Community Service Awards Recognize Six Outstanding Individuals Committed To Services To The Physically Disabled In New York City

On June 15th New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service hosted the 14th Annual Samuel and May Rudin Community Service Awards, honoring six dedicated individuals who have made exceptional commitments to providing community services to the physically disabled in New York City. The awards were presented by Jack Rudin, Chairman, May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc., Co-Chairman, Rudin Management Co. and Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, Dean of the Wagner School. Elsie Crum McCabe, President of the Museum for African Art and widow of former CEO of North General Hospital and long time Rudin Awards selection committee chairman Eugene McCabe, presented the Eugene McCabe Memorial Community Service Award. Catherine Paradiso, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), read a proclamation from Mayor Giuliani designating June 15th Community Service Day in New York City.

“While there are many awards recognizing the contribution of civic and government leaders, this award is special in that it honors those men and women who provide exceptional services to the community at the grassroots level,” said Wagner Dean Jo Ivey Boufford.

“We are here to support a noble cause,” remarked Jack Rudin. “This award was formed with NYU and Wagner because of all schools in the city, NYU and Wagner are most concerned with and at the front line of community service.”

Elsie Crum McCabe said, “The awardees honor us in permitting us the opportunity to recognize and trumpet them.”

Each year, the Rudin Awards pay tribute to men and women involved in community service in a particular field, such as AIDS services, drug abuse prevention, services to the elderly, mental health services and services to women. In honoring individuals who deliver services to the physically disabled, this year’s awards celebrate the work of:

· Aziza, Founder, Def Dance Jam Workshop, Manhattan A long time activist, choreographer, performer and teacher whose work focuses on community-based art, Aziza founded the Harlem-based Def Dance Jam Workshop, which brings together deaf, hard-of-hearing, and physically challenged teenagers of African descent. Her commitment developed from her experience as a public school teacher where she witnessed the erosion of arts education programs for children and the absence of programs for physically challenged and African American students. In her acceptance remarks she said, “It is the young people you are giving the award to tonight, not me. I am just guiding and teaching them.”

· Carrie Banks, Director, The Child’s Place for Children With Special Needs at Brooklyn Public Library

Carrie Banks is driven by her belief that people with disabilities must be included as part of the larger community. As director of the Child’s Place at Brooklyn Public Library, she provides library services tailored to the needs of children with disabilities and their families. In this capacity, she has built one of the most extensive publicly accessible special literary collections in New York City for and about children with disabilities; she has hosted school visits for hundreds of classes each year; she has dramatically increased the number of programs offered by the Child’s Place. She said in her remarks which she also signed for the hearing impaired: “I was amazed that they give awards for what I do; I was amazed that the Brooklyn Public Library pays me for what I do; I was amazed and a little shocked and saddened that what I do is considered special. All I do is invite children with disabilities into the library.”

· Dorothy Doran, Director, Staten Island Center for Independent Living

Dorothy Doran is the force behind the growth of the Staten Island Center for Independent Living, the only comprehensive, multi-service provider in the borough that assists its physically and mentally challenged constituents in their efforts to reach their potential and to live, work, worship and recreate in their own community. Herself legally blind, Ms. Doran continues to guide the individuals served by the Center into the mainstream of the community with her astute leadership and personal inspiration. “When I entered this field, I thought I could save the world,” she said. “I do a lot, but let me tell you, I have received much more that I have given. Thank you very much for recognizing rehabilitation as a special program.”

· Jasong Kim, Founder, American Wheat Mission in New York Having recognized the severe lack of services to physically disabled individuals, she organized and founded the American wheat Mission in New York in June 1993, an organization committed to initiating, implementing and extending services to the disabled population. Through the mission, she operates Milal Home, a group home of 8, the Agape School, an after-school program for handicapped children, and the Agape Camp, a summer camp for those with physical and mental disabilities. “Sometimes I get very tired caring for disabled children, but this award is giving me new strength,” said Ms. Kim.

· Dr. Herbert Thornhill, Director, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Harlem Hospital Center, Manhattan Recipient of the 2nd Annual Eugene McCabe Memorial Community Service Award

For more than thirty years Dr. Thornhill has been tirelessly serving the disabled at the chair of Rehabilitation Medicine Department at Harlem Hospital. Under Dr. Thornhill’s leadership, the Department of Rehabilitation medicine has become a creative and innovative facility for those in need. Dr. Thornhill has been at the forefront of a number of creative projects based in the hospital and in the Harlem Community. “The theme tonight mirrors the soul of my professional career,” he remarked. “I extend my gratitude to people with disabilities who I have worked with over the years. It is a superbly wonderful and gratifying experience to be doing this work.”

· Lukas Weinstein, Director, The Children’s Aid Society, Wagon Road Camp, Manhattan

Lukas Weinstein has been known to go the extra mile for disabled children. He runs The Children’s Aid Society’s Respite Camp program, which brings severely physically challenged children out of the city and into the fresh air of the countryside. Under his leadership, the camp has grown and core facilities have been vastly improved, providing disabled children with more opportunities to enjoy classic experiences of camp like horseback riding, swimming, and environmental education. “I get so much out of helping children that that’s an award within itself,” he said. “I hope to bring it back and continue doing things that are so important to the children.”

The awards honor the memory of May and Samuel Rudin, who personified the finest New York traditions: coming from modest beginnings and educated in New York City public schools and colleges, they created a major real estate company that helped shape the New York City skyline. Their children and grandchildren now succeed them in the Rudin Management Co. and the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, continuing their dedication to serving and improving the city.

This is the fourteenth year the awards were administered by NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. The honorees were selected by an Awards Committee, composed of a jury of community leaders, from nominations submitted by agencies, non-profit, public and private organizations, government officials and private returns. Each awardee received a $5000 cash award. This year’s event was made possible with generous support from Chase Manhattan Bank.

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