Lowey Statement on Bipartisan Agreement to Reopen the Government, Avoid Default Crisis
Lowey: Time for Congress to “get back to the most important task before us: creating jobs, growing our economy, and protecting middle-class families.”
October 16, 2013 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) issued the following statement after voting for an agreement to reopen the government and avoid an economically catastrophic default crisis. After passage by the Senate earlier in the evening, the legislation passed the House 285-144, with 198 Democrats supporting the bill. It is expected to be signed into law by President Obama this evening.
You can also view a video of Congresswoman Lowey’s floor speech prior to the vote by clicking here. Congresswoman Lowey’s statement is below:
“Fifteen days after the shutdown began, the House has finally passed a reasonable agreement to reopen the government and avoid a disastrous default on our nation’s bills. While this legislation should have been considered weeks ago, I am pleased that Congress has come together to provide our economy the stability it needs.
“It is incredibly disappointing that Republicans have put our economy and American families at such great risk. I want to ask them: was it worth it?
“Eight-hundred thousand federal workers have been furloughed, including many in the Lower Hudson Valley. Families that depend on critical services from disaster aid to nutrition assistance have been left in the cold. And our economy has suffered.
“We must stop stumbling from crisis to crisis. We have enough serious challenges to tackle without creating more. No member of Congress should ever again threaten the full faith and credit of the United States or shut down the government to advance a reckless ideological agenda.
“In the weeks and months ahead, I hope we can work across party lines to avoid a repeat of this tragic episode and get back to the most important task before us: creating jobs, growing our economy, and protecting middle-class families.”
Astorino Welcomes the Annual Jewish Heritage Festival
July 26, 2013 Enjoy the best of Jewish music and dance during the Westchester Jewish Music and Arts Festival, Sunday, July 28, noon to 6 p.m., at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla. The festival is part of Westchester County’s series of cultural heritage celebrations for 2013.
“One of the most fun things I get to do on weekends every summer is visit the festivals in our cultural heritage series,” Astorino said. “This year, in addition to the Westchester Jewish Council, the Westchester Klezmer Program, the Workmen’s Circle and Kol Hazzanim, we thank the Friends of Westchester County Parks, whose financial donation has made it possible for us to present the series this year.”
The Afro-Semitic Musical Experience will headline the entertainment. Other featured performers include the Mama Doni Band, the Westchester Klezmer Program Band, Sruli and Lisa Family Klezmer Band and the Kol Rinah ensemble.
Children can have their faces painted and have fun with Mega Bubble Man.
Kosher food will be available for purchase. The vendor exhibition area will feature Jewish art and Judaica.
Admission and parking are free. The event will be held rain or shine. Bring blankets or chairs for seating on the lawn.
The Jewish Heritage Festival of Westchester is presented by the Westchester Jewish Council, the Westchester Klezmer Program, the Workmen’s Circle, Kol Hazzanim – The Cantors of Westchester, and Friends of Westchester County Parks, in cooperation with the County Parks Department. For more information, contact the Westchester Jewish Council at email@example.com or call (914) 328-7001.
The Kensico Dam Plaza is located in Valhalla at the north end of the Bronx River Parkway.
The Elks New Home in Armonk By Ryan Raichelson
July 11, 2013 The mid-Westchester Elks have found a home within the American Legion building in Armonk. The mid-Westchester branch of the Elk originally consisted of three-separate lodges, stationed in Port Chester, White Plains, and Mt. Kisco.
After the branches merged, the Elks relocated and began cultivating a symbiotic relationship with the Legion. In addition to sharing a space, the two groups have coordinated multiple successful events together. The Elks are also planning to work alongside the Legion for this year's Veterans Day celebration.
As indicated in their mission statement, the volunteer organization has pledged to “serve the people and communities through benevolent programs, demonstrating that Elks care and Elks share.” The mid-Westchester lodge’s Exalted Ruler (the Elk’s version of a chapter president) Rae Partellow spoke with me about the Elk’s involvement in the community. He emphasized, “It is not about the accomplishments of any single member, but what we do as a collective group within the community.” The organization has repeatedly demonstrated its charitable pursuit through several different programs.
Member Bob Sollazzo joined the Elks after his own experience with their humanitarian efforts. When Mr. Sollazzo’s daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the Elks were there for his family during a very stressful and difficult time. The organization sent volunteers to the hospital where she had been admitted and dressed as clowns to lift the children’s spirits. The Elks even offered to mitigate the high cost of his daughter’s health care bill. His personal experience mirrors that of countless others affected by cerebral palsy who have also benefited from their selfless efforts. The Elks also sponsor a teen program for the children associated with Cerebral Palsy of Westchester. Their program organizes field trips to professional sporting events and movie theatres.
The Elks are connected to the Boy Scouts of America, sponsoring four-separate troops. This past year, the Elks promoted the annual Pine Wood Derby, held at the Cerebral Palsy of Westchester center; the popular event attracted a crowd of more than 400 people.
The Elks are also closely associated with the patients of Montrose Veterans Hospital, who are admitted for rehabilitation treatments. The group arranges barbeques and holiday parties, bringing fun and smiles to those in need.
The Elks organization operates as one-cohesive family. Members come from a variety of different backgrounds, but are united by one common aspiration: to make a difference within the community. The altruistic group is easy to join and they’re always looking for new members. To learn more about the organization, visit http://www.elks.org/.
Hate the Wait: Shortening the Waiting Period for an Organ Transplant By Ryan Raichelson
June 16, 2013 The brand new Fortina restaurant, located in Armonk Square, graciously hosted the Share Life awareness event on June 13.
While guests munched on hors d’oeuvres and sipped cocktails, they had the opportunity to walk through Waiting Sucks, an exhibition by Stuart Zaro Photography that gives a voice to people currently on waiting lists for organ transplants.
Attendees listened to keynote speakers recant personal stories about organ donation. The first speaker was Helen Irving, president & CEO of the New York Organ Donor Network. The NYODN is a nonprofit, federally designated organ-procurement organization for the greater metropolitan area. In addition to providing transplants for patients in the New York region, the organization educates the public and healthcare professionals about the importance of being a registered organ donor. Ms. Irving spoke briefly, applauding the Share Life organization for its work.
The second speaker explored the “giving” side of the organ donation process. James Matelko, a current board member of the Transplant Recipients International Organization (TRIO), spoke about his journey in the organization. When his mother passed away from sudden liver failure at the age of 55, Mr. Matelko made an important decision. He chose to donate his mother’s organs, providing the gift of life to another human being. Honoring his mother’s memory, Mr. Matelko is currently a representative for “Team Donate Life” and is training for his fourth triathlon as part of the team.
Lauren Shields followed with a moving, personal story of how her life was saved as a result of an organ donation. Ms. Shields was given a second chance at life after receiving a heart transplant in March of 2009. Due to the generosity of a stranger, she was able to recover from a life-threatening condition.
The closing speaker, Howard Romanoff, is a double-lung transplant recipient and the co-founder of Share Life. Mr. Romanoff began his speech by recalling the horrors of being placed on the organ-donation waiting list. He spent four and a half years later battling Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, and needed to be attached to an oxygen tank. Mr. Romanoff explained that Share Life’s mission is to grow the donor registry, which works to minimize the life-threatening waiting period.
New York currently ranks 47 for national organ donations, with only 20% of adults registered. With 10,000 New Yorkers registered on the list and rising, organizations like Share Life are critical for raising awareness. A single donor can save up to eight lives and benefit countless more. To become a registered donor, please visit hatethewait.org.
Byram Hills Alumni Kick For A Cure By Ryan Raichelson
June 2, 2013 On a scorching Saturday afternoon, two teams battled for kickball supremacy. Byram Hills High School and Horace Greeley High School, two local athletic powerhouses, momentarily abandoned a historic rivalry for a cause.
The two communities came together to raise money for the Family Reach Foundation and to honor Michael Dellon. Mr. Dellon, a Byram Hills alum, was diagnosed with cancer during his senior year of high school. His successful fight against cancer inspired friends and fellow alumni, Andrew Larrabee, Jeremy Brazda, and Jackson Mann, to canvas support for the Family Reach Foundation and organize this event. The foundation, co-founded by Brian Morello, was created to alleviate the financial complications that often accompany a cancer diagnosis. The foundation works directly with social workers in order to efficiently deliver aid to impoverished families who are in the midst of a health crisis.
While Byram Hills may have hoisted the trophy this year, the three event managers explicitly stated that Greeley will have an opportunity to win it back.
Mr. Brazda said, “Everyone had such an amazing time, which will only lead to a better turn out next year.” The overwhelming positive support from the community is going to be used to make this event an annual occurrence. Mr. Larrabee continues to work closely with the foundation in his role as a reach athlete. His efforts accumulated 136 sponsors and close to $25,000 for the Family Reach Foundation.
Zero Waste Day: An Efficient Operation on a Tight Budget By Melanie Olin
May 15, 2013 The members of the North Castle Recycling Committee are the proud recipients of the 2013 Westchester County Earth Day Award for their stellar recycling efforts.
Over the past few years, the Recycling Committee has made many improvements to help get the town on board with participating in recycling. In 2009, they originated Zero Waste Day, which was an opportunity for residents to recycle and reuse furniture; clothing; bicycles; dog and cat supplies; metal; and e-waste. In past years, there had been two Zero Waste Days; this year, however, there was only one Zero Waste Day on April 20, since the town is holding a monthly scrap collection and e-waste collection on the first Saturday of every month.
Co-Chair Deborah Cerar said, "The count is over 400 cars in 4 hours." And by the end of the day, the count reached 700 cars.
Many charitable organizations make their mark at Zero Waste Day. Furniture Sharehouse collects gently used furniture each year at the event. The furniture is stored in a hangar at the Westchester County Airport, where people in need are accompanied by a social service agency to pick up furniture for their homes, said Kate Bialo, Executive Director.
North Castle residents donated over 60 bikes to Recycle a Bicycle. There is a youth employment program in New York City with high school, job training internships in which the kids learn the importance of responsibility, while also learning the skills of bike mechanics.
Carol Romanoff founded ShareLifeNY.org and was also present at Zero Waste Day with a new take on recycling: recycle yourself. She brought attention to the fact that New York State has the lowest number of organ donors in the country. Her husband, Howard Romanoff, had a lung disease that required a double-lung transplant in 2011. This led the Romanoffs on a mission to encourage people to "recycle themselves and provide someone with a second chance at life." Become a donor and save a life: you can register at donatelifeny.org.
Councilwoman Diane DiDonato-Roth acknowledged the North Castle Recycling Committee's efforts at the May 8 Town Board meeting. The Town of North Castle presented the recycling committee a proclamation. The town's proclamation expresses a "heartfelt appreciation for all of the dedication, hard work, and promoting waste management and recycling waste practices throughout our town."
For more information on how to recycle in your home, log onto northcastleny.com and visit the online guide of "recyclopedia" which explains how to recycle over 250-common household items.
Support-apalooza at Grand Prix NY Raises Funds & Awareness for Support Connection
May 7, 2013 Grand Prix New York raised $1,200 for Support Connection – a Yorktown Heights-based not-for-profit organization that provides free, confidential services to people affected by breast and ovarian cancer – at its recent Support-apalooza fundraiser.
“Our goal was not only to raise money for Support Connection, but to raise awareness of the wonderful work they do to help people cope with the affects of breast and ovarian cancers,” said Grand Prix New York Vice President Nat Mundy.
“We are so grateful for the continued support of Grand Prix New York as well as BuzzPotential and Corporate Audio Visual Services. Through their commitment, they are helping Support Connection bring help and hope to the many people affected by breast and ovarian cancer who turn to us,” said Katherine Quinn, Executive Director, Support Connection.
Governor Signs Groundbreaking NY SAFE Act
January 16, 2013 Today, Governor Cuomo signed the NY SAFE (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) Act – groundbreaking legislation that will put in place the toughest gun laws in the nation to better protect our residents from senseless gun violence, while respecting the rights of legal gun owners and sportsmen.
The NY SAFE Act includes provisions to: • Ban the sale of assault weapons; • Require mental health professionals to report to local mental health officials when they believe a patient is likely to engage in behavior that is dangerous to themselves or others; • Make New York the first state in the nation to ban any magazine that can hold more than seven rounds and run instant background checks on all ammunition purchases at the time of sale; • Track ammunition sales in real time to alert law enforcement to high volume purchases; • Create a statewide standard requiring recertification of pistol permits every five years; • Ensure that private sales of guns are subject to a background check; and, • Toughen criminal penalties on those who use illegal guns including measures to help combat gang violence.
The bill balances the urgent need to both crack down on these lethal weapons and keep our communities safe, while still ensuring that sportsmen and other legal gun owners have access to the guns to which they are entitled. Together, the Office of the Governor says, we are ensuring that government works to protect all New Yorkers.
Senator George Latimer Opens Temporary Senate Offices
January 2, 2013 Today, newly minted State Senator George Latimer opened temporary offices in Port Chester and in Albany ensuring that constituents will continue to have points of access for their local representative during the ongoing transition period. Latimer’s temporary office in Port Chester is located on the third floor of Port Chester Village Hall at 222 Grace Church Street and is reachable by phone at 914-934-5250. The Senator’s temporary office in Albany is Room 615 of the Legislative Office Building and can be contacted at (518) 455-2031. Latimer's new Senate website was launched today and can be found at http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/george-s-latimer.
“During this transition period, I am happy to give constituents somewhere to turn should they need assistance,” stated Senator George Latimer. “Transitions are always complicated, but when we are working for the people, it is imperative that we give them as many points of access to their government as possible so we can seamlessly advocate for all of their needs. ”
Latimer is the Senate representative for the Towns of Bedford, North Castle, Harrison, Rye, Mamaroneck and Eastchester; the City of Rye; the Villages of Bronxville, Tuckahoe, Larchmont, Armonk, Port Chester and Rye Brook. He also represents part of the Cities of New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers. Latimer recently completed four terms as a NYS Assemblyman for the 91st District.
Latimer will take a formal oath of office in the Senate Chamber on January 9, 2013.
Thank You for Helping Us, Help Them in Staten Island By Nicole Kovensky
December 14, 2012 One week after Hurricane Sandy washed ashore, a group of Armonk families went to Staten Island to see how we could help. When we arrived, we immediately saw the devastation; when we met the people and heard their stories, we learned that donations were not reaching the people who needed them. We decided at that moment to raise money and return to Staten Island so we could give money directly to these people who have already suffered so much.
We had our husbands, kids and friends join us on some of the trips. My family and I, along with some of our friends from Armonk, have been to Staten Island several times to pitch in with clean-up and give money directly to those who have been hit the hardest. We have also pitched in to help with the massive clean-up effort. Even our kids pitched in and helped with the clean-up.
Rich from Schriefer's Deli heard about what we were doing and was eager to help. He has donated 60 sandwiches every time we’ve headed to Staten Island to help people. He has also placed a collection jar on the counter, asking his customers to donate money that will go directly to the people of Staten Island; his collection jar has already raised more than $1,600. And he wants to keep it there and continue providing food for our trips there. We have taken the money he has raised, along with donations from family and friends, and have wrapped $100-gift-cards and $100 bills in clear bags with Hershey Kisses; we have walked those hard-hit streets, giving out our gift bags and sandwiches.
The response we have received has been overwhelming. We get hugs, tears and deep gratitude from everyone we meet. They cannot believe there are complete strangers in Armonk who want to help in some small way. I saw Rich from Schriefer’s again today and he is ready to make another 60 sandwiches to send down with us on Sunday. He gets so excited to count how much money has been collected in his jar! He is an amazing guy, and clearly has very generous and caring customers!
We distributed more than $6,000 worth of gift cards to the people of Staten Island. We wrapped gift cards and $100-bills, and handed them directly to the residents who have been so devastated by Sandy.
Stacey Sclafani of Staten Island wrote on Facebook, “I stood in awe of the people from Armonk who came to Staten Island to help people they have never met in their lives! They raised thousands of dollars and we drove around, handing out gifts cards, money, supplies, food and smiles. They helped me rip out the molded and broken parts of our home. They came with their hearts, and they have touched mine and many others deeply. Thank you seems so small and inadequate!"
Please help us, help them. We are collecting money so we can purchase gift cards, and personally deliver them to the people who need them most. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Caption: On our first trip, our gift cards were wrapped with cookies donated by Beascakes Bakery. The cookies were heart-shaped and said "We Care.”
Baumler Family Relief Account Organized by Baumler Family Relief Account
November 21, 2012 Two families in North Salem have suffered an unimaginable loss as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Jack Baumler (age 11) and Michael Robson (age 13) died when a tree uprooted during the storm and fell on the Baumler family home killing the boys instantly. The Baumler and Robson families are now trying to pick up the pieces from this tragedy. North Salem and its outlying communities have made numerous inquires on how they can help these families in their time of need.
This site has been set up to enable you to make a cash gift directly to the Baumlers (see your tax advisor about the deductibility of a cash gift). Gifts will be used to ease some of the financial burdens the Baumlers are facing. Some examples of these financial burdens include any costs not covered by insurance to rebuild the Baumler home, replacing its contents, unreimbursed medical costs for grief counseling and related medical services and a college fund for Jack's brother Will Baumler.
Your contributions, of any amount, can be made by credit card through this link. To maximize benefits to the family any associated fees will be grossed up on your credit card statement so that the intended contribution will fully go directly to the Baumlers. If you have any questions or would like to contact someone regarding this effort please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veterans Day Thank You to United States Armed Forces
November 11, 2012 Veterans, family members and civilians attended the Veterans Day observance at the North Castle American Legion Post 1097.
The patriotic ceremony was lead by Post Commander Corporal Patrick Burke. Corporal Burke's remarked, "Veterans Day honors all who have served in the U.S. military. Memorial Day is designated as a day of remembrance for those in our military who died while defending this great nation during time of war.
And while we are here to honor all of those great men and women today, there is another special group that we don't hear enough about. These are the veterans who have died for this country, long after they stopped wearing their military uniforms. While their service obligations may have expired, their love of country endured.
On September 12 of this year - 11 years and one day after the worst terrorist attack ever inflicted on American soil -- two Navy SEAL veterans made the Supreme Sacrifice while protecting their fellow American who were under attack at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods knew the meaning of service. In an open letter to Glen Doherty, SEAL team 3 Comrade Brandon Webb wrote in The New York Times: "I still can't believe you punched out early on me, but glad to hear from the guys that you fought like a hero - no surprise there… You should know, your efforts resulted in the rescue of over 20 Department of State personnel. They are alive today because of yours and Ty's heroic action."
Tyrone Woods was described by his mother as a "stellar SEAL who thrived on adrenaline, excitement and danger."
In addition to his grieving parents, Ty is survived by his wife, an infant daughter, two teenage sons and countless friends.
And it's important to remember not only the price that is paid by so many veterans to maintain our freedom - but the price paid by their heartbroken families as well.
Journalist Abigail Pesta, who is the sister of Glen Doherty, wrote, "Today we held a funeral in his hometown of Winchester, Massachusetts. During the procession from the funeral home to the church, the streets were lined with hundreds of people. Schools were let out; there were bands playing… People were holding signs. We have seen such a show of support - from both the town that we grew up in and the nation that we live in. We feel so much love."
Scenes similar to what occurred in Winchester, Massachusetts have taken place in many other cities and towns across America. We revere these heroes because they revered us - their families, their neighbors, their fellow citizens. A country is only as good as the people in it. And a land that could produce such heroes is truly worth serving.
We should all endeavor to serve our veterans as well as they have served their nation. We should remember that Every Day is Veterans Day.
We must honor all of their families and not just with Blue and Gold Star Banners, but with compassionate hearts. PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury and life-altering war wounds not only affect the veteran, but can also take an enormous toll on the family as well.
Sometimes all that is needed is a simple 'thank you' directed at the veteran or the family member for his or her sacrifice.
We must heed the words of our first commander-in-Chief, General George Washington who said in 1798, "The willingness with which our young people will fight in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country."
Born of their extraordinary accomplishments comes our extraordinary debt. And for those accomplishments and for their dedication, we must always be grateful.
God Bless you all for being here, God bless our veterans and Gods bless America."
Armonk Halloween 2012
A spooky spirit was on Main Street today when youngsters painted goblins, ghosts and Frankensteins on Armonk's storefront windows during the PSTA's traditional Halloween event. Click below to see more artists' spooky artwork, if you dare. Oct. 27, 2012
Armonk Students Cross Bridges to Community By Wally Williams
May 7, 2012 On Sunday, May 6, 2012, Hudson Valley Fellowship dedicated their worship service to recognize the community service performed by a group of seniors from BHHS, who led by Duane Smith went to the Dominican Republic with the
organization Bridges to Community.
Parishioner Wally Williams narrated through pictures part of their one week journey, with the help of her daughter Beatriz who was part of the group.
This is part of the sermon:
“On April 7, a group of 18 seniors with a handful of adults lead by Mr. Duane Smith, travelled to the Dominican Republic with an organization called Bridges to Community. This organization’s mission is to build a more just and sustainable world through service, learning, and community development by engaging volunteers to work in a developing country – building community and changing lives.
They got to the Dominican Republic and were greeted with great excitement. Enjoyed the pleasures of a nice hotel, they swam and dance as most tourists do when they go to this beautiful island. But the next day, this group got on a bus and rode for three hours until they got to the town of Derrumbadero. As they drove further into the country, they realized the abrupt change in scenery. While the vegetation and surroundings were still breathtaking, the living conditions of the local people were nowhere close to the places where tourists stay along the coast.
No more road, only dirt paths, no more running water and restricted access to electricity with most homes not having any at all.
They are taken to their home for the week, a local community center in the town. Filled with cots and bunk beds, they all shared this space as their bedroom. 27 seven people sleeping in the same room.
Outside was an outhouse with two toilets and they took bucket showers in the dark after a long day of work.
There was much interaction with the locals who came to work with the group or the kids that came to watch and play.
Pretty soon this bunch of students felt that they were very welcomed in this community. Kids would wait for them to come out of their resting quarters and Beatriz says that wherever they went they could hear the young voices calling out, “Americanos” as they waved with a smile.
I’m sure the whole group shares Beatriz’ experience that “just the mere presence of them being there, showed them that someone cares,” and they were grateful.
It was a week of letting go of all technological devices that constantly consume our time here in the US. And it was replaced with social, face to face interaction which is much more fulfilling….
The work was hard, and dirty as they were building the foundation for an additional section to the school. This school serves the kids of five surrounding towns. One Young girl shared she walk two hours every day to get to school.
Digging is definitely hard and dirty work… As Bea said, “you had to learn to become comfortable with being covered in dirt.” Meanwhile the kids over there walk around covered in dirt no problem, for that’s all they know.
But after a hard day at work, with all the hugs from the little kids and even the grateful expressions of the adults, this group went bed with a sense of satisfaction for what had been accomplished during the day.
What did this experience mean to you? “It was an eye-opening experience that showed me how other people live, making me grateful for all that I have; it increased my compassion for other people making me want to do more. It changed my perspective in what really is important and what should matter the most; opened my eyes to the fact that most of the things that I worry about are not as important when other people worry daily for basic things like food and water.”
“There is so much to appreciate and find inspiring about this trip. One of the things that brings me most joy is that this was a relatively diverse group of Armonk students. There were boys and girls, people of different religions and ethnicities, kids who may have previously “dug a ditch” in their lives (in one way or another) alongside kids who hadn’t, etc. This is a wonderful example of people coming together for a higher good, a better purpose, than their own needs and desires, as you put it. It nurtures continued hope in humanity. I am also delighted by the metaphor created by their role of building a foundation for a school. How special for each of these young people to know they helped prepare the groundwork for another’s education!” - Leslie Blum
Why did I make such a big deal out of this trip. Because this group of students reminded me that the world is not just about me and what is going on in my life.”
The students were presented with a small gift, a silver coin with a dove clutching an olive branch in its beak, which symbolizes peace, hope and promise because we understood that their trip shows us that there is hope for a better world and a promise for a better future if we all follow in their example.
Mr. Duane Smith was also recognized with a gift for leading groups of students in trips like this one for the last 10 years.
Hudson Valley Fellowship is proud of these students and wants to motivate others to follow their example. If we all did, our world would be a much better place to live.
Byram Hills Graduate's Peace Corps Partnership Program in Ghana By Leahy Winter
November 27, 2012 Imagine having a job with no schedule. Having to wake up every morning and decide where you will go, whom you will see, what work you will do. Your only instruction is to “improve health” in the community, but most people do not speak your language and you have no car, no transportation but your bicycle and your feet. Few have phones and no one keeps time. The clinic is overcrowded and understaffed, and medication is forever running low while disease incidence is high. Toilets and running water are luxuries only the wealthy can afford. Food is sold in open-air markets, from the ground or out of baskets on women’s heads, but nothing is washed before cooking, including the hands of the chef. Money is tight, but you keep quiet because you know others would give anything to have the guaranteed salary you get each month, even if it is a small sum. Now ask yourself, “Where would I even begin?”
While each Peace Corps Volunteer’s experience is different, this has been mine for the past nine months. My assignment is with the Health, Water and Sanitation sector in Eremon, a rural village in the Upper West Region of Ghana. I received three months of training and was sent to my site, wide-eyed and anxious to get started. The conditions were worse and the challenges far greater than I had anticipated. This region of the country is poorer and more neglected than any other. Education on health issues is minimal if not completely overlooked, and myths about disease far outnumber any truths. Government programs rarely extend to this area, but when they do, corruption and greed deprive the village people of any benefit to which they are entitled, however small. The people of Eremon needed an advocate, someone to request what they want and demand what they need. Then they got me: a twenty-two year old just out of college with minimal field experience and an even smaller idea of what I was getting myself into. The community welcomed me warmly and gave me the local name Nayirima, meaning “mother of our people.” No pressure.
The expectations from the community were immense, but my direction was still too vague. I spent the next few months learning everything I could about the area, the people, and their problems. I worked to identify key individuals in the community while still reaching out to those most affected by health issues, those with no education and no money. I met with the chiefs and local assemblymen, while women’s groups, school visits, and language lessons became a part of my weekly routine. As a result, slowly, very slowly, a change came.
People began to know me. I was greeted by familiar faces, invited for meals, and followed by children everywhere I went. I was trusted, and with this trust came the burden of hearing about the hardships of life in Eremon. Children were going without health insurance because the parents could not afford the 1 Cedi bus fare to the District Capital to apply. Women were going without food in order to provide their children with one measly meal a day. Those who had registered with the government for free mosquito nets never received them, and were constantly suffering from malaria. Homes went without toilets, each of the forty family members of the household “freeing themselves” in the field out back. These were the places to start, and no place more than this lack of toilets. Sickness cannot be curbed until people literally stop defecating where they eat.
So here I am, trying to bring toilets to an entire village. It is an immense project, but one that is undeniably necessary. The construction of a latrine is relatively simple, requiring physical labor, construction materials, and a bit of artistry, but bringing a sense of ownership to the beneficiaries is more difficult. In an effort to bolster personal responsibility, the citizens of Eremon have agreed to supply over 50% of the project costs. Participants will be responsible for paying a registration fee, digging the pit, and constructing the external structure. This is an enormous contribution for people who live in a place where time away from the farm means less harvest and finding a Cedi on the ground means dinner for the family for a week. They have saved and scrounged, but even after all this, the cost of the remaining materials still reaches 11,487.00 Cedis or $6,242.93.
This is where people back home come in. We will need to raise funds to cover the remaining costs. With a total of 198 latrines, each will require $30 worth of materials. For a mere $30, someone in America can pay for a household latrine for a family in Ghana. In 2012 alone, Eremon has so far had over 1,600 reported cases of diarrhea-related disease. Essentially, that means that about one quarter of the population in this village has ingested contaminated food or water this year. You can bring the result of lower disease incidence, better education, and higher productivity for each member of that household. In addition, each contribution of $30 or more, the donor will receive a photograph of the family his or her donation has directly assisted in constructing a new latrine. Only together can we bring a healthier environment to Eremon.
Although the web site is the quickest way to make a donation, you may also make a check payable to Peace Corps Partnership Program and send it to: Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters Peace Corps Partnership Program, OPSI 1111 20th Street NW Washington DC 20526 Be sure to indicate the project number, 641-341, on the check so it will be applied to the correct project. Please note that due to security procedures, checks sent to Peace Corps via regular mail can take up to four weeks to reach their destination. It is strongly recommended that donors send check payments through an expedited service such as FedEx or UPS as this will dramatically speed up the delivery process. Also, if you’re looking for ways to make your donation go even farther, check with your employer to see if they have a matching gifts program; many companies match donations dollar for dollar. The gifts supporting this project are tax-deductible.
Please feel free to contact the Pace Corps office directly at (202) 692.2170 or 1 (800) 424.8580 x2170 with any questions you might have. Your support will go a long way to aid Leahy’s efforts in Ghana.
Honoring Our Military By Frank Boyle
May 27, 2012 Memorial Day was established
to commemorate the Military men and women who died in the service of our country. Some of these servicemen and women are buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Arlington National Cemetery, a 600 acre property, is located 15 miles from White House. It was originally the family estate of Anna (Curtis) Lee, the wife of Robert E. Lee, top General for the Confederate Army in the American Civil War. Anna Curtis Lee was the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington. In 1864, near the end of the civil war, Lee’s estate was confiscated by US Treasury because of nonpayed property taxes; though Anna Lee sent an agent to attempt to pay the $92.07 that was owed.
In 1870 Custis Lee, the grandson and heir of Robert and Anna Lee, sued the government to regain ownership of Arlington. In December of 1882 the Supreme Court ruled in his favor on the grounds that Arlington had been confiscated without due process. In February of 1883 Custis Lee sold the land back to the government for $150,000.
President Herbert Hoover celebrated the first national Memorial Day in Arlington on May 29th, 1930. Today the Arlington House has been dedicated as a memorial to Robert E. Lee and the remaining 600 acres has become America’s most treasured national cemetery.
300,000 soldiers are buried in Arlington, and there are 20 new burials every day. Only two US Presidents are buried there: John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft. Kennedy’s wife, Jackie Onassis, two children, and two brothers, Robert and Ted, were also laid to rest there.
Arlington Cemetery is also famously known as the home of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Guards walk in front of the tomb for 21 hours daily, go 21 steps each way, similar to the 21 gun salute usually reserved for Military heroes' highest honor. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier contains smaller internal tombs for soldiers from World War I, II, The Korean War and The Vietnam War.
Memorial Day has been celebrated since World War I, with The American Legion and American Veterans of foreign wars giving out floral poppies on street corners. This came about as a World War I tribute for the massive US Military deaths in the "Fields of Poppies" battlegrounds in France and Belgium at the hands of the invading German Armies.
The motto of Memorial Day is "Always Remember Those Who Gave Their Lives Defending Their Country." __
S/Sgt Frank Boyle-Army Air Corps-8th Air Force-B17 Belly Turret Gunner-England 1944. Suffered 37% Casualty rates--highest of all US Army/ Navy & Marines in World War II. --
Armonk will celebrate Memorial Day on Monday with a parade down Main Street on May 30, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. The parade marches to the American Legion for a ceremony, followed by refreshments.
North Castle Copes With Sandy
November 10, 2012 North Castle Citizen Corps Council (NC4) set up a reception center at the Hergenhan Recreation Center to help residents dealing with recovery from Tropical Storm Sandy. People were welcome to come in, warm up, charge phones and laptops, take a shower and have something to eat; there were also a few overnight guests, said NC4 Chairman Barry Reiter. Hundreds of people arrived daily and were greeted by volunteers who also had lost power in their own homes. NC4's goal was to provide comfort in the center for more than 300 people a day.
Resident Christine Eggleton said, "We went to Hergenhan nearly every day while the power was out and always found smiling faces welcoming us. They seemed tireless in their effort to keep the waiting list for showers organized and moving along, keeping the place neat and offering food graciously donated by local restaurants. The power outage would not have been nearly as tolerable without Hergenhan and NC4."
NC4 opened the shelter for 12 days after the storm damage that left 98 percent of North Castle customers without power, while downtown Armonk was fortunate and did not lose power. "We are run under the direction of Lieutenant William Fisher of the North Castle Police Department's Emergency Office Command (EOC),” said Reiter. "I briefed the command center daily of what we were doing. NC4 followed Fisher's directions."
Lieutenant Fisher said this was the largest weather emergency response event that he has seen in his thirty years on the force. "We are really blessed to have this group of individuals of NC4. It is a dedicated, highly motivated group of volunteers. They have staffed and operated a residence-warming and reception center that has been open 24/7 since Tuesday."
NC4 reviewed some of the operational procedures at a recent meeting that included about 30 people from the group before the storm. Reiter said they have about a hundred people on the volunteer list who they can count on during an emergency, but they operate with a core of about 25 people. NC4 has recruited several people as a result of their recent efforts; many community members expressed their desire to help and worked during the 12 days the center was open.
NC4 plans to get identification for its members so people can know who they are and what they do. "We want to have a little more organizational structure of overseeing the volunteers and the operations of the kitchen, bathroom, and registration desk," added Reiter.
Other towns have asked NC4 to put its model together so they can replicate it. Reiter said they plan to increase their visibility perhaps with a dedicated sign in front of the Hergenhan Recreation Center displaying information such as "Ice" or "Water.”
The NC4 is supported by the Town of North Castle. They have learned just how important NC4 is, witnessing the severe damage and the number of days power outages lasted. Reiter said some logistics need to be worked out, such as the Hergenhan Recreation Center itself, internet and TV issues.They have a TV upstairs but the cable doesn't work. The lower level has four-desktop computers, with plenty of power outlets and tables for residents’ use. They discussed creating a quiet section for people to just read and relax. NC4 is planning to regroup after this recovery and review the improvements that are feasible.
Everyone chipped into to help one another. "During emergencies, people of this town come through to help each other, neighbors who had power allowed their friends to come in to use showers, sleep over, and stay warm. It is great," said Councilman Stephen D'Angelo.
Lieutenant Fisher commented, "The EOC was activated on Monday at noon. We have coordinated the North Castle Police Department, the Highway Department, the local fire departments, the North Castle Sewer and Water Department, the Building Department, the Parks and Recreation Department and the North Castle Citizen Corps Council. The Army National Guard and the New York Guard provided assistance throughout the emergency response.”
With hundreds of downed utility poles and trees, as well as miles of wires, Fisher said the first priority was to make the roads safe and to provide access to ensure that fire engines and ambulances could get to residents. The North Castle Police Department and the Office of Emergency Management continuously informed residents each day about the recovery progress with the use of the Nixle emergency notification system. Moving forward, Fisher is encouraging all residents to sign up to receive Nixle notifications from the town at Nixle.com.
Throwback Harvest in Banksville
October 9, 2012 Banksville, New York was settled in 1695 and is one of the three hamlets located in North Castle. The Banksville Community House (BCH) was founded in 1936. It is a non-profit organization that started at Finch's County Store as a place for local boy scouts to meet.
In 1939, Herbert Bertrand bought the Jensen Farm and presented 10 acres to the people of Banksville. The Banksville Community House was relocated to the 10-acre area and is still located today at 12 Banksville Road in Greenwich, Connecticut. The property is near the state line of New York, less than a mile from Finch's Country Store.
The organization sponsors recreational and educational programs for families from Banksville, North Castle, Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut. The BCH's recent annual fundraiser, Harvestfest, was a throwback to a small-town gathering on an autumn Saturday afternoon. Families enjoyed hayrides; pony rides; a petting zoo; fire trucks; tractors; hay stacks; pumpkin decorating; fresh apples and homemade jams.
The community house can be rented for birthday parties, social gatherings and meetings and can accommodate up to about 100 people. Contact email@example.com or visit www.thebch.org. BCH is a member agency of The United Way of Greenwich.