by Molly Siedlarczyk, LCUSA Historian
The Diane Downey Reading Enrichment Grant was awarded under a very special circumstance in 2009. Since there were no applications from our local associations, an alternative method was used to present the award. It was brought to the attention of the national board that the American Civic Association of Binghamton, New York, a very worthwhile organization that has helped immigrants become citizens for 70 years, had suffered a terrible tragedy at their facility. On April 3, 2009, while the students were in class, a disgruntled former student who had lost his job, entered the building and fired 87 shots from his gun. Eleven students and two teachers were killed.; four others were wounded.
The $500.00 grant was accepted gratefully by Executive Director Andrew Baranoski on behalf of the American Civic Association. Mr. Baranoski assured the Ladies of Charity that the grant would help the organization in many ways. Not only does the association sponsor citizenship classes, they also help in the resettlement of immigrants and offers other community learning programs as well. Years ago immigrants came from Europe but today they come from as far away as the Ukraine and Burma. The Ladies of Charity asked that the funds be used to help immigrants learn to read English and in so doing, improve their chances to avoid living in poverty or perhaps even rise above.
Ladies of Charity of Binghamton Sally Masters (President), Lanie Cummings (President-elect), Margaret Hanson (AIC Vice President and past LCUSA President), Barbara Caveny (Historian and past Binghamton President), and Molly Siedlarczyk (LCUSA Historian and and past Binghamton President) attended the presentation.
It was an extraordinary experience to be present where so many people seeking the American way of life lost theirs just a few months ago. It was an honor to be able to give the check to the American Civic Association of Binghamton, New York, especially during the Christmas season.