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Larchmont Student Has a Knack for Giving

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Catherine Van Eyck was one of 10 Westchester high school seniors honored at the Davenport Club in New Rochelle for their dedication to community service by Westchester County Wednesday night.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," Van Eyck said. "I didn't expect to get recognized. It's just an honor."

Van Eyck, of Larchmont, received the Westchester County Youth Board’s 2011 Milly Kibrick Youth Service Award, which is given in memory of Milly Kibrick, a prominent county social worker and youth activist, who dedicated her life to helping underprivileged children.

“Milly was a driving force in improving the lives of young people,” said County Executive Robert Astorino. “She made a lasting impact on our community. This year’s honorees are following in her footsteps. Their work has improved their own communities and at a young age they have managed to accomplish great things.”

While Van Eyck was put on a pedestal Wednesday, she helped make young cancer patients "Queen for a Day" in 2009 by raising money to bring them nail polish, makeup, feather boas and tiaras. She worked with an international organization known, at the time, as "Queen For A Day", a nonprofit group that provides play therapy programs to raise the self-esteem and self-confidence of young cancer patients.

She staged a mini beauty pageant and gave speeches to local organizations, but was still too young to visit the girls she was trying to help. When she turned 16, she was finally able to meet them in person, and "Queens For A Day" later named her volunteer of the month.

Last fall, the Larchmont resident formed a free tutoring club at Mamaroneck High School, named Chatsworth Homework help and Tutoring (C.H.A.T.). She not only offers her tutoring services to first through fifth graders in all subjects, but recruited, trained and scheduled a team of tutors. C.H.A.T. is an officially recognized club, which will continue after she graduates this May.

This year, Van Eyck will also be helping students half-way across the world through another club, Students for Senegal .

"It just makes it a lot more meaningful to me," Van Eyck said of the award. "It'samazing that there are several other kids that are doing good as well."

In addition to Van Eyck, nine other high school seniors were honored for exceptional service to their communities of Chappaqua, Yorktown, Peekskill, Sleepy Hollow, Lakeland and Edgemont. Two came from New Rochelle High School.

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