Barbara Greene Southwick ’68 makes her home in Hallandale Beach, Fla., a community where Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day is a very big deal.
As chair of the Hallandale Beach Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and a local volunteer for 15 years, Southwick has enthusiastically supported the annual celebrations of the great civil rights leader’s life. She works closely with volunteer organizers for the day’s activities.
|Barbara, left, congratulates Essie Morgan, who recently retired from the Hallandale Beach Parks and Recreation Department after serving the city for 40 years, during a celebration held in conjunction with a refurbishing of B.F. James Park and building a community pool for Palms area residents.|
This year, as usual, Southwick attended the community’s MLK Day scholarship breakfast on Saturday and on Monday rode in the MLK Day Parade with the Parks and Recreation float as it wound through the community (see photo), ending with an afternoon of festivities at the local high school.
The event typically attracts 1,000 participants, including many from surrounding communities.
“It’s one of largest events in South Florida for Martin Luther King,” Southwick said.
“This is a city with a big heart and I’m thankful I found it in retirement.”
And Southwick, who has spent her life helping disadvantaged children, knows a little something about having a big heart.
At various times during her career, she served as a member of the New York Special Olympics Board of Directors, coordinator of the Suffolk County Special Olympics, Games for the Disabled volunteer, board member on the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes, member of the Town of Brookhaven Advisory Committee for the Handicapped and organizer with the Games for the Physically Challenged.
In return, Southwick has received numerous merit, service and humanitarian awards, including the United Cerebral Palsy Sports Association Award, the Town of Brookhaven Youth Service Award and the NYSAHPERD “Amazing People” Award.
Her tireless work advancing the field of inclusion of children with special needs through adaptive physical education earned her a place in the 1989 SUNY Cortland C-Club Hall of Fame class.
“It’s just a way of life,” said Southwick. “I was handed it when I was six years old and I’ve always done it. My kid sister was born with Down syndrome when I was 6-and-a-half years old, and my father was a founder of the former Association for Retarded Children, which became the National Association for Retarded Children.”
Southwick retired from teaching physical education on Long Island 21 years ago. A former president of the New York State Association for Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (NYSAHPERD) from 1986 to 87, she oversaw a “grass-roots” revision of the statewide physical education curriculum. She also initiated a two-day Fitness Assessment Program in Albany to showcase physical education in New York state.
|Each year during the holidays, Barbara, pictured far left, teams up with vice-mayor Bill Julian to help one family among the more than 100 children selected to participate in the local law enforcement sponsored “Shop with a Cop” events. After being treated to a breakfast at Hometown Buffet, the youngsters are bussed by Mardi Gras Casino to Wal-Mart to spend a $100 gift card.|
Each year during the holidays, Barbara, pictured far left, teams up with vice-mayor Bill Julian to help one family among the more than 100 children selected to participate in the local law enforcement sponsored “Shop with a Cop” events. After being treated to a breakfast at Hometown Buffet, the youngsters are bussed by Mardi Gras Casino to Wal-Mart to spend a $100 gift card.Today in Hallandale Beach, Southwick organizes an annual Relay for Life fundraising event in her community. She helps out with her community’s Education Advisory Board and its Police Athletic League, which is dedicated to keeping children out of prison and on the playing fields. She has taken part in a popular “Shop With A Cop” program aimed at developing a friendly relationship between local law enforcement officials and youth in the community.
Southwick even uses her own recreational pursuit, a tennis league, to raise money to help others. Not long ago, she joined the Broward County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
Southwick said she was once encouraged to enter politics.
Her response? ‘No, I’m always interested in sports for kids.’”
A native of Bayside, N.Y., Southwick enrolled in the College in 1955 and competed on the gymnastics team. In 1957, she left school to concentrate on marriage and her family. She returned to Cortland in 1967 and completed a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education while raising three daughters. She would later earn a master of science from Adelphi University.
Of all the SUNY Cortland faculty, she most admired associate professor emerita of physical education Phyllis McGinley. She also revered the late Emilio “Dee” DaBramo ’48, a 1969 SUNY Cortland Distinguished Alumnus who earned a 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.S. President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN) as a physical activity activist and educator for special populations.
|Elsewhere on MLK Day, current SUNY Cortland student Welly Ekoumilong teamed up with Alumni Association board member Titilayo Morgan ’99 at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day service event New York City.|
Southwick followed DaBramo’s example and became president of NYSAHPERD. She later passed the gavel to another SUNY Cortland graduate, Sandy Morley ’77, to copy her service. Morley would be followed by Lisa Sherman ’88.
Southwick recently sent an email in response to a SUNY Cortland Alumni Association inquiry about alumni involvement in MLK Day events. She looks forward to SUNY Cortland alumni across the country participating in service projects — on MLK Day and beyond.??