Bates Alumni Community Service Award

The Alumni Community Service Award is given annually to an alumnus or alumna who has demonstrated distinguished leadership and commitment to serving the community in which they live or work. The award recognizes the values of service and civic responsibility that are fundamental to a Bates education.

In 2016, the award was presented to Sylvia Stuber Heap ’50 by President Clayton Spencer, during Back to Bates: Homecoming & Family Weekend.

Sylvia, your more than 55 years of community, health, and educational development work have improved the lives of thousands of people in Watertown, New York, and throughout the Empire State. With a career that long, I doubt I can recount everything you have accomplished in service to others, but here are some highlights that speak to your passion for your fellow citizens and their well-being.

After graduating from Bates with with a degree in sociology and membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Sylvia, her husband, Dr. Walker Heap, also of the Class of 1950, and their two children moved to Watertown. This would prove to be a stroke of good fortune for a local citizens committee eager to host a community college. Barely settled, Sylvia asked the committee chair, “Is there anything I can do to help?” She was soon meeting her new Watertown neighbors one-by-one as she went door-to-door, stumping for support. She undertook letter-writing campaigns and met with organized labor and civic groups — all in an effort to launch what would become Jefferson Community College, which this year turns 56. JCC wisely asked Sylvia to chair its Advisory Board of Continuing Education, a position she held for 30 years.

As chair, she organized a task force to study the need for continuing education programming, resulting in JCC’s development of bachelor’s programs in nursing, business, and public management, as well as a master’s in adult education. To expand access and opportunity, she and the committee organized child care and city transportation for JCC students.

In the midst of it all, while working on a master’s in education at Syracuse, Sylvia also organized and produced a series of short television segments about osteoporosis for a local CBS affiliate and a series of continuing education programs for Jefferson County physicians, with professors of nutrition from Tufts and Syracuse.

She has been named Watertown Citizen of the Year for her service to JCC, the American Association of University Women, the Watertown Lyric Theater, and public television station WPBS, among other organizations.

The values of service and civic responsibility are fundamental to the Bates education. Sylvia, in countless ways, you have exemplified these values in your service to the people of greater Watertown, New York. We have no doubt that your parents, the late Helen Hill Stuber of the Bates Class of 1925 and Stanley I. Stuber of the Bates Class of 1926, took great pride in your accomplishments — as does the entire Bates community.

Congratulations on winning the 2016 Alumni Community Service Award!

In 2015, the award was presented to Henry Myer ’08, Jonathan Steuber ’08, and Wiley Todd ’08 by Michael Lieber ’92, president of the Alumni Association, during Back to Bates: Homecoming & Family Weekend.

This year, I am are honored to present the Bates College Alumni Community Service Award to three young alumni.

Shortly after graduating from Bates in 2008 — in the midst of the Great Recession and with a bootstrap budget — Wiley Todd, Henry Myer, and Jonathan Steuber  founded the Valpo Surf Project in Valparaíso, Chile.

For those of you who don’t know, here’s how Valpo Surf Project works: Through surfing, academic tutoring, and environmental stewardship, Wiley, Henry, and Jonathan educate and motivate kids to become young leaders — and empower them with the tools to better their own lives and make a positive impact on their communities. Most of the underprivileged and at-risk youth served by Valpo Surf Project live in impoverished coastal communities, where families struggle with the consequences of violent crime, prevalent drug use, and chronic unemployment.

As a result of their entrepreneurship and investment in the human capital of Valparaíso and other coastal communities, hundreds of children have learned invaluable life skills, including healthy living, resilience, and teamwork.

In the Bates Mission Statement, we vow to prepare leaders “sustained by a love of learning and a commitment to responsible stewardship of the wider world.” Wiley, Henry, and Jonathan, you make good on this transformative ideal. For your passion, conviction, and informed civic action, it is an honor to recognize you with the Alumni Community Service Award.