millykibrickOct. 18, 2017 - County Executive Robert P. Astorino and the Westchester County Youth Board honored Yankee great Mariano Rivera and his wife Clara, the pastor at Refugio de Esperanza in New Rochelle, at the 2017 Milly Kibrick Youth Service Awards on Tuesday. Ten students and a Yonkers teacher were also cited for outstanding service.

"Congratulations to Mariano and Clara Rivera, two exceptional role models in the Westchester community who go the extra mile to help students achieve their dreams," Astorino said. “Through their commitment to schooling, sports, and spirituality, the Riveras have made an astonishing impact on their community through the tremendous work of the Mariano Rivera Foundation.”

As the founders of the Mariano Rivera Foundation, Mariano and Clara Rivera have dedicated their work for the past 19 years to providing educational opportunities to youth from impoverished families. Through their volunteer network and the support of generous donors, the foundation provides scholarships, back-to-school book bags, and financial support to at-risk youth in Westchester and throughout the country.

"Clara and I feel honored and blessed that The Mariano Rivera Foundation is being recognized by Westchester County and Rob Astorino," said Mariano Rivera.  "We admire how the County Youth Bureau is helping the children of Westchester and we are proud of how many lives our foundation has impacted.  We instilled our trust and faith in the Lord and in return, we were granted the ability to make a difference."

The aim of the Youth Board’s awards program is to recognize students and teachers, with the Milly Kibrick Youth Service Award and the WISE Award, who have been involved in building a flourishing, strong and compassionate community through individual efforts and actions.

News 12's Tara Rosenblum was the Master of Ceremonies for the awards dinner.

Astorino to Present WISE, Milly Kibrick Youth Awards at Tuesday’s Dinner
County Executive Astorino and the Youth Board recognized Gina S. Alvarez-Garcia, a teacher with Yonkers Public Schools and a mentor with Lifting Up Westchester, with the 2017 Westchester Innovative School Educators (WISE) Award. The WISE Awards are given to certified professionals currently working in educational settings or alternative education pathways and have developed innovative solutions to challenges facing our youth through the educational system that serves them.

Alvarez-Garcia was nominated for the WISE Award as an educator and mentor who assists adolescents as they develop into young adults. Through collaborative planning and designing of problem-driven mathematics lessons, Alvarez-Garcia has developed a culture of inquiry that promotes student persistence and flexible thinking in problem solving.  Her strategies have resulted in marked progression in students’ dispositions towards mathematics and problem solving. Beyond the classroom, Alvarez-Garcia mentors and tutors at-risk homeless students for Lifting Up Westchester’s Brighter Future program, which provides tutoring, guidance and college prep activities, including SAT tutoring for 150 homeless and disadvantaged children. The goal of the program is to encourage at-risk children to stay in school, improve their grades and go on to pursue a college education.


2017 Milly Kibrick Youth Service Awards from Westchester County Government on Vimeo.

Additionally, Astorino and the Westchester County Youth Board presented ten Westchester students with the 2017 Milly Kibrick Youth Service Award for their outstanding contributions to their communities:

  • Angel Bonilla, New Rochelle High School. Angel Bonilla is heavily involved in a number of different organizations throughout the City of New Rochelle. These include the New Rochelle High School Ignite program, the English and Math National Honor Society, and a tutoring program helping younger students with English. Extremely thankful for the mentors that have helped him along the way, Angel firmly believes that paying it forward is an absolute necessity, helping him work harder to help those younger than him succeed.
  • Diana Dabsheh, Saunders Trade and Technical High School. Diana Dabsheh, a first generation American whose parents immigrated from Palestine in the early 90s, is working towards a major in cosmetology and barbering. In addition to her job at a hair salon, Diana dedicates her spare time as a volunteer tutor. With the ultimate goal of someday becoming an algebra teacher, Diana has tutored 20 different students on the subject with great success.
  • Benjamin Gotian, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester. Benjamin Gotian dedicates a great deal of time to his many passions, including music, martial arts, and community service. His community service projects include over 160 hours of volunteering at food banks, rebuilding homes and planting sustainable gardens. Benjamin, who is bilingual in Hebrew and English, hopes to pursue his love of history and political science in college.
  • Asana Love, Sleepy Hollow High School. Asana Love is an active member of the community both at her school and within her town. She has spent a great deal of time volunteering as a camp counselor, at the Tarrytown Food Pantry, and at the Food Bank of Westchester. In addition to her volunteer hours, Asana was Treasurer of the African American Heritage Club at Sleepy Hollow High School where she oversaw a UNICEF fundraiser.
  • Zachary Milewicz, Byram Hills High School. Zachary Milewicz spends his spare time as an active member of the community in a number of different ways. He was recently selected to be a member of Northern Westchester Hospital’s President’s Junior Leadership Council, served as the co-chair of the annual Teddy Bear Clinic, and volunteers weekly at the hospital. Additionally, Zachary visits Coman Hill Elementary School to lead science lessons for second graders, and is Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Oracle, the BHHS newspaper.
  • Michael Radko, Yonkers Montessori Academy. Michael Radko spends his time volunteering and being a very active member at his school. Since 2012, he has been volunteering at the Greenburgh Nature Center where he is a volunteer team leader and lead trail guide for the Center’s Teaching Trails program. In addition to his community service work, Michael also takes Japanese language lessons and is a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society, and the Yonkers Montessori Academy Drama Club. He was the winner of the 2017 Peter Joseph Oratorical Contest in Yonkers, and subsequently was invited to recite the Gettysburg Address at the Memorial Day ceremony at Yonkers City Hall.
  • Miriam L. Steinberg, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester. Miriam Steinberg dedicates her time outside of the classroom to volunteering. Learning from her older sister, Hannah, Miriam does significant work for Our Coupons Care and the Coachman Family Center, stretching dollars through “extreme couponing.” Despite suffering injuries from a car crash last September that prevented her from attending school for almost a month, Miriam continued to cut coupons and have her friends and family use them to purchase vital supplies for the Coachman Family Center.
  • Nicholas Verni, Rye Country Day School. Nicholas Verni cares deeply about his community and the world around him. For the past seven years, Nicholas has worked closely with special needs children at Backyard Sports, an organization that provides physical education opportunities to both underprivileged and disabled youth. In addition, Nicholas was selected to serve as a RCDS Peer Leader, where he teaches weekly Life Skills classes to freshmen, and founded the “No Means No Club” at RCDS to bring awareness to the issues of sexual assault and harassment. With an interest in science and medicine, Nicholas is currently undergoing training to serve as an EMT for the Larchmont Volunteer Ambulance Corp.
  • Elijah Washington, Riverside High School. Elijah Washington volunteers four to five days a week with various community organizations. Three years ago, Elijah started a club called Youth Giving Back. The club was able to help raise awareness and resources to donate to local shelters and food banks. His club also helps less fortunate kids celebrate Christmas during the holidays, build intergenerational relationship between the youth and elderly, and works to counteract bullying. In addition to starting Youth Giving Back, Elijah is involved with Groundwork Hudson Valley where he works to help improve struggling communities on the principle that by “changing places, we can change lives.” Elijah’s ultimate goal is to turn Youth Giving Back into a well-known non-profit organization.
  • Colin Wexler, Rye High School. Colin Wexler has volunteered countless hours serving meals to the poor, picking up donated food, implementing technology enhancements, fundraising and donating profits from his side business to raise money to help the Bread of Life Food Pantry. Colin set up a non-profit business to sell some of the donated items and has raised over seven thousand dollars to support the Bread of Life. Colin has also been instrumental in designing innovative ways to use technology to organize many aspects of the pantry, from signing up volunteers to arranging details for fundraising events.

The Milly Kibrick Youth Service Awards are given in memory of Milly Kibrick, a prominent county social worker and youth activist, who dedicated her life to helping underprivileged children. During her career and in retirement, she was the quintessential social worker, social entrepreneur, volunteer and political activist, pursuing social and economic justice for children of all ages.

The aim of the Youth Board’s awards program is to recognize high school students who have been involved in building a flourishing, strong and compassionate community through individual efforts and actions.