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Wallkill Valley TimesWalden honors its best and brightest

Walden honors its best and brightest

The Village of Walden celebrated their 8th annual Leadership Day Awards ceremony this past Thursday, honoring several individuals for their commitment to bettering their community.

Mayor Susan Rumbold presented Jason Trafton with the 2017 Mary Jean “Midge” Normal Volunteer of the Year award.

“I met [Jason] many, many years ago,” said Rumbold. “…He’s always walking around town with a huge smile on his face that makes you wonder what he’s been up to…He’s a great guy and always ready, willing and able to help anyone in our community and I know that from experience. Jason cares greatly about our community.”

Trafton stays busy in the Walden community as a freemason, member of the Village of Walden planning board, Josephine-Louise Public Library Board, Gridley-Horan Funeral Home, Treasurer of the Orange, Rockland and Sullivan Funeral Directors Association, and his own business, Trafton Stonework.

Bridget Urbanski, a graduating senior at Valley Central High School, was presented with the Ronald I. Jacobowitz Youths of the Year Award with a $250 scholarship.

Urbanski is a member of the school’s “Girl’s Club,” Guidance Club, Valley Central United Club, President of VC DREAM (Drug Resistance and Education for Adolescent Minds), advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and cheerleading team.

Along with all of her contributions to the Valley Central school district, she takes honor classes and works at Walden’s Frostee Freeze.

The Wesenberg Family was honored with the Sam Phelps Service Award by members of the Phelps family and given flowers from Charles Frank, Vice President of the Board of the Josephine-Louise Public Library.

The Wesenbergs – husband and wife Melvin and Carolyn, and their daughters Sonia and Jada – are active volunteers in the Walden community. They are involved in several local organizations including Girls Scouts, Backpack Snack Attack Program, Walden Humane Society, Good Samaritan, “Adopt-a-Grandma,” the First Reformed Church, Josephine-Louise Public Library, Village of Walden Zoning Board of Appeals and the Valley Central School District.

Hudson Valley Conservatory was named as the 2017 Community Business of the Year. The performing arts school, the first of its kind in the Hudson Valley, was started in 1994 by Samuel E. Wright, Amanda A. Wright and Pamela A. Murphy and offers classes in acting, music and dance.

For more than 20 years, the Hudson Valley Conservatory has become a place for children to learn and grow in the arts. Located at 35 E Main Street, the school participates in several community events in Walden.

The leadership awards ceremony ended with a speech from the keynote speaker, Nancy Proyect, the President of the Orange County Citizens Foundation (OCCF).

Since becoming President of the OCCF in 2006, Proyect has increased outreach and programming for the foundation, began publishing Quality of Life Report Cards and introduced the OCCF’s Placemaking program, which encourages Orange County residents to engage in initiatives to shape a meaningful and sustainable future for subsequent generations.

Tara Bliss, Village of Walden Clerk and organizer of the awards ceremony, reminded everyone just how fulfilling getting involved with your community can be.

“I personally believe that I have exactly what I need right here,” she said. “A family, a close-knit community and that small town charm.”

By Jaspreet Gill

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