Buddha’s birthday was celebrated Monday, May 25, 2015 by both the World Peace and Health Organization and Guang Huan Mi Zong. Both organizations are owned and operated by local Chinese Buddhists. This year’s celebration was held in the main parking lot of the Five World Buddha Temple on East Main Street in Amsterdam, New York. Buddhist Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi described the significance of the celebration, which involved the ceremonial bathing of the Buddha, representative of rebirth or a new beginning. The event was attended by locals as well as Buddhists traveling from all parts of New York and China who received an energy blessing from Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi. The day was full of both religious celebration and colorful cultural performances.
Author Archives: Jerry Skrocki
The Rao Center at 100 Church Street in Amsterdam, New York is home to the Walter Elwood Museum. This eclectic collection is part of Amsterdam’s history. Walter Elwood was an educator in the Amsterdam school district in the early 1900s. He traveled worldwide and brought back interesting artifacts to teach his students about world and natural history. This extensive collection was donated to the school district and an organization was formed to help care for and display this collection.
Ann Peconie is the Executive Director of the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley. She and the museum board have done an excellent job displaying this collection for public view. Robert Going, Esq and Vice President of the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley was kind enough to give me a tour of the museum on Saturday during the museum sponsored Amsterdam Farmers’ Market.
For more information about the collection as well as museum hours, please click on the above link.
Like many others, this blogger had written off the Amsterdam Family YMCA when it moved out of the City of Amsterdam and established itself in the Village of Hagaman in a former school at 58 N Pawling Street. How dare they abandon us, I thought! I have to admit it was this type of narrow-minded thinking that stopped me from seeing just what they had to offer. That was until I met Nancy Carr, Executive Director/CEO of the Amsterdam Family YMCA.
Nancy told the story of just how the Amsterdam Family YMCA had to move. She impressed me as a very well spoken and dedicated individual who really cares about the local community. She also listened to my questions and took the time to answer every misconception I had about the YMCA and its mission. She challenged me to see for myself, offering to give me a tour and a day pass for a free workout. I took her up on that offer on Wednesday and I have to say I was very impressed with the facility, the staff and the patrons of the Amsterdam Family YMCA.
I’m not used to being around kids and the name Amsterdam Family YMCA made me think there would be screaming children running around the facility while adults were trying to exercise. That was so far from the truth! I should have realized there are many types of families and although the YMCA has a first rate NYS certified day care facility, it is a separate part of the building. They care for infants, toddlers and pre-K children (ages 6 weeks to 5 years old) in four different rooms, each specialized with activities for specific age groups. It operates from 6:00am-6:00pm. I toured the day care during lunch and the children were all well mannered, well behaved and a pleasure to talk to. The day care facility at the YMCA is equipped with video cameras so parents can check in on their children on the internet if they so desire. A full-time day care enrollment also includes a family membership to the Amsterdam Family YMCA.
The family referred to in the name is more about the interpersonal relationships developed at this YMCA. The staff and patrons all know each other by name. If one of the seniors misses a regular exercise class, Guido the personal trainer checks up on them! The individual attention is what separates the Amsterdam Family YMCA from one of the franchise gyms. Guido took the time to assess my needs and walked me through their exercise machines, correcting my posture and positioning as I did my workout. He managed to make me sweat in no time at all! You can tell when someone really loves their job because their passion quickly turns to expertise. Everyone I met at the Amsterdam Family YMCA had that same passion. Even though I only spent a couple of hours there, I did feel like part of the family! See for yourself…
The Amsterdam Family YMCA has a variety of programs and classes for kids and adults, some are offered free of charge. Please check their website for details or visit their facility on Pawling Street in Hagaman. From April 1 – May 31, 2015, the Amsterdam Family YMCA is sponsoring a Scrap Metal Drive with proceeds going to the YMCA. Call them and they will pick up your scrap metal for free! They pick up in Amsterdam, Hagaman, Perth, Broadalbin, Galway, Tribes Hill, Fort Johnson, Fort Hunter, Cranesville and Minaville.
Call the YMCA at (518) 842-2130
The devastating Nepal quake last weekend has left over five thousand dead, thousands more unaccounted for, and hundreds of people stranded 20,000 feet on Mount Everest. Reports state the death toll could rise to over 10,000 people. The earthquake, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, has obliterated homes, ancient temples, and historical landmarks. Nepal is seeing devastation on levels never before imagined, according to reports.
The Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization held a memorial service this morning, for those killed in the Nepal earthquake, at the Western Supreme Buddha Temple in the Town of Glen, New York. This was not the usual celebration held by the Chinese Buddhists as the thought of the death and destruction in Nepal weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of the Buddhist monks and students. You could see it in their faces as they entered the temple in a funeral procession. As Elise translated the message of Buddhist leader, Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi, I felt the same wave of sadness and concern. A gong sounded the start, middle and end of the service. In memory of those who died in Nepal and to help those who were injured, the monks and students chanted a 100 word mantra to the beat of a wooden percussion instrument carved in the image of a fish. Through prayer and meditation the participants sent to the departed what they believe to be a part of themselves attained through merit or good deeds to help their spirits pass on to be reborn in a better life.
Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi emphasized the cultural importance of Nepal, its rich history and influence on the practice of Buddhism in our world today. He announced that the WPHO will be donating $200,000 HK dollars through its Hong Kong affiliate to help with Nepal recovery efforts. In addition the WPHO will be purchasing $300,000 HK dollars worth of Dharma instruments and Buddhist statues from Nepal to help it recover economically.
The service ended with the same orderly procession that it began with, the WPHO members reserving this day for prayer and meditation.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015, the World Peace and Health Organization celebrated the Goddess of Mercy on Grove Street in Amsterdam, New York. Quan Yin is what the Chinese Buddhists call the Goddess of Mercy. Often depicted as the Goddess with 1000 arms because of her self-less dedication to help others and to remain in the earthly realm worlds until all other living things have completed their own enlightenment and thus become liberated from the pain-filled cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
Buddhist Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi spoke to the gathering of WPHO staff and students yesterday, encouraging them to emulate Quan Yin and to get rid of ego that will block their path to enlightenment. Apples were passed out to the congregation and the spiritual leader marveled at nature’s perfection. The apple tree with it’s many branches was not unlike the many arms of Quan Yin, reaching out and producing a product that relieves the pangs of hunger. He reminded the students that the farmer coats the apple with wax to prevent it from deteriorating and so must they continue to practice the Guang Huan Mi Zong Health Dharma to keep their bodies healthy so they can continue their mission of promoting world health, peace and harmony. It is not enough, Shi emphasized, to practice (meditate) and become energized unless you use that energy to selflessly help others.
In the 1870’s, carpet-manufacturing innovator Stephen Sanford was advised by his physician to “buy a farm and a couple horses” and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of life in the country in order to escape from the stressful environment of his busy internationally acclaimed carpet business. It was a “therapeutic” decision that would lead to one of the largest and most recognized thoroughbred breeding facilities in the nation.
The purple and gold colors of Sanford Stud Farm, also known as Hurricana for the winds that blew over the farm from the Mohawk Valley below, would grace the Winner’s Circle of the Kentucky Derby with George Smith. Sanford Stud Farm was also the first American stable to win the prestigious English Grand National Steeplechase.
Today, only a few of the magnificent buildings remain. The training track is a shopping mall and the monuments memorializing Sanford winners have all been removed from their original places of honor.
In spite of the deteriorating buildings the Sanford Legacy lives on, immortalized by the Grade II Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, The Hollie Hughes Handicap at Aqueduct and by the still-standing Broodmare Barn located on rt 30 in the Town of Amsterdam, New York.
Please consider a membership or donation to the immediate goal of the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm. The broodmare barn has been standing for nearly 200 years. However, due to the neglect of recent years, a significant portion of this irreplaceable structure is facing almost certain collapse. Without your support, one of Amsterdam’s major landmarks could be lost forever.
Friends of Sanford Stud Farm is a Not-For-Profit Organization in unison with the Town of Amsterdam formed to help oversee the restoration and preservation of the former Sanford Stud Farm as a heritage center because of its historical, educational, architectural and cultural signifigance. The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) Not-for-Profit Corporation. On May 5, 2013, one of goals of The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm was realized in being recognized as a place of national prominence in getting listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Following the preview of the Sanford Legacy Exhibit at the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame on March 24, 2015, The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm held their annual social gathering and officer installation at Amsterdam’s Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse.
2015 Board of Directors
President – Scott Friers, Vice President – Thomas Foster, Secretary – Linda Gates, Treasurer – John Lesniewski
Mary Ann Metz, Ron DiCaprio, Tom DiMezza, Jenny Brewster
It was a very nice evening catered by MUNI’s gracious concessionaire Laura Elmendorf who put out an excellent buffet. The evening opened with a speech by FSSF President Scott Friers. Sam Hidebrandt told a very entertaining story describing how a man was tricked by a shady tailor into buying an ill fitting suit. Sam was also chosen to receive the outstanding volunteer of the year award. He never ceases to amaze with his vast knowledge of the history of the Sanford family and thoroughbred racing and his dedication to the cause. Restorations on the Broodmere barn were extensive this year due to the efforts of volunteers, an engineer and Kucel Construction who also received awards. Many gave speeches including Victoria Tokarowski, curator of the Sanford Legacy exhibit, Pierre Manigault, Great Gandson of John Sanford, spoke about feeling part of our family here in Amsterdam. Although he lives in Charleston, South Carolina, Pierre finds the time to attend our local events. He and his mother Landine Manigault have been generous benefactors to FSSF. Official proclamations signifying the importance of the Sanford Legacy were issed by NYS Senator George Amedore and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara’s office by their local administrative assistants. Town of Amsterdam Supervisor and member of the FSSF Board of Directors, Tom DiMezza spoke about the Town’s continued dedication to this project.
The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York previewed their latest exhibit, the Sanford Legacy, to the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm, select guests and the press on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. The exhibit, researched and designed by museum curator Victoria Tokarowski of Fultonville, showcases the significant contribution of Amsterdam’s Sanford family to the sport of thoroughbred racing. The exhibit opens to the public March 25, 2015 and runs through 2016. Tuesday’s event was attended by Sanford family descendent Pierre Manigault from Charleston, South Carolina, Son of Sanford jockey Louis Hildebrandt, Sam Hildebrandt, Montgomery County Legislator Barbara Wheeler, Town of Amsterdam Supervisor Tom DiMezza, Friends of Sanford Stud Farm President Scott Friers and several members of FSSF as well as the media. For more information just click on this link: National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
The Clubhouse of Amsterdam’s Municipal Golf Course, run by Laura Elmendorf, hosted the first social gathering for City Amsterdam Mayoral candidate Michael Villa last night. In attendance were about 150 people representing many generations, occupations and political parties. This show of force was a large sign that the citizens of Amsterdam want a change in leadership. Mike Villa believes he is the candidate with the leadership experience to make that change. Introduced by Amsterdam businesswoman and Recorder VP of Sales and Marketing, Pat Beck, Villa spoke of his plan to bring much-needed leadership, integrity and fiscal responsibility back to our city. He wants our citizens to once again take pride in the fact they live in Amsterdam, New York. Mike Villa was both grateful and overwhelmed by the large number of people supporting his candidacy.
You can contact Mike Villa or give to his campaign through his website, Mike Villa For Mayor.