award winners standing together

County Executive George Latimer, the Westchester County Youth Bureau and Youth Board honored Francine Vernon, Daniel Bonnet and Demisha Forrester with the Rosemarie Siragusa Memorial Youth Service Award. The recipients were nominated by their peers and selected by the Westchester County Youth Board for their exceptional volunteer work and passion for children, youth and families in Westchester County.

Latimer said: “Here in Westchester, residents tirelessly dedicate their time and efforts towards the betterment of our families and young people – and that is what this award is all about. We wish we were able to recognize all of these residents, but those who were nominated today embody all who make the same efforts. I encourage local citizens to submit their nominations and help us honor a select few who make a huge difference in the years to come.” 

Director of the Westchester County Youth Bureau Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden said: “The Westchester County Youth Bureau and Board are proud to keep the legacy of Rosemarie Siragusa, the founder and Chairman of the Westchester County Youth Board, alive by honoring individuals who embody her passion and commitment to the community. Like Mrs. Siragusa, who understood the value of creating a community of caring and civically engaged young persons, the 2020 awardees are celebrated for their volunteerism, advocacy, and long term commitment to Westchester’s children, youth and families.” 

Youth Board President Jan Fisher said: “The Westchester County Youth Board is proud to stand with County Executive George Latimer and Youth Bureau Director Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden as we honor Westchester residents who consistently give of themselves with the sole purpose of ensuring a brighter future for all of our County’s young people. Congratulations to the honorees.”

Francine Vernon has built up infrastructure to support youth and families both in Ossining and across the county for over 40 years. She has persevered in her personal mission and vision to create sustainable and impactful infrastructure and programming for youth and families.

Vernon, nominated by Alice Joselow said: “Over the years, through both my professional careers and community volunteer services, I have initiated, operated, and involved myself in programs and activities that aim to provide opportunities for youth that struggle to develop and needy families to improve the quality of their lives.  I never expected to receive an award for those activities and being a voice for the more voiceless.  The service itself has been rewarding.  Nevertheless, I feel fortunate to have my efforts recognized, and I am sincerely grateful and appreciative of being one of this year’s youth service honorees.”

Daniel Bonnet, of New Rochelle, was nominated because of the work he had done with the Guidance Center of Westchester.  Here, he assists at-risk, underserved youth on developing a life plan by preparing and facilitating individual/groups for at-risk youth addressing behavioral and/or social/ emotional issues, college career readiness, academic advancement and other relevant content.

Bonnet, nominated by County Legislator Terry Clements said: “I am truly honored to receive this award and recognition. Growing up in this County has truly been a blessing – as have the mentors I have had along the way. These mentors were the ones that inspired young people like myself to reach high and to discover one's full potential.”

Demisha Forrester works with the White Plains Community Youth Court/ Youth Bureau Social Justice Juvenile Diversion program. Her current role is to provide assistance to the Youth Court members and Coordinator, which includes preparing legal documents for Youth Court hearings, researching resources in the community for youth offenders and another essential task.

Forrester, nominated by Connie Jones-Hairston said: “I have realized that all it takes is patience, action, and a listening ear to reach the next generation.”