RYE BROOK, N.Y. – The Volunteer Center of United Way, a regional one-stop shop for volunteers, held its 32nd annual Volunteer Spirit Awards ceremony Friday morning to recognize outstanding volunteers in Westchester.
Lou Young, a CBS 2 journalist and Larchmont resident, was the master of ceremonies, and the event at the Hilton Rye Town was well-attended by the community as well as municipal and county dignitaries. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino delivered the opening remarks before the Volunteer Center of United Way handed out awards to the 11 honored guests.
New Rochelle elementary school student Jake Gallen took home the first award of the morning, as he received the New York Life Youth Award. Gallen has helped raise more than $5,000 since the fall for American troops through his Stars for Cars program.
High school students Rebecca Passman, Cara Goldfarb, Divya Taylor, Samantha Auerback and Zak Krooks were given the New York Life Youth Group Action Award for their work with the Neighbors Link High School Volunteer ESL Tutors Group.
Eastchester resident Peter McCartt received the Going Green Award for his continued efforts to improve the environment in his hometown and throughout the county. Larchmont resident Nicole Sheindlin was presented the Education and Literacy Award for creating a mentoring program for young women.
Lou Thomas of Chappaqua, a retired IBM software designer, took home the Quality of Life Award for providing technology that supports people with developmental disabilities.
Cynthia Odell of Bronxville was recognized for providing assistance to victims of the Haiti earthquake through the Yonkers-based foundation Afya.
Pat Rosafort of Hope's Door in Pleasantville was given the Social Advocacy Award, and Judith Weber, board president of the New Rochelle Council on the Arts, received the Arts and Culture Award. Weber spoke about what it means to be recognized and the importance of volunteering.
"It feels great. It's not necessary, but it is appreciated," Weber said. "Volunteering is the most important thing someone can do to give back."
The awards ceremony capped off National Volunteer Week, as the Volunteer Center recognized those in the county who best embody what volunteering is about.