Grand reopening of Hanner Center, 2016 Graduation attracts friends, colleagues, families
The occasions celebrating the grand opening of the newly renovated George E. Hanner Center for Excellence and Lasallian Mission and ceremonies graduating nine seniors from LaSalle School provided opportunities for members of Mr. Hanner’s family and LaSalle staff to draw parallels between the man for whom the building is named and the boys at LaSalle today.
“We named this building after Mr. Hanner not just to honor him, but also to challenge everyone who reads the words up on the wall outside and comes through these doors to understand that there is reason for every young person who comes to this campus to have hope for the future,” said Bill Wolff, executive director of LaSalle School speaking from a rostrum inside the newly renovated George E. Hanner Center for Excellence and Lasallian Mission.
On June 8th Wolff was joined by LaSalle Trustee Chair Bob Wolfgang and LaSalle Foundation President Kevin Maney to welcome guests to LaSalle. Before over 100 colleagues, friends and donors gathered to celebrate the grand reopening of the Hanner Center, and again on June 24th in his address at LaSalle’s graduation exercises, Wolff said many summarize George Hanner’s story by saying he was a boy at LaSalle that went on to become a successful banker. “While that is true, that is not really the story as I see it,” Wolff said. “More importantly, he was a success as a human being.”
As he grew into a young man, husband and father achieving notoriety and success as the executive vice president of an Albany banking firm, George Hanner never forgot LaSalle and made sure his daughters Mary Beth Hanner and Barbara Hanner Malerba learned about the place where he grew up. Just prior to Barbara unveiling the new signage on the Hanner Center on June 8th, Mary Beth talked about how she and her sister remembered and felt about their father. “Mary Beth didn’t describe a successful banker,” Wolff said. “She described a successful person.”
Interestingly, Mary Beth mentioned but did not focus on her father’s career as a banker. Rather, she described him as a man who cared for and loved his family, was hard working, humble, honest and reliable, valued education and saw it as a way to realize a better life, and understood that it was important to give back, not just here at LaSalle where he volunteered to help keep the agency open during challenging times but serving in his community.
On June 24th, Mr. Wolff pointed out to the 2016 graduating class that what made George Hanner successful was also within their reach. “George Hanner came to LaSalle at the age of nine with almost nothing,” Wolff said. “The average person could easily have said that with what he had going for him, he would most certainly amount to nothing,” he continued. “You, too, came to LaSalle, maybe without much hope for the future, and not unlike George, I believe you found hope.”
Bob Wolfgang, chairman of LaSalle’s Board of Trustees, congratulated each and every graduate as well as the staff and families who helped the seniors to accomplish this milestone. Trustee Vice Chair Carmen Perez-Hogan and Foundation Board Director Christine Miles also met personally with each senior, and assisted Education Director Jim Meyer to present diplomas and gifts from LaSalle’s LIFE Scholarship Fund. Miles assured graduates that LaSalle was behind them 100 percent and they could count on the agency to help them in their future endeavors.
In her remarks, Ms. Perez-Hogan emphasized the graduates perseverance, help they had received, and the importance of reserving time to take pride in their achievements. “You had a lot of help to get you to this point but only you could do the studying, only you could take the exams, and only you could meet the requirements,” she said. “It was up to you, no one else, and you did it! Be proud and celebrate your accomplishment!!” Ms. Perez-Hogan repeated her congratulations, in Spanish, to the mother of one of the graduates.
The ceremony was very emotional for those sitting in the audience. LaSalle Trustee Helena Heath reflected on hearing three of the graduates speak honestly about their difficulties and journeys to wear a high school graduation cap and gown on their own special day. “The quality of what they said . . . their obvious love for the staff . . . the connection they made with us was real and tangible,” Heath said. “The students recognized their struggles but at the end of the day, that they were the heroes. Everyone felt that!” Heath was one of over 80 guests, and several fellow board members, to attend the graduation ceremonies.
Mr. Wolff reminded the graduates that each one was a version of George Hanner. “Each of you can be successful in life,” he said. “Each of you has opportunities that many people, and even you, may not have thought possible before you came here.”
“You see, there are many George Hanner’s,” Wolff said. “Too many for us to ever name, and they come from all walks of life. Some are former students and working here at LaSalle, who helped you get to where you are tonight. They all struggle, we all struggle. What they share is that they are good people. Not perfect people, but good people.”
As if to draw a close on the month-long celebration reopening the George E. Hanner Center for Excellence and Lasallian Mission and simultaneously send the new graduates off to begin new journeys, Wolff saluted George Hanner and thanked him for the countless ways he continues to inspire the youth and staff at LaSalle School. To the graduates, he said “Each of you has some of George Hanner in you, and he is on your side, as you embark on this new part of your life.”
Built in 1979, the Hanner Center is a place where staff and students come together regularly, and a meeting site for professional and community groups. Updates to audio visual presentation equipment coupled with the facility’s convenient location in the northeast make it attractive to local, regional and national trainers educated in current trends and best practices in youth trauma, sexual and substance abuse, interventions and treatment methods.
Today, Mary Beth Hanner and Barbara Hanner Malerba’s husband, Jim serve on the Board of Trustees. The Hanner and Malerba families visit often to attend LaSalle events and celebrate important family occasions in LaSalle’s Hanner Center. The facility now features large windows, high ceilings, and more private meeting space.
If you are interested in a tour of the Hanner Center or reserving a conference room, please contact LaSalle School, 518-242-4731 x271.
LaSalle School is a leader in programs and services for youth and families in crisis offering a variety of programs designed to meet their needs including specialized residential placement, day service education, and alternative to detention services. The Counseling Center at LaSalle is an OMH and OASAS licensed outpatient behavioral health clinic located at LaSalle School, and currently implementing ACE treatment practices with youth and families. LaSalle is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), and affiliated with the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA), and the national Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. LaSalle is a member of The New York State Coalition of 853 Schools.