This week the Orange County Human Rights Commission recognized the 2013 recipients of the Commission’s annual award, now in its 18th year, at their annual award dinner at the Fountains of Wallkill. It was my pleasure to join the Commissioners and their guests to congratulate this year’s honorees. They are members of our community who go above and beyond in their efforts to promote and preserve the rights of all people in Orange County and support the goals and mission of the Orange County Human Rights Commission.
On behalf of the people of Orange County, I’d like to congratulate this year’s honorees: Victoria Garloch, Jo Anne Gurda, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, William Kaplan, Latinos Unidos of the Hudson Valley, and Anita Manley. Thank you for your contributions to Orange County.
I want to also thank the Human Rights Commissioners, under the leadership of Commission Chair Fred Cook, who volunteer their time in order to eliminate discrimination, foster mutual respect and understanding among individuals of different races or national origin, relieve tensions between racial, religious, or nationality groups, and enrich the quality of life by building better relationships among the people who live in our community.
Orange County is one of the fastest growing counties in New York State. I believe one of the reasons for our growth is that our secret is out - Orange County is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. It’s important to keep in mind that with growth come diversity and change. It is this diversity that makes the work of the County and the Human Rights Commission all the more critical as we join together to ensure peace, understanding, and respect between all people.
It is my responsibility to protect and preserve the rights of all Orange County residents - regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, economic status or other characteristics. As a father, as a teacher for more than 30 years, as a business owner, and as a public servant, I have maintained a commitment to respect for all people. I believe it is the duty of each and every one of us to instill this value in future generations in order to make our community stronger and healthier - today and tomorrow.
I’d like to leave you with these words from President Franklin Roosevelt: "Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them."
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.