In the long history of the ACBL Goodwill Committee, there have been many magic moments at the committee’s thrice-yearly receptions. It would be hard to top Monday’s introduction of Kitty Gottfried as one of the two recipients of the Nadine Wood Volunteer of the Year award for 2014.
There were few dry eyes in the audience when the diminutive Gottfried was called to the podium by Goodwill Chair Sandy DeMartino. Gottfried seemed overwhelmed by the honor and was speechless for a few minutes as she listened to praise after praise for her long service to the Washington Bridge League as the queen of hospitality.
Margot Hennings, who represents District 6 on the ACBL Board of Directors, said Gottfried was the late Nadine Wood’s top helper for more than 40 years. “It’s nice to be able to recognize people who have given so much to bridge,” said Hennings.
When she took the microphone, Gottfried said she had a lot of help with her hospitality duties. “We had lots of good people from the WBF,” she said. “Volunteers need other volunteers.”
As she made her way back to her seat after offering thanks for the honor, she received a standing ovation.
The honor for Gottfried was part two of the Volunteer of the Year award presented by 2013 ACBL President Bill Cook, who said he could not select just one recipient from the list of candidates given to him. As president, it was his duty to select the volunteer award winner or winners.
Co-winner Silvana Scotto was hailed for her dynamic performance as the top fundraiser during the joint operation between the ACBL and the Alzheimer’s Association last summer during the Longest Day event. Scotto’s Sagamore Bridge Club in Syosset NY (Long Island) raised more than $80,000 for the cause.
Al Levy, who represents the district that encompasses Long Island, said Scotto has few peers when it comes to energy. “She is an amazing woman,” Levy said. “She has run a number of businesses but took some time off to grow her family.” Noting that Scotto has five daughters, Levy said, “That alone gets you a medal.”
Levy said Scotto is a dynamic recruiter, outstanding club owner and volunteer, serving on the unit board.
Scotto said her success has been a team effort. “I could not do it by myself. There is an incredible group at my club.”
Her family comes first, Scotto said, “but bridge is the second most rewarding thing in my life.”
There were other honorees at the meeting. Karl Dencker of Lake in the Hills IL was introduced as the Goodwill Member of the Year for his energetic promotion of bridge through tournament organizing and a dogged determination to make sure any player who has attended one of his tournaments knows there’s a welcome mat waiting at the next. If someone misses one or two of his tournaments, that person can count on receiving a postcard urging him or her to play again soon.
District 8 Director Georgia Heth said that when Dencker started helping out in the district, “he came on at full speed and did it all. He is always looking for new ways to help the players and support bridge.” Dencker said, “It’s a great honor to be among all of you nice people.”
District 16 Director Dan Morse presented a certificate of appreciation from the ACBL to Charlie Price, longtime District 16 volunteer. Price has served in numerous positions in the district, including president, vice president, treasurer, mediator and tournament chair for 25 years.
The meeting got off to a lively start after DeMartino opened the proceedings with a welcome. CEO Robert Hartman thanked Gottfried and Silvana for traveling such a long distance, then he recounted a story of how he made someone’s day at the bridge table – and it wasn’t by going for 800.
Hartman said he wasn’t feeling good about the session because things were going wrong left and right, and when a pair came to his table, he said, “Welcome to table three.” Hartman said he didn’t think his greeting sounded enthusiastic, so he was surprised when one of the new opponents, a woman, said, “That’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me all week!” Hartman said it felt good to know he helped someone enjoy the game a bit more.
Hartman was about to step away from the podium when District 23 Director Rand Pinsky shouted, “How did you get table three?” It was a reference to the position normally reserved for top-seeded pairs. Not missing a beat, Hartman replied, “I’m a seed in the 99er games.”
ACBL President Phyllis Harlan welcomed the group and praised them for being “the epitome of what goodwill should be. You wouldn’t have goodwill pins if you weren’t. We thank you for all the good work you do.”
DeMartino closed the meeting by reminding Goodwill Committee members that, “you can be competitive, but you can also be friendly and ethical.”