Who is that one person, that one moment, that one victory, that one loss, that one struggle that changed the direction of your life? We all have a story and there may not be that one defining moment in your life but many of them pieced together that makes us who we are. The Greater Binghamton, NY area is that piece that helped define me and many others. Binghamton Arts & Athletics Community Fund (BAACF) was started by a group from the Binghamton Area where sport, art, and their coaches / teachers helped craft who they are today.
The genesis of this fund started with the concept to create a fundraising framework with a dedicated team to create a sustainable organization to sponsor access and awareness to the benefits of the arts and athletics to the greater Binghamton area population. BAACF is well funded to achieve these goals by the support of several benefactors. The long term sustainability will be achieved from fund-raising campaigns and grants.
To enhance the overall well-being and resilience of Binghamton area youth by providing access to and promoting the benefits of the arts and athletics.
Who We Are
The BAACF concept was sparked by Aaron Callaway who grew up attending schools in Union-Endicott, Johnson City, and Binghamton. Growing up with a single mother who was an art teacher, music teacher, and entrepreneur while struggling to provide financially for a family of 4 certainly left an impression on Aaron. The exposure to the arts his mother provided – whether on the pottery wheel to photography, to architecture, to her pastel work – Aaron’s mother, Genne Cerwonka, also showed him what sacrifice and hard work looks like.
While Aaron was fortunate to have the arts naturally exposed to him, in a single mother family sports were not highlighted. The Greater Binghamton Area provided him, his brother, and his sister with this exposure. While the arts have provided Aaron with a foundation to appreciate how others express themselves, athletics provided him with a base of resiliency and respect. Science proves that the combination of art and athletics help prepare people to face struggle, achieve success, and to learn from it.
Aaron’s hope is that the mission of BAACF is just one piece of many that positively effects the story of many in the Greater Binghamton Area.
Brent Benkovic grew up on Binghamton‘s west side, the youngest of five, and graduated from Binghamton High School in 1991. He participated in many sports growing up, and ran track and cross-country and played basketball in high school. Brent has always held the Binghamton community dear to his heart and he and his family currently have a home on the city’s south side.
Brent has spent most of his adult life working in Manhattan in the investment industry. He is excited to support the Binghamton arts and athletics fund and hopes it will help bring many positive experiences to Binghamton area youth.
Marty Brutvan is a Design Technologist with a background in fine art and music. He is currently part of the Digital Team at the New York Public Library and he continues to participate in the sports he learned as a child.
Growing up in Binghamton, Marty was shaped by his participation in the artistic opportunities available in the community, including the visual art and music programs afforded by the Binghamton schools, the Binghamton Ballet School at the Roberson Museum and the local rock music scene. Marty also benefitted from the chance to participate in organized sports outlets like the CYO Soccer and Binghamton City Baseball leagues and eventually the BHS cross county and track teams, as well as less structured sporting activities like neighborhood stickball in the local parking lots and ultimate frisbee pickup games in Rec Park.
Many of the connections and friends made during these experiences are still part of Marty’s life and the lessons learned from the adversity in competition and the vulnerability felt when creating something personal continue to influence his decisions and general outlook on life. Recognizing the importance that the arts and athletics have had on his own life, Marty is excited to help Binghamton youth find their own meaningful experiences through these same avenues.
Vikki Collazo is a Binghamton area native, having attended Chenango Forks school district. After attending and graduating from Baypath University, she spent nearly 20 years in New York City working in the hospitality industry at the Lexington Hotel, Madison Towers and The Milford Plaza hotel. She returned to Binghamton to raise her son in 1997, where she then shifted her focus and pursued a career in non-profit work, starting with the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, Binghamton Rescue Mission and to her current position at the Children’s Home (of Wyoming Conference). She is, and continues to be, dedicated to helping others with her “Service Above Self” mantra, belonging to the Rotary Club of Binghamton, acting as President of the Binghamton Rotary Charities Fund, acting as Treasurer of Volunteer Administrators of the Southern Tier (VAST), Advisory Board of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Catholic Charities, Board of Trustees of the Broome County Public Library and a member of the American Business Women’s Association. Working in and serving the community for 26 years, led her to the BAACF to better serve our youth and community.
Mike Lynch grew up on Binghamton‘s east side, the son of a firefighter Dad and educator Mom. He played sports from the earliest he can remember and grew particularly adept at baseball, eventually playing in college on a scholarship and then professionally before beginning his career as a collegiate athletic director.
Mike learned the values of hard work, determination, and stick-to-it-tive-ness from both his parents, as they made ends meet while sending three children off to college, as well as through his experience in sports. Mike’s life‘s work has been to help young people experience many of the great things that he did growing up, and he hopes that his contributions and participation in the Binghamton arts and athletics fund can help those in his hometown to learn, grow and prosper through participation opportunities that they might otherwise miss out on.
Dan Shanley was a Binghamton transplant from Madison NJ. He grew up in Binghamton during his formidable years of High School. He credits the Binghamton community, his coaches, and teammates in helping him develop his resiliency today. After Binghamton he attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy and continued his cross-country and track career while obtaining a degree in Engineering.
Today Dan lives in the Washington DC area where he is a partner in a law firm.
Dan Zalbowitz grew up in Binghamton, NY. He spent his youth at the JCC swimming, playing basketball. Dan spent summers at Camp Susquehannock on Tripp Lake 30 min south of Binghamton.
Susquehannock is an overnight sports camp for kids ages 7-17. His time at camp taught him the importance of hard work and team work in sports and in life.
Zalbowitz played tennis at Binghamton High School for 4 years.
Community and sports have been an integral part of Zalbowitz’s life. Dan feels strongly about bringing the same opportunities to Binghamton youth.