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In 2015, the Westchester County Board of Health introduced this award to honor the memory of J.R. Tesone, a fellow board member who had devoted his life to making summers safe and fun for hundreds of children. J.R. Tesone found his calling as a camp counselor and later became the dedicated owner of Breezemont Day Camp in Armonk. This award highlights the public health achievement of a young person in Westchester.

2017 J.R. Tesone Youth Public Health Service Award Winner: Alicia McMillan

Alicia McMillan winner of the J.R. Tesone Youth Public Health Service Award

Alicia McMillan, a 16-year-old from Rye, deeply felt the loss of a great-aunt to cancer. This led Alicia to volunteer for groups involved in caring for people with cancer. She started raising money for cancer-related causes, especially SOUL RYEDERS, a local charity that provides comfort to people with cancer.

When a neighbor was diagnosed with breast cancer, Alicia volunteered to help the family cope with treatment and its aftermath. By becoming a virtual big sister to her neighbor’s two young daughters, Alicia distracted them and provided emotional support throughout their mom’s battle with cancer. This experience led her to realize that while SOUL RYEDERS focused on caring for adults with cancer, it could also help children, by giving comforting care packages to children with cancer or who have a family member with cancer. To get things started, Alicia contributed her allowance and babysitting money and made the purchasing decisions for these Kids Care Kits. She tailored every kit to the age and interests of each child, and always included a handwritten note of encouragement.

To expand the reach of Kids Care Kits, Alicia has tapped her family’s extensive social networks. She has organized and sold tickets to an afternoon tea party, an evening cocktail party and even a karaoke night at a local bar. The kits have been so well received that SOUL RYEDERS has incorporated Alicia’s idea into the services they routinely offer to families. 
 
Alicia also participated in the Westchester Kids Triathlon, completed the 39-mile Avon Walk to End Breast Cancer as the youngest member of the SOUL RYDERS team and fundraised both for Gilda’s Club in White Plains and for the American Cancer Society. Caring for people with cancer has been a driving force for Alicia, who has raised more than $8,500 to help these causes.

 

2017 Distinguished Public Health Service Award: John Gilleo

John Gilleo is the winner of the 2017 Distinguished Public Health AwardJohn Gilleo, a lifelong Peekskill resident and community advocate, has long been a champion for public housing residents and the disenfranchised in his community. He has always reached out to help others around him. He volunteered at the Salvation Army’s lunch program, ran a community garden and was a member of the Peekskill Community Action Program. John also gave back to the affordable housing complexes where he has lived by serving as president of the Tenant’s Association for three of Peekskill’s affordable housing complexes, Dunbar Heights, Bohlmann Towers and Turnkey.

When John first discovered the HRHCare Community Health, Peekskill residents with few financial resources or with Medicaid insurance had little access to affordable primary care. A faithful client of HRHCare Community Health for more than 30 years, John joined its Board of Directors in 2008. Once ensconced on the Board, John’s experiences have informed his stewardship. He has served as an effective champion for comprehensive mental health care and an articulate advocate for expanding behavioral healthcare services.

As a board member, John has played an active and integral leadership role during a period of sustained grown. HRHCare Community Health has expanded its presence in Westchester to include three health centers, with two in Yonkers and one in Peekskill. Together, they serve more than 27,000 Westchester residents.

Last fall, John impressed the Joint Commission surveyors with his passionate advocacy when he was interviewed about his role and the Board’s as part of a reaccreditation review. His advocacy was an asset to HRHCare Community Health.  

John speaks on behalf of low and moderate income residents and the disenfranchised in Peekskill. He works with fellow board members and with the HRHCare Community Health administration to improve access to care for some of our most vulnerable residents.