Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Youth Awards Program
The African American Men of Westchester, Inc. (“AAMW”), a 501(c)(3) organization, in collaboration with United Way of Westchester-Putnam and various youth agencies throughout the county hold the Annual Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Legacy Youth Awards Program. Its purpose is to celebrate and extend the teachings and philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is held on Dr. King’s celebrated birthday in January of each year at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, NY This countywide youth program fosters leadership skills in young people, encourages youth to participate in public service, and bonds youth with the community through an increased sense of civic responsibility. Now in its sixth year the program has recognized over 120 youth from diverse racial, socioeconomic and geographical backgrounds throughout Westchester County. Winners and nominees are judged by the level of volunteer community work they performed in the previous year. This program attracts over 500 people including municipal officials and community leaders. Corporate sponsors such as Con Edison, Fujiphoto Film, Verizon, Entergy Northeast, JP Morgan Chase and Cablevision have provided the funding for the program and the awards given out annually.
The Youth Network & Education Forums
Since 1990 the African American Men of Westchester have sponsored annual Youth Network Day programs for young men aged 13 to 21. Held at varying locations in Westchester County, these full-day programs, have attracted more than 600 young people, Workshops are held covering issues in health, the importance of education, family values, community commitment, and other age-appropriate topics. Workshop facilitators serve as role models for the participants and provide a unique opportunity for attendees to hear firsthand from African-American professionals from a variety of private and publics business industries. This annual youth forum has encouraged many young people to complete high school, attend college, and enter adulthood with their focus on success.
Since 1992 we have sponsored an annual Educational Forum in Westchester County. This forum attended by educators, administrators, parents and child advocates explores educational concerns and the challenges facing African-American youth. The forum topics examined includes, what impedes the learning process of the African-American youth, what motives kids to stay in school and which innovative techniques should be used to ensure quality education and how to reduces youth violence. Particular attention is paid to the needs of “youth at risk” and to the development of strategies that encourage educational commitment and success.
Healthy People 2010
Established in 1993, our Healthy People 2010 is a multifaceted free health fair program — the first of its type in the area — focusing on the special health and health education needs of the African-American community, but open to everyone. Held in various locations as part of a larger community event (such as a Family Day or church anniversary) to ensure maximum attendance, each Healthy People 2010 event has provided health awareness and preventive programs for some 100-300 people.
Informational seminars have focused on Diet, Diabetes, Stress and Stress Management, Breast Cancer and Breast self-examination, AIDS/HIV, Family Planning, Tuberculosis, Smoking, Healthy Babies, Lyme Disease, Rabies, and Violence in the African-American community.
Medical screenings are provided for blood pressure, glaucoma, cholesterol, diabetes and lead poisoning.
Immunizations are provided for preschoolers, college freshmen and other young people who lack a satisfactory immunization history. The African American Men of Westchester’s Healthy People 2010 operates in conjunction with the Westchester County Division of Hospitals, the New York State Department of Health, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Westchester County Department of Health.
The Affordable Housing Symposium
In Westchester County, there is a lack of affordable housing for low and moderately incomed families. In addition, this community has minimal ability to qualify for standard bank loans. Given that the County’s African-American community is comprised of many low and moderate-income families, they are especially hard-hit by this problem. The African American Men of Westchester have made increasing the availability of affordable housing one of its priority goals. Through its efforts to educate African American families about the home loan process and requirements, we help them to qualify for mortgage financing and home ownership. In turn, home ownership engenders a greater sense of responsibility and community spirit. Home ownership has also been shown to foster a more cohesive family life as well as higher educational objectives for the youth.
The African American Men of Westchester have designed its annual golf tournament to achieve several objectives. Westchester residents less served by the private country clubs will have an opportunity to network. Our youth, during pre-tournament clinics, will have an opportunity to learn and appreciate the game of golf and the residual opportunities afforded. The GolfBall Classic also serves as a major fundraiser for the six week summer golf program that the African American Men of Westchester sponsors for youth.
Brotherhood Awards Program / Breakfast
The African American Men of Westchester have co-sponsored a brotherhood breakfast since 1991. The aim of this program is to recognize individual and corporate achievements that have fostered a spirit of brotherhood among all segments of society. This annual gathering of senior corporate officials, community service leaders, local business and professional people provides an important forum for honoring social and economic contributions to Westchester that enhance the well-being of all county residents.
Environmental / Conservation Conference
This forum presents an opportunity for the community to respond to local environmental issues that affects young people and residents of the community. This is a program created to increase interest and participation of youth for environmental and conservation issues affecting our community. Our solution, in collaboration with local environmental groups is to deliver the kind of personal and positive experience that leads to lifelong environment/conservation participation.
Business Skills Olympics
To engender social and business growth, the Technology Committee of the African American Men of Westchester, created and implemented the “Business Skills Olympics” program. This program was developed in response to the fact that the nature of work has changed; jobs have changed; and employer expectations have changed. Today, there are different sets of skills required for young people to enter the competitive workforce and we believe that students should learn the process of knowing themselves, knowing the world of work, and matching the two.
Several Westchester school districts are invited to participate in the competition. High school seniors are selected to represent their districts. These students are given directions and assistance to help them leverage their abilities and to collectively analyze, articulate and solve Harvard Business School case studies.
Corporate executives from Entergy, MBIA, Morgan Stanley, AXA Financial and Cappelli Enterprises were among companies who participated as mentor/facilitator and assisted students to successfully complete their business problem analysis. At the end of the competition, each group summarizes their findings and presents their case. They are then rated on group cohesiveness, resourcefulness, problem comprehension, proposed solution, and presentation skills.
The school districts that participated in the 2003 Business Skills Olympics competition were; Ossining, Peekskill, White Plains, Greenburg, Mount Vernon, Yonkers and New Rochelle. A gold cup trophy was awarded to Yonkers school district and gold medals were given to each of Yonkers student participants. Mount Vernon students received second place silver medals and New Rochelle students received third place bronze medals. Each student participant received the “Best Sellers List” book Execution.
The overall mission of this program is to:
- Encourage students to pursue technical careers.
- Provide a mechanism to identify future business leaders.
- Create a professional talent pool for Westchester County businesses.
- Promote Westchester as a premier place to develop technical careers.
Visionary Awards Gala
The African American Men of Westchester, Inc. established the Visionary Award to honor those individuals who have demonstrated foresight and commitment to improving the quality of life for the people of Westchester County. The recipient of the Visionary Award represent the very best of the community spirit that makes Westchester such a wonderful place to live and work. These individuals have seen the roadblocks to gaining access to the American Dream and have developed innovative ways to overcome them. The African American Men of Westchester recognize outstanding individuals whose visions have contributed to the enhancement of the Westchester community.
The Visionary Award is designed not only to recognize the individuals, but also to use their achievements to inspire all of us to think great thoughts and take bold actions. Dreams are never achieved without vision, and vision is never fulfilled without hard work and dedication.
Another opportunity to profile role models – outstanding community leaders for our young people.