"Simple Acts of Kindness" by Utica Businessman and his Wife Inspire New Award

The simple acts of kindness of a retiredUtica businessman and his wife more than two decades ago will be rememberedwith the establishment of an award in the couple's honor.

The Victor and Shirley Flax Kindness Award will be unveiled on Saturday, Nov.1, during a luncheon in the Dwight Lounge on the Hamilton College campus. Itis intended to recognize the many yet simple acts of kindness by Victor andShirley Flax and to foster similar relationships between Hamilton students andmembers of the local community.

Stuart Muszynski, founder and president of Project Love Remember the ChildrenFoundation in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the former students who will return toUtica this weekend to unveil the award. A 1976 Hamilton graduate, he will bejoined by classmate Ernest Fung and Robert Budoff, a 1975 graduate, all of whomwere regular visitors to the Flax household in Utica during their undergraduateyears at Hamilton.

Occasionally, the hospitality extended to the Hamilton students went beyondthe usual and sometimes involved the Flaxes providing counseling, parenting andeven financing. For example, Fung, who came to Hamilton from Hong Kong, wasprovided financial support to pursue graduate study and to purchase anautomobile.

"This award seeks to recognize and foster connections with students away fromhome and the people of the local community," Muszynski said. "Vic and Shirleyhave given us an extraordinary example of how simple acts of kindness can makean enormous difference in people's lives.

"There is a real need to recognize this type of selflessness in our society,"Muszynski added. "I am thrilled that Hamilton is doing this, not just forShirley and Vic, but for the students as well, who will be future leaders inour country."

According to Muszynski, the example of the Flaxes has been part of theinspiration for Project Love, an organization he and his wife founded in 1994to foster skills that strengthen caring, kindness and mutual respect among highschool-age children in the Cleveland area. "The kindness that Shirley and Vicshowed me and many others lives on in Project Love and in this award,"Muszynski said.

Victor Flax is executive director and past president of Temple Beth El inUtica, where he has been a member for over 50 years. An auto parts businessmanbefore his retirement, Mr. Flax never graduated from college, but for more thana quarter of a century he and his wife quietly invited students into their homefor a meal and friendship. Most recently, the Flaxes joined with anothercommunity leader in sponsoring a Bosnian family's immigration to the Uticaarea.

Members of the community interested in supporting the Victor and Shirley FlaxKindness Award can make contributions by contacting the Hamilton College Officeof Communications and Development at 859-4412. Administration of the awardwill be coordinated by the Hamilton Action Volunteer Outreach Coalition.

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