Volunteer of the Year

The Arts Center of Yates County’s Norma Pealer Volunteer of the Year award recognizes the exceptional dedication of a volunteer who has provided outstanding support for the Arts Center.

Congratulations to this year’s winner:

Susan Peck

You walk into the historic bank building at 127 Main St., Penn Yan, and you see beautiful works of art, carefully showcased in an inviting space.

That is just one layer of what the Arts Center is all about. There’s so much more going on behind the scenes, and it requires constant effort by many people – and not just the artists.

“It’s really a team effort,” says Susan Peck. As recipient of this year’s Norma Peeler Volunteer Award, she wants to give credit to the many volunteers who contribute to the success of the organization.

Named in honor of a longtime Arts Center supporter, the award is given “in recognition of the exceptional dedication of a volunteer who has provided outstanding support for the Arts Center.” “Susan has contributed to the Arts Center in a wide range of ways over the years,” says Executive Director Kris Pearson. “She’s been a member, a patron and a volunteer helping with fund raising, membership, governance and exhibits. Her energy, enthusiasm, insight and myriad talents have been greatly appreciated.”

Susan was introduced to the Arts Center more than a decade ago by Caryl Flickinger. Chatting at a party, Caryl learned about Susan’s work for The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes in Corning, where she developed grants for individuals, organizations and schools to fund arts programming in a five-county region.

“This conversation was the perfect lead-in for Caryl to invite me to participate on the Arts Center Board. The Fund Development committee was a good fit.”

Susan served on the board from 2013 to 2017. “I had lots of ideas and enjoyed the give and take of committee members,” she says. “One idea that caught on was an auction held at the annual dinner at Keuka College.”

Then Sandy Murrin asked Susan to chair the Exhibits Committee.

“But I’m not an artist and I know nothing about the gallery!” was Susan’s reaction. But she accepted. Organizing 10 exhibits each year is a huge logistical challenge – and a job she has thoroughly enjoyed.

“Working with this wonderful team has been a joy,” she says. “Everyone chips in with ideas and the necessary follow-through, which has allowed Flick Gallery to grow and highlight the quality artists from our region while visitors and residents interact and enjoy the artwork.”

Susan was compelled to step away from her involvement in 2022 due to major life changes. First, a fire extensively damaged her summer home in Keuka Park. Then, during the reconstruction, her husband, John, was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died in October 2022, not long after the couple marked their 52nd anniversary.

Arts Center volunteers were supportive through the difficult time. “The people really care about each other,” Susan says. “The Arts Center has been an exciting. fun part of my life over the years. It’s been a wonderful experience for me.”