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Chamber Award Winner: Citizen of the Year Kara Kane

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By Rich Place

From her full-time job at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital (BCH) to her handful of volunteer efforts — most notably co-founding the 4,000-member strong Be Neighborly Springville Area (BNSA) group on Facebook — Kara Kane is certainly no stranger to Springville.

And that “be neighborly” attitude she practices daily was noticed by the Springville Area Chamber of Commerce, which this weekend will honor her with the Citizen of the Year distinction at its annual awards. Kane’s nomination was based on her involvement and enthusiasm for projects that improve our community, including her role on the team that secured a major state grant award for BCH, one of the area’s largest employers.

“Wherever you live, I feel you have a responsibility to feel that it’s good for you, it’s good for your family and, by extension, your neighbors,” Kane said during a recent interview. “I feel that and although I understand it’s not for everybody, everyone benefits when you do something good for someone else.”

Originally from central New York, Kane has lived in the area for about 10 years and has since become immersed in all things Springville. Beyond her day job, she actively monitors the BNSA and Buy Nothing Project Springville/Arcade/Gowanda Facebook pages, belongs to the boards at the chamber, library and Healthy Community Alliance, participates in the Springville Regional Services Coalition, maintains several local Little Free Libraries, is a member of the Springville Elementary School PTA and was a member of the school board.

There’s only so much time in a day, though, right?

“I looked at Green Springville, for example, when they started up late last year and seriously I don’t have time,” she admitted. “But if it’s going to a meeting and getting a couple things to work on outside of the meetings, I’m able to find time.”

In the volunteer realm, there’s perhaps nothing Kane does that impacts more people daily than the BNSA Facebook group, which she admitted is one of her proudest accomplishments.

Since its founding in 2015, the group has amassed more than 4,200 members that have some kind of connection to Springville — a resident, a business owner, a former resident or someone perhaps looking to move back. It’s an online community that shares positive thoughts on local news topics, business recommendations, upcoming events, weather updates, photographs and more.

“To see every week it’s doing everything from helping people find an apartment or a job to finding a lost set of keys is just cool,” she said. “There’s nothing else like it in Springville.”

The group, which started as an offshoot to a local Buy Nothing Project page, now has five administrators, including Kane, who help keep the forum positive, clean and productive. Kane said she usually checks in on the group over breakfast and then surfs it during the evening.

“A lot of the administration of the site is just quickly reading through and making sure no one is being mean to anybody else,” she said, adding she also uses the site for the same reasons others do: to find out about upcoming events, networking and interacting with the community.

A graduate of Le Moyne College in Syracuse with a master’s degree from University at Buffalo, Kane had communications-based positions at Hamilton College, Medaille College and Buffalo-based Computer Task Group (CTG) before arriving at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital as its community relations and development coordinator in 2014.

There, she carries out that common theme prevalent in so many facets of her life: improving relationships, this time between the hospital and the Springville community, and developing projects to, in a nutshell, make the hospital a better place.

“It’s really my dream job – and you can quote me on that,” she said. “It’s a little bit of everything — I work on marketing here, communications, writing grants, doing fundraising and doing events.”

Plus, she can attend meetings like those at the chamber or the regional services coalition as a representative of the hospital but also as an interested citizen committed to improving the area.

After working at CTG in Buffalo and enduring the commute from the Springville area, Kane said her 10-minute commute and being “90 seconds” from her kids’ school are among the best benefits of her job at the hospital.

“Plus, I see people I work with out and about in town — that’s the best part about it,” she said. “And knowing I’m working in a place I use, a place my neighbors use. That’s great.”

Kane credits her family as one of the reasons she’s able to be so active. She lives in Glenwood with her husband, Jeremiah, her children, her mother-in-law and two dogs.

“Just as other people have hobbies like four-wheeling or going to concerts, I think my hobbies gravitate toward community effort,” she said. “We have so many things like festivals where the community comes together and volunteers and puts on activities and events. You don’t see that every place and that really makes Springville special.

“It’s also benefiting my kids,” she added. “They are in an area where there is always something going on. Why wouldn’t I help with that?”

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