WHITE PLAINS, NY -- Together with Deputy County Executive Kevin J. Plunkett, the Westchester County Board of Health recognized five people and one not-for-profit group today for their public health contributions in Westchester at the Board’s annual awards presentation, held at HRHCare Community Health in Peekskill. The awards also highlight National Public Health Week, from April 3-9, which celebrates the accomplishments of the public health community. “We are fortunate in Westchester that gifted and extraordinary people like these give their time and talents to improve the health of our community,” said Plunkett, who presented the winners with proclamations honoring their achievements on behalf of County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “Congratulations to the winners, to Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler, and her team at the health department, and to the members of the Westchester County Board of Health. Working together, they preserve, protect and promote the health of Westchester residents.”
Board president R. Steven Nakashima presented the 2017 Distinguished Public Health Service Award to John Gilleo, a lifelong Peekskill resident, for advocating on behalf of comprehensive mental health care for low-income residents and his leadership as a HRHCare Community Health board member. Gilleo also has served as president of the tenant’s associations for three affordable housing complexes in Peekskill.
“John Gilleo has a deep commitment to the success and well-being of our communities,” said Anne Kauffman Nolon, MPH, President and CEO of HRHCare, who nominated him. “As a HRHCare Community Health Board Member, he has provided valued insight to help guide our network of care during a time of great expansion.”
Nakashima presented the 2017 J.R. Tesone Youth Public Health Service award to Alicia McMillan, 16, of Rye, for her compassionate care and advocacy for children affected by cancer. After helping a neighbor who was battling cancer by comforting and distracting her two young children, Alicia realized that children with cancer or who had a family member with the disease would welcome a personalized care package. Alicia contributed her allowance and babysitting money to develop Kids Care Kits, working with SOUL RYDERS, a cancer care group based in Port Chester. Tapping her family’s contacts, Alicia held a tea party, karaoke and cocktail party fundraiser and raised more than $8,500 for several cancer-related charities. SOUL RYEDERS continues to offer the kits to families.
“Not only has Alicia helped on a personal level, but her kits will benefit children for years to come,” Nakashima said. “Alicia demonstrated compassion and generosity far beyond her years and leveraged her community connections to make her Kids Care Kits a reality. Her efforts are a shining example of how young people can make a difference.”
The Board also recognized four Public Health Honorees:
· Emily Gualdino, a ninth-grader from Mahopac, for her weekly visits and friendship to medically fragile children at the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center and John A. Coleman School, both in Yonkers;
· Chloe Krugel, a 12th grader from Chappaqua, for promoting adolescent mental health through her volunteer work with the President’s Junior Leadership Council at Northern Westchester Hospital and for initiating a Mental Wellness Club at her high school
· Joe Rogot of New Rochelle, for transforming a rocky field at Ward Acres back into a flourishing community garden that yields produce served at Hope Community Soup Kitchen;
· and SPRYE, Inc., (Staying Put in Rye & Environs) a grass-roots group in Port Chester led by Betti Weimersheimer of Rye and a team of nearly 80 volunteers who help hundreds of seniors in Port Chester, Rye, Harrison and Rye Brook age in place at home by providing rides, handyman help, outings, and referrals .
“The Health Department is fortunate to have such capable partners working alongside us to promote public health in our communities,” said Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD. “We are especially grateful to not-for-profit groups and to our honorees, who enhance and support the work done by local organizations.”
For more information about public health, visit the Westchester County Department of Health website at www.westchestergov.com/health, Like us at Facebook.com/wchealthdept or Follow us on Twitter @wchealthdept.