Alan Seidman giving his acceptance speech at the 24th Annual Ottaway Medal Dinner
We had the privilege to honor one of our treasured community leaders, Alan Seidman, at the 24th annual Ottaway Medal Dinner, on May 3rd at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor. We were excited to present him with the Ruth & James Ottaway Medal and, turns out, many in the community were excited too. What a turn out! We knew Alan was beloved, and it was wonderful to see so many coming out to support him.
The night began with hors d’oeuvres and networking. There were many familiar faces, and to our delight, may new ones. As the crowd entered the dining room for dinner, they were amazed at the beautiful centerpieces donated and created by Andrea Nilon. Building on our Alan’s longtime affection for his John Deere tractors, we created centerpieces with bales of hay, toy John Deere tractors, candy and twinkle lights! Because Alan is such a fun guy, we knew he would enjoy a little light-hearted roast as part of the evening’s festivities. At every place setting, we offered a coloring page of Alan, complete with crayons, to inspire each attendee to give Alan a makeover. There were ‘pirate’ Alans, ‘alien’ Alans, ‘musketeer’ Alans, and more! Whichever coloring book Alan was voted best at each table won the John Deere tractor centerpiece! Later, Alan’s wife, Robin, picked the overall best coloring book Alan, and the winner, John Carola of Walden Savings Bank, received a bottle of Macallan 12 year Scotch for his portrayal of Alan as a member of the 80s rock band AC/DC!
Nancy Proyect, President of the Citizens Foundation, welcomed everyone as they settled into their seats, and turned the mic over to Rabbi Larry Freedman for the invocation. The 105th Air Wing Air National Guard presented the Colors, and Senator William J. Larkin, Jr. led the Pledge of Allegiance. Next up was MaryKay Messenger, MSG MIL USA USMA, who sang a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Chair of the Ottaway Committee, Janette McKay, opened the program and thanked everyone for coming. Our Board Chair, Justin Rider, offered welcoming remarks and then introduced Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. Congressman Maloney took a few minutes to congratulate Senator Larkin on his recently announced retirement from public office and then led us all in a congratulatory champagne toast of Alan for his commitment to community.
Nancy again took to the stage and told the crowd a little bit about our organization, what we do, what our mission is, and engaged the crowd in an interactive ‘game’ to better explain what we do here at the Citizens Foundation. This is fun for you, our readers, too! Close your eyes and imagine your favorite place. Does it have shops and cafes that you can easily walk to? Are there spaces where you can live, work, and play? Is there a bookshop or a gallery? This is what our placemaking initiative is all about: working with local municipalities and community groups throughout our county to revitalize their downtowns, and ensuring that the people who live there are a core voice in the process.
Dinner conversation was lively, and our Development Director, Christa Orsino, sold raffle tickets with participants having a chance to win a $10,000 grand prize! As coffee and dessert were served, the Medal presentation program began with a video about our honoree and his dedication to our community, as well as information on Medal namesakes, Ruth and James Ottaway, whose philanthropy, business leadership and commitment to community are unsurpassed in Orange County. Alan was presented with the Ottaway Medal by his close friend, Jimmy Smith. In his acceptance speech, Alan recognized many supportive people in his life and spoke about how his parents influenced him to be an active participant in the community, which in turn, led to him to teaching his own children the value of community service.
The evening ended with Alan and Nancy drawing the names of the raffle winners. The $10,000 grand prize winner was Michael Blythe. Our major prize winner, Gina Diannis, had a choice of either a Disney trip or $1,000 in cash. Last but not least, the winner of our minor prize with a choice between a week’s stay at Hilton Head Island or $500 in cash was Gaynor Rosenstein.
After a fun evening, our attendees exited with a parting gift bag of cookies to enjoy on their ride home.
Thank you to all who attended. You made the night one Alan won’t soon forget. We would like to extend another congratulations to the man, the myth, the legend himself, Alan Seidman. Alan is truly deserving of this award and we are delighted to have recognized him for all of his efforts in our community.