Thursday, March 27, 2014

2014 City of Yonkers Women of Distinction Awards

Today, I was honored with a Woman of Distinction Award from the Mayor of Yonkers, Mike Spano.

Honestly, I'm still reeling from the experience! I was so surprised and happy when I received a phone call late last week letting me know that I was going to be receiving the award. When I arrived at Yonkers City Hall today, I was floored by the work my fellow award recipients have done, and are continuing to do, in our community. 

Photo from the City of Yonkers Facebook page

From left to right, Lucy Casanova Moreno is the Community Garden Project Coordinator for the Greyston Foundation, educates youth about the environment, and volunteers with several organizations in Yonkers. Judith Koller owns Allways East Transportation and treats her employees like family while supporting the Yonkers Police and Fire Departments among other causes. Barbara Smith is an educator and civic leader, and current sits on the board of the Hudson River Association of Northwest Yonkers. Mary Hoar was a teacher in Yonkers for many years, and upon retirement began teaching computer courses to adult learners at Pathways to Success. These brief blurbs are merely the tip of the iceberg when describing the commitment these women have to Yonkers--for more information on each of them, click here.

I was excited to have the chance to speak before Mayor Spano, members of the Yonkers City Council, representatives for our New York State Senators, and guest from the community. I try to take advantage of every opportunity I have to speak out about domestic violence. One of the largest problems surrounding all forms of abuse is the hesitancy to speak about them. By speaking up, intervening when possible, and educating Yonkers teens about domestic violence, we can empower them to be successful in the future as they make healthy life choices.

It was a pleasure to run into some old friends at the awards ceremony this afternoon! Symra Brandon has known me since I was a little girl (My sister and I would always mess up her name and call her "Cinnamon." We thought she was fantastic!). She was at the event representing New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who sent her regards and a Certificate of Recognition to each of the awardees. 

One very special moment was meeting Madolyn Delaney Smith. She was one of the first Black students at Sarah Lawrence College back in 1951. She and two other Black students that year paved the way for future students of color, including me!

This afternoon, I left City Hall with a pile of certificates, flowers, and a beautiful trophy. But the best takeaway was, by far, the inspiration provided to me by the four other women recognized today. As the youngest recipient, I am not content to win an award like this and slip into complacency. Instead, I hope to be just like Lucy, Judith, Barbara, and Mary: dutifully serving Yonkers for many years to come. 

A very heartfelt thank you to Mayor Mike Spano, the City of Yonkers, and the wonderful team at City Hall who made receiving this award such a special experience. 

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