Alfred University News

Alfred University alumna, students make each other’s day with good deeds

Spencer Chaput (left) and Zach Leinenbach (right) with some of the weights Sheila Foreman gave them.
Spencer Chaput (left) and Zach Leinenbach (right) with some of the weights Sheila Foreman gave them.

A chance meeting between an Alfred University alumna and two current students resulted in a heartwarming exchange between the three, demonstrating how one good turn does, indeed, deserve another.


ALFRED, NY – A chance meeting between an Alfred University alumna and two current students resulted in a heartwarming exchange between the three, demonstrating how one good turn does, indeed, deserve another.

Sheila Foreman—who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and English from Alfred University in 1999 and went on to earn a master’s in counseling, also from Alfred, in 2003—resides on Pine Hill Drive in the village. She says that last week, she was out walking her dog, Cinder, on Pine Hill Drive, and, while passing a small playground near the Stull Observatory, noticed two young men—AU students Zach Leinenbach and Spencer Chaput—lifting weights on the basketball court.

The students, who share a passion for weightlifting, were using a hand-made wooden bench and rack that Spencer had designed and built, along with a bar and a few weights. Knowing that COVID-19 had placed restrictions on students’ use of fitness center facilities, Foreman complimented them on their ingenuity in finding ways to work out. “We struck up a conversation about what they were doing and why. They were very polite and friendly,” Foreman recalled.

Coincidentally, Foreman says, her late son, Thomas “Tommy” Foreman, who passed away in July, was an avid weightlifter and his weight set was still in Foreman’s garage. She told Zach and Spencer they were welcome to the equipment. “We weren’t sure what to say because we wanted to be polite,” Spencer said.

Zach is a junior business administration major (health/fitness management minor) from Penfield, NY, and a wide receiver on the Saxon football team. Spencer is a junior glass science engineering major from Webster, NY, who plans to change his major to mechanical engineering. The two finished their workout and, before stopping by Foreman’s home.

“They seemed surprised that I had some equipment that I was willing to give away,” Foreman said. “They were grateful for the items and I was happy to they could use them. I'm sure my son would have been pleased as well.”

“When we saw what she had for us we were downright shocked,” recalled Spencer, who estimates the cost of weights, which he said has been inflated during the pandemic, is about $2 per pound. The weights Foreman gave the two students totaled about 300 pounds.

 “My initial reaction was at first surprise, followed by appreciation for her offering to so graciously hand down her son’s old equipment. The very ‘used’ condition that the weights were in gave them an authenticity that Spencer and I both appreciated,” Zach commented. Spencer has refurbished the weight plates, which had begun to show some wear, by removing some rust and giving them a fresh coat of paint.

“We thought that her son would be happy to know that his weights are being revived and will continue to be put to good use for years to come,” Zach said.

Foreman got an unexpected response to her generosity a couple days later when she found a note in her mailbox from Zach and Spencer saying they would be over to her house on Friday (Oct. 9) to rake the leaves in her yard.

“We were both looking for a way to return the favor and we saw the leaves covering her yard. I told her we really appreciated her generosity in giving us the equipment and that if there was anything we could do for her in return we would be happy to help,” Zach said.

“On Friday evening they came and worked for two hours. I had a lot of leaves! They came back Saturday morning and raked another four hours! They did a thorough job too!” Foreman said.

“We made sure to do a thorough job and it was great taking breaks to chat with her,” Zach said. “She is one of the nicest people I have ever met and not only were we happy to help her out, but we are grateful we were able to meet and become friends with her and Cinder.”

“We wanted to rake her leaves because it just wouldn’t feel right walking away from the generosity she showed us without giving something in return,” Spencer said. “Sheila was just such a nice lady overall once we got to know her. She lives there by herself so I’m sure she enjoyed our company. We enjoyed hers.”

A few more leaves have fallen in Foreman’s yard and Zach and Spencer are planning to return soon to finish the job. Spencer said he and Zach spent time visiting with Foreman, taking in her stories about Alfred and her connection to the University. The pair were particularly impressed with her stories about her late brother, Marv Hubbard, a three-time All-Pro fullback for the Oakland Raiders from 1969-76 and member of the Raiders’ 1976 Super Bowl-winning team. “She even showed us an old Sports Illustrated cover which he was featured on!” Spencer recalled

Foreman said the experience left her impressed with the character shown by the two students, as well as feeling pride in her alma mater. “I feel fortunate to have encountered two of the finest AU students,” she said. “They deserve to be commended. It's the little things that define character.”

For his part, Zach said he and Spencer were more than happy to lend a hand. “Neither one of us were expecting to be recognized for helping her out, we simply wanted to make someone’s day better, especially given her generosity,” he said.

“To me, I took this as an opportunity to spread some good while no one is watching. Spencer and I talked about how gratifying it was, just knowing that we made her happy. Sheila mentioned how cool it was that we were able to provide what each other needed and I could not agree more.”

This chance meeting evolved into something more important and meaningful: friendship.

“Since meeting Sheila and raking her leaves we have actually been back to her house,” Spencer related. “One day the basketball court diagonal to her house— where we lift—was occupied.  She gave us permission to set up and lift in her driveway that day.  Meeting Sheila has been a great experience and we have mutually benefited greatly from the relationship.  Talking to Sheila is a joy and I think Zach will agree that we would now consider ourselves friends!”