Late last year, the Westchester County Youth Bureau and Youth Board honored ten youth who have demonstrated leadership and resilience in their everyday efforts. Those nominated by members of the community were selected for their volunteer service performed in the name of acts of service towards others. Honorees received their awards at a ceremony hosted by the County Executive followed by a video created by the Youth Bureau highlighting the award recipients. Two of the nominees are from Tarrytown (Sam Nadol) and Sleepy Hollow (Sophie Taylor).
County Executive George Latimer said: “I am constantly in awe at the accomplishments and selflessness of the young people in this County – and these 10 students embody that spirit. I congratulate them on their award and thank Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden and the entire Youth Bureau and Youth Board for their work.”
Ten youth from ten different municipalities were recognized by the Westchester County Youth Board at a ceremony with the County Executive for their dedication and volunteerism in their communities and in the world. These extraordinary 11th and 12th graders are impressive in what they have accomplished at such a young age.
The award recipients:
Sam Nadol, Tarrytown:
Sam Nadol turned his hobby into a donation-driven 501(c)(3) organization which has helped to alleviate the barriers to digital connectivity. He refurbishes computers to give to those who do not have one. Sam will receive a Volunteer New York! Volunteer Spirit Award this spring.
Sophie Taylor, Sleepy Hollow:
Sophie Taylor is a youth leader and dedicates herself to helping others. She started a thrift shop at school for students who need clothing, while also eliminating the negative stigma of “thrifting”– wearing donated clothes. Sophie’s school principal said “Sophie uses her leadership skills to make our community a more welcoming place.”
Roymichael Brisport, Mount Vernon:
Roymichael Brisport lives in Mount Vernon. His volunteer activities include mentoring students at a local elementary school, working with an organization in Guyana that supports victims of gender-based violence and provides resources to help those with mental health issues. Roymichael believes that when the cameras are off, the work still needs to continue.
Leah Charity-Spriggs, Tuckahoe:
Leah Charity-Spriggs is talented and creative, and is using those skills to help others. Leah loves to make jewelry. She donates the proceeds to The Sharing Shelf, a nonprofit that provides clothing and personal items to those in need. Her nominator said “her ability to see a need and then do something about it is inspiring.”
Emma Farley, New Rochelle:
Emma Farley has been committed to serving her schools and community as an advocate for bullying prevention since middle school. She was named a National Youth Leader for STOMP Out Bullying, and was invited to represent the STOMP Out national organization at the kick-off of World Bullying Prevention Month and was featured on NBC’s Today Show. Emma is also an advocate for libraries and for brain aneurysm awareness, helping to raise over $50,000 for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. Emma’s nominator said she is “a voice for others.”
Emiliano Juarez, White Plains:
Emiliano Juarez’s nominator described him as working “unbelievably hard to find and secure opportunities to serve others and leave a better world than he found through community organizing, influencing policy, and peer education.” He is an active and involved youth leader with the Westchester County Youth Councils, speaking with legislators, presenting programs, and organizing many projects.
Samantha Milewicz, Armonk:
As a high school student, Samantha Milewicz volunteers as a firefighter and emergency medical technician in the Armonk Fire Department. Samantha’s nominator, Julie Gallagher, Armonk Fire Department Captain and a school nurse, is awed by her achievements in service, and said that “whether it be in the classroom, in the lab, or in the ambulance, Samantha strives to make life easier for others.”
Anaisis Nisani Norales Luna, Hartsdale:
Anaisis Nisani Norales Luna’s nominator described her as “a true leader, determined to make a positive impact on her local and global community.” Anaisis is an integral part of the planning and promotion of social and cultural programs at the Theodore D. Young Community Center in Greenburgh. She has taken outreach to the next level, making phone calls to encourage participation in activities she thought would be of interest. Among other things, she promotes leadership opportunities to her peers, and helps with local food distributions to families.
Ciara Ramos, Yonkers:
Ciara Ramos attends the Barack Obama School for Social Justice. Her nominator described her saying “Ciara’s character shines like a light in this building.” She is a strong student leader who has become a role model for other youth, and continues to impress the school administration and faculty as a leader. She also enjoys working with children.
Tanya Shukla, Ardsley/Scarsdale:
Tanya Shukla has been helping families in need since 2002. After the Covid-19 pandemic started, she saw the devastating impact it had on so many, and the increase in the number of food insecure people. She ramped up her efforts to help feed hundreds of families. One of Tanya’s nominators, Ardsley Mayor Nancy Kaboolian, said that “Tanya made a strong impact on me through her community work.”
County Youth Bureau Executive Director Dr. DaMia Harris Madden said: “Under County Executive Latimer’s leadership, the Youth Bureau has been fortunate to implement ongoing opportunities to recognize the amazing accomplishments of youth and adults alike. However, learning about the contributions of the outstanding youth awardees make us extremely proud. We are confident that those selected will continue to endeavor their time and talent towards good citizenship in their respective communities and beyond.”
Youth Board President Dr. Alexandria Connally said: “The young people in Westchester County are change agents. I am honored and privileged to be a recipient of their genius.”