“I guess this helps to debunk the myth that you have to be a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffet to be able to contribute to society,” he said, surrounded by friends and family and other guests of honorees at The Grand Hotel in Poughkeepsie last Wednesday. “But small businesses employ more people than big businesses and there is no better time than the present to be part of one’s community.”
He added that the “‘shop local’ concept is only half of the story. The other half is to be local. You can ask people to flock to your business, because it’s small and vulnerable and independent, or you can participate in the community, flock to your community and help make it a better place. That’s the entire equation in my mind.”
Rock & Snow sits in the valley of The Trapps, one of the most famous climbing areas in the Northeast, and it provides climbing gear and other essentials for outdoor pursuits.
Some of the many reasons Gottlieb was nominated and selected by the Mid-Hudson Valley AFP was for his advocacy for conservation efforts. That advocacy extends to his employees, who educate shoppers about the uniqueness of thousands of acres of preserved park areas -- and the need to keep the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge safe.
In addition to his support of the Mohonk Preserve, Minnewaska State Park and all community-based conservation and environmental initiatives, Gottlieb extends his philanthropy in other ways which often go unnoticed by the general public.
He hosts a farmers market in the parking lot he owns next to his shop, allowing local farmers to display, educate and sell their goods.
He also is a major sponsor of the annual New Paltz Turkey Trot, a 5K run and walk on Thanksgiving, which is one of FAMILY of New Paltz’s greatest fundraisers.
Rock & Snow also provided space for Habitat For Artists, and offers dozens of book readings and signings for novels or non-fiction books that deal with either New Paltz rock-climbing and other outdoor survival skills.
These are only a few philanthropic, community-based initiatives Gottlieb has spearheaded or sponsored from his headquarters in downtown New Paltz.
One of many people at the awards luncheon to honor Gottlieb was Glenn Hoagland, Executive Director of the Mohonk Preserve.
“Rich lives and breathes the mission of the Preserve,” said Hoagland. “As a local, independent businessman, he understands the connection between the Ridge and the local economy, between tourist dollars and community values. He takes a real, honest, humble community approach to everything he does and he gives back time and time again.
“He’s not a CEO of some multi-national firm, yet, he adheres to what his parents told him when he was growing up in Queens, ‘that you give until it hurts’’ and Rich does that.”
When asked to receive his reward, Gottlieb said, in perfect character, that he was “used to speaking to large crowds, only they’re never dressed this nice and they’re usually camped out on the floor.”
Gottlieb went on to praise the Mohonk Preserve, the Minnewaska State Park, the Town of New Paltz’s recreation and open space efforts.
“I’m fortunate to have a small business in a downtown that is surrounded by outlying farms and fields and preserved acres that pepper the landscape of this green valley where the Shawangunk Cliffs rise above it,” he said. “Without these well-managed, natural areas and successful farmlands, there would not be a Rock & Snow.”
Gottlieb continued: “These are exceptional gifts, but they’re not a given. We have to all help to preserve and maintain these natural gifts which not only bolster our quality of life, but bring in tourist dollars and raise community spirit. Protecting the environment is only part of the equation. We also need to protect and nurture our community. The two go hand-in-hand.”