Article and Photo by Matt Smith
Friends, family, and Chamber members gathered at the Whippoorwill Club in Armonk, NY on the evening of May 12 to celebrate longtime Armonk resident Sam Morell, and his achievement of being named 2015 Citizen of the Year by the Armonk Chamber of Commerce.
The award is bestowed – as it has been twice before, first to Dr. Evan Powderly of Crittenden Middle School in 2013, and second, last October, to Hickory & Tweed proprietor Skip Beitzel – to an individual who has made a significant long-term contribution to the North Castle/Armonk community. A “natural choice” for the honor, Mr. Morell more than fit the bill.
“He’s been a real pillar of the community,” says Jason Rosenzweig, a member of the Chamber and coordinator of the evening. “He has been instrumental not only in the town’s cultural advancement, but the growth of the business community as well. He’s so supportive of everyone.”
But why shouldn’t he be? asks the grateful Morell himself. “After all,” he theorizes, “the town we live in is simply an extension of our house and there are many ways one can add value to make this very large house appealing.” To that end, he states, with a smile, “I strongly believe in patronizing our [local] services.”
His seven-year involvement in the Chamber of Commerce has certainly impacted how he carries out that belief. “The more you learn about fellow members the more you develop the kind of relationship and trust to transact with them,” he explains. “I now use many chamber members for my personal and business matters.” These members include Steve D’Angelo, from Stephen D’Angelo CPA PC, as his accountant; Robbi Morris, from The Morris Group, as his health care insurance provider; the aforementioned Jason Rosenzweig, from Castle Cabs, as his car service provider; and Julie Dickens, from Beascakes Bakery, from whom he buys all his holiday cookies. Adds Morell, “The joy for me is developing new and interesting personal friends from all walks of life, as well as knowing that I can be of assistance to their goals.”
His support of the community doesn’t end there. He found a way to combine his overwhelming love for the town of Armonk with his undying love of the performing arts, and began his own not-for-profit company, the Small Town Theatre Company, in 2008. Co-founded with Katonah resident Donna Garr, the organization produces plays, summer concerts, theatre festivals, and film festivals in Armonk and Katonah.
Morell also says he leverages his enjoyment of photography and videography to support other local organizations, such as the North Castle Historical Society, the North Castle Communications Committee, and other Westchester-based not-for-profits.
Preceding the dinner was an afternoon-long golf outing, attended by Morell, Rosenzweig, and a mix of Chamber members, guests of Chamber members, and Morell’s personal friends, that was anything but a bogey. “We enjoyed it very much,” comments the honoree. And what of his score? “It was touch-and-go at first, but I broke even,” he says with a laugh.
To discourage any self-doubt among each players’ golf abilities, the outing was run as a scramble; each player hit their own shot from the tee, but everyone played from the spot of the best shot. In the end, “it worked out for everyone,” says Rosenzweig. “It was a lot of fun.”
And as for the recognition itself? “I’m overwhelmed and honored,” Morell says quite simply. “It’s a real tribute.” Humble as ever, Morell added: “Everyone in this town does such tremendous work, and we should recognize that.”
The entire celebration was presented by the Armonk Chamber of Commerce. The evening’s cocktail hour, which followed the golf outing and preceded the dinner, was sponsored by Breezemont Day Camp and the Castle Cab Corps. Throughout the evening, volunteers sold tickets for a raffle, a new addition to this year’s festivities; all prizes and rewards were complete donations from local Armonk businesses, including Certa Pro Painters, Eye Designs of Armonk, Susan Blake, and Peachwave Frozen Yogurt. For more information on the chamber, visit www.armonkchamberofcommerce.org.
Matt Smith, a graduate of Skidmore College, is a regular contributor to The Inside Press, Inc.