After serving our country in the Armed Forces in Kuwait and Operation Iraqui Freedom, a massive heart attack turned Joe Sullivan’s life around thru fitness running. Along the path to better health, he was so dismayed by the bottles and cans he’d encounter on the roads in his Ft. Drum neighborhoods he decided to strap on a backpack and went to work picking up containers while running – usually while pushing his twins in a stroller. Joe soon became known as the “Recycling Runner”. Joe has been spreading the recycling message to thousands through social media and marathon events for the last year. All bottles redeemed and donations received benefit the American Heart Association. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Joe’s heart attack and he’s still running – and recycling strong!
Greg Gelewski has done so much to advance municipal composting throughout NYS that you just need to say two four letter words when you are asked for technical guidance: call Greg! Greg has been the guy to watch for years now as he skillfully transitioned Onondaga County from yard waste into food scraps composting. Now doing 3 million lbs of food scraps per year, Greg’s goal is to get 20 million lbs out of New York’s waste stream. This effort will be magnified throughout the state as other planning units initiate programs successfully demonstrated by OCRRA.
If you’ve ever attended one of Greg’s presentations, you know he’s a straightforward, engaging and entertaining speaker. He’s also written numerous compost-related articles for professional publications. It’s clear he loves what he does. Greg makes it looks easy, but it’s not. Like many of us, he’s faced with limited resources but Greg finds a way to network and establish relationships to make things work. Most recently, Greg established a partnership with ARC which enabled OCRRA to bag its “STA-certified” compost for retail sales.
Greg’s has developed a strong business plan to justify the economic investment to OCRRA’s Board of Directors. He successfully grows both parts of the program; incoming yard waste & food scraps and outgoing compost & mulch. His leadership efforts have brought numerous public and private sector generators into the program including Wegmans, Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University.
Jim Zecca has made the values of environmental stewardship and sustainability his lifelong passion. As a student at SUNY Cobleskill in the 1970’s, he played a major role in establishing the first recycling program there in the face of tough opposition from college administration. This experience helped set the tone for his stellar public service career and unwavering support of recycling for 5 decades.
In 1988, Jim became the Director of the Madison County Department of Solid Waste, effectively using his vision and strategies throughout the past 25 years to advance recycling and sustainable initiatives such as a LFG to energy-fueled business park (revenue from the gas to energy program exceeds $120,000 this year!), ag plastics recycling, and the Syracuse Rescue Mission reuse store just to name some highlights.
Jim’s nomination goes on to say that whenever there was some cutting-edge program out there, you could almost guarantee that Jim would roll it out first in Madison County. but in typical Jim Zecca fashion, he just shared the information with the rest of us and was totally upbeat, not bragging about the fact.
His program has been amazingly progressive and innovative, even in a county that has, in Jim's words, more cows than people!