2022 Dr. Harold Keltz Distinguished Public Health Service Award Winner: Petula Griffith

Petula Griffith is an innovative foot care nurse and entrepreneur who lives and works in White Plains and owns the firstPetulaGriffith registered nurse-run stand-alone foot care clinic in Westchester, where she provides preventive foot care.

Throughout the pandemic, Ms. Griffith donated her skills and expertise to help vulnerable populations. She reached out to a local women’s shelter and offered foot care, socks and moisturizers. At the Slater Center, she worked alongside Dr. Anthony R. Iorio, associate professor and chair of the Department of Community Health and Medicine at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, and professor in the Department of Medicine, to provide foot screenings. At her White Plains office, Ms. Griffith provided follow-up care to seniors for their neglected nails and skin, along with referrals for socks, shoes and appropriate medical attention. For patients with mobility issues, she met them at their apartment building. She initiated discussions among seniors to increase their awareness of preventing injury and infection with appropriate nail and skin care.

Ms. Griffith also mentored senior nursing students from Pace University in Pleasantville. These students helped her provide PCR testing to parishioners at Calvary Baptist Church in White Plains. She helps educate the public, particularly on foot and skin care issues that relate to diabetes, by participating in videos and podcasts.

2022 Dr. Harold Keltz Distinguished Public Health Service Award Winner Westchester Library System for Westchester Breathes

The Westchester Library System was selected for this honor for its Westchester Breathes initiative, which since the start of elena falconethe pandemic, has provided free and easily accessible online workshops  to the public and vulnerable populations using Breath, Body and Mind, an evidence-based program that distills ancient breath practices, mindfulness and movement techniques into a series of neural exercise to reduce toxic stress and trauma. Breath, Body and Mind has demonstrated it can reduce anxiety, alleviate depression, reduce traumatic stress, manage chronic pain and increase overall well-being and immune functioning. It has been described as a brain-based behavioral health intervention and was developed by two psychiatrists who are both university professors.

To increase capacity for this popular health and wellness program among Westchester libraries, Elena Falcone, Westchester Breathes’ founder and WLS outreach director, became certified as a senior level instructor and promoted and co-facilitated Zoom teacher trainings and developed instructional materials.

The Westchester Library System shared Westchester Breathes with adults, youth, young adults, people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their providers, seniors, formerly incarcerated adults and adults on probation. 


 2022 J.R. Tesone Youth Public Health Service Award Winner: Jacob Feldman

Jacob Feldman, is a caring, kind and compassionate member of the President’s Junior Leadership Council at Northern Westchester Hospital, a student Jacob Feldmangroup committed to improving the health, safety and well-being of youth in northern Westchester. Now a junior at Fox Lane High School, Jacob stood out for the quality and quantity of his involvement. He demonstrated passion for healthcare and for helping others.

By helping to recruit more than 180 applications and to select 30 passionate new PJLC members from a diverse group of students, Jacob supported Youth Mental Health and fought social isolation among young people. He also was involved in helping to educate peers about how to combat loneliness and address the importance of connecting to others through a project called “Cultivate Community.”

Jacob helped Northern Westchester Hospital’s Community Health team develop a School Wellness Week Kit with ideas and instructions for activities for K-12 students.  He dedicated a lot of time to help provide health education and wellness information at local food pantries, engaging children in wellness games as their parents waited for their food pantry pick-up. He also volunteered with Feeding Westchester’s mobile food pantry at the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester, regardless of how cold the weather was.

Jacob supported Northern Westchester Hospital’s vaccine clinics by supporting families through the registration, vaccinaton and observation process. He arrived at the point-of-distribution site in a rubber chicken hat, and was a source of glee for the children. Jacob’s goofy hat, his good humor and gentle manner helped calm the children’s fears, and he handed out crayons, coloring books, toys and Play-Doh to help keep young children entertained and relaxed while they waited for their COVID-19 vaccines.


2022 J.R. Tesone Youth Public Health Service Award Winner: YPIE Tech Squad

The YPIE Tech Squad is a dynamic group of Yonkers high school students organized by Yonkers Partners in Education. Comprised of 22 students, each was partnered with one or more senior citizens in May 2020 to share theirYPIE Tech Squad students are pictured left to right:  Juan Morales, Angelina Ramos, Zanii Gunther, Jenna Aviles, Swapna Chavara, and Nicholas Marji expertise as digital natives with older Yonkers residents.

Over time, working remotely and patiently, these students taught the seniors how to make better use of their smart phones, ipads, computers, apps and Zoom to stay connected with friends and family during the pandemic. Students taught seniors tips and skills and basic use of technology, enabling them to join health and wellness programs and activities. They gave seniors step-by-step instructions on how to set up their printers, schedule zoom chats with relatives and navigate their devices.

Through their technology mentoring, the students and seniors became close and held a Friendsgiving together, where they played games. The students also became very involved in the Yonkers effort to sign homebound seniors up for COVID-19 vaccines. Through their persistence, patience and collaboration, they were able to arrange for 1,600 seniors to get vaccinated in their own homes.

The students who participated are: Ashley Acosta, Daniel Alex, Jaylene Anderson, Jenna Aviles, Patrick Canale, Swapna Chavara, Antonio Correia, Shemar Forbes, Zanii Gunther, Jaden Halevi, Nicholas Marji, Bridgette Moore, Juan Morales, Randy Moreta, Alessandra Ortega, Anyoly Ogando, Joselyn Pastrana, Angelina Ramos, Aman Shahzad, Amy Solis, Erik Tapia and Gabriel Veras.