By Rick Pezzullo
White Plains Grandpas United held a virtual Awards Breakfast Dec. 21 honoring three grandfathers for their community service.
The program was attended by Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Mayor Tom Roach, Senators Andrea Stewart Cousins and Shelley Mayer, County Board of Legislator Chairman Ben Boykin and other county and community leaders. Honored at the Breakfast were David Greene, Douglas Peterson and Ervan Caesar.
Grandpas United in White Plains has grown from a handful of grandfathers in 2018 to more than 80 grandfathers. The program has been instrumental in helping to establish two other municipal Grandpas United community partners which include Port Chester and Ossining.
The mission of Grandpas United is to utilize their talents, skills and experiences to improve the community. They aspire to serve as male role models and mentors to enhance the growth and development of our youth, while sharing their talents and experiences with one another, enabling them to maintain their dignity, self-respect and self-worth.
Grandpas United has received local, state and national recognition for its efforts helping children and youth to succeed. The program has received awards from Encore and Generations United.
Greene is a former 38-year Social Studies teacher and mentor at Adlai Stevenson High School in the Bronx, Woodlands High School in Greenburgh and Scarsdale High School. He coached football at all three schools and after retiring from teaching continued to coach at Ardsley High School for more than six years. He has two grandsons.
He also supervised and taught new teachers while working for Fordham University and was a member of WiSE Services, assisting high schools create individualized experiential learning programs to help students to learn the nonacademic life skills necessary to succeed in life after high school.
Greene has published two books, and his blogs have appeared in Education Weekly, US News and World Report, the Washington Post and the New York Times. He has also appeared on radio, local TV, and a TV documentary entitled, The Growing Movement Against Teach For America.
Caeser worked as a trucker for 42 years. As a trucker, he traveled mostly from New York to Boston, twice a day, for about 19-20 hours per day. While attending White Plains High School, he worked night shifts at the New York Hospital as an orderly at the psychiatric hospital. From the hospital, he moved to driving trucks. Supported from a trucking employer, he was able to attend Tractor Trailer Trade School in New Jersey. Now retired, he enjoys golf and travel.
In addition to Grandpas United, Caesar is a member of the Men’s Ministry at Bethel Baptist Church in White Plains
His main role is father to two daughters, Melissa and Monique, who he considers his best friends. He has a wonderful partner, Vincenza, who he has been with for more than 20 years. He has four grandchildren from his family, as well as eight grandchildren from Vincenza’s family.
Peterson is relatively new to White Plains. A retired engineer who saw an opportunity when he was 26 years old and started a consulting engineering firm. He built the company into a forerunner in its industry with an international book of clients.
Peterson and his family resided in a small town in Western Massachusetts. The YMCA was a vital part of the community, with its programming and its building on Main Street. Unfortunately, due to a long history of poor governance practices and strategic decisions, it was facing bankruptcy as Peterson got involved in its volunteer leadership. With the help from the YMCA of the USA, he led its very successful turnaround.
He retired and moved to White Plains six years ago with his wife Diane to help support their two youngest daughters with their young families. He assumed he would no longer be in a position to give back to the community. Fortunately, Grandpas United™ changed that. He finds his involvement very rewarding and is proud to be associated with such an effective diversionary program; one that is extremely good at helping kids navigate through their challenging life circumstances.
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/