Saugerties mayor honors Boys and Girls Club members

Mayor Bill Murphy and Mary Olsen stand on either side of award recipients (top left) Cesar Dubon-Ortiz, Nathaniel Auer, (bottom left) Morgan Sperl and Emma Stafford (photo by Christina Coulter)

Four Boys and Girls Club members were commended for their local good deeds and projects with the Saugerties Community Youth Award at the village board meeting December 18.

Emma Stafford, 9, received the honor for establishing a tiny food pantry in the vicinity of her father’s workplace, Pestmaster. She fills the box weekly with non-perishable foods and toiletries that those in need can’t always find at a food pantry.

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Morgan Sperl, 16, juggles her high-honor-student status with her own Boys and Girls Club program called Animal Adventures. The aspiring vet creates lesson plans, schedules guest speakers, and provides club members with the opportunity to interact with various dog breeds and farm animals. The club meets every Friday, and has 15 elementary-school-aged members.

Nathaniel Auer, 17, was nominated by his Saugerties High band instructor, Marisa Trees, for the award. According to Trees, Auer often speaks highly of his experiences at the Boys and Girls Club and expresses obvious concern for the children he oversees.

Cesar Dubon-Ortiz, 18, was nominated for the award by multiple teachers for earning his Regents diploma in June after immigrating to the United States without a working knowledge of English in 2014. He balanced a daily afternoon job to support his family with his schoolwork and homesickness throughout his high-school career. He has donated money to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. His teachers describe Dubon-Ortiz as “kind, helpful, respectful, thoughtful, humble, quietly funny and compassionate.”

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