By LIZ BUTTON
The Rye Youth Council has chosen three local couples as its 2014 Most Valuable People; Kendall and Ken Egan, Paulette and Eric Mann, and Jean and Pat Romano in honor of their years of service to youth and families in Rye.
“It is a tribute to this community that, after so many years of recognizing deserving individuals, we continue to find exceptional people” deserving of the non-profit’s annual MVP award, Judy Secon, youth council executive director, said.
The three couples will be honored at the 24th annual Rye Youth Council Gala on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, at the Westchester Country Club. The event is the non-profit organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
The Rye Youth Council works with the school district, parents and members of the community to encourage Rye students to develop strong character and community values. RYC’s youth advocates offer character education and team building programs as well as the student theater program, Rye Youth Players.
This year, the group took the lead in drafting a civility statement for the community.
The Egans, 18-year Rye residents and RYC honorees, are highly involved in the school district and in local sports leagues. For the past 11 years, Ken Egan has coached Resurrection Catholic Youth Organization Basketball and Future Stars, an Amateur Athletic Union team, as well as instructing the couple’s two daughters and two sons in those programs.
Kendall Egan has volunteered in the Rye school system as the president of Milton School’s Parent Teacher Organization. She later served on the Board of Education for six years until 2013. She has also served as president of the Westchester Putnam School Board Association.
Kendall Egan said she sees Rye City schools themselves as one of the city’s greatest resources and amenities for youth.
“[The city] certainly has great schools and that was where my passion was, making sure the schools had great curricular programs and good facilities. That certainly is a draw [for people to move to Rye], and the other draw is the phenomenal youth athletic leagues and the Recreation Department,” she said.
Eric and Paulette Mann have been involved in community activities with their three children since relocating to Rye in 1993. Eric Mann organizes an annual golf outing for The Southeast Consortium for Special Services, while Paulette Mann was a charter member and president of SEPTA, Rye’s Special Education Parent Teacher Association. She also volunteers for Meals on Wheels, The Southeast Consortium for Special Children and The Rye Youth Council Players.
“It is such an honor to be recognized by the youth council, and we are especially grateful to be part of such a warm and generous community,” Paulette Mann said.
The third couple, Rye natives Pat and Jean Romano, are elementary school teachers who raised their two daughters in Rye . In addition to their teaching careers, they have both coached and volunteered for a number of local sports teams and clubs.
Jean Romano was also named Rye City School District’s 2012 Teacher of the Year and is an active volunteer for Rye Presbyterian Church.
According to youth council board co-presidents Shari Balaish and Kristin Jautz, since more than 85 percent of the group’s funding now comes from private donations, a successful gala becomes increasingly important to the continuation of the RYC’s mission with every passing year.