Yuco Buildings

YMCA Honors Artists and Educators, Supports Afterschool

Playwright Kushner, Jersey Boy Hoff and Author Carter Receive YMCA's Top Honors; Principal, Site Coordinator and Volunteer of the Year Also Recognized

New York, NY
Tuesday, October 30, 2007


NEW YORK, Oct. 30, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- The YMCA of Greater New York honored artists, authors and musicians at its annual Arts & Letters Auction and Reception last night. Emceed by Academy Award(r)-winning actor Marcia Gay Harden, the event raised more than $500,000 to support the YMCA's Virtual Y, a pioneering afterschool program operating in more than 92 public schools across New York City. The event was co-chaired by Raymond H. Yu, President of Yuco Management, and Henry R. Keizer, KPMG LLP's Global Head of Audit & US Vice Chairman.

The annual benefit, held at the Rainbow Room, presented the Virtual Y Excellence Award to Tony Kushner, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of "Angels in America;" Christian Hoff, Tony Award(r)-winning performer in Broadway's "Jersey Boys;" and Dominic Carter, author of "No Momma's Boy: A Memoir" (iUniverse, 2007) and NY1 political reporter.

Rosa Casiello O'Day was named Virtual Y Principal of the Year for fostering a collaborative environment at PS 42 (Lower East Side/Chinatown), where the Virtual Y and other community-based organizations play a vital role in supporting students' overall success. Hero K. Tamakloe received the Virtual Y Site Coordinator of the Year award for his demonstration of dedication to more than 300 kids who participate in the Virtual Y at PS 95Q (Hollis/Jamaica). Also honored was Janice Reals Ellig, co-CEO of Chadick Ellig, Inc., as Volunteer of the Year for her dedication to the Virtual Y.

"The individuals we honor tonight exemplify the YMCA values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility," said Jack Lund, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. "We are proud to honor Tony Kushner, Christian Hoff and Dominic Carter with the Virtual Y Excellence Award and we salute Hero, Rosa and Janice for their leadership and unwavering support of New York's young people and the YMCA programs that serve them."

"It's foolish to suppose that a school alone can do the job of educating children and making a difference in their lives," said Principal Casiello O'Day. "You have to have partnerships with families and community organizations like the YMCA if you really want to have the kind of impact that's needed. The Virtual Y offers another avenue to helping children grow up whole -- in spirit, mind and body."

The highlights of the evening included performances by the ballroom dancers of the Staten Island YMCA's Virtual Y program at PS 44, a reading by Carter, a selection from "Jersey Boys" by Hoff and a staging of a scene from "Angels in America."Notable attendees included Frank Bivona, CEO of FGIC; Phyllis Poland, President of the Poland Foundation; Bob Silver, co-founder of The Bravitas Group and former president of UBS Wealth Management USA; Susan Whiting, Chairman & CEO of Nielsen Media Research; Alfredo J. Molina, Chairman & CEO of the Molina Group; John C. Liu, New York City Council Member; Guillermo Linares, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs; Bill Chong, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development; and many other prominent New York philanthropists and business leaders.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2007, the nationally-recognized Virtual Y, a partnership between the YMCA of Greater New York and the New York City Department of Education, is a literacy-based program that focuses on learning enhancement, health and recreation, and building competence and confidence in more than 9,500 children throughout the City. A longitudinal study by Fordham University's National Center for Schools and Communities showed improved math scores, deportment and attendance among Virtual Y students when compared with their peers.

"The YMCA is not only a positive place for kids and families to come exercise, but also an anchor of safety and nurturing for so many of our youth in the critical afterschool hours," said Reals Ellig, who chaired the event in 2006 and serves as Chair of the YMCA's Board of Directors. "I'm proud to be a part of an organization that is truly saving lives and helping kids on the road to becoming responsible, future leaders."

Thanks to Arts & Letters event proceeds and funding from leading corporations, foundations, individual donors and government agencies, Virtual Y programs are offered free-of-charge and currently operate in 58 New York City public elementary and middle schools. The Virtual Y program has been cited as a model program by the U.S. Department of Education, and in 2000, was named a Promising Practice in the New York State Department of Education's Sharing Success Program.

The YMCA of Greater New York is a community service organization which promotes positive values through programs that build spirit, mind and body, welcoming all people, with a focus on youth. The largest private youth-serving organization in New York City, the YMCA of Greater New York encompasses 19 branches and 180 program sites throughout the five boroughs, plus three camps upstate, serving 350,000 New Yorkers of all ages each year, including 175,000 children in a variety of educational, social, health and wellness, as well as recreational and child development programs, each of which reinforce the YMCA values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Supported in part through contributions to the Strong Kids Campaign, the YMCA provides membership assistance and scholarships, so that no one is turned away due to an inability to pay. Visit ymcanyc.org to learn more.

CONTACT: Lotus Public Relations For the YMCA
Press Contacts:
Chris Capra
Jessica Fletcher