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Four members of Rye High School’s Varsity Golf team — Brian Latkany, Delucia Lepore, Lara Martin, and Jack Tartaglia — have organized Birdies for Birds, the Friends of Rye Nature Center’s first golf outing. Knowing firsthand the complimentary nature of golf and the beauty of the outdoors, the teens decided to raise awareness and funds to benefit the Nature Center’s mission to protect and conserve natural habitats.

Proceeds from Birdies for Birds will be used to plant native flowers, shrubs, and grasses at the Nature Center.

“These students have been working hard to get sponsors, sell tickets, and organize a terrific event. We are excited to have such engaged young advocates in our community,” said FRNC Executive Director Christine Siller.

Mark your calendars for Birdies for Birds at Rye Golf Club on August 1. For more information, to purchase tickets or to sponsor the event, go to www.birdiesforbirds.com or contact the Rye Nature Center directly at 967-5150.

Over the past ten years, we’ve watched Soul Ryeders improve the quality of life of individuals and families affected by cancer. This volunteer-driven organization has stuck to their mission while expanding their circle of care and compassion.

What started out with Sandy Samberg’s participation in the 2006 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, in memory of one friend and in honor of another, progressed to putting together a team from Rye for the 2007 Walk. They raised over $100,000 that first year.

In short order, they organized their first education and awareness event, developed a grant program, launched The Wig Exchange, and the TieTheTown Pink campaign. They’ve supported LIVESTRONG at the Y for the past six years.

This year, Soul Ryeders is sending 15 kids to Camp Kesem. They offer Yoga for Cancer classes taught by cancer survivors. They’re starting a Caregiver Support program. And, they recently opened an office in downtown Rye, where volunteers find a variety of meaningful opportunities.

While Samberg says Soul Ryeders has “evolved organically”, the thousands of recipients of compassionate care, financial assistance, and individualized counseling might beg to differ. The organization’s evolution can be traced to a few good women, and the dozens who’ve been attracted to their cause.

Soul Ryeders invites all to its 10th anniversary celebration at Rye Town Park for food, music, and the unveiling of their gift to the community — a labyrinth, as a place for serenity and contemplation. Save the date: Sunday, September 17 from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Rye Town Park Pavilion. The rain date is October 1. Meanwhile, visit soulryeders.org to become a permanent part of the labyrinth by purchasing an engraved bric.

The Early Childhood Center at the Community Synagogue of Rye and The Little Garden Club of Rye teamed up to introduce a fun and informative program on honeybees geared to 4- and 5-year-olds. On June 5, local beekeepers Victoria Dillon and her daughter Anne-Marie, a rising Harrison High School senior, gave the preschoolers a better understanding of why they should learn to love and protect bees.

The presentation included a show-and-tell with beekeeper tools, honeycomb wax, and bee specimens in plastic cases. Everyone enjoyed the honey tasting and gained a better understanding of how bees communicate. For the grand finale, the children demonstrated the waggle dance, the body language bees use to show the rest of the hive where to find water sources, new nest locations, and pollen- and nectar-rich flowers. 

How did the students respond to the program? Robert Dorin, age 5, said, “Now I know how to do the waggle dance! And without bees, I couldn’t eat cherries!”

ECC Director Dale Oberlander said, “I am happy our students had the opportunity to understand the importance of bees and what they provide us. They will be able to see many pollinators in action thanks to our new Butterfly Garden.” Oberlander arranged to have a beautiful screened wooden structure moved from the defunct Pleasantville Synagogue to the ECC. The interior of the garden was donated by the Little Garden Club and designed by member Liz Garrett.

— Photos by Darla Rohde

Beekeepers Anne-Marie and Victoria Dillon giving ECC students the friendly buzz on bees.

EEC Director Dale Oberlander, far left, with Victoria and Anne-Marie Dillon in Community Synagogue’s new Butterfly Garden.

During the show-and-tell

When Mary Alice and Kent Warner and Allen Clark founded 5 Steps to Five in Port Chester in April 2014, they knew <what> they wanted to do and <why>, they just weren’t so sanguine about <how>. Now into its fourth year, this not-for-profit, early child education program knows very much how and is getting well-deserved recognition.

Earlier this month, the Council of Community Services of Port Chester, Rye Town and Rye Brook awarded Special Recognition to the three founders for their “visionary approach to Early Childhood Development.” Joining in with individual proclamations were Congresswoman Nita Lowey, State Assemblyman Steve Otis, Rye Town Supervisor Gary Zuckerman, Port Chester Mayor Richard Falanka, and the Westchester Board of Legislators, who topped it off by naming June 7 “Kent and Mary Alice Warner Day” and “Allen Clark Day.”

The founders announced that 5 Steps to Five has incorporated as a 501(c)3 and is forming its first board of directors. The program will continue to use Westchester Community Opportunity Program’s Head Start instructors and classrooms, but WestCOP will no longer manage the payroll and supplies. Instead, the founders announced that they have arranged a partnership with the Carver Center, which has already taken over payroll management. One or more of Carver’s staff will be on the new 5 Steps to Five Board.

In more good news, attendance at 5 Steps Saturday morning sessions has increased to more than 170 different families, a major leap from the first 12 weeks in 2014, when just seven families were enrolled. In early June, over 100 people attended weekly – 45 parents, 45 infants, and many siblings, who are accommodated in separate rooms.

“Our biggest job now,” said Allen Clark, “is to engage interested, concerned residents of Rye in the program, help build awareness in Port Chester and other communities, especially Greenwich; work on selecting and ordering new books for monthly distribution; grant writing and financial management; and add-on events like baby showers for new moms in the program. We continue to need funding, but it’s equally important that we broaden our support base in Rye.”

— Rye Record staff

                                    – Members of Rye Record Staff

Who says fundraisers can’t be exciting? The Rye Historical Society’s annual gala was a carnival of fun, complete with stilt walkers, a fire-eater, and games for all under a big tent. Over 200 guests stepped right up for a magical evening co-chaired by Claudine Hanley, Jennifer Molloy, and Jeanine Scott at the home of Lisa and Mark Keegan June 3.

— Photos by Paul Moore

David Ellis, Rob Field, Ned Kirk, and Patrick Moran

Sander and Stephanie Spierings with Ilaria and Maarten Kruitjzer

 Gala Co-Chairs Jeanine Scott, Claudine Hanley, Jennifer Molloy 

 

In the Spirit of Community 

Over 175 Rye YMCA supporters gathered at Apawamis Club on May 31 for the organization’s Annual Dinner and awards ceremony. The event gave board members, staff, and residents the opportunity to celebrate the Y’s accomplishments and recognize the commitment of several very special individuals.

But first, the Y’s Team Gymnastics Dance class captivated the crowd with a lively dance and tumbling routine. The girls, ages 6-11, were coached by the Y’s beloved children’s performer, Dawn Halasz, a.k.a. Dawny Dew.

Board President Doug DeStaebler acknowledged the contributions of outgoing board members David Reno, Doug Stern, and Chris Willis. He introduced incoming board members Jessica Bentley, John Hanratty, Alison Cupp Relyea, and Sarah Snell. DeStaebler is also rotating off the board after two three-year terms. As the program came to a close, he passed the gavel to new board president Doug Donohue.

Over the past year, the staff has developed programs and initiatives in keeping with the Y’s broad strategic roadmap. Executive Director Gregg Howells was pleased to highlight a few: the Y’s role as fiscal agent for the RyeACT Coalition; the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program; a locker room enhancement project; and the Rye Y’s participation in a national YMCA learning cohort that aims to enhance the member experience. 

Howells also recognized Ellen Kaplan, fondly known by generations of families as Ellen Watermelon, who after 27 years leading music, movement, and enrichment classes, is retiring and moving to North Carolina. 

And the rest of the night belonged to this year’s award winners.

Staff Award: Spirit, Mind and Body

 

This year’s recipient was Liz Koenig, Assistant Director of Aquatics and Safety, who was honored for her commitment to making the Y’s Aquatics Program outstanding for all participants. She has also taken the lead in developing new water safety workshops for the youth members and the community at-large.

 

Staff Award: Quality Keeper

 

Ashley Rosell, Assistant Director of Membership Services, received the Quality Keeper Award for her dedication to stellar service for Rye Y members and camp families. Whether she’s behind the front desk answering questions, or juggling logistics for summer camp, Ashley is “consistently professional, helpful, and respectful to all.”

 

Staff Award: Excellence in Innovation

 

Rye Y Member Wellness Coordinator Laura A. Laura was recognized for creating and running the Basic Training class. This new program uses ExerZone equipment to help older adults build strength and flexibility. “Laura is an effective trainer and a cheerleader for fitness, health, and wellness for all ages.”

 

Community Service Award

 

Each year the Rye Y honors an individual who has made a positive impact on the community. This year’s award was presented to two, Bob and Nancy Steed. 

 

Over the past five decades, the Steeds have devoted their time and energy to a variety of organizations, including the Osborn PTO, United Way, Westchester Children’s Association, Rye Youth Council, Hudson Link, Rye Human Rights Commission, Exodus Transitional Community, and Samaritan Counseling Center. Both are longtime members of Rye Presbyterian Church where each has held numerous leadership posts.

 

Nancy and Bob say their most meaningful and “life-changing” service has been their long involvement with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, work that has been strongly supported by Rye Presbyterian.  

Gold Spirit Awards

Trustee Tom Murphy presented this year’s Gold Spirit Awards, the Rye Y’s highest honor for volunteer service.

Katherine “Kat” Doyle

Kat was elected to the Board of Directors in 2008. She served as Vice President and Secretary on the Executive Committee and was an active member of the Stewardship, Financial Development, and Board Development committees. During the Y’s insurance renewal process, Kat used her professional expertise to help our staff navigate the complexities of the insurance world. She also chaired the last Barefoot Bash and the first March Madness fundraising events, which together raised over $115,000. 

Kat rotated off the board in 2014 but rejoined in 2016. In between, she became an early member of the Togetherhood Committee, a social responsibility initiative that engages Y members in community service.

Kevin Tice

Kevin served two three-year terms on the Board of Directors (2009-2015), taking on the roles of Vice President, Treasurer, and ultimately President. He was an active member of the board’s Community Outreach, Finance, Audit, Investment, Board Development, Golf Outing, and Strategic Planning committees. For two years, Kevin served as Team Captain of the Annual Campaign, motivating other board members to raise much-needed support for cause-driven work. And during the Y’s milestone Centennial year, Kevin chaired the Centennial Campaign Committee, which raised $2 million to ensure the Y’s future.

The Rye Y congratulates all of its honorees and thanks them for making the Rye Y and our community, in the broadest sense of the word, a better place.

 

Executive Director Gregg Howells with Ellen Kaplan

The Rye Y dancers

Bob and Nancy Steed, recipients of the Community Service Award

Tom Murphy with honoree Kevin Tice

Honoree Kat Doyle with her daughters Claire, at left, and Megan

 

Super staffers Laura Laura, Ashley Rosell, and Liz Koenig