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Power Authority Selects Western New Yorker As Volunteer of The Year

Joanne Willmott

June 5, 2006


LEWISTON—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has named Anne Dykstra of Wilson, a photographer at the Niagara Power Project, as its Volunteer of the Year for 2006. 

Dykstra will be recognized at a “Tribute to Corporate Volunteers” luncheon in New York City on Wednesday, June 7, along with about 70 other volunteers selected by their companies.   The annual event, in its 13 th year, is co-sponsored by the Community Service Society of New York and Friends of RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program).

“We are extremely proud of our employees who volunteer their free time in support of so many worthy causes and encourage others to do the same,” NYPA Chairman Frank S. McCullough, Jr. said.  “People like Anne are truly role models for all of us.” 

NYPA has many employees who volunteer their free time to make the world a better place. But only Dykstra has been able to transport people back in time 100 years.  

Of the many contributions Dykstra has made of her time and talent, her participation in the production of “Electric City,” a multi-media 3-D presentation depicting Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition of 1901, outshines all the others. This turn-of-the-last-century world’s fair celebrated the recently achieved ability to transmit hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls across 25 miles to downtown Buffalo, where it illuminated the city and its 350-acre fairgrounds.

To help commemorate the 100 th anniversary of the exposition in 2001, NYPA sponsored a special program in cooperation with the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. Working with other volunteers from the community, Dykstra spent many nights and weekends over two years helping bring the Electric City to life.

Modest though she may be, even Dykstra had to admit that the finished product was “spectacular.”

“That was a big deal; that was worth the effort,” she recalled of the hours she spent scanning and retouching antique photos and then exporting the images from her computer to a film recorder. “With the 3-D images projected onto a big screen and period music playing in the background, it really was like you were there at the fair.”

Originally planned to run for only three months, “Electric City” received such acclaim that the historical society extended its showing to 18 months. The program was viewed by more than 113,000 people, who received a vivid history lesson about Buffalo.

Drawing on her photographic skills, Dykstra has spent countless hours through the years recording and promoting various school activities. As her two children grew, she served as volunteer publicity director for dramatic, musical and athletic programs in her local school district.

Earlier, Dykstra and her husband, William, had moved to a working 70-acre farm in a rural section of Niagara County. The community 4-H Club provided a natural outlet for her energy, which she funneled into teaching youngsters about photography and fashion technology. She also organized field trips and student fashion shows as a supplement to her classroom instruction.

Dykstra has since become involved with the Niagara County YWCA’s shelter for battered women.  In addition, to assist mothers with premature babies, Dykstra has taken up knitting so that she and a group of friends can produce hand-made caps and blankets, which they donate to a local hospital. She also serves as secretary of the Niagara Power Employees Athletic Association, which organizes outings and holds fundraisers to help needy families during the holiday season.

When something is part of your life, whether it’s taking photographs or working with kids, you don’t even think about it,” she explained. “I’m really not doing anything out of the ordinary.”

Yet Dykstra does agree that time management is crucial in juggling multiple responsibilities. “I don’t spend a lot of time watching television,” she said. “I would rather be doing something positive than just watching TV.”

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About NYPA:

n NYPA uses no tax money or state credit.  It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and earns revenue from proceeds of its operations, which stems largely from the sale of electricity. n NYPA is a leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives. n The New York Power Authority is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating plants in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. 

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