WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – When tragedy struck longtime Eastchester resident Paula Berkowitz four years ago, she didn’t succumb to sadness, and instead channeled her grief to benefit her community.
In 2010, Berkowitz’s husband, Steve, died of cancer, her 20-year-old son, Justin, died unexpectedly and two weeks later, while still grieving, her 17-year-old daughter lost her four-year fight against Leukemia.
Instead of retreating from her harsh reality, Berkowitz found strength in sadness, and founded Adina’s Angels Fund , named after her daughter, to help give back to Friends of Karen , a family support organization that helped the family during the tumultuous year.
Since its inception, Adina’s Angels have raised nearly $200,000 to support programs sponsored by Friends of Karen. To honor her support, Volunteer New York! honored her with the Community Hero Award at the 34th annual Volunteer Spirit Awards last week.
“When the unimaginable happened in my life and there was nowhere to turn, Friends of Karen came through for my family’s everyday needs,” she said in a statement. “During the worst time of my life, they made sure I didn’t have to go through any of it alone.”
Berkowitz was one of nine Westchester County good Samaritans who were recognized by Volunteer New York! at an event that hosted by WCBS-TV journalist Lou Young.
Longtime Scarsdale resident Betty Cotton, who now calls Purchase home, earned a lifetime achievement award for her steadfast support of Volunteer New York! The former president of the Junior League of Central Westchester still stays busy as a member of the state Commission on National and Community Service, and the National Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee, where she serves as the president for New York.
These are the other honorees:
- Education and Literacy Award : The Collegium of Westchester Community College, presented by Reader’s Digest.
- Social Advocacy Award : Nanuet native Diane Sussman for service to the Center for Safety and Change, presented by M&T Bank.
- Quality of Life Award : Marian Hamilton, of Armonk, for service to the Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center, presented by the United Way.
- Arts and Culture Award : Reena Kashvap, for service to the Clay Art Center in Rye, presented by the Mack-Cali Realty Corporation.
- New York Life Youth Group in Action Award : The Rotaract Club of Mercy College, presented by New York Life.
- New York Life Youth Leader Award : Harrison resident Mary Grace Henry, for service to Reverse the Course, presented by New York Life.
“We are proud to extend our congratulations to this year’s Volunteer Spirit Award winners,” Marcia Collins, vice president of New York Life, added. “We applaud Volunteer New York! and all our region’s volunteers who are dedicated to making communities stronger and helping those in need.”