June 14, 2021, Armonk, NY— Following a traditional Flag Day Service, members of the Mid-Westchester Elks, Lodge #535, honored three first responders commending their courage, perseverance and dedicated service over this most challenging last year.
Honored by the Mid-Westchester Elks were Laureen Smith-Arena, an occupational therapist at Northern Westchester Hospital; Julie Gallagher, an Armonk Fire Department volunteer firefighter, EMT and Byram Hills High School Nurse; and Robbie Boddies, a firefighter with the West Point Fire Department and a paramedic. Certificates of appreciation were also first presented to each of the recipients on behalf of Westchester Board of Legislators Margaret Cuzio and state Senator Shelley Mayer. Attending too was Barbara W. DiGiacinto, town council member of North Castle. Following a variety of laudatory remarks on their behalf, each of the honorees shared their gratitude and/or described their respective experiences.
The ceremony, which also brought together many long time friends and neighbors after a ‘skipped year’ during COVID, took on special meaning this year as attendees gathered for an evening to recall milestones in the fascinating history of the U.S. flag, enjoy cherished traditions, and to share gratitude again to community leaders honored inside Armonk American Legion Hall on Bedford Avenue.
Following a rousing march into the hall and a variety of traditional songs played by the Westchester County Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe Band, a moment of silence honored departed Elks members and first responders killed in the line of duty due to COVID. Amazing Grace was presented by the Westchester County Emerald Society. A delicious dinner, prepared by long time Elks member and volunteer chef Tony Ciccia, who also cooks for the local senior center, was enjoyed by all.
The Mid-Westchester Elks, a 153-year old charitable organization, is actively seeking new members to join its ranks; Lodge #535 has over 100 members actively supporting charitable activities, including Scouting generally, and especially at Cerebral Palsy of Westchester (CPW), where members sponsor and support a Pack of boys and girls. The members are also active in supporting U.S. military veterans, the elderly, the poor, people with disabilities, schools, scholarship programs, and a variety of not for profit community organizations.
In 2018, the Elks launched a First Responders Appreciation Awards Dinner and honored police officers. Five area police chiefs each proposed an officer in their command particularly worthy of recognition at that time. In 2019, four firefighters from Armonk, Port Chester, and White Plains were honored. Each year, a short ceremony is performed in observance of Flag Day. In 2020, the event was canceled due to the pandemic. The mid-Westchester Elks Lodge # 535 has resumed meeting at the American Legion Post 1097 at 35 Bedford Rd. in Armonk on the second and fourth Wednesday evening of each month. For more information about the Elks, including joining, please visit elks.org, or contact Lodge Secretary Raymond Sculky at firstname.lastname@example.org.