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Volunteer Center Of United Way Gives Spirit Awards to 9

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., welcomed the celebrants to the 34th annual Volunteer Center of United Way Spirit Awards via video feed Thursday, April 24.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., welcomed the celebrants to the 34th annual Volunteer Center of United Way Spirit Awards via video feed Thursday, April 24. Video Credit: Danny LoPriore

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- The Volunteer Center of the United Way honored nine individuals and groups from the Hudson Valley with its 2014 Volunteer Spirit Awards at the Doubletree By Hilton Hotel on Thursday, April 24.

More than 600 volunteers, sponsors and supporting organizations filled the Grand Ballroom to hear the inspiring stories of the honorees who accepted their awards in the 34th annual ceremony.

Lou Young, the Emmy Award-winning CBS 2 broadcast journalist, emceed the early morning celebration and fundraiser that also included a surprise announcement that the group had changed its name to Volunteer New York beginning Thursday.

"These awards winners inspire us so much," said Alisa H. Kesten, executive director of The Volunteer Center. "We are announcing a strategic rebrand for The Volunteer Center -- to Volunteer New York -- and new initiatives with key partners and stakeholders. The end result will be more resilient communities in our region, made stronger through volunteerism."

The 2014 Chairman's Award was presented to Betty Cotton, a longtime resident of Scarsdale, who currently resides in Purchase. Cotton, who has been a steadfast supporter of The Volunteer Center, was honored for a lifetime of community and human rights advocacy in Westchester County and beyond. She currently serves as a member of the National Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee and president of its New York Region.

The Volunteer Center's Education & Literacy Award went to The Collegium of Westchester Community College (Valhalla) and was presented by Reader's Digest. The Collegium offers study programs for senior citizens.

The Social Advocacy Award was given to Diane Sussman for service to The Center for Safety and Change, presented by M&T Bank.

Marian Hamilton of Armonk was presented with the Quality of Life Award for service to the Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center, presented by United Way of Westchester and Putnam. Hamilton has worked to establish support groups for caregivers.

The Community Hero Award went to Paula Berkowitz, longtime Eastchester resident, now residing in Sarasota, Fla., for service to Friends of Karen, presented by Bunge. Lisa Sandler of Rye was given the Going Green Award for service to Rye Nature Center, presented by Con Edison.

Mack-Cali Realty Corp. presented the Arts & Culture Award to Reena Kashyap of Rye for service to The Clay Art Center. The New York Life Youth Group in Action Award was awarded to The Rotaract Club of Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry and presented by New York Life.

The New York Life Youth Leader Award went to Mary Grace Henry of Harrison for service to Reverse the Course.

"We are proud to extend our congratulations to this year's Volunteer Spirit Award winners and applaud The Volunteer Center and all our region's volunteers who are dedicated to making our communities stronger and helping those in need," said Maria Collins, corporate vice president of New York Life." Volunteer Spirit Award event sponsors were: Bunge, Con Edison, M&T Bank, MAG Real Estate Advisors, Inc., Mack-Cali Realty Corp., Montefiore, New York Life, O'Connor Davies, LLP, Reader's Digest, The Rollins Agency Inc., Scent 2 Market, United Way of Westchester and Putnam, and Westchester Community College.

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