The Rye Youth Council is holding its 24th Annual Gala January 25 at Westchester Country Club.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
The Rye Youth Council is holding its 24th Annual Gala January 25 at Westchester Country Club. Now in its 50th year, the non-profit sponsors programs that foster the physical, social, and emotional development of Rye’s youth.
“One of our challenges has been fundraising, so our annual gala is very important to us,” said Executive Director Judy Secon. “We need financial stability and the resources to keep on offering our programs and keep doing what we do.”
RYC started out as a task force in 1963 in response to then Mayor Clay Johnson’s concerns about Rye’s teen-agers. An advisory committee was formed to address the needs of all school-aged children, who live or attend school in Rye, and the Youth Council was incorporated in 1971. Although it has moved around over the years, from its first meetings at Rye Presbyterian Church and its days at Rye Recreation to its current location on the second floor at the Rye Y, its feet have remained firmly on the ground. The Youth Council continues to identify children’s needs, collaborate with the school system, and create innovative programs.
“We’ve always helped kids with social, emotional development by providing support for the schools,” explained Secon, who has lived in Rye for 20 years. “If kids are worried about being bullied for example, then they can’t focus on their academic requirements.”
The director shared that she’s most proud of the Council’s youth advocates. “They are such special people, who work so hard for the kids and families of Rye. That’s what we’re all about.”
Elementary School Advocate Kristen Salov works with third and forth graders in the classroom and addresses issues out on the playground. Middle School Advocate Sara Braun and High School Advocate Casey Carlucci DeCola, both certified social workers, provide after-school programming and lunchtime support groups, as well as speakers to address social issues for children and parents alike.
The other members of the RYC staff include: Administrator Mary Saviola; Rye Youth Council Players Coordinator Paulette Mann; Employment Services Director Sandy Jacoby; and Wildside Advisor Steve Nava, organizing drug- and alcohol-free events for teens.
During Secon’s tenure as Executive Director since 2001, the RYC has operated with the same number of staff members despite a significant growth in the population they serve and dramatic changes in the social landscape. “It’s a whole new world and it’s constantly changing because of technology. Now we address social media. The kids are one step ahead of us all the time,” said Secon, who assured RYC is doing their best to stay ahead of the curve.
In addition, the organization is more involved in the community than ever. On March 26th, it is sponsoring a drug and alcohol panel at Rye High School in conjunction with the school district, “Your Teens, Their Health, and Your Liability.” On hand will be Westchester County’s Executive Director of Student Assistance Services Ellen Morehouse, representatives from the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, and the Rye Police Department.
Another initiative that will be reprised this year is “Community Conversations,” which will focus on civility and has assembled 80 Rye organizations. “We want to create a community in which we feel good raising our youth in — and civility is the cornerstone,” said Secon.
In the meantime, they’ll be gearing up for their MVP Gala. Chairing the event for a second year in a row is Lisa Hogan Luthringer. She said they’re pleased to be honoring three local couples, “wonderful, well-loved community representatives.” Kendall and Ken Egan have served, respectively, as a Board of Education member and CYO coach. Paulette Mann was the president of Rye’s Special Education PTA, while her husband Eric sponsored and organized the Southeast Consortium for Special Services. Pat and Jean Romano both teach and coach elementary school children.
The host at the dinner/dance is none other than WABC-TV Anchor Diana Williams. The celebration begins at 7 p.m. Auction items include One Direction concert tickets, a private tour of Grand Central, Yankees Legend tickets behind home plate, and the chance for children to make the donuts at Jerry’s Post Road Market.
To purchase tickets, log on to www.ryeyouthcouncil.org.
In March, the Rye Youth Council will celebrate its golden anniversary by holding a reunion, “Fifty Years Looking Back, Looking Forward,” for all its former board members.