Local leaders give Albion, Holley students advice on making a positive impact

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 March 2022 at 5:31 pm

‘Leadership is learned. There is no born leader.’ – Frank Berger

Photos by Tom Rivers: Mary Lou Tuohey, second from right, shares about her dream of opening her own business, Case-Nic Cookies, which she has run for 27 years, giving up a career as a nurse. Her daughter Nicole is next to her at right. They were joined as panelists with Frank Berger, Trellis Pore, and Charlie Nesbitt. They shared insights about leadership with students from Albion and Holley. Many of those students are in the Interact Club sponsored by Rotary.

ALBION – A panel of community leaders offered insights to a group of Holley and Albion students during a discussion about leadership.

Put in the work, have good intentions, be well-rounded in your coursework and curiosities, and don’t expect immediate gratification were among comments shared by the panelists. They spoke to students in the Rotary Interact Clubs at Albion and Holley, and other student leaders.

Frank Berger, 87, is a retired Medina teacher who has stayed active in his retirement. He served on the Orleans County Legislature and is a big promoter of the Boy Scouts and local veterans’ groups.

Frank Berger, 87, of Medina is a Korean War veteran and retired Medina teacher. He drew the strongest reactions with some of his blunt assessments, which he offered in colorful language.

He said his experiences as an Eagle Scout, a Red Cross instructor and even his typing class made big differences for him in his career and in the military.

He said study halls are a waste of time and students she fill up their schedule with classes, even “if it’s making yo-yos” or learning other subjects that don’t pique their interest.

“Leadership is learned,” Berger said. “There is no born leader.”

Orleans County Sheriff Chris Bourke said he sees good in many of the people – even those who go through the court system. Many of those people have made a mistake. They’re still good and decent people, and Bourke said they shouldn’t have their lives ruined over a mistake.

He told the students the Sheriff’s Office offers programs for addiction and mental health to help people.

Bourke said he encounters some people outside of the criminal justice system who have questionable motives.

“If you’re not a good person and you don’t have a kind heart, you don’t impress me,” Bourke said.

Bourke was asked some of the advantages of living in Orleans County and he said the community is safe – and the real estate is inexpensive.

Sheriff Chris Bourke, center, shares about rising through the ranks in the Sheriff’s Office, from a corrections office to deputy and K-9 handler, to undersheriff and now the sheriff. He sees opportunities for people to grow in law enforcement careers in the county.

The sheriff graduated with Tim Archer, an Albion teacher who coordinated the leadership panel last week at Albion High School. Bourke said he feels fortunate to have grown up in a smaller community that offers opportunities, especially with a career in law enforcement. He started his career in 1984 as a corrections officer in the jail and worked his way up to undersheriff and sheriff.

Archer said the students saw that the community leaders sacrificed, and didn’t start at the top.

“History is made by those who show up,” Archer told the group. “You don’t have to famous or popular to do something significant in your community.”

Albion student Aubrey Pask shakes hands with Nicole Tuohey, thanking her for being on a leadership panel on Thursday. About 40 students from Albion and Holley attended the session, which also included insights from Nicole’s mother, Mary Lou Tuohey, owner of Case-Nic Cookies in Medina.

Mary Lou Tuohey, owner of Case-Nic Cookies for 27 years in Medina, was joined by her daughter Nicole, 31.

Nicole was born with a genetic disease called Triple X Syndrome. She has surpassed all expectations as she grew into adulthood. Doctors told Mary Lou Nicole wouldn’t be able to walk, talk, run or ride a bike. Nicole attended Rainbow Preschool where she excelled.

She is an active citizen and prolific fundraiser for the Arc and also the Alzheimers’ Association. Nicole lost both of her grandparents to the disease. Her mother used her skills as a registered nurse to care for them.

Mary Lou gave up the nursing career to pursue her dream of running a cookie business. She is grateful to the community for their support.

Mary Lou said she was bullied and made fun of by some of her classmates. She didn’t understand when they were mean to her in school, but she didn’t let it derail her dreams or her care for others.

“I got through because there were people around me who loved me,” Tuohey said.

Charlie Nesbitt speaks with Broek Ostrom of Holley after a discussion about leadership and making a difference in the local community.

Former State Assemblyman Charlie Nesbitt left college at age 20 to serve in the Vietnam War as a helicopter pilot. He flew hundreds of missions and was awarded the “Distinguished Flying Cross” based on his actions on Nov. 14, 1968.

That day Nesbitt and his crew members were told an American soldier was stranded in enemy territory in the jungles of Laos, across the border from Vietnam. Another helicopter had been hit with a rocket and crashed. The crew needed to be rescued. Nesbitt flew a helicopter in and got out everyone, except one gunman, John Grimaldi, who was separated from his crew. Nesbitt took the recovered crew members back to safety, and then returned to enemy territory to find Grimaldi.

Nesbitt served as a local Chamber of Commerce president at age 25, and sold cars before being elected to the State Assembly. He remains active with the Albion Alumni Association and other local organizations.

Technology has opened doors for people to live in rural communities and work remotely and stay connected to people far away, he said.

True leadership is influencing others to achieve a result, Nesbitt said.

“Having an idea is nice but doing something about it is leadership,” Nesbitt told the students. “You’re not a leaders if no one follows you.”

Trellis Pore, an Albion graduate, said there are plenty of ways to make an impact in the community.

Nesbitt continues to live in Orleans County. He sees a community where committed people can truly make a difference.

“If you choose to be here, then be part of the solution,” he said to the students. “We’re small enough where everyone’s individual effort really helps.”

Trellis Pore works as a corrections officer at the Albion Correctional Facility. He also is a firearms instructor, chemical agent instructor, and CPR and first aid teacher for the Department of Corrections. He also is the pastor at the Shiloh Church and member of the Albion Board of Education.

Pore, a member of Albion’s Class of 2001, said he wants to keep busy, and would rather “wear out than rust out.” Albion has been blessed with many leaders – “some known and some unknown” – over the years who pushed the community forward, Pore said.

“A true leader shows up making a difference instead of complaining about a problem,” he said.

The panelists included from left Charles Nesbitt, Trellis Pore, Sheriff Chris Bourke, Frank Berger, Mary Lou Tuohey and her daughter Nicole Tuohey. Albion teacher Tim Archer, standing at left, coordinated the event.