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Bob and Kathy Steves Honored at the Scarsdale Bowl Dinner

bobandkathyIt all started with a peanut hunt. Shortly after Bob and Kathy Steves moved to Greenacres with their young family they were asked to help organize the annual July fourth celebration. They began by scattering peanuts on the field and three decades later ended up running the town. Bob is one of a select group of recipients who served on both the school and village boards. In addition to serving as President of the Scarsdale School Board Steves remained on the board for a seventh year to fill a vacancy. Following that stint he was selected to serve as a Village Trustee for four years and then was Scarsdale's Mayor from 2013-15.

bowlsamwickKathy too has an impressive resume of volunteer activities – and perhaps is best known for spear heading the annual Friends of the Library Book Sale, an ambitious undertaking that involves the collection and sorting of thousands of books each year. This past year it brought in over $70,000 for the library. Kathy is also President of the Board of Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service. Though they both hold very full time jobs, the couple welcomed a STEP student to share their home from 1996 to 1998.

Kathy and Bob's volunteerism was honored at a joyous celebration at the Fountainhead in New Rochelle on Wednesday night April 26, 2017 when David Lee, Chair of the Scarsdale Bowl presented the couple with the coveted silver bowl.

In the audience were many notable Scarsdale volunteers, including fifteen past recipients of the Scarsdale Bowl, some who had flown in for the evening. Among these recipients were Robert and Eleanor November, the last couple to be awarded the Bowl in 2001 and Carol Stix, the 1981 recipient. Among the 273 attendees were five of Bob Steve's siblings.

Scarsdale Foundation President and the 2011 recipient of the Scarsdale Bowlsherwood Emily Sherwood gave some background on the workings of the organization, saying, "Despite our best efforts to publicize our work, we seem to remain shrouded in mystery. Let me take just a few minutes to tell you that we are also steeped in tradition, having been founded in 1923 with a mission of promoting civic welfare in the community and currently operating with an endowment of over $2 million." She explained that the Foundation will grant $118,000 in college scholarships this year, give funds for community service and donations to send children to the Scarsdale Rec Camp. An interesting fact noted in the evening's program is that the first Scarsdale Bowl awards were made in 1944. Women were not invited to serve on the Bowl committee until 1973 and not welcomed to attend the dinner until 1975.

Daughter Karen Steves shared some memories of what it was like to grow up in a home of uber volunteers. She noted her parents amazing work ethic and her mother's high standards and drive for perfection. She called Kathy an "optimistic tough cookie who sees problems and tries to fix them," and laughed about her Dad's ability to find common ground with anyone, anywhere. Together she said her parents have "championed countless endeavors," and showed their children what it meant to be part of a community. Though they have accomplished so much she said they are "humble" and "don't take themselves too seriously."

bowldeenaNeighbor and long time friend Deena Rosenthal remembered coming upon Kathy in the library. She said, "One August day I wandered into the Scott Room. From the far end, she greeted me enthusiastically. "What's going on, " I asked. "Oh," she said, "We are getting ready for the book sale. Doesn't it look great?" I was flummoxed, speechless; I didn't know what to say or how to say it if I had. I saw a room chock-a-block full of tables, milk crates, boards, boxes, books, and books in boxes. I thought the Scott Room looked like it had exploded. And she thought it looked great. I couldn't begin to imagine how his chaos could be translated into a functioning, organized, book sale, let alone one that would raise a meaningful sum."

She remember another day when she needed to figure out how to get a friend of a friend in a wheelchair up a step -- and without a word, Bob crafted her a wheelchair ramp out of wood in his basement and showed up unannounced to present it.

Friend, colleague and former Mayor Jon Mark had this bowlmarkto say about the Steves: "It is not an overstatement to say that their combined efforts as volunteers in the Village are unmatched in the community." He credited Bob with "laser focus on budget line items and valuable guidance to other Board members," and his "ability and willingness to listen." He remembered building a deck at the teen center by hand with Bob and current Scarsdale Mayor Dan Hochvert and said, "It was also a great lesson for me to see a community leader of Bob's stature work as a member of a team." He continued, "Bob's community service sets a high, virtually impossible bar to exceed. As has been noted, he is the only resident to have served as both Mayor and President of the School Board – though not at the same time.... He has done so with grace, fairness and always with a desire to do best for the Village."

Mark said, "St. Ignatius prayed: "Teach us to give and not to count the cost." Kathy and Bob, your volunteer work over the years surely reflects this prayer. You have given generously of your time and energy – and counting the personal cost of that effort has never been a factor for you."

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David Lee shared a congratulatory note to the Steves from Malissa Mackay, the STEP student they hosted in 1996-98. She thanked them for:

  • Schlepping me from drama club rehearsals, to cheerleading practices to orchestra recitals.
  • For introducing me to perogies and kielbasa.
  • For calling me out like my own parents would have if I decided homework just wasn't that important.
  • For helping me recognize and cultivate a love affair with books.
  • For standing next to me during Catholic mass, when this Southern Baptist girl didn't know what to do with her hands.
  • For getting up waaay too early on Saturday mornings, taking me to my SAT prep course.
  • For taking a side trip to West Point one day, and having the best conversation in the car, all the way there.
  • For buying those little lemon italian ices that me and the boys used to eat after school in the downstairs den.
  • For being as excited and proud as my bio-family was on the day of my graduation.

After receiving the Bowl it was finally time for the honored couple to take the podium. Kathy thanked her children, saying, "There are three people that in many ways are our unsung champions of Scarsdale volunteerism. Bob and I choose to become active members of our community. Our children did not. Those of us who know us well ... know that that Karen. Matt (here with us tonight) and Mike who is working in China have often been drafted to help lift and care, pick up forgotten items or just take the brunt of my nervousness."

bowljeremiahBob called the evening "The best party in town," and thanked everyone for their efforts. Commenting on their recognition as a couple, he said, "I could not be more pleased than to have Kathy's name next to mine on the bowl. She is in every respect (and more so than I) the volunteer the Foundation envisioned when they created the bowl. I'm the noisy volunteer, for better or worse much of my service has been public. She has served quietly, without notoriety. Kathy not only does her thing extraordinarily well, but she has been so very supportive in what I have done."

Steves noted the "selfish side" to volunteering, calling it an "unequaled opportunity to grow as a person," and to meet and learn from wonderful people. He said, "Being a volunteer gives you a better understanding, more meaningful insight into those with whom you serve... an insight that allows for mutual growth."

He urged everyone in the room to reach out and invite others to help, saying "Don't be afraid to ask someone to help, they just might be waiting for a chance to serve."

The well-orchestrated evening was a credit to the Bowl Committee, notably Chair David Lee and Robert Jeremiah who served as both the organization's secretary and treasurer. Committee members include Norman Alterman, Diane Baylor, Beth Ehrich Berkeley, Jonathan Bradlow, Kate Conlan, Lee Fischman, FranGalloway, Gary Katz, Janet Korins, Mona Longman, Eli Mattioli, Jyoti Ruta, Suzanne Seiden, Margaret Smith and Evelyn Stock.

Lee also thanked many of the supporters in the audience who returned to Scarsdale to honor the Steves, including former Village Manager Al Gatta, former School Superintendent Mike McGill, David and Stacey Brodsky and former Police Chief John Brogan.

Lee said, "Kathy and Bob, you now occupy a coveted space on the continuum... of extraordinary Scarsdale volunteers, and we trust that each-year hence another outstanding individual will join you."

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