Over a hundred people gathered on Thursday October 20th to honor Rick Cerrone, former Senior Director of Media Relations for the New York Yankees.
Cerrone is the recipient of the Yorktown Teen Center’s 2011 Joan Valenstein Memorial Youth Advocate Award. Valenstein, who was a youth advocate and a founding Teen Center Board Member, passed away in May 2010 after a car accident.
Among the support provided to the teens, Cerrone spearheaded the renovation efforts of the Teen Lounge seeking funding and donations from various businesses and community groups. His visionary work came to full flourish, providing the teens with a comfortable and inviting environment where they can safely congregate in town.
“Besides that awesome room, Mr. Cerrone got us tickets to see the Mets. What I don’t understand is why did he get us tickets to the Mets when he was a Yankee guy?” questioned Andres Perez during his speech at the event. Perez was selected by his peers to speak as the voice of teens.
Teens were the center of attention that evening. During the cocktail hour Zerena Lupo a seventh grader at Mildred E. Strang Middle School, sang solo followed by Amber and Aiyana Lewis. Amber is a 14 year old singer and student at John Jay High School. Aiyanna plays keyboard, is 12 years old and attends John Jay Middle School. As guests moved to the dining room, Kristina Koller, a senior at Yorktown High School, sang accompanied by juniors from the high school, Mark McIntyre, John Venezia, Alexi Nauman and Greg Cusano.
Master of Ceremonies for the event was Brian Conybeare, daily anchor of the News 12 Yonkers and Evening Editions. He also co-anchors a weekly political talk show called “Newsmakers” and hosts all the station’s local election debates and live town meetings.
Cerrone spoke of his involvement with the Teen Center and with the Jack DeVito Foundation of Yorktown Heights, which provided the labor and underwrote the renovations of the Teen Center lounge. The retail value of the project is estimated at more than $50,000.00. Contributions of materials for the renovation came from businesses throughout the community.
Anthony and John DeVito were surprised during the dinner when they were given a proclamation from the county by County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz. October 21, 2011 was proclaimed as The Jack DeVito Foundation Day in Westchester County
Besides the teens, live music was performed by “Class Action”. Class Action is a great mix of men who will play perfect music to sing and dance to. The band included Gary Cusano, Mike Latini, Greg Kuczinski, Matt Daus and Rich Block.
The Teen Center raised over $5000 from the event. Some of the funds were earmarked for wishes the teens had, such as a pizza party and ice cream social.
“People seemed to walk away happy tonight. I know I am,” said Helena Rodriguez of the Yorktown Teen Center.
Photos by John Rocioppo: Andres Perez, top; Anthony and John DeVito; Helena Rodriguez, Rick Cerrone and Brian Conybeare; and Kristina Koller
About the Teen Center: Over the years, hundreds of teens have benefited from programs operating as the Yorktown Teen Center. The YTC has been run at various times by the town, a national youth organization and through the participation of many local volunteers. In June 2009, financial difficulties made it impossible for the national organization to continue supporting the Yorktown site. To fill this new void in the community, the former Advisory Board reorganized as a steering committee (in June 2009) and proceeded to incorporate to become the present Yorktown Teen Center, Inc. (a Not-for-Profit 501c3 charity). Its mission is to provide safe, positive, enriching, fun, supervised programs for teens.
Yorktown Teen Center is open to middle and high school students that reside in the Yorktown community. For more information about the center or upcoming events visit their website at www.yorktowntc.org or call 914-302-2123.