And the Winners Are….

Here are the top three winners in the 2nd Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest organized by The Sophie Fund in the Commons on Saturday! (More winners to be posted soon!)

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Tamarynde Cacciotti won the Grand Prize

 

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Tamarynde Cacciotti’s Grand Prize winning entry: a cream puff cupcake with Earl Grey pastry filling and mocha buttercream.

 

1st Prize

$250 gift certificate for Greenstar Natural Foods Market

Tamarynde Cacciotti

2nd prize

Ali Strongwater’s 2nd Prize winning entry: a pumpkin and crystalized ginger cupcake, with whipped brown sugar icing, and open star piped frosting topped with ginger slice and sugar ghost holding candy corn

2nd Prize

La Tourelle Hotel Bistro and Spa gift certificate (one night stay, breakfast, massage)

Ali Strongwater

3rd prize

Alexander Quilty’s 3rd prize winning entry: a chocolate raspberry-filled cupcake with a raspberry buttercream frosting

3rd Prize

$100 gift certificate for Madeline’s Restaurant

Alexander Quilty

Alternatives and Us

The Sophie Fund is proud to announce that Alternatives Federal Credit Union is a sponsor of the 2nd Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest held this Saturday October 14.

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Besides helping underwrite the costs of the contest with a financial donation, the fantastic Alternatives team has been working with us behind the scenes to make the event even better than last year. Among the additional features: a coloring contest for the kids (up to age 8). Participants won’t be disappointed!

We’re glad to share in the uniqueness that Alternatives brings to Ithaca. Cornell University (’73) social psychology grad Bill Myers founded Alternatives in 1979 with a mission of serving low and moderate-income people and communities. It prides itself in providing access to safe financial services and education for underserved people.

As a Community Development Credit Union, Alternatives is member-owned, locally controlled, and self-supporting. According to its statement of purpose:

“We believe that by controlling the flow of funds within a small community, the community can build itself to suit its own needs and be more self-reliant. Our social mission is integrated into our economic mission, so for whatever reason, joining Alternatives is making a choice towards a more economically just community.”

Alternatives has been recognized for its social mission and standard of excellence. In 2014, the National Credit Union Association ranked Alternatives as the No. 1 Community Development Financial Institution in the United States.

In 2011, the Wells Fargo Next Awards presented Alternatives with its Advocacy Award for its policy and advocacy leadership on a living wage that began as a local effort and grew into a national movement.

The Sophie Fund is honored to work with Alternatives in our efforts to support mental health initiatives aiding young people in our community.

Cornell Fraternity Serves the Ithaca Community

“Service” is a word bursting with meaning for the Alpha Phi Omega–Gamma Chapter Service Team, as we have learned first-hand here at The Sophie Fund.

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A little more than a year ago, we decided to organize a cupcake baking contest in the Ithaca Commons. Our idea was to raise some money for mental health initiatives, bring some cupcake joy to Ithaca, and fight the stigma around mental health and treatment. Sophie (’14) was an avid baker and loved baking cupcakes from an early age.

An APO brother came across some publicity for the contest and quickly contacted us. She said she would encourage APO Gamma brothers to bake some cupcakes, but she also wanted to know “if there was any way our brothers could help out.”

Our answer was “Yes!” The truth was that we had thrown the contest together at the last minute, and we desperately needed help with logistics on event day. APO Gamma dispatched a dozen or so brothers to the Bernie Milton Pavilion who helped with everything from registering scores of contestants, inventorying the cupcakes for panels of judges, preparing awards certificates for the winners, and mopping up the site afterwards. The flood of contestants was much more than we anticipated. The 1st Annual Cupcake Baking Contest was a big success.

APO Gamma, we couldn’t have done it without you!

In January, APO Gamma was ready to start talking about how they could support the 2nd Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest 10 months away. In numerous meetings at Starbucks downtown and at Willard Straight Hall on campus (not to mention countless emails), APO Gamma helped us design a sequel that included a fun fundraising element—collecting donations for mental health initiatives and giving donors “cupcake buttons” in return.

Starting in late September, APO Gamma squads fanned out to Ho Plaza, GreenStar Natural Foods Market, and the Apple Harvest Festival to advocate for mental health, take donations for this year’s cause—suicide prevention—and promote the cupcake contest to be held in the Commons on October 14. APO Gamma raised more than $500, well above our expectations.

More important, the brothers’ presence on campus and in the community generated further awareness and prompted conversations that make a difference and could save a life. We know from Sophie’s experience with depression and anxiety, which led her to take a health leave of absence only six months away from graduation, how important it is to know that there is help, that people care.

At The Sophie Fund, we are overwhelmed not only by APO Gamma’s aid with fundraising and contest logistics, but by the heart that the brothers put into their service to the community. We know that APO Gamma is involved around the clock in so many other projects supporting mental health. It is truly something to admire.

We’re expecting a larger turnout for the 2017 cupcake contest. Once again, it wouldn’t happen without APO Gamma.

(Editor’s Note: This blog post written by The Sophie Fund originally appeared October 10, 2017 on the Service Blog of Alpha Phi Omega—Gamma Chapter)

Photo Caption: APO Gamma brothers volunteering for the 2016 Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest

Thank You, GreenStar!

The Sophie Fund expresses it sincere thanks to GreenStar Natural Foods Market for supporting the upcoming 2nd Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest in the Commons this Saturday—we couldn’t have done it without you!

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GreenStar is the contest’s premier sponsor for the second year in a row, providing crucial financial backing and donating prizes. GreenStar’s baker Daleila Norman will again serve as one of the contest’s three “VIP” judges.

Not only that: GreenStar welcomed student organizations from Cornell University and Ithaca College into its stores to raise money on behalf of The Sophie Fund for suicide prevention efforts in the community.

In advance of the cupcake contest on October 14, Active Minds at Ithaca College collected donations at GreenStar’s West End hub, while the Cornell service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega–Gamma Chapter raised funds at GreenStar’s Collegetown location.

GreenStar also designated The Sophie Fund as a recipient in the “Bring Your Own Bag, Use it for Good” donations program for the months of October, November, and December (along with The SPCA of Tompkins County and Get Your GreenBack Tompkins).

The Sophie Fund is honored by GreenStar’s embrace. Ithaca wouldn’t be Ithaca without GreenStar, which for 47 years has promoted fresh, whole foods, sustainable living, and the transformative power of a strong local economy. It’s no exaggeration to say that GreenStar is Ithaca, considering that it is a community-based consumer cooperative owned by over 12,000 members.

GreenStar operates three food markets—there’s one in the DeWitt Mall in addition to the Buffalo Street and College Avenue locations. It cultivates relationships with local growers and producers and runs classes in everything from breast wellness to brewing Kombucha tea and wrapping Vietnamese spring rolls.

GreenStar also manages a host of community projects. They include the Community Meals Program, the Local Childhood Nutrition Collaborative, Quarterly Local Food Networking Sessions, Hot Potato Press.

And did we mention baking? GreenStar’s bakery is famous for its cakes, pies, cookies, muffins, and of course… cupcakes!

See everybody at the 2nd Annual Ithaca Cupcake Contest in the Commons—contestants can submit their entries from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Bernie Milton Pavilion. Winners announced at awards ceremony at 3 p.m. and online at www.thesophiefund.org.

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Photo caption: The GreenStar Team

Money, Power, and Sexual Assault (Part 2)

In 2016 and 2017, two of the country’s most powerful conservatives—Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News—were shown the door for sexual harassment of female subordinates. This week—thanks in part to the willingness of harassment victims to speak out—it’s the turn of one of America’s most influential liberals: Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.

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An investigation by the New York Times—whose reporting last April led to O’Reilly’s precipitous downfall—revealed sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades. After being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, the newspaper reported, Weinstein reached at least eight settlements with women.

According to the Times:

In interviews, eight women described varying behavior by Mr. Weinstein: appearing nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed or repeatedly asking for a massage or initiating one himself. The women, typically in their early or middle 20s and hoping to get a toehold in the film industry, said he could switch course quickly—meetings and clipboards one moment, intimate comments the next.

In a statement to the Times, Weinstein apologized for his behavior: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”

Meanwhile, the board of the Weinstein Company—known for such films as Django Unchained, The King’s Speech, and Silver Linings Playbook—announced that Weinstein was taking an indefinite leave of absence; one-third of the board had immediately resigned amid the allegations of rampant sexual harassment by the company’s co-chairman.

The Times story cites a multi-page 2015 memo to company executives by Weinstein employee Lauren O’Connor, which detailed sexual harassment she and other women experienced at the hands of their boss. She wrote:

“There is a toxic environment for women at this company. I am a professional and have tried to be professional. I am not treated that way however. I am sexualized and diminished.

“I am a 28-year old-woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64-year-old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.

“I am just starting out in my career, and have been and remain fearful about speaking up. But remaining silent is causing me great distress.”

Following a settlement with Weinstein, the Times reported, O’Connor withdrew her complaint six days after sending her memo.

Weinstein is known as a champion of liberal causes, and a donor to Democratic Party candidates. Former President Barack Obama’s eldest daughter Malia interned at the Weinstein Company last summer. Weinstein recently helped endow a faculty chair at Rutgers University in the name of feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

The combined force of power and money was evident in Hollywood’s deafening silence after the scandal broke:

In the wake of the blockbuster Times exposé, The Daily Beast reached out to dozens of prominent actors, actresses, and filmmakers—who both have and have not worked with Weinstein—only to receive many replies of “no comment” and plenty of radio silence.

“Nauseating, chicken-hearted enablers all—all the people who knew and said nothing—and those who are STILL staying silent,” TV personality/writer/chef Anthony Bourdain, one of the few celebrities who did speak out, tweeted in response to the Beast story. Bourdain, who made clear he was not referring to Weinstein’s victims, has 6.45 million Twitter followers.