QUEENSBURY — Rene Clements and Jane Gibbs grew up together in Glens Falls, sisters just three years apart.
They were always close, Gibbs said, and that was still very much the case Tuesday as both received recognition for their community volunteer work at the 2018 Post-Star‘s Shining Stars awards luncheon at The Great Escape Lodge in Queensbury. The event, sponsored by the newspaper in partnership with The Conkling Center, recognizes area residents aged 65 or older, for their work in the community.
Clements and Gibbs were among 20 honorees.
“It’s very humbling. I’ll cry,” Clements said, tears springing to her eyes. “It’s nice to be recognized, but we do it because we love it. We like helping people.”
Clements lives in Queensbury now, and her family surrounded her Tuesday at the awards. She was nominated by Kris Flower, Sean Magee and Patty Kircher for a long list of volunteering. Gibbs’ list was also long, leaving Post-Star Publisher Rob Forcey nearly out of breath as he announced her accomplishments.
She, too, was nominated by Flower, Magee and Kircher. Both sisters particularly pointed out their love of the theater and their work with the Adirondack Theatre Festival. The two sisters now serve on the festival’s board of directors. They often volunteer for the Glens Falls Community Theater, besides a number of other organizations from Special Olympics to Wreaths Across America.
Gibbs said it was her and Clements’ children who got them involved with the theater. She talked of when her then fourth-grade son was cast as the lead in a Hudson Falls High School production of “Oliver Twist.”
“That was the whole beginning,” Gibbs said, describing the joys of working backstage and helping out in a production.
It was something she and Clements didn’t have the opportunity to do when they were in school, Gibbs added. Family came from out of state, including a son from California, to see her accept the award.
Eighteen other area residents, many used to working behind the scenes and not in the spotlight, were honored, too. Forcey did most of the announcing, but Lt. Steven Stockdale with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office took over to announce one person, Stanley Malecki of Glens Falls. Malecki had been Stockdale’s sixth-grade teacher.
Mr. Malecki, as Stockdale referred to him, made a then 12-year-old Stockdale get up in front of the class for a public speaking assignment. It was something he didn’t want to do, but Malecki had said he would have to do it.
“‘I’m not trying to win any popularity contests,’ “ Stockdale remembers his teacher telling him. “I’ve been waiting 36 years to tell you,” the lieutenant went on, “you won a popularity contest.”
The crowd laughed.
Upon reviewing all the accomplishments of the latest class of Shining Stars, Forcey joked that he thought retirement would involve taking some time off.
Clements said there are just so many wonderful things in the world to do.
“You just have to find what you love and do it,” she said.