Dedicated to the Cause: Gary Bobbett
Gary Bobbett doesn’t need to search for a reason for his life-long commitment to Elmcrest. It started about 30 years ago, when he was invited to take a tour of Elmcrest’s main campus.
“I was amazed at how the staff could maintain such a calm routine with all these children,” Gary said. “They were happy and seemed to know what was expected of them. In one cottage, I saw a little tow-headed boy sitting at a table. I ended up thumb-wrestling with him. I was hooked on Elmcrest󠅱 and have been ever since.”
Gary owns Kimbers, Inc. of Syracuse, a supplier of outdoor power equipment as well as automotive paint and body supplies. He joined the Elmcrest board in 1991 and has remained dedicated to Elmcrest Children’s Center ever since.
“I always believed in helping those who are less fortunate than I have been, especially kids who are at risk,” Gary said. “So many have no chance for success, but Elmcrest can change their lives. And we do it better than anybody else.”
Gary currently serves as the board secretary and chair of its Nominating Committee. He has also served as a leader on the board’s Development Committee and its capital campaign to build the Early Education Center.
“We are grateful to have Gary in our Elmcrest family,” said Joseph Geglia, Elmcrest’s Executive Director. “He has been a key player in many of our initiatives.”
One of Gary’s most notable legacies is the Kimbers Invitational Golf Tournament. Founded by Gary as a small outing among his friends and business associates in 1991, it has grown to become one of Elmcrest’s largest annual fundraisers. In 29 years, it has raised more than $1 million in support of Elmcrest.
Gary said he is most proud of how Elmcrest has adapted its programs over time.
“As the kids change, and the needs change, Elmcrest knows how to meet these challenges,” Gary said. “Casey’s Place is a great example – I think it’s my all-time favorite. We provide respite for families whose children have severe disabilities.”
Another program Elmcrest started during Gary’s tenure is working with “hard to place” children. They include youth with psychological problems and those who lack the social skills they need to thrive in a home with a family. Elmcrest provides psychological counseling and an evidence-based behavior education model to help youth develop skills that most children develop earlier in life.
“We take in kids who come to us with major difficulties,” Gary said. “Not only do we provide residential care for them, we instill values, help with their education, open opportunities for job training, and guide them to successful employment,” he said. “Wherever possible, we re-unite them with their families.”
Gary is among several board members who have provided decades of service to Elmcrest. Like Gary, many of them have alternated service between Elmcrest’s fiduciary Board of Directors and its larger Board of Advisors.
“When we find community leaders who are passionate about helping the children and families we serve, we are eager to maintain those relationships,” Joseph Geglia said. Gary is special, he said, because he has guided so many other great people to join Elmcrest’s board.
For Gary, being an advocate for Elmcrest is easy. “If you’re having a bad day, come for a tour at Elmcrest and see these kids,” Gary said. “You’ll count your blessings.”