Campus Police Sgt. Cheryl Vossmer and Win Poor, director of the CASPAR Emergency Service Center, received the sixth annual MIT President's Community Service Awards last week. For the first time, the awards included $1,000 donations to a Cambridge-based charity of the recipient's choice.
"Win Poor and Cheryl Vossmer are among the very best role models this city and this campus have to offer," President Charles M. Vest said in announcing the winners at the President's House on November 28.
The awards were created to provide recognition to members of the Cambridge and MIT communities who have devoted themselves to the highest ideals of community service. They are presented by President Vest and Mrs. Rebecca M. Vest in conjunction with the Office of Government and Community Relations.
"As all of us know from our own experience, some of the most important lessons of a residential education program occur in less formal settings -- settings in which students and faculty at all levels come together in a spirit of collegiality and teamwork," President Vest said. "The President's Community Service Award is an extension of this spirit to the larger community of which MIT is a part. We believe that working shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors is the best way to solve problems that affect us in common."
Mr. Poor has been director of the CASPAR (Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Rehabilitation) Emergency Service Center since 1988. More than 1,000 guests seek and receive life-saving services each year at the facility, located on MIT property at 240 Albany St.
The citation on his award said: "MIT is fortunate to have Win Poor as a neighbor and partner. He offers unending kindness and patience to all those who come to the Emergency Service Center, and as a result makes our community's future considerably brighter, hopeful, and more secure."
Mr. Poor noted that he grew up in the area and now is affiliated with a shelter located on MIT property. "In one way or another, I've spent most of my life at MIT," he said. Mr. Poor asked that his $1,000 be donated to CASPAR's Lena M. Dicicco Scholarship Fund.
Sgt. Vossmer, who has been an MIT police officer for 16 years, leads an annual holiday effort to collect toys, food and clothing for the local Salvation Army and its day care center for homeless children, the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, and Shelter Inc. She initiated an effort at MIT to raise money for those living with AIDS through the annual Thanksgiving "Pie in the Sky" fundraiser. In 1998, she received the Gordon Y Billard Award for distinguished service to the MIT community.
The citation on her award says: "Combining devotion to a highly demanding job with an exuberant personality, Cheryl adds immeasurably to the quality of life in our community. We at MIT, together with our Cambridge neighbors, are fortunate to have in our midst such a dedicated and remarkable individual... Her exemplary behavior inspires us to follow her lead in demonstrating care and concern for one another."
Officer Vossmer thanked her parents and the late Marie Cedrone of the Office of Sponsored Programs, a previous winner of this award, for providing her with a sense of community service. She challenged the audience to participate fully in their communities. Officer Vossmer divided her prize equally between the Salvation Army and the MIT Community Service Fund.
Cambridge Mayor Anthony Gallucio and City Councilor Marjorie Decker offered congratulations to the award recipients from the City of Cambridge. Other city officials at the event included Superintendent of Schools Bobbie D'Alessandro and Police Supt. Harold Murphy. Paul Parravano of the President's Office of Government and Community Relations acted as master of ceremonies.
Besides Ms. Cedrone, past recipients of the President's Community Service award are Majors Stephen and Betzann Carroll (Salvation Army), Vaughn A. Crayton (Department of Facilities), Yvonne L. Gittens (Student Financial Services), Gordon N. Gottsche (Just A Start Corp.), Reverend Howard A. McLendon (Massachusetts Avenue Baptist Church), Dr. Janet C. Moses (MIT Medical), Lisa P. Van Vleck (Cambridge School Volunteers), Professor J. Kim Vandiver (MIT Edgerton Center), Dawn E. Swan (Cambridge Community Center), and Evette M. Layne (MIT/Wellesley Upward Bound Program). Many previous winners attended the event.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 6, 2000.