Friendly Saugerties: The next generation

(Photo by Irene Rivera Hurst)

(Photo by Irene Rivera Hurst)

The Saugerties Community Youth Awards is a program that honors young people in the community who do the right thing. That can include the sort of thing that would make the papers, like saving a life, as well as small acts of heroism and charity that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Four young citizens received awards at the March 19 Town Board meeting: Olivia Staby, Kendall Matheson, Hunter Igoe and Justin DiCesare.

During the holiday season, Olivia Staby, 10, designed, constructed and sold bracelets, donating all proceeds to the Ulster County SPCA animal shelter. Nominated by Jill Schintone, vice president of the UCSPCA, Olivia was described as showing kindness and selflessness in contributing to the humane care of helpless animals.


“Cannonball” is the nickname given to 11-year-old Kendall Matheson by AnneChris Warren, program director of the Saugerties Boys and Girls Club. Kendall earned the name by diving into all the activities offered by the club and by urging other members to join her in being active, enthusiastic and productive. Whether she’s volunteering to clean up after activities, making snacks for her fellow members, or helping prepare classrooms for upcoming activities, Kendall displays by example that community membership means contributing time, talent, and leadership to forwarding the goals of your group, according to Warren.

Intelligent, thoughtful and empathetic are the words used to describe Hunter Igoe, 17, nominated by his teacher, Andree Spark-DePass. According to DePass, Hunter “demonstrates kindness and selflessness in class on a daily basis.” His concern for fellow students motivated him to volunteer for the school’s mentoring group. Hunter takes the needs of his fellow students seriously and is available to partner with them in order to provide solutions and support.

The final reward recipient was 18-year-old Justin DiCesare, nominated by SueEllen Egan. Since the start of 10th grade, Justin has served as a volunteer firefighter for the town of Saugerties. As Justin himself says, “Being a volunteer firefighter means the most to me because you are part of a very proud community and you realize how important people’s lives are and how dependent your neighbors are on the local department.” He considers his work as character-building and rewarding. He also plays on the school soccer and lacrosse teams.

The Saugerties Youth Awards concept has certainly achieved its goal developed by SAGE [Saugerties is About Growth Experiences], which links the town and village of Saugerties, Saugerties Central School District, and Family of Woodstock in seeking our exemplary students.

Photo: (left to right) Councilman Fred Costello Jr., Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton, Town Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel, Councilman Bill Schirmer, Olivia Staby, Councilman James Bruno, Hunter Igoe, Kendall Matheson, Justin DiCesare and program chair Mary Olsen.