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A Letter to All Wel-Met Alumni

The past two years have been filled with Wel-Met reunion activity. The chance to reconnect with old friends, relive our camp days, and catch up on each other’s lives has been terrific. Many thanks to Mike Alterbaum, the “godfather” of all of this activity for getting it all started and supporting this effort. And thanks again to Mike, Barbara Scheinman, Laurie Kline, Roz Guterman, David Fried, and all of you who were instrumental in organizing the last two summer reunions or keeping the website going.

Many of you may remember that Wel-Met merged with the Goddard-Riverside Community Center of New York City in its later years. Goddard-Riverside provides 21 social service programs at 15 sites on the Upper West Side and in Harlem. Its programs include summer activities for children, day care, after-school programs, Headstart, services for the homeless, and safe and affordable housing for the elderly. Goddard-Riverside has a staff of 263 along with 800 volunteers.

Three former members of the Wel-Met Board of Directors, Howard Stein, Daniel Siff, and Norman Gross, still serve as active members of the Goddard-Riverside Board. I can tell you they are very excited by the website, the recent reunion activity, and the good will that the Wel-Met name still engenders.

It is this good will about which I write you today.

Some of us see an opportunity to keep the Wel-Met spirit alive by supporting the good work of Goddard-Riverside in a more formal manner. A few of us have discussed the possibility of creating some type of scholarship fund at Goddard-Riverside that would bear the name of Wel-Met. However, the exact nature of this relationship is yet to be determined. Some general concepts are outlined in the letter below. The letter is written by Norman Gross, a former Wel-Met camper, staff member, and Board Member, and one of the three still serving on the Goddard board. You may have seen some of Norman’s postings on the website.

I encourage you to read Norman’s letter. If you are as excited as I am about the possibility of keeping the Wel-Met spirit alive and interested in serving on a committee that would explore further involvement with Goddard-Riverside, please contact me at MHMCMWB@aol.com.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Marty Baicker
Barryville Camper 1966 – 1971
Western Trip #4 – 1972
Narrowsburgh Staff – 1973 - 1976

A Letter from Norman Gross — Goddard Riverside Community Center

Dear Marty,

It was good seeing you again and many thanks for the time you spent visiting Goddard-Riverside.

I hope your brief tour gave you an understanding of our agency and how our many varied programs serve our neighbors. As you could see, community building is at the heart of what we do at Goddard-Riverside.

It is interesting how similar or at least complementary the Wel-Met camps and Goddard Riverside are in their underlying philosophies. Reflecting on the merger, this was the prime reason, of course, why the Wel-Met board chose Goddard-Riverside for its partner.

The core of all Wel-Met activities was the “Group Work” camping approach. This fostered participation and responsibility within the group setting and created a lasting bond among Wel-Met alums. Somehow all of us have come away feeling that the Wel-Met experience made all of us better people. Today the Wel-Met web site, with the outpouring of lasting memories and deep feelings for the camp, is a lasting tribute.

I think Wel-Met alums might enjoy knowing that in a very real way the Wel-Met spirit lives on at Goddard-Riverside. The old Wel-Met board members –former campers and staff – play an active roll and haven’t forgotten the value of community and helping others that Wel-Met instilled in us.

We spoke last month about the Wel-Met web site being the precursor of a Wel-Met alumni group. This is worth exploring now that people with strong common interests are beginning to find each other. Raise this idea at the July reunion and if there is interest we can talk further.

Here are a few ideas to start the ball rolling:

  • Goddard-Riverside offers a convenient location and facilities to host reunions, big or small (I know you remember the one in the 80”s).
  • Prior to the next reunion, if there are Wel-Met alums who are interested in visiting Goddard Riverside, staff would be glad to meet with them and give tours.
  • If Wel-Met alumni resonate with the idea of that the Wel-Met spirit that lives on in the work of Goddard Riverside, perhaps a Wel-Met alumni group might explore further involvement, possibly through some type of support of Goddard-Riverside’s programs that reflect the common historic goals and interests of both organizations.

There seems to be a huge amount of good will out there that should be harnessed for a worthwhile cause. If you think it would be useful, I would be pleased to have you present this letter to colleagues at your upcoming reunion to see if there is interest in pursuing our common bonds.

Hope to see soon,

Norman Gross
Board of Directors

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