All Districts have an opportunity each year to recognize members deserving of lifetime appointments to two honorary committees – the Goodwill Committee and the Charitable Recognition Award. As the current President of District 4, Betsy Cutler is delighted to announce the 2024 appointments for the following individuals. Each has made exceptional contributions to bridge and the bridge community.
Thank you’s go out to Jim, Dennis, Pat, and Pamela. The time and energy devoted selflessly to bridge and other charitable work makes our game, and our world, a better place.
Goodwill Committee Appointments:
Jim fosters a spirit of cooperation and teamwork within District 4, Unit 112 and the Rochester Area Bridge Association (RABA). On the District level, he serves as a primary communication link. He uses Constant Contact and Pianola to provide information regarding sectional and regional tournaments. His high ethical standards have been recognized as he has been asked by District leadership to assist with special projects such as arranging for online voting for the Unit 141 election of officers. He also maintains the District database of members by using the monthly In-and-Out reports. He is a Unit 112 representative on the District Board of Directors.
His honesty is evidenced as his position as the Business Manager for the Finger Lakes Regionals. He negotiates contracts for the Regional venue, prepares a budget and ensures that all income and expenditures are accurately accounted. Jim serves as Vice-President of the Unit 112 Board. During and since the pandemic, he took the initiative to contact all the club managers in the Unit to ascertain their playing status (i.e., were local games being held face-to-face, virtually or not being held). He regularly updates information on the Unit website regarding when and where games are held and the local contacts. He facilitates Unit Board meetings by arranging Zoom meetings and he supplies a packet of information (e.g., Agenda, Secretary’s minutes, Treasurer’s Report, budgets) to each Board member prior to the meeting.
My first foray into bridge began during my freshman year in college. My new roommate asked me if I played bridge. And that launched my first partnership. A few years later, I met the person who would become my wife and my lifelong bridge partner. Then along came kids… and more work obligations… and no time for bridge. Fast forward three decades. Liz and I had retired and decided to play duplicate again. Our masterpoints, garnered on little slips of paper, were long gone, but we found a local game and played once a week, then twice, and suddenly were hooked. I ran for the board of our local bridge organization. I won and the next year became President, then joined the Unit Board and then the District Board.
In March 2020, COVID brought our world to a standstill. Using Constant Contact, I reached out with helpful tips on BBO and Virtual Club Games to keep our players engaged. I helped manage five local Sectionals and a Regional to re-establish tournament play in our area. This was a rewarding experience.
I am a late bloomer to the master point scramble. I became a grandfathered Life Master a few months before the COVID shutdown. Then, I began to play more both online and F2F. I have earned over 80% of my masterpoints since the start of the COVID epidemic. I love bridge, and I love doing what I can to bring the game to more people.
Dennis has selflessly and for little in the way of remuneration taught new players to play the wonderful game of bridge. Although he is in Unit 168 and lives in the Lancaster area, and has taught extensively there, he also taught extensively in the Harrisburg area and built up the membership of the Harrisburg Bridge Club. Last year, he approached the management of King of Prussia Bridge Club with an offer to teach in our area. He successfully worked with Upper Merion Library to set up a free bridge class, using the curriculum of Audrey Grant’s Bridge Basics One. He then successfully migrated many of those students into Bridge Basics Two and Bridge Basics Three series at the KOP club. He drives a considerable distance from his home to teach at KOP and then arranges to play with one of our players in the duplicate game after his lesson.
But in addition to the “what”, I must emphasize the “how”. Dennis is always cheerful at the table, has a smile on his face and treats all with grace and respect. His enthusiasm when lecturing is palpable and his students tell me he makes learning fun.
I feel honored that I was nominated for this ACBL award. Over the years I have taught many classes in different cities and have always loved doing it. It’s nice to be recognized as it makes me feel even better about the enthusiasm that I always put forth about the game and how it can change your life and your social calendar. The game itself has already returned to me a world of gratification and now this recognition makes me feel “over the top”.
My first exposure to bridge was traveling with my parents to the homes of friends. I was 9 years old. I read comic books and stole snacks from their tables. My mother then taught me and my wife to play the game (Goren). I was fortunate enough to semi retire early so I then dove into bridge headfirst. This was in the late 90’s. I was good at speaking in front of groups, so I decided to teach bridge to small groups even though I wasn’t even a life master yet. As the years went by, I shifted to larger and larger group classes and I would record my retention percentages from one group to the next and constantly worked on improving that ratio and then membership into the local clubs and the ACBL. I enjoyed following my students’ successes no matter how small.
Today as an instructor I realize that to transform new students most efficiently to club playing members it takes more than knowledge and teaching. It takes recognizable enthusiasm for the game and a commitment to making sure they are enjoying being in the bridge environment. Thanks again, ACBL.
Charitable Recognition Award Appointments:
Pat has for four years run the Longest Day fundraiser at North Penn Duplicate Bridge Club with enthusiasm. Under her leadership, we have raised over $10,000 for this worthwhile charity.
When the North Penn club faced a slow recovery from the COVID pandemic, Pat spearheaded a successful effort to have the club reorganized as a 501(c)3 charity, allowing our players to make tax deductible contributions to support the club. Once that status was secured, she personally made a 4-figure contribution to the club, offsetting the substantial attorney fees incurred in the process.
After retiring as a professional pilot in 2007, my husband, Earle, and I moved to the small town of Berkeley Springs in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. We made many friends there, some of whom were bridge players. I knew nothing about the game and had no interest (I thought). In late 2010, my friend Marie Hardy invited me to a luncheon, and I went, not knowing that after lunch, bridge would be played. I watched a bit, then got thrown in on a round and was hooked. I started taking lessons and played my first duplicate game within a few weeks.
In early 2011, I joined the ACBL and played 2-4 times a week in sanctioned and social bridge games. It didn’t take long to realize that I could get even more of a bridge fix by going to some tournaments. Our Life Master friends Larry and Sandy King invited Marie and me to play in the 2012 Pittsburgh Regional with them where we scored our first gold points playing teams. I made Life Master late in 2014, just before moving to Bucks County, PA to live closer to family. In Pennsylvania, I found my new bridge home at member-owned North Penn Duplicate Bridge Club in North Wales, PA where I now play 3 days most weeks. I love Club bridge because you can really get to know fellow players in a community atmosphere. Giving back to the game has always been important to me and our local clubs provide lots of ways to do that. Two areas that are my main focus now are mentoring new players (inspired by my own mentors, the Kings) and promoting our Club’s involvement in ACBL’s Longest Day campaign.
All of us who play this game have benefitted from teachers and mentors. It’s important to me to pay that forward by giving back to this game that has been such a big part of my life over the past 13 years.
Pam Cuda chaired the Mohawk Valley Bridge Association’s (MVBA) first-ever Longest Day fundraising event. She encouraged our players to participate in the local bridge game held to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and advocated for the MVBA to match contributions. As a result of her efforts, the MVBA raised $620. A photograph from that Longest Day game is in the October 2023 Bridge Bulletin (page 14).
Pam is the secretary of the Mohawk Valley Bridge Association and is a representative on the Unit 112 Board of Directors. She volunteers her time to teach beginning bridge players at the Parkway Senior Center. She has also taught beginning bridge players as part of the Mohawk Valley Institute for Learning in Retirement. She encourages her students to join the ACBL and to play in our local sanctioned game.
Learning bridge was a goal after retiring from teaching about 20 years ago, so I joined Mohawk Valley Institute for Learning in Retirement (MVILR) to take lessons. I loved the game from the beginning! After a couple of years of lessons and practicing in home games with fellow students, I took the leap to play in my first duplicate game with the Mohawk Valley Bridge Association (MVBA).
MVBA was a friendly and supportive place. Members stepped up to give lessons to improve play and I was encouraged to join ACBL. Shortly later I was asked to become a MVBA Board member and secretary, to participate in holding a Utica sectional, to become a Unit 112 Board member, and to chair the local Longest Day. I’ve even gone back to MVILR to encourage a new group of people to begin playing. It’s all been a great journey. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner!