Linda Toohey has been a Trusted Advisor and great supporter to Rebuilding Together Saratoga County. We congratulate her as she moves into another chapter of her life - and one she so generously shares with her community. Thank you Linda and our sincere best wishes!
Editorial: Lead the way, volunteer — Help make a community great
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Great things get done in Saratoga Springs in large part because people volunteer to lead the way. That’s why we have an amazing Saratoga Regional YMCA, with its incredible West Avenue facility and an even bigger fitness center being built in Wilton. Why the Saratoga Performing Arts Center is reaching new audiences and supporters to maintain its commitment to the classical arts. Why Saratoga Hospital continues to improve and expand its services to serve a growing population. And why Skidmore College is integral to the community on so many levels. Strong hands-on leadership is essential within the ranks of successful organizations like the Y, SPAC, Saratoga Hospital and Skidmore. But behind them are the volunteer board members who see opportunities and seize them, and have the ability to organize and motivate people, raise (and donate) money, and make things happen — volunteers like Linda Toohey, who has had more than a hand in the success of all those and other local institutions.
Newly retired after 32 years with the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, Toohey has agreed to chair the Skidmore Board of Trustees. She is also on the board of trustees of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and chair of its Membership and Development Committee. And she is a co-chair of a $3 million capital campaign for Saratoga Hospital’s new Community Health Resource Center. Not too long ago, she took on a similar role for the YMCA. A full list of her leadership roles on local boards over the years would fill this column. Toohey is perhaps the quietest squeaky wheel you’ll ever meet. Big influence, little ego. It’s why 300-plus people packed the Hall of Springs Tuesday to honor Toohey on the occasion of her retirement from the chamber, which is also honoring her with a bench at SPAC bearing the inscription “inspires leadership.”
Toohey is extraordinary for her innate abilities and few mortals can accomplish as much. But most people can do a heck of a lot, if they put their mind to it. And for those who could benefit from guidance and training (and who couldn’t?), there is Toohey’s professional legacy, the chamber’s countywide Leadership Saratoga program. Leadership Saratoga (leadershipsaratoga.org), which Toohey introduced in 1985, boasts more than 600 graduates who have served or currently serve on 135 different nonprofit and public service boards, including school boards and municipal boards.
In addition, more than 40 nonprofits have been the beneficiary of projects accomplished by teams of class members who devote about 130 collective hours of volunteer time outside of class time. They have, for example, been responsible for exhibits, videos, websites, physical improvements and public awareness campaigns for organizations like Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services, Rebuilding Together Saratoga, the Wilton Wildlife Preserve, the Salvation Army, Saratoga PLAN, the Children’s Museum and the National Museum of Dance. You don’t have to be a graduate of the Leadership Saratoga program to be a leader in the local volunteer world — but it helps. The well-honed sessions focus on practical matters and address virtually every aspect of volunteer leadership. And beyond the Leadership Saratoga training, there is no underestimating the value of the network of graduates and fellow volunteers.
But more important than the program is the volunteerism itself. So this isn’t really about Toohey, who hates the attention, anyway. It’s about you, and how important it is to give back to the community. “It doesn’t matter whether your volunteer work is serving as a route spotter at a race for charity, raising money for an organization whose mission you support, helping out a child’s sports team, or serving on a board or committee,” Toohey said in a recent Q&A with The Saratogian. “The rewards are enormous.”
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