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

This week was an especially memorable one for the 47 children of Osborn employees who were awarded financial gifts by residents of Sterling Park, The Osborn’s Independent Living community, to pursue higher education. This is the 15th year of the annual Academic Achievement Award presentation.

The effort has been led by Sterling Park resident Dr. Edward Pasciuti, a psychologist with a 39-year career as Head of the Guidance Department in New Rochelle Public Schools. “It is deeply gratifying to make gifts that help bright young people afford the growing cost of higher education,” he said. “For many employees, this is the first family member to attend college.”

Ninety-two residents donated to the fund, which is administered by The Osborn Foundation.


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


Ushering summer in a day early, Rye Town Park’s free Twilight by the Beach concerts kick off Tuesday, June 20. The lineup of bands includes funk, R&B, American roots, swing, standards, and Caribbean. Bring a picnic or grab a bite at the new Ocean Grille next to the pavilions, and pack a lawn chair and a blanket. All concerts run from 7:30-9, rain or shine.

June 20: Vital Funkshun

June 27: Twist of Fate

July 5: Reddy Valentino Orchestra

July 11: Urban Coyotes

July 18: Billy and the Showmen

July 25: The Derivatives

August 8: Angelo Rubino

The Rye Arts Center, which in its 57 years has brought a splendid spectrum of art to thousands, held its spring gala May 12 at the Doral Arrowwood. Guests raised their glasses to this year’s inspirational honorees, watercolorist and teacher Brigitte Loritz and figurative sculptor and public art proponent Bob Clyatt. Loritz has guided hundreds of beginner students to masters. Clyatt has taken the community to greater artistic heights with his own work and that of many others.

Proceeds from the event help the Arts Center provide free classes and programs to 76 percent of its students. Here’s to arts for all!

— Photos by Anja Porto