This week it was my pleasure to join with the Orange County Youth Bureau to host the 31st annual Orange County Executive’s Youth Awards luncheon at Kuhl’s Highland House in Middletown. It was a phenomenal event for the Youth Bureau which is now in its 35th year of providing programs and services for children and families in Orange County.
More than 400 guests were on hand to celebrate the accomplishments of more than 70 youth, as well as 30 adults and organizations that support our youth. Guests and honorees represented 19 schools, 16 not-for-profit agencies, seven local businesses, and eight County departments. Generous support from the sponsors helps make the event a reality year after year. We couldn’t have done it without assistance from Hannaford Supermarkets, Crystal Run Healthcare, Orange Classic 10K, Healthy Orange, E. Tetz & Sons, and Orange & Rockland.
We were so fortunate to have not one, but two, Youth Bureau directors on hand for the luncheon. It was a great surprise to have good friend and retired Youth Bureau director Carol Chichester join us for lunch. Carol laid the foundation for a first-rate organization and built an outstanding Youth Bureau team that kept things moving along in the right direction when she retired. Picking up where Carol left off is her successor Rachel Wilson who ably and enthusiastically took over the helm as Youth Bureau director and continues the great work on behalf of the young people of Orange County.
The young people who received awards at the luncheon were honored for their hard work and commitment to going above and beyond in order to inspire others. Some displayed amazing strength in the face of challenges and adversity. Some touched the lives of others serving as role models and support to peers, while others have influenced positive changes that have led to success. Some of the young people were recognized for volunteerism and service in their community. All were recognized for leadership, dedication, and motivation.
These students are the future of our County and together they are making Orange County a better place for people of all ages.
While the annual celebration is primarily about our youth, I would be remiss if I did not also recognize the hard work and dedication of the youth workers, school-based professionals, local businesses, and County employees that support our young people. Their commitment touches lives and makes a difference.
Congratulations to all of the 2013 Orange County Youth Bureau award winners! Keep up the great work.
I was a teacher in the Minisink District for more than 30 years and I know the excitement, as well as the stress, that comes with this time of year for students, teachers, administrators, and parents alike. So much is going on – proms, finals, graduations, parties. As the school year comes to a close, I encourage students to study hard, do well on finals, and, most importantly, to make smart choices. Education is critical to a young person’s future. It opens doors and provides a foundation for continued success.
As our students celebrate the end of another school year, I urge them to be safe and be smart so that they may enjoy a great summer and a bright future.
For information about the Orange County Youth Bureau, visit them on the County website at www.orangecountygov.com.
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.