By: Tim Birney | | December 6, 2020 | Photo courtesy Tim Birney


BINGHAMTON — Members of the Southern Tier Hawks were on hand Saturday afternoon to help at the weekly St. Mary of the Assumption-Church of St. Paul community meals at the St. Mary’s Rec. Center.

Hawks 12U team members Griffin Walter and Preston Besmer, as well as Waverly grad Scott Woodring, a freshman on the Mansfield University men’s basketball team, and Waverly senior Ryan Lambert — both volunteer coaches — assisted in handing out food to needy members of the community.

Hawks coach Reggie Hawkins said volunteering at the community meal was an “eye-opening” experience for the kids.

“This is the best way in the world for these kids to give back,” he said. “We’re teaching life lessons through basketball.

“This is a big-time eye-opening experience for these kids, to see how some people really live,” noted Hawkins.

“They’re fortunate to have their parents and a home. There are a lot of people out there in the community that don’t have a home or hot meals,” added Hawkins. “This really shows the kids the need to give back.”

Gene Ferranti, a St. Mary’s Rec. Center committee member, was impressed by the community-minded spirit of the Hawks players volunteering their time.

“The (Southern Tier Hawks) program is not only teaching these kids basketball and what it takes to be a good basketball player, but they are teaching kids how to give back to the community.

“It’s selfless, and really exemplifies the spirit of this particular season, taking care of those, especially those who may not have much — that means everything,” said Ferranti.

According to the Community Meals coordinators Shannon Brooks, who is also the “chef,” Mary Eileen Hopkins, and May Lamoree approximately 200 meals were dispersed to those in need.

“We feed the needy, and we deliver meals to shut-ins,” said Brooks. “We prepare hot meals — between 200 and 250 every Saturday.

“It’s not just soup and a sandwich,” said Hopkins. “They get a full meal.”

“Today, we have chicken noodle soup, with chicken and gravy over noodles, peas, and coleslaw. We also have either blueberry pie, banana bread, or mayonnaise cocoa cake for dessert,” said Brooks.

“We put a lot of love into it. Everything is fresh … we get a lot of donations, if something is expired we throw it in the garbage,” noted Brooks. “If we cook too much, some people will take four or five meals because they’re hungry.”

“And, for a lot of them, this is the only meal they will have for the week,” added Hopkins.

There are no restrictions on the meal, and no proof of need is required.

“Everybody is welcome, not just residents of Binghamton,” said Brooks.

“You just need to show up, stay six feet apart, and we will feed you,” said Hopkins. “No questions asked.”

Brooks notes St. Mary’s—St. Paul’s provides holiday meals as well.

“We had a very nice Thanksgiving meal, and we will have Christmas dinners ready on Dec. 19,” she said.

Hawks founder Keith Thomas said the AAU organization is grateful to St. Mary’s and wants to show it’s appreciation by volunteering.

“The Southern Tier Hawks and its board (of directors) has looked for safe homes, and permanent homes for our programs,” he said. “St. Mary-St. Paul of the Assumption have offered that to us.

“We’d like to give Father John and the church a lot of credit, and thank them, along with Ken (Henson) of the Tioga County Boys & Girls Club, which has also provided a home for our program.

“We just want everybody to know that the program is here for everybody in the Southern Tier — from Bath and Corning to Oxford and Binghamton,” noted Thomas.

“I’d like to thank the Southern Tier Hawks board members, who have worked hard to put this together,” he continued. “With special thanks to coach Reggie Hawkins, and our newest addition — coach Art Williams, who is the former coach of the Dreamers.

“Our organization is growing, and we would like to show our appreciation by giving back to the communities we’re involved in,” added Thomas.


About the Author

Tim Birney Author Bio
Tim Birney

Tim Birney is the founder / owner of River Road Media Group. He was born and raised in the Valley, graduating from Waverly High School in 1984.

Birney earned an Associate's Degree in Journalism from SUNY Morrisville in 1986 and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism / Public Relations from Utica College of Syracuse University in 1988. He began his newspaper career at The Daily Review in Towanda in 1989, before moving on to The Evening Times in 1995. He spent more than 10 years at the Times, the last four as Managing Editor.

River Road Media Group includes Valley Sports Report (launched Aug. 10, 2009), Tioga County (NY) Sports Report (Aug. 13, 2018), and Northern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 31, 2020). Southern Tier Sports Report is set to launch in 2021.