars

December 3, 2009

Mark your calendars for holiday performances, exhibits and festivities

The holiday season is in full swing with plays, parades and special displays. Here is a roundup of upcoming events to help you plan. Check out other events in the Good Times calendar.


* "Andy Cooney's A Classic Irish Christmas" concert will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Boulevard United Methodist Church, 113 Grand Blvd., Binghamton. Cooney, an Irish-American musician, will be joined by George Casey, soprano Emma Kate Tobia, the Darrah Carr Dance Troupe and musical director Brian "Bugs" Moran with Irish America's Finest Musicians. For tickets or information, call 238-1222 or 727-2262, or e-mail sconners@

* The Binghamton Theater Organ Society will perform its third annual Christmas show, "The Snowman in My Window," at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at The Forum, 236 Washington St., Binghamton. Featured is organist Richard Van Auken. For more information, call 724-6062.

* The sixth annual Choruses for CHOW concert will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial Church, Main Street, Johnson City. For tickets, visit the Broome County Council of Churches office, 3 Otseningo St. Binghamton, or call 724-9130, ext. 331.


* The Rafael Grigorian Ballet Theatre will perform "The Russian Nutcracker" at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Forum, 236 Washington St., Binghamton. The show will be directed by dancer and choreographer Rafael Grigorian and will feature Boston Ballet soloists Lia Cirio and Sabi Varga. Call 778-1369.

* The Endicott Performing Arts Center, 102 Washington Ave., Endicott, will present "The Nutcracker" at 8 p.m. Dec. 11-12 and 3 p.m. Dec. 13. For details, go to endicottarts. com.


* Vestal's Christmas Tree Lighting & Family Sing-A-Long will be held from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Memorial Park Gazebo at Four Corners in Vestal. Santa will arrive at 7:30 p.m.

* Otsiningo Park's ninth annual Hometown Lights Festival, a drive-through display, will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 27. Admission proceeds benefit the Southern Tier Independence Center.

* The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park will turn into a Winter Wonderland on Dec. 12, with ice sculptures, carolers, storytellers, games, crafts and an appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Claus. For more information, go to www.ross


* The Discovery Center of the Southern Tier, 60 Morgan Road, Binghamton, will sponsor a fundraiser, Breakfast with Santa, from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at Applebee's, 842 Upper Front St., Binghamton. Call 773-8661 or go to thediscoverycenter. org. The center also is featuring a toy exhibit, The Santa Workshop, through Jan. 10.

* The Roberson Museum, 30 Front St., Binghamton, will offer special events Saturday: tours of the mansion every half hour from noon to 4:30 p.m.; the Talking Hands program from 1 to 1:30 p.m. in Sears Harkness Hall; Vestal Community Chorus from 2 to 3 p.m. For more information, go to or call 772-0660.


* Endicott's annual holiday parade and tree-lighting starts at 4 p.m. Saturday on Washington Avenue. The parade ends at Park Avenue. Refreshments will be served in the visitors center following the tree-lighting.

* Johnson City's hourlong parade begins at 7 p.m. today at Your Home Public Library, 107 Main St., and ends at the Johnson City Senior Center. Following the parade, a reception for the public will be held at Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, 308 Main St., next to Wilson Hospital.

Stage shows

* "An EPAC Christmas," a variety show set to music, will be presented for its sixth year at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Endicott Performing Arts Center, 102 Washington Ave., Endicott. Visit for more details.

Owego events

* "A Christmas Story": The Ti-Ahwaga Community Players will present the holiday classic at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 9 p.m. Dec. 11-12 and 2 p.m. Dec. 13 at Ti-Ahwaga Performing Arts Center, 42 Delphine St. in Owego. Call 687-2130 or visit for ticket prices.

* Owego home tour, auction: The fundraiser for the Tioga County Council on the Arts features tours from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, starting at the Owego Elks Lodge, 223 Front St., which is the site of the 8:30 p.m. auction included with tours. Call 687-0785 or visit tiogaartscouncil. org for details.

* Lights on the River Festival will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and will feature festivities, food and entertainment. The fireworks will begin at 8 p.m. at Draper Park. For a full schedule, visit

* The Tioga County Historical Society Museum's O'Tannenbaum Holiday Showcase and Auction will continue through Dec. 18 at the museum, 110 Front St., Owego. It features holiday trees, wreaths, baskets and other crafts. For more information, call 687-2957 or visit

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Press & Sun: A Time to Give

Broome County Council Of Churches

Mission: Connecting Compassion with Needs; Inspiring Growth with Dignity. Major Programs Include: CHOW (Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse) and Broome Bounty; Faith in Action Volunteers; Jail Chaplaincy; Hospital Chaplaincy; and Wheelchair Ramp Construction
Address: 3 Otseningo St., Binghamton, N.Y., 13903
Contact: Rev. Dr. Joseph Sellepack, Executive Director
Phone: 724-9130
Three needs:
* Food for CHOW warehouse (non- perishable food items, no glass containers)
* Computer(s), (minimum of 1g memory) and 15" flat screen monitor(s)
* Pickup truck(s), (under 70,000 miles) for CHOW Farm and Wheelchair Ramp use