Association, City and private sector team up for 49th year to thank city employees and grant college scholarships

The Association of New York honored 15 City employees and 22 sons and daughters of City employees with 2007’s Isaac Liberman Public Service Awards and E. Virgil Conway College Scholar Awards on December 18, 2007. At a special ceremony attended by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and emceed by Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Martha K. Hirst, the winners received cash prizes and scholarships totaling $68,000 in recognition of their devotion to public service.

The top winners were a Police Officer devoted to running youth groups, a dedicated director coordinating health benefits for the poor, and an innovative engineer who has designed jail kitchens and revamped rundown buildings. This is the third year in a row the top prize has been granted to a police officer.

“The civil servants we honor today have demonstrated an extraordinary level of commitment to serving their fellow New Yorkers, and the young people receiving scholarships today are equally impressive,” said Commissioner Hirst. “The nearly fifty-year history of these awards is evidence that the business community understands the value of public service.”

Each year, the Hundred Year Association reviews the achievements of City employees to identify those who, through dedication beyond their job descriptions, have provided outstanding service to the people of New York City. Winners are chosen by a committee composed of representatives of the Association and Commissioners Hirst and Finance Commissioner Marth E. Stark and Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty as representatives of the City. The Association also awards scholarships for the children of career civil servants. Recipients of the awards receive between $1,000 and $6,000.

“The Association has distributed over a million dollars in awards and scholarships to deserving City employees and students since the awards program began,” said President Clinton W. Blume III. “We are committed to recognizing and saluting those in city government for their dedication and for significantly enhancing the prestige of New York City.”

Joining the Mayor and Commissioner Hirst at Police Headquarters Auditorium for the awards ceremony were Deputy Mayor for Administration Edward Skyler, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark and Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty, along with many other agency heads and representatives of the Hundred Year Association of New York and its member organizations including President Blume, Executive Director Luke Vander Linden, longtime Association supporters and board members E. Virgil Conway and Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation Chair Jeffery Klein.

Several commissioners and agency heads were also there including Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe; Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar; Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Shaun Donovan; Department for the Aging Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago; Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Robert Walsh; New York City Housing Authority Chairman Tino Hernandez; and Kingsborough Community College President Regina Peruggi.

Every year, the awards are sponsored by members and supporters of the Association. All of the funds donated by the sponsors go directly to the winners. The top awards – of $6000 each – are sponsored by Consolidated Edison (founded 1881) and Keyspan Energy (1849).

This year’s highest Public Service Award went to Police Officer Felicia Richards, who has devoted her professional life and her off-duty time to providing positive opportunities for children and families in central Brooklyn. Officer Richards serves as Youth Officer for the area’s New York City Housing Authority developments, and is a mentor to young girls in the Girl Scouts of America, a Cub Scout pack leader, and the advisor for an NYPD Law Enforcement Explorer post, which offers public service activities for teenagers and young adults who are considering careers in law enforcement.

“I’ve been a Girl Scout since I was seven years old,” she said, shortly before receiving her award from Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly. “Once a Scout, always a Scout.”

The highest College Scholar Award, the $6,000 Charles E. Inniss College Scholar Award sponsored by KeySpan Corporation, went to Michael Arthus, the son of a career employee at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Michael Arthus is a senior at New York University. His father, Rock Arthus, is Director of the Bureau of Environmental Hazards at HPD. The scholarship is named for Charles E. Inniss, a former trustee of the City University of New York who, as co-founder of Career Opportunities for Brooklyn Youth Incorporated, helped hundreds of young people obtain jobs and college scholarships.

Amongst the other top winners was Allyson Mackey, the Human Resources Administration’s Director of Medicaid Eligibility, who was honored for her work helping people seeking health benefits. She also helped to purchase books for her local public library, the DeKalb Branch in Bushwick, Brooklyn. In addition, she successfully lobbied the city to extend the hours of the facility.

Discovering that she had been selected for the award “shocked” her. After a brief pause, she added, “It’s good to realize that when you do work for the community that people recognize you later.”

The Association’s public service awards are named for Isaac Liberman, who founded The Hundred Year Association when he was president of Arnold Constable Stores in Brooklyn, and whose grandson, Jeffrey P. Klein, attended today’s ceremony. The College Scholar Awards program is named for E. Virgil Conway, a former Chairman of the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority who also attended the ceremony and who conceived the program when he was chairman of the Seamen’s Bank for Savings.

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