2014 Village Award Winner: Kathy Donaldson

GVSHP’s Annual Meeting and Awards are quickly approaching (this coming Monday night from 6:30 to 8pm at the New School’s Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street — RSVP here).  This year we are proud to honor Kathy Donaldson, the longtime President of the Bedford-Barrow-Commerce Block Association, with our Regina Kellerman Award, named for GVSHP’s first Executive Director.

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Kathy Donaldson with the Caring Community’s Arthur Makar.

Many Villagers know Kathy and everything she has done for the neighborhood all too well.  For those, their only question might be:  what took you so long?  Well, it’s true, Kathy is such an obvious choice for a Village Award that it’s hard to believe that she has not won one already.  But that’s largely because the Village, East Village, and NoHo are blessed with so many incredible people, sites, businesses, and institutions worthy of honoring that it often takes several years to get to even the great ones.  And Kathy certainly is one of the great ones.

Kathy has been the president of the Bedford-Barrow-Commerce Block Association (the “BBC”) since 1993, and has been a tireless guiding force in the organization since 1974 (its website calls BBC “the oldest and largest block association in Manhattan”).  Kathy, in fact, is one of the founding members of the BBC and is responsible for many of their hallmark community initiatives.  Her favorite?  “The holiday party, of course.”  Those familiar with the party compare it to a New England country gathering — everyone knows each other, and feels like family.  In many ways, Kathy sees her neighborhood as a small town, and she works hard to keep it that way.

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Kathy, holding her proclamation from the Manhattan Borough President, with fellow BBCer Diane Widowski.

One of BBC’s most prominent accomplishments under Kathy’s leadership has been Ye Olde Village Fair, which many consider the only real street fair left in New York.  Famous for its local appeal and flavor, the Street Fair eschews the usual cookie-cutter zeppole and sock vendors for real local merchants and craftsmen, as well as community organizations who use the opportunity to reach out to the public.  Perhaps most impressive of all, the Fair has raised close to a million dollars over the years, half of which is donated to local charities and grass roots organizations (GVSHP is honored to have been the recipient of some of this generosity over the years), with the other half going into local beautification efforts such as plantings and tree guards.

Other BBC accomplishments under Kathy’s leadership include installation of fifteen historic lampposts on the block.  BBC has lead the way in the Village in seeking the replacement of non-descript “cobra-head” streetlamps with bishop crook lampposts, which reflect the historic character of the neighborhood.

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Ye Olde Village Street Fair.

In addition to her devotion to the BBC, Kathy is a patrol leader of the Christopher Street Patrol (1990 to present), Treasurer of the Christopher Street Patrol (1995 to present), Board Member of the Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront, founding member and treasurer of the Greenwich Village Block Association, Board Member of the Caring Community outreach program since 2002, Co-Chair of the Caring Community Gala since 2005, Advisory Member of the Cherry Lane Theatre, Board Member of the Cherry Lane Theater, and recipient of a proclamation from the Manhattan Borough President in 2010 for her years of service to the Village.

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Kathy with one of the many plantings and beautification projects she and BBC support.

According to Kathy, she works “between 800 and 1,000 hours per year” on community projects.  Given her forty years of service, that is a staggering contribution of time and energy to the neighborhood.

We hope you’ll join us and hundreds of your neighbors on Monday night to celebrate Kathy and the six other eminently worthy Village awardees, as well as to look back on a year of GVSHP’s accomplishments, for our Annual Meeting and Awards.  See you at 6:30 at The New School’s Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street — and don’t forget to RSVP!

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Andrew Berman has been the Executive Director of GVSHP since 2002.