Philadelphia, April 1, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter was joined by hundreds of mayors across the country in celebrating the second annual Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service, an initiative he announced during his presidential address at the 81st convening of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) in Washington, D.C., in January 2013.
“As a member of national organizations that represent cities like USCM and NLC, I work with mayors from both sides of the aisle to find practical solutions to the problems we face in our cities and towns,” said Mayor Nutter. “My colleagues and I agree that there are few resources more cost effective than America’s national service programs. AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers are central to the fabric of Philadelphia. Day after day, they roll up their sleeves and get to work addressing education and job readiness, food insecurity, the needs of veterans and military families, recovery after natural disasters, and more. Simply put, in these challenging economic times, their service is essential to the current and future success of our city and our nation.”
During the ceremony, Mayor Nutter presented an official City of Philadelphia proclamation to Mary Strasser, former Director of the Pennsylvania State Office of the Corporation for National and Community Service and former National Director of the AmeriCorps VISTA program, for her outstanding life-long commitment to the City of Philadelphia through service initiatives. Mayor Nutter also announced the winners of the second annual City of Philadelphia ~ Mayor’s Award for Distinguished National Service. The Mayor created this award to shine the spotlight on outstanding individuals who serve as AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers across the City. In addition, he wanted to recognize National Service alumni whose continued commitment to service is having a significant positive impact on the city.
The Mayor’s Award for Distinguished Senior Corps Service went to Mr. Sol Stark, a 91 year old veteran, of the Klein Jewish Community Center. Mr. Stark delivers meals to homebound seniors through Klein JCC’s Home Delivered Meals program and volunteers his time with a variety of other organizations including the Delaware Valley Veteran’s Home, Fox Chase Farms, the Environmental Center, VFW Post 6671 and Jewish War Veterans 575.
The Mayor’s Award for Distinguished AmeriCorps Service went to Mr. Ricky Strickler, a member serving at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School. Ricky currently serves as a Community Projects Coordinator and he leads Youth Build’s before- and after-school tutoring programs along with a twice-a-month Saturday school.
Under Ricky’s leadership, both programs have become key components in Youth Build’s school culture and have provided tangible benefits to students: increased competence in math and reading, and much needed study time for projects and research assignments.
Finally, the Mayor chose to honor two National Service alumni for their distinguished contributions to the City of Philadelphia. The first, a recent VISTA serving at Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Elizabeth Levitan was selected for her dedication to the organization first as a VISTA, and now as an employee assisting students transition from middle school to high school. Additionally, Elizabeth created and developed Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow, a program which provides young women with the skills they need to become successful leaders in the work place. The second, Arianna Neromiliotis, is a seasoned national service alumnus from City Year of Greater Philadelphia and is a co-founder of Teenagers, Inc, which provides positive activities for young adults in Northwest Philadelphia. While on staff at City Year, Arianna launched a mentor program at Mastery Shoemaker school, an effort that earned her recognition from City Year’s national headquarters.
The Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service was initiated by Mayor Nutter in partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Cities of Service, the National League of Cities, and other organizations. Mayor Nutter was instrumental in recruiting a bipartisan group of 832 mayors in all 50 states—including six in Pennsylvania—to participate in this first-ever Day of Recognition in 2013.
For more information, and to view a list of Outstanding Nominees in each category, please visit www.NationalServicePHL.com.