2020 Celebration of Stars Awards

2020 Celebration of Stars

Each year The Arc of Dutchess celebrates the stars among us by recognizing the change-makers in our community who continuously work to ensure an inclusive environment for everyone who lives and works in Dutchess County. This year, Celebration of Stars is going DIGITAL! Be sure to tune into Facebook and Instagram every Monday and Wednesday for videos of the nominators and the honorees…AND THE WINNERS ARE…

MIMI STAMBROOK AWARD (Sponsored by Peter Stambrook): Lynne Colley, Director of Nursing – The Arc of Dutchess (Video released: 10/5/20)

SARAH STUDLER “SMILE” AWARD (Sponsored by The Poughkeepsie Galleria): Jasmin Nicole Davis – Poughkeepsie Galleria (Video released: 10/7/20

KATZ AWARD (Sponsored by Nevill + Karen Smythe): Kate Kjellander – Community Mask – Maker, COVID-19 Hero (Video released: 10/12/20)

FRANK PESSIA AWARD (Sponsored by Safeco Alarm Systems, Inc.): Teresa Scanlon – Mom, Rec & Teen Club Superfan! (Video released: 10/14/20)

RISING STAR AWARD (Sponsored by Mauri Architects, PC): Laura Monnier, RN – The Arc of Dutchess (Video released: 10/19/20)

MARTINKO AWARD (Sponsored by The Martinko Family): Dana Jones, CEO/Founder, Accessadoor (Video released: 10/21/20)

KENNY DIXON “SPIRIT” AWARD (Sponsored by TEG Federal Credit Union): Kayla McKeon, Registered Lobbyist for Individuals with Disabilities/Advocate (Video released: 10/26/20)

BESSIE PAYNE HUMANITARIAN AWARD (Sponsored by Royal Carting): Dr. Mark Foster + Dr. Adam Rubinstein, Hudson Valley Primary Care (Video released: 10/28/20)

SUPERNOVA AWARD (Sponsored by MidHudson Regional Hospital of Westchester Medical Center): Mary Kay Vrba, Retired CEO of Dutchess Tourism (Video released: 11/4/20)

Thank you to our Event Sponsors!

photo of Celebration of Stars invitation and T-shirt

And don’t miss your chance to snag an exclusive t-shirt honoring the individuals that lend their names to these awards. By making a donation to support this digital event, you can get your very own Celebration of Stars t-shirts (women’s and unisex sizing available, while supplies last): https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/WebLink.aspx?name=E92529&id=7


Celebration of Stars Awards Key

Click on each award title to see a description of the award.

…a humanitarian legend (Bessie Payne). Bessie Payne was a remarkable woman. When she died in 1991 at age 96, she left Dutchess County with a much richer and more diverse array of services due to her involvement. She was instrumental and considered a driving force behind the development of many Poughkeepsie civic organizations – in 1913 along with her mother and 10 other women she created the Poughkeepsie Neighborhood Club. She is best remembered by The Arc of Dutchess as the Principal of “The Little Red Schoolhouse” in Poughkeepsie. When you talk about services for the developmentally disabled in Dutchess County – you might say it began right there; with her, and other educators in our community who devoted their lives to the “children” we serve today. It is in her memory, and with her vision of service that we present this award.

…a young professional (under the age of 35) who demonstrates boundless energy. Sarah Studler was an Arc of Dutchess employee who left our world much too soon. In the span of her 25 years she enriched all who knew her with her generosity of spirit. For us at The Arc of Dutchess, Sarah represented the very best of the new generation moving into our workforce. She brought a wonderful energy and spirit to our work place. She was confident, funny, always smiling, and ready to embrace the world. She cared deeply for her family, her friends, coworkers and her community; she had a way of making everyone and anyone feel special and valuable. Within her all too short tenure at The Arc of Dutchess she developed relationships in every department and at every level. To honor Sarah’s memory and her contribution to our collective community, this award celebrates an individual who demonstrates in word and action, those wonderful qualities we cherish and remember in Sarah … spirited, motivating, inspiring, limitless, and exceptional as a colleague, employee, community member, and person.

… an individual with disabilities who demonstrates a “no excuse, can do” attitude who perseveres through life’s challenges with grace, dignity and strength (Kenny Dixon). Kenny was an empowered spirit who persevered through mounting medical challenges with strength, dignity and determination. He inspired all of those who crossed his path with his wit, his heart and his “can do” attitude. Kenny made a concerted effort each day to lift the spirits of those around him and leave life’s complaints untold. He represented “live each day” by dwelling on today’s opportunities. Kenny just wanted to keep it moving whether it was making someone laugh, playing hoops or getting through his dialysis treatment. This award celebrates an individual who defies what others may have determined as their destiny, perseveres through life’s challenges, focuses on the good in the world and doesn’t let “life” get in the way of their dreams.

…a noble ally (Mimi Stambrook)
Mimi Stambrook was well known as a volunteer in our community. She worked at the Little Red School House and later with Rehab Programs. She was considered a leader in our field in the Mid Hudson Valley, throughout her career. Since 1989, the Board of Directors of The Arc of Dutchess has presented the Mimi Stambrook Award to a Board Member, staff person, or volunteer, whose work in the field goes far beyond the scope of their job or voluntary position at The Arc of Dutchess.

…a selfless pioneer (Katz Award)
The Katz Award was created by Phyllis Rosenfield, and her late husband Herb, in remembrance of Phyllis’s parents, Jean and Louis Katz. Jean Katz, was very involved in the development of AHRC in New York City, the roots of the NYSARC, Inc. organization, and a cohort of Ann Greenburg, the parent who placed the original advertisement in the NY Times which was the genesis of this movement. For her daughter Barbara, Jean worked to ensure services for all children with developmental disabilities would exist for a lifetime. It is with that in mind that we give this next award. Since 1993, this award has honored individuals who have made volunteering a lifestyle. These folks don’t see their activities as extra tasks in their lives, but rather, as essentials parts of their existence.

…a trailblazer (Peggy Martinko)
During a time when many women had not yet found their voice, Peggy Martinko stood out as a ‘renaissance woman’. She and her friend, Kay Seeberger created a cohort comprised of educators, family members, other community activists dedicated to ensuring a rich, productive future for individuals with developmental disabilities after their school experience ended. Concerned that the only services available at time did not adequately support those with more serious challenges, Peggy and this band of advocates took their message to County and State representatives and the Dutchess County community to ensure these individuals were not forgotten. This took courage, leadership, and perseverance. Peggy had it all; she was “a force to be reckoned with”. At the same time, Peggy raised her family, maintained an extensive circle of friends, and was active in many other community groups. She is described by her children as “gifted in making others happy.” Those who worked and socialized with Peggy tell us stories of a humorous and fun-loving person with a talent for playing the kazoo and making people smile. the Arc of Dutchess is forever in her debt.

…an impassioned parent (Frank Pessia)
In the early 60’s Frank Pessia and his wife adopted 3 little triplet girls. Sadly, Mrs. Pessia passed away when the children were only 3 years of age. About 2 years later in 1967, all three girls were diagnosed with developmental disabilities. One can only imagine this level of loss within such a short period of time, especially given that in 1967, half of the nation’s 25,000 school districts offered no classes for students with special needs. But Frank Pessia became an advocate for service development fueled by the love for his daughters. In 1971 Frank Pessia became the first Chapter President of The Arc of Dutchess. It is his dedication as a parent, and innovative spirit the early years of our organization that we honor in the presentation of this award.

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Rec and Teen Club at the Night to Shine Prom

Rec and Teen Club at the Night to Shine Prom

On Friday February 7th, The Rec and Teen Club once again participated in the Night To Shine Prom at Mill Creek Caterers in Hopewell Junction sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. It was hosted by Odyssey Church. They got to ride in a limousine, got photos at the photo booth, and they got to dance on the dance floor. At the end of the night, they got to be the Prom Kings & Queens. They all had a great time.

King Michael and Queen Carrie
Thanks to Odyssey Church for hosting the event.

Great News!

We are merging with the Arc of Sullivan-Orange

We are thrilled that as of Saturday, January 25, 2020, The Arc New York (our parent organization) authorized The Arc of Dutchess to pursue unifying with The Arc of Sullivan-Orange. in the months ahead, we will begin the long process of formally merging to create a strong, sustainable and vibrant organization that will preserve, protect, and expand the supports that exist right here in Dutchess County. This unification  is the right step in ensuring the best possible future for this organization and the individuals that are supported in this community.

Arlington wrestling team hosts ‘Autism Awareness Match

Arlington wrestling team hosts ‘Autism Awareness Match

On Tuesday January 28th, The Arlington High School Wrestling team hosted An Autism Awareness Match to Raise Money for Autism Speaks, as they hosted their rival John Jay East Fishkill. The event was made by Arlington High School wrestling coach Dave Grafmuller who works as a pediatric physical therapist in the Wappingers Central School District. He typically works with children on the autism spectrum, and he thought of a way to raise autism awareness throughout the district he coaches in and the district he works in. So, He Made a plan for that day.  Before the matches began, Coach Grafmuller presents a shirt Jena Schneider from Autism Speaks. The event raised over $4,000. Thank You to the  Arlington High School Wrestling team and Coach Grafmuller to make this event possible.

2 Wrestlers
Autism Speaks Banner


Special Event


The Arc of Dutchess appoints new member to the Board of Directors announces 2020 Foundation Board Officers

The Arc of Dutchess appoints new member to the Board of Directors announces 2020 Foundation Board Officers

The Arc of Dutchess is happy to announce the addition of Amanda Friedemann to the agency’s Board of Directors, along with the 2020 slate of officers of The Arc of Dutchess Foundation. James Mckenna Assistant Vice President of Marketing at Tompkins Mahopac Bank, has been named The Arc of Dutchess’ Foundation Board President. Malinda Pollack of Rhinebeck Bank will serve as Vice President, Lorraine Costello of Arlington Central School District will serve as Secretary, and Dan Gruner of Rose & Kiernan will serve as Treasurer.

Rec And Teen Club at the Arlington Ketcham Basketball Game

Rec And Teen Club at the Arlington Ketcham Basketball Game

Our rec club members are enjoying the game

On Wednesday, January 29 the Rec And Teen club travel to Arlington high school for a special pink out basketball game in a fundraiser for the Miles of Hope organization, as Arlington hosted the Roy C Ketcham Indians. They arrived at the end of the varsity girls basketball game in which the Lady Admirals defeated RCK 74-37. Then came the varsity boys game!  At the end, Ketcham  defeated Arlington  58-53. Congratulations Indians!


Varsity girls finishing up
The boys
A special game

Rec and Teen Club at the Harness Racing Museum

Rec and Teen Club at the Harness Racing Museum

On Sunday January 12th, The Rec & Teen Club traveled to the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of fame in Goshen New York to learn the history of Harness Racing. They learned about history in the Del Miller timeline exhibit. They even checked out special attractions. They played the auction challenge game, watched movies of harness racing, looking at The legendary Goshen historic track. And they got to ride on a 3D simulator. They had a great time!

Meadowlands entrance stone
Rec Club with entrance sign
Michael Rao With a statue of a Horse

ARC Of Dutchess at 2019 Holiday Formal

ARC Of Dutchess at 2019 Holiday Formal

Last night everyone from the Arc Of Dutchess celebrated the holiday formal with other agencies at the new venue for this year the Grandview in Poughkeepsie.  They danced through the night and they take pictures at the Photo Booth and they had a great time!!

Carrie HAS A PResent on top of her head
Charlotte and mark
KEnt road had fun
RYAN post AND MIkayla mina