News

Friends of Karen Brings Gifts (and Smiles) to Sick Children.  Help Deliver the Holiday Season to Those Who Need It Most.  “It was a wonderful moment to a rough day in the hospital to come home and find a big box filled with gifts for the kids. It warms the heart to know that there are people out there who care and support families like ours. I felt like a kid myself just going through the box!  Thank you so very much.”  Friends of Karen, a local children’s charity, received this note from the mother of a 5-year-old boy with leukemia.  Every day, Friends of Karen is a lifeline for hundreds of families caring for a child with cancer or another life-threatening illness, providing the vital, practical and comprehensive support — at no cost — to cope with the fears and uncertainty of battling for their child’s life.  This time of year, their “Holiday Adopt-A-Family” program makes sure each Friends of Karen sick child as well as his or her well siblings has holiday gifts.  The program is a perfect opportunity to spread the holiday spirit by helping a child in need. “Each of our children sends us their wish list, and we match each child with a kind-hearted ‘elf’ who purchases the items on their list,” says Judith Factor, the charity’s Executive Director. “We send the gift with wrapping paper, bows and all the trimmings to the child’s parents, to make a holiday of surprises and delight. We love to put smiles on children’s faces – they’ve had a rough time and often have little reason to smile.”  You can be the one who creates those smiles. Friends of Karen needs your help to make sure there are gifts for every sick child and their well sisters and brothers. Please contact DeniseTredwell@friendsofkaren.org or call her at (914) 617-4052 by Dec. 1.  If you don’t have time to shop, no worries: you can make a donation and they’ll do the shopping for you. Go to www.FriendsOfKaren.org and click on the photo of little Leni.  Friends of Karen is the only organization in the New York Tri-State region that provides vital, practical and comprehensive support, at no cost, to families caring for a child with cancer or another life-threatening illness. They help free them of everyday needs and concerns, so they have more time for what’s really important: each other.  Charity Navigator, an independent organization that evaluates the financial responsibility and effectiveness of thousands of U.S. charities, gives Friends of Karen a 4-star rating, its highest award.  For more information about Friends of Karen, visit www.FriendsOfKaren.org or call (914) 617-4042.

Furniture Sharehouse, Westchester’s Furniture Bank, is launching its “Sittin’ Round the Table” Project this holiday season to draw attention to the importance of basic furniture in the lives of Westchester’s families in need. “There’s nothing that says home like gathering around the table for a holiday meal,” says executive director and founder Kate Bialo. “But it’s easier to give thanks around the table when you have a table — something so many of us take for granted.”  The organization hopes to raise enough money to furnish 25 Westchester families in need this holiday season.  “It costs us about $300 to Furnish a Family by giving them the basic furniture they need to make a fresh start,” said Bialo.  “We think that if friends and neighbors in Westchester know that there are families in their midst who are living in empty apartments, they’ll pull together to help.”  Since opening six years ago, Furniture Sharehouse has provided over 36,000 items of furniture free of charge to more than 7,000 Westchester residents moving out of homeless shelters, escaping domestic violence and recovering from personal and natural disasters to help rebuild their lives.  Clients are referred by member social service agencies to ensure that the furniture goes only to those who need it the most.  To make a monetary contribution and for details on how to donate your gently-used furniture, visit www.furnituresharehouse.org. and while you’re there, click the link on the home page to hear The Original Blind Boys of Alabama sing about how the families you help will feel when they are “Sittin’ Round the Table” for the holidays.

Be the Happy in Someone’s Holiday This Year — 50th Anniversary of MHA Westchester’s Operation Holiday Joy.  Join MHA Westchester to make the holidays brighter for individuals, children and their families who would not receive — or be able to purchase — gifts if it weren’t for Operation Holiday Joy.  For 50 years, MHA has helped its neediest by gathering their personal wish lists, matching them to donors, and delivering the new clothing, toys, food and household items in time for the holidays.  It’s a tradition that brings joy to both receiver and giver.  There are many ways to help.  You can sponsor an individual or family and purchase items from their wish list; make a financial contribution and have MHA staff do the shopping; purchase food, clothing, household items or toys that MHA will match to a child or family; or donate store gift cards.  MHA’s holiday gift drive is a great opportunity for groups – schools, churches, synagogues, a department at work—to collectively shop to bring cheer to others.  For more information, call 914-265-7511or e-mail development@mhawestchester.org.  For more information, visit www.mhawestchester.org.

Every year the Open Door Foundation collects toys for children from families of less fortunate means to make sure that every child in our community will receive a new toy during the holiday season. Santa Claus visits all five Open Door sites to personally deliver the gifts to the children. In order to fill his sleigh with enough toys, Open Door is accepting donations of new toys, valued between $10-$20, through December 10th for children ages newborn to 14 years-old. With a goal of collecting 2,500 new, unwrapped toys, Open Door is accepting donations at all Open Door Family Medical Centers Sites:  Mt. Kisco: 30 West Main Street, Ossining: 165 Main Street, Port Chester: 5 Grace Church Street, Sleepy Hollow: 80 Beekman Avenue, Brewster: 155 Main Street, Suite 101.  To make things easy, Open Door has also created online Wish Lists at Amazon, Toys ‘R’ Us and Kohls:   Amazon.com: “Open Door Holiday Toy Drive”, Toysrus.com:  ‘33242665”, Kohls.com: ‘Registries / Special Days 2598805’.  Monetary donations are also being accepted and Open Door Elves will take care of the shopping. Checks made payable to Open Door Foundation may be mailed to Alicia Ward, Open Door Foundation, 2 Church Street – Suite 101, Ossining, NY 10562. Credit card donation may be made at:  www.opendoormedical.org , please be sure to note “Toy Drive” in the comment box.   For those with a knack for wrapping, Open Door is also looking for volunteers to help organize and wrap the gifts which will be distributed by Santa himself when he visits each Open Door health center in December.  For more information about the Toy Drive and volunteering contact Volunteer Coordinator Alicia Ward at 914-502-1468 or award@odfmc.org.  To find out more about Open Door, visit www.opeendoormedical.org.

The festive table, the yummy aromas, the pleasure of sharing a holiday meal with loved ones. But for families caring for a child with cancer or another life-threatening illness, Thanksgiving may be just another day of worry at the hospital.  Friends of Karen, a children’s charity that serves 22 counties in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, has a way to make it better: they send these families all the makings of a Thanksgiving meal, so they can spend this special time together — perhaps the most important gift of all. Here’s how the mother of Jessie, a Friends of Karen child battling leukemia, put it:  “I just came home from a stressful visit at the hospital and have two boxes waiting for me…how uplifting and beautiful!! Thank you so very much for the Thanksgiving packages! I can’t express enough my gratitude. Friends of Karen has been my light the whole time of my daughter’s illness. I never would want you to walk in my shoes, but if for one minute you could you would understand how much this means to my family.”  Every day, Friends of Karen is a lifeline for hundreds of families. If you can help give a family a happy Thanksgiving, please email gwensalmo@friendsofkaren.org or call her at (914) 617-4051 for a list of specific food items needed.  You can also donate a gift card to A&P, ShopRite or Stop&Shop and we’ll do the shopping!  Friends of Karen is a registered 501(c)(3) charity and the only organization in the New York Tri-State region that provides the vital, practical and comprehensive services that relieves families caring for a child with a life-threatening illness of everyday needs and concerns, so they have more time to love.  Founded in 1978 after helping one child, Karen, and her family, and headquartered in North Salem, NY with other offices on Long Island and in Manhattan, Friends of Karen has touched the lives of more than 12,700 children.  Charity Navigator, an independent organization that evaluates the financial responsibility and effectiveness of thousands of U.S. charities, gives Friends of Karen a 4-star rating, its highest award.  For more information about Friends of Karen, visit www.FriendsOfKaren.org or call (914) 617-4042.

Help make Holiday dreams come true for a child at the Boys and Girls Club this season — Donate a bike!
Bring in your gently used bicycles and helmets for children ages 2-18 (bike shop bands only) to Bicycle World of Mt Kisco.  Bicycle World mechanics and local Scouts will recondition your bikes and deliver them to the Boys and Girls Club for holiday giving.
Don’t have a bike? No problem, you can still donate online at the Boys and Girls Club www.bgcnw.com and specify in the memo line that you’d like to purchase repair parts, helmets, and/or accessories for the holiday bicycle donation program.
Donations are tax deductible and donors will receive a letter from the Boys and Girls Club for their records.  Please email Bicycle World at info@bicycleworldny.com with questions, or visit www.bicycleworldny.com.

Center for Literacy Enrichment Offering ‘Homework Helper’ After-School Drop-In Program.  The Center for Literacy Enrichment-Pace University is offering a new Homework Helper Program four days a week from 3:00 – 6:00 PM for students in grades 1 – 12.  Certified teachers are available to help children tackle their assignments in all subjects, including complex concepts in Math and Science. The cost is $5 per session or $70 for unlimited monthly sessions. The Center is located at 78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY.  For more information, contact 422-4135 or mdelany@pace.edu.

What to do?  Coping with issues relating to Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Mental Health. Eliminating the stigma.  Byram Hills High School is proud to announce the creation of the EVEN program, designed to help teachers and students address issues relating to stress, anxiety and mental health. BHHS has worked closely with the University of Michigan for the past 15 months to create the program. Through EVEN, BHHS has been working with professionals from the UM Depression Center to provide a variety of training programs for staff and selected students.

On April 3rd, 2013 at 7:00PM Byram Hills High School is co-hosting a groundbreaking event to discuss issues surrounding mental health. The goal of this interactive discussion is to provide parents, students, and community members with information about depression, anxiety and related mental illnesses, in order to increase understanding,  encourage help-seeking, and reduce the stigma associated with these conditions.  In addition to this event, on April 2nd, 2013, EVEN is hosting former NFL Quarterback Eric Hipple and his “Under The Helmet Program” at BHHS.  (www.depressioncenter.org/hipple/)

The evening will begin with an introduction on the EVEN program, a brief movie and a presentation by staff of the University of Michigan Depression Center discussing the critical importance of addressing mental health conditions in young people, with information on:  Symptoms of depression/anxiety in adolescents, How to recognize the difference between “normal” adolescent moods and a more serious condition, The importance of early detection and treatment, Adolescent Suicide, Strategies to encourage open dialogue between parents, students, and teachers about mental and emotional health.  The fact that mental illness is not a weakness or a character flaw, but a treatable illness, and that it is OK to ask for help.  SPACE IS VERY LIMITED. Please RSVP to evenevent@yahoo.com.

The Bedford Central School District 3rd Annual Elementary BIKERUN Registration opens Tuesday, March 12, 2013!!  Entrance slots fill up fast.  Registration for the 3rd annual BCSD Elementary BikeRun opens Tuesday, March 12th.

In celebration of registration opening, March 12th is also Wear Your BikeRun T-shirt Day!  We hope all previous BikeRun elementary athletes, PE coaches, leaders, volunteers, sponsors and VIP’s proudly wear their 2012 BikeRun t-shirt on 3/12!   All kindergarten through 5th grade students attending BCSD elementary schools: Bedford Hills, Bedford Village, Mount Kisco, Pound Ridge and West Patent are welcome and eligible to participate.  Entrance slots are on a first-come basis and are limited to 350.   Due to the success of the 2012 BikeRun, registration has been increased from 300 to 350.  This is a positive growth over the first year with a robust 250 participants.  BikeRun will be returning to the Fox Lane campus again this year on Sunday, May 19th from 8am until noon. Approximately 1,200 attendees are expected for the “Future Fox” athletic, non-competitive, wellness, community unifying endeavor.

For more information and to register go to:  www.bcsdny.org/k5BikeRun2013.

On February 27th, 2013 Bedford Police Chief William Hayes and the Department’s three Division Commanders, Lt. Edward Collins, Lt. Jeffrey Dickan, and Lt. Melvin Padilla attended an important school safety symposium organized by Westchester Department of Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth and the Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association.

The symposium, held at SUNY Purchase, was conceived to answer many of the questions that school officials have raised in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and to provide practical guidance for school officials on how to make their schools safer in the wake of senseless acts of violence such as the tragedy in Newtown, CT. One of the goals of the event, which is part of the county’s broader Safer Communities Initiative, is to enhance the collaboration between law enforcement and school districts. In attendance were Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, along with dozens of police officials, school administrators, and school board members from throughout Westchester County.

William Bratton, former commissioner of the NYPD and former chief of police in Los Angeles, was the keynote speaker. Bratton is well known for implementing strategies that have prevented and reduced violent crime wherever he has served. Chief Hayes stated, “Mr. Bratton’s remarks provided an insightful introduction to the seminar.”  Among the topics discussed were:  An Overview of School-based Violence in America, Practical Emergency Preparedness for Schools, Police Response to Dynamic Incidents in Schools.  These discussions provided timely guidance and practical advice for school officials in the process of revising security procedures and updating state-mandated emergency plans.

Chief Hayes said, “Our two public school districts, along with all of the private and parochial schools in the Town add up to nearly 30 schools. With so many schools and daycare facilities spread out over 39 square miles, there is clearly not a “one size fits all” solution to enhancing security at schools. I hope that those officials in attendance received important information that they can use in their preparedness efforts at their particular school. I extend my personal thanks to those school officials that attended.”  For full details, view this message on the web.

The Byram Hills Education Foundation, Inc. (BHEF) announced that it has awarded an Insta-Grant in the amount of $2,500. The Insta-Grant Program is a new grant initiative recently launched by the BHEF to provide immediate, short-term funding for programs and equipment that enhance learning and personal development among students in the Byram Hills Central School District. The recently approved Insta-Grant is: Teaching Non-Fiction Writing Skills Workshop, H.C. Crittenden, $2,500. Judith Hochman will conduct a seminar for H.C.C. language arts teachers about writing instruction. Her philosophy and techniques enhance how teachers instruct writing, especially non-fiction, which is essential to the Common Core and the new standards students are expected to master. She focuses on evidence-based writing strategies, but demonstrates the use of voice and rich language. She believes that teaching writing across the curriculum will enhance every student’s potential.  Previously awarded Insta-Grants include:  Dr. McRoy Leads the Band! H.C. Crittenden, $2,200.  Grade Level National Geographic Ladder Reading Sets, Wampus, $2,500.  Author Visit by Robert Lipsyte, H.C. Crittenden, $1,250.
The Byram Hills Education Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation that provides financial support to the teachers and school administrators to introduce innovative programs, equipment and technologies beyond what is covered by the School District’s annual operating budget. Since its inception in 1994, the Foundation has awarded 294 grants totaling over $3 million. More information about the Foundation is available at www.ByramHillsFoundation.org.

TIMELINE UPDATE regarding the Bedford Central School District Community Investment Program/Capital Plan.  The BCSD Board of Education met on Wednesday, 12/12 and heard a presentations on the community feedback from the telephone & internet surveys, plus multiple Community Engagements, meetings, emails ~ representing over 1,000 communications.  The phone survey is statistically important as over half of the 500 respondents do not have children within the BCSD. It also had community representative numbers of men/women from various age brackets across our 59 sq. mile District.   Interestingly, over 70% of our citizens agree:  People move into this area because of the reputation of the Bedford Central School District, The quality of our public schools is the most important factor protecting property values, We get excellent value in education for the taxes we pay to the Bedford Central School District, We need to keep our school buildings up-to-date and in good condition to protect our community’s investment in those facilities, We need to take whatever steps are necessary to renovate our school buildings to accommodate up-to-date teaching, curriculum, and instructional technology, When it comes to building improvement plans, it is important to include green design features for energy efficiency and sustainability, School building design features should be taken advantage of as an opportunity for students to learn about energy efficiency and sustainability.  The BCSD Capital Planning Committee, Budget Advisory, Sustainability and other Citizens Advisory Committees are meeting frequently to ‘scrub’ the proposed capital plan to categorize items and prioritize their recommendations.  What’s next before the turn of the New Year?  The community is Invited to Attend or Watch the upcoming informative Board of Education Meeting on Wednesday, 12/19, 7pm Fox Lane Middle School Little Theater, BCSD Citizens Advisory Committees will present their line item details as well as Capital Plan Recommendations.   We encourage the community to attend the Board of Education meetings to be fully informed and part of the process.  Meetings can also be watched:  ONLINE @ BCSD-TV:  click here, Verizon Channel 1982, Cablevision Channel 18, Presentations will continue to be posted on BCSDNY.org.

‘Tis the Season for Giving Back!   Join us as we inspire, equip and mobilize volunteers to take actions that change the world. We now have over 800 service opportunities listed in our HandsOn Connect database.  Try them on for size through HandsOn Connect, located at www.volunteer-center.org, from the comfort of your living room or wherever you surf.  Enter your zip code and all of the entries will be listed for you.   Unlike many of the largest web retailers, we also have staff and volunteers anxious to help you give that perfect gift: yourself.  Call us at (914) 948-4452 to talk to Zachary, Katie, Brenda, Joan or Bernice on the phone or in person.


Peace * Joy * Hope

All of us at Riverkeeper
wish you and your loved
ones a warm and
happy holiday season!

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More than half of Open Door’s patients are uninsured.  Your support ensures that our families receive life transforming care.  We change lives by building strong, healthy communities, one family at a time.  Your gift, regardless of how much, makes a tremendous difference.  Over 43,000 individuals use the services that Open Door provides.  We’re counting on you to ensure that every individual who needs care, receives it.  Please make your commitment to support us today.
Thank you for your support and generosity.  Every gift counts; no gift is too small.
For more information please call Desta Lakew, Director or Development at 914.502.1416 or dlakew@odfmc.orgClick here to donate.