Bridging People and Places   

                                One Person at a Time




Bridging People and Places Annual College Scholarship for

Students Who Have Faced Serious Illness or Serious Life Crisis


Established in Memory of David J. Vanderzee,

Founder of Willard Mountain Ski Area in Greenwich, NY

Scholarship Recipients

2012 Recipient

Peter Gryga, from Queensbury, NY, graduated from Queensbury High School in June and is attending SUNY Plattsburgh.  In addition to his academic accomplishments, Peter has made a significant difference in the lives of many others, offering encouragement, companionship, and empathy.

After losing a close family member to cancer, Peter reached out in her memory to help others cope with loss, bereavement, and health-related challenges.  He volunteers at Double H Ranch in a variety of capacities.  He has volunteered at the Special Olympics and as as a Junior Adaptive Ski Instructor, organized his lacrosse team to participate in the annual spring cleanup at The Ranch, volunteered as a Counselor in Training and at Camp Comfort, a bereavement program for children which is held at The Ranch.  As a member of the Future Business Leaders of America Club, Peter organized a fundraiser for the Relay for Life.


2011 Recipient

Alyssa Pyle, from Niskayuna, NY, graduated from Niskayuna High School in June 2010.  Her plans to attend Eastman School of Music were abruptly interrupted by complications from an illness severely affecting her vocal chords and preventing her from going to college in 2010.  In consideration of her musical talent and scholastic achievements, Eastman deferred her admission for one year.  During that year, Alyssa underwent extensive treatment and physical therapy for her voice.  In September 2011, she will be fulfilling her dream and beginning her studies at Eastman School of Music.


2010 Recipients

Eric Hayden, from Saratoga Springs, NY, receives  scholarship award from Lorraine Thompson, President of Bridging People and Places.

Eric graduated from Saratoga High School and has been accepted at Morrisville State College.  Eric will be majoring in Sports Nutrition and Fitness Management.

Eric is an outstanding role model for young people, who has taken an extremely difficult personal situation; overcome incredible obstacles, while maintaining a positive attitude; and demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities.     


Ryan Sheehan, from Rochester, NY, graduated from The Aquinas Institute of Rochester.  He is attending Hilbert College and will major in Forensic Science.

Ryan has taken an extremely challenging congenital constraint and overcome major obstacles while maintaining a positive, can-do attitude.  He has worked hard and persistently pursued his goals.  In his words, he has relied on his strength and humor to get through each day, and his experiences have made him a more compassionate and caring person.       

2009 Recipients

Timothy Doak of Queensbury, NY and Christoper Woll of Syracuse, NY were the 2009 David J. Vanderzee Scholarship recipients.


2008 Recipient

Jessica Abel, from Niskayuna, NY, graduated from Colonie Central High School in June.  She is attending SUNY College in Oneonta.  Jessica has chosen a dual major in Special Education and Spanish.  Her extracurricular high school activities included volunteering at Albany Medical Center Children's Hospital, Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Double H Ranch, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity.  She is also an accomplished violinist.  Jessica hopes to become a teacher who will "inspire students to do their personal best and to instill a love of lifetime learning and inspiration for success."

In describing her Double H experience, Jessica wrote, "In the summer of 2003, I went to Double H and my life was changed forever.  For the first time in a long while, I felt hope.  I realized that I was going to do just fine in spite of my illness... I began to dream once again.  My time at The Ranch led me to my decision to become a Special Education teacher.  I want to change the world one child at time, because I believe every child matters."


2007 Recipient

Daniel Donovan, from Queensbury, NY, graduated from Queensbury High School in June.  He will study music education at Adirondack Community College in the fall, specializing in vocal and choral studies.  His high school activities have included: participating in school musical productions, the Queensbury Madrigal Singers, SADD, the school newspaper, track, and cross-country.  Other extracurricular activities have included the Adirondack Children's Troupe, Lake George Youth Theatre, Adirondack Voices, and performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra. 

In describing his Double H experience, Dan wrote, "Double H will forever be an important part of my life.  Double H is a fragment of heaven that is conveniently placed here on Earth.  There is no discrimination, fear, or anger at Double H; campers and counselors feel a sense of love, unity, trust, and compassion.  My goal is to emit these emotions and carry the spirit of Double H throughout my life."

2006 Recipient

Patrick Lynch, from Stuart Manor, NY, is currently a senior at Boston University majoring in Acting.  He continues to train because he believes acting can be a vehicle for self-exploration, social reform, and communion.

Patrick was a camper at Double H from 1995 to 2003, and a counselor in 2004 and 2005.  In his words, "Double H has taught me compassion, understanding, sacrifice and  acceptance, and redefined love."

Patrick was chosen by the Huntington Theater Company, the professional theater company in residence at Boston University, for two projects in 2006. 


2005 Recipient

Loni DeStephano, from Ballston Spa, NY, is currently majoring in Teacher Education at SUNY Cobleskill, where she completed her first two semesters on the dean's list. 

Loni spent six summers at Double H as a camper, one as counselor-in-training, and two winters as volunteer snowboard instructor in its adaptive ski program.  In describing her Double H experience, Loni said, "The Ranch changed the way I look at other people.  I realize that no two people are exactly the same, and people with disabilities are just God's little special angels."  She added that, among other things, this experience gave her "the courage to be around others, and the will power to stand up for the rights of people who have disabilities." 

Loni's goal is to become a New York state trooper and be involved in children's programs such as D.A.R.E.  Her references stress her great determination, dedication, hard work and caring for others, as well as her commitment to academic excellence by always doing more than is necessary; all of these traits will serve her well in her future work with children.

2004 Recipients

Mike Kent, having just completed his first year at Albany Medical College, is receiving the $500 David J. Vanderzee Memorial Scholarship award for the second time.  In Mike's words, "Bridging People and Places, a wonderful organization, has helped to make my dream of becoming a doctor one step closer to reality."

In describing his Double H experience, Mike said, "The Ranch has had a huge impact on my life and future career; it not only allowed me to have a positive impact on the lives of many great children, but has profoundly impacted my life.  It is partly because of the experiences at camp that I have chosen the medical pathway.  After one year of medical school, I appreciate all the more the great times I had with some amazing people I had the privilege to work and be a fellow camper with at Double H."

Mike plans to pursue a residency in pediatrics, with a subspecialty in pediatric oncology.  Mike's references speak highly of his motivation, his academic ability, and his outstanding interpersonal skills.


Andrew Saneski, from Castleton, NY, is currently studying communications at Keene State College in New Hampshire.  His goal is to become a sports broadcaster.  Andrew spent four summers at Double H and two years in its adaptive ski program.  In his words, “Double H helped me believe in myself and believe I could succeed away from home.”  His references speak highly of his motivation and ability to face challenges with success.  These same traits will serve him well as he pursues a career in sports broadcasting.   


Jennifer Winchip, now completing her senior year at Queensbury High School, is enrolled in the Developmental Studies curriculum at Adirondack Community College for the fall semester.  Jennifer was a Double H camper for nine years and a Counselor in Training at the Ranch last summer.  She describes her experience there as “truly amazing.”  Jen is a role model for campers at Double H Ranch.  Her sensitivity and motivation have earned her the respect of the Double H staff, the campers, and her teachers at Queensbury High School. 

2003 Recipients

Chris Woll will be attending Syracuse University to study Radiation Therapy.  When asked to comment on his Double H experience, Chris said, "I've been a camper for 9 years; it's taught me how to deal with disease and help others through their rough times.  Now I realize if cancer had never happened to me, I would never have had the opportunity to meet all of the great people at camp.  In attending Double H, I have met lifelong friends that I will never forget.  As I look back on my own experience with cancer and my summers at Double H, I realize what life is all about and how nothing should be taken for granted.  I wish to one day change someone's life the way my doctors changed  mine."  Chris will be returning to Double H as a counselor this summer.  Chris commented on receiving the scholarship, "I  want to tell you how honored I am to be one of the recipients of the Bridging People and Places scholarship.  Bridging People and Double H are two of the most important organizations to both my family and me.  I will always remember, participate in, and promote both organizations.  I hope to make you proud."

May 2007 Update

In the graduation picture at the left, Chris receives the Academic Achievement Award at Upstate Medical Center for the highest grade point average, 3.99, in his class.

We are certainly proud of Chris and his accomplishments.


Mike Kent is attending Albany Medical College.  In Mike's words, "I would like to give back to a field that gave me so much as a child.  I plan on practicing pediatrics and possibly oncology."  In describing his Double H experience, Mike said, "I was one of the original campers, a Counselor in Training, a Counselor, and finally a Unit Leader.  I gained invaluable life experience and learned how to deal with many different types of people at camp."  Mike continued, "The Bridging People and Places Scholarship for Alumni Campers at Double H means a lot to me.  I couldn't have asked for a scholarship from an organization that supports an important part of my life, Double H, at a more important time financially.

2002 Recipients

Elke Perez is in her fourth year of studies, working toward attaining a bachelor’s degree in 2002 in Social Welfare.  Her philosophy is expressed beautifully in her words: "It is with the greatest certainty that I feel my camp experience has come full circle.  As a camper, I learned both to stretch my limits and enjoy life in their midst.  Returning to camp as a counselor, I was reintroduced to that and learned that the burden we bear does not have to be carried alone.  People have an extraordinary talent of extending a hand when it is needed.   All that is required is that we on the receiving end reach out and grab it."


Matthew Rice, one of the original Double H campers, is now a senior at Elon University in Elon, NC.  He works as a volunteer with children with disabilities in his free time.  Matt will graduate in 2003 with a BA degree in Computer Science and a minor in Math.  He is currently employed as a Webpage programmer by the Intramurals division; to see his work go to Matt hopes to go on to Graduate school or start his career in an area of technology... right now he is leaving his options open.

Matt offered the following thoughts about his camp experience: "I want to thank the Double H Ranch for their support in the times that I really needed it.  The Ranch is such a blessing to have for children that are going through those awful times.  Thanks again for EVERYTHING!  A camper forever, Matthew Rice"

The First Scholarship Recipient - 2001

Malisa Matheny received her Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing from Temple University in 2001.  As the first recipient of the Bridging People and Places Scholarship, Malisa received $500 to begin work on her Master’s Degree at the University of Pennsylvania.  In her words: "Double H has been a tremendous part of who I have become.  It is the support and encouragement of others that has brought me this far.  For young people who may be questioning whether they will be able to accomplish their dreams, this scholarship will give them hope.  It is a wonderful opportunity to show campers that they have continuing support as they get older.  The scholarship will make a difference in the lives of many young people."