October 18, 2021

Telethon a needed injection for nonprofits

‘It’s a rally cry for the end of the year’

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Ty Marshal at the Center for the Arts of Homer in this file photo. The executive director jokes that the public may want to watch as he and Sheila Ryan, his assistant, unravel as they stay awake for 24 hours for the center’s 24 Hours for Cortland County Telethon coming up.

Ty Marshal said sometimes you recognize the importance of things when you don’t have them.

The executive director of the Center for the Arts of Homer, and his staff, are taking the lead in corralling the community to help the nonprofits in Cortland County.

“We’re focusing on the positives. We’re focusing on hope. We’re highlighting those organizations that do so much for the community,” said Marshal on Tuesday at the 72 S. Main St., Homer, center.

He and Joe Cortese, board member at the center, talked about the upcoming “24 Hours for Cortland County” a live telethon set for noon Dec. 11 to noon Dec. 12.

The event will livestream from the center, but branch out all over the country in a virtual offering that will raise funds for 13 and counting nonprofits.

“It’s a pre-vaccination to keep our local nonprofit organizations healthy,” said Marshal. “Oh, that’s so cheesy. It’s a rally cry for the end of the year, which has been a tough year.”

Nonprofits, like the center, CRT and Cortland Historical Society have their doors shut because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Others, like CNY Living History Museum and the YWCA are operating in a limited fashion.

“The staff and I have been putting our heads together to discover ways to engage the public … Instead of doing a traditional end of year donation drive, which we normally do … this idea was born of brainstorming, and it’s something that can be done safely,” said Marshal.

Each hour has a sponsor who has donated for that hour, a local business or person in the community, linked up with a nonprofit.

The sponsor will be interviewed about their business. And the nonprofit will be interviewed, said Marshal.

That will be followed by 25 minutes of entertainment: music, dance, acting, cooking, arts and crafts, including blacksmithing.

“We will do that for 24 hours,” said Marshal.

“In the overnight hours, we will take some liberties. We will have good content for those hours,” said Cortese.


The deal

What: 24 Hours for Cortland County telethon
When: Noon Dec. 11 to noon Dec. 12
Why: Raise funds for nonprofits
Where: www.center4art.org
How: Access website and donate there or by calling 607-749-4900

Entertainment, thus far

• Colleen Kattau
• The Cousins
• Chris Merkley
• Jon Rogalia
• Austin MacRae
• Mardis Kelson
• Center Players
• Signature Dance Studio
• Ben Wright and the Henhouse
• Prowlers
• Kim Hubbard
• Marcia Petrucci-Waffner
• Peter Hartsock
• The X-Plozionz!!!
• Local Farmers Union

Nonprofit partners

• Cortland Repertory Theatre
• YWCA of Cortland
• CNY Living History Center
• Cortland Loaves and Fishes
• Lime Hollow Nature Center
• Cultural Council of Cortland County
• Access to Independence
• Cortland Main Street Music Series
• reUse Cortland
• Arts at Grace
• Cortland Breakfast Rotary Club
• Cortland County Historical Society
• Catholic Charities of Cortland County


Cortese asked Victor Siegle of Homer to sponsor an hour:

“He said in his inimitable Victor Siegle way, ‘Well tell me Joe, what are the hours that will be least watched?’

Cortese: The wee hours of the night.

“I will take midnight to 6 a.m.,” Siegle told him, Cortese related.

“He’s going to bring in relatives and friends of his,” including a classical musical composer.

Filming for the event will take place at the Center for the Arts, but individuals participating can opt to zoom in from an alternate site.

David Neal, for instance, head of Arts at Grace, will do a show via Zoom.

“The software system allows us to zoom in, if the participant is not here,” said Marshal of OBS livestream software.

Ben Wright and the Hen House Prowlers, who are out of state, will Zoom in, said Cortese.

Zach Sovocool and his production team at the center will make this happen, said Marshal.

“It will be like a 24-hour TV program,” said Marshal. And every hour, prizes and give aways will take place, based on people’s donations. Prizes are provided by Center for the Arts’ business partners.

And founders of the center are matching up to $500 during select hours.

“If you think of the old Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon, this is how we are fashioning it,” said Marshal.

What’s that saying, Marshal said to Cortese about the boat and the tide? “A rising tide lifts all the boats,” Cortese said.

Center for the Arts asked partners they’ve worked with in the past five to 10 years, who jumped on immediately — the likes of Access to Independence, Cortland County Historical Society, CNY Living History Center.

“It’s been a year,” said Aaron Baier, director of Access to Independence of Cortland County. “We need our community support, more than ever.”

Access had to cut staff to reduce costs, but did it in such a way that no programs were cut. New York state is withholding 20 percent of its funding to the agency and Baier isn’t sure that will come back.

“We love the fact that they are making the arts accessible to people with disabilities in our community,” Baier said of the center. “They opened up their space to us … We are grateful for the opportunity to be part of the telethon.”

People can access center4art. org to link up with the telethon, as well as sponsors like Cortland Standard at www.cortlandstandard.net or partners like Access, at its Facebook and website pages.

“We’re hoping most of our community partners will add the link to their website,” Marshal said.

The center’s website will have the schedule of who is appearing when, so if Lime Hollow Nature Center is going on at a certain time, supporters can watch and donate during its hour.

Twenty-five percent of the proceeds for each hour goes to the community partner directly. Twenty-five to 50 percent goes to the production costs by the center and 25 percent will go the center.

People can also call 607-749-4900 to donate.