White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators marked Caribbean-American Heritage Month with a special ceremony Monday night honoring Caribbean-American community leaders and organizations in Westchester.

This year’s celebration focused on the contributions of local Haitian Americans to life in Westchester.

Noting the parallels between the U.S. Revolution and the Haitian Revolution in the 1790s, and the role that a Haitian American played in the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960s, Legislator Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon) noted that “Haiti became a beacon of liberty and an inspiration for oppressed people in the Americas.”

Williams added, “Today, the Haitian American community is part of the vibrant mosaic of diversity in the United States, contributing greatly to the economic, social, cultural and scientific achievements in this country.”

Board Vice Chair Alfreda Williams (D- Elmsford, Greenburgh, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown), presented a proclamation to The Haitian Resource Center.  Founded in 2013 to serve the needs of the Haitian community in White Plains and beyond, the center provides enrichment programs for school children, referrals for immigration, citizenship, vocational, educational and other services, and produces a month TV show, Sak Pasé, on White Plains cable television, among other activities.

Accepting the honor, Judeson Saintil, chairman of the HRC’s advisory board, said, “I feel so blessed and privileged to be able to help our community.  It's not just the Haitian community, it's everybody.  Anybody that needs help, we're here for you.”

Legislator David Tubiolo (R-Yonkers) presented a proclamation to Betsey E. Dorreliand, a pre-K teacher in the Mount Vernon City School District and program director of the Youth Community Outreach Program in Mount Vernon, which provides after-school, summer and various recreational activities for children in the community.

Declaring herself "one proud Haitian individual," Dorreliand promised, "I'm not going to let you guys down. I'm going to continue to do for my community, and continue to do for Haiti and continue to do for the children."

Legislator Lyndon Williams presented a proclamation to decorated Mount Vernon firefighter and community volunteer Lieutenant Mike Jean-Jerome. Among Lieutenant Jean-Jerome’s community activities is his work as a counselor for the Youth Shelter Program of Westchester, which provides an alternative to jail for young men awaiting disposition of various criminal charges.  Lt. Jean-Jerome called out one of the young men he’s worked, noting that he has now taken the test to become a Mount Vernon firefighter.  “These are the reasons why I do the things I do,” Lt. Jean-Jerome said.