MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- A new youth public health service award to recognize the contributions of young people was awarded to Rachel Cohen, a Mamaroneck 16 year-old, by the Westchester County Board of Health during its annual Distinguished Public Health Service Award.
Mayor Norman Rosenblum, who nominated Cohen, described the program she initiated to collect, clean and donate small stuffed animals to the village Police Department so officers can give them to children involved in emergencies as a way to reduce trauma and provide comfort. During the past two years, Cohen has single-handedly collected, cleaned and donated more than 300 small stuffed animals.
Lt. Dominick Falcone, who coordinates the distribution of the Beanie Babies, Webkinz and other small stuffed animals that Cohen collects and donates, said that at headquarters, officers often give the animals to children who accompany their parents to police headquarters after a car accident, and officers keep a box of stuffed animals in the trunk of every patrol car, ready to hand out on calls.
Cohen will join County Executive Rob Astorino, Westchester County Board of Health President R. Steven Nakashima and Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler on Thursday, April 24, at the Yonkers Family YMCA to receive the 2014 J.R. Tesone Youth Public Health Service Award from the county Board of Health.
At the same time, the Board of Health will present the 2014 Distinguished Public Health Service Award to the Yonkers Health Connections for LYFE Coalition and the 2014 Honorary Public Health Service Award to John Richard Tesone.
The new youth award was named to honor the lifetime commitment to Westchester children of John Richard (J.R.) Tesone, a Board of Health member and owner of Breezemont Day Camp in Armonk, who died Feb. 15. Tesone mentored generations of counselors and campers alike.
To help Cohen's project, the Yonkers Family YMCA, at 17 Riverdale Ave., will accept donations of small stuffed animals through April 24. You can also arrange donations by emailing Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org.