CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of equality was alive Sunday in Cortlandt as The Preservation Company held its ninth annual “Continuing the dream” fundraising dinner to celebrate the life of the civil rights hero and nonviolent activist.
The event at Colonial Terrace in Cortlandt Manor, which included musical performances and an art auction, serves as the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Peekskill-based housing assistance organization. The Preservation Company works to increase and improve the supply of housing for low and moderate-income households. Its work contributes to community development in part through giving out home improvement and home ownership grants.
One of the night’s honorees was Charlie Scott, a Peekskill blues guitarist who died just before his 60th birthday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2011. On Sunday night, Scott’s mother Edith accepted the Memorial Legacy Award on his behalf, while John Ford of Ford Piano in Peekskill and his group of musicians, calling themselves "Friends of Charlie," played live in honor of their departed friend.
Peekskill sculptor Wilfredo Morel organized the night's silent auction that featured Martin Luther King Jr.-inspired art donated by local artists.
Elected officials present at the dinner included Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster and Assembly member Sandy Galef (D-Ossining), of the 95th District that includes both Peekskill and Cortlandt.
In her remarks, Galef said that, as a champion of nonviolence, King would have been supportive of the president’s newly proposed gun control legislation after the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook massacre, which includes universal background checks for gun buyers and limits on high-capacity clips.
The night’s awards were presented by The Honorable Alan Steiner, chairperson of the preservation board, Master of Ceremonies Rev. Jeannette Phillips, the center’s executive director, and Mistress of Ceremonies Kecia Palmer Cousins, Peekskill businesswoman and daughter-in-law of New York State Sen. and New York State Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers).
Preservation Company board members Estelle Jamison, Irene Jones and Norma White were recognized for 10 years of service to the organization, while board member Norman Haight was honored for five years of service. Frank Pugliese of Pugliese Contracting received a commendation for his work on Preservation Company home construction projects.