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The celebrated its teens and supporters with a gathering of more than 100 people on Thursday. Rick Cerrone, former senior director of media relations for the New York Yankees, was honored as the recipient of the Yorktown Teen Center’s 2011 Joan Valenstein Memorial Youth Advocate Award.
Valenstein, who passed away in May 2010 after a car accident, was a youth advocate and a founding Teen Center Board Member.
Among the support provided to the teens, Cerrone spearheaded the seeking funding and donations from various businesses and community groups. His visionary work came to full flourish, providing the teens with a comfortable and inviting environment where they can safely congregate in town.
"Besides that awesome room, Mr. Cerrone got us tickets to see the Mets," said student Andres Perez in his speech, who was selected by his peers to speak as the voice of teens. "What I don’t understand is why did he get us tickets to the Mets when he was a Yankee guy?"
Teens were the center of attention that evening. During the cocktail hour Zerena Lupo a seventh grader at , sang solo followed by Amber and Aiyana Lewis. Amber is a 14-year-old singer and student at John Jay High School. Aiyanna, 12, plays keyboard and attends John Jay Middle School.
As guests moved to the dining room, , a senior at Yorktown High School, sang accompanied by juniors from the high school, Mark McIntyre, John Venezia, Alexi Nauman and Greg Cusano.
Master of Ceremonies for the event was News 12 anchor Brian Conybeare, who also co-anchors a weekly political talk show called “Newsmakers” and hosts all the station’s local election debates and live town meetings.
Cerrone spoke of his involvement with the Teen Center and with the Jack DeVito Foundation of Yorktown Heights, which provided the labor and underwrote the renovations of the Teen Center lounge. The retail value of the project is estimated at more than $50,000. Contributions of materials for the renovation came from businesses throughout the community.
Anthony and John DeVito were surprised during the dinner when they were given a proclamation from the county by county legislator Michael Kaplowitz. October 21, 2011 was proclaimed as The Jack DeVito Foundation Day in Westchester County.
Besides the teens, live music was performed by "Class Action," comprised of Gary Cusano, Mike Latini, Greg Kuczinski, Matt Daus and Rich Block.
The Teen Center raised over $5,000 from the event. Some of the funds were earmarked for wishes the teens had, such as a pizza party and ice cream social.
"People seemed to walk away happy," said Helena Rodriguez, president of the Yorktown Teen Center's board of directors. "I know I am."