Carmel, N.Y. – (3/30/12) – Over 30 women from throughout the Hudson Valley were honored at Senator Greg Ball’s (R, C – Patterson) Women of Distinction Hall of Fame. Among them was, the Founding Mothers of Hudson River HealthCare (HRHCare), Jeannette Phillips, Willie May Jackson, Mary Woods, and Peark Woods (posthumously) who were all recognized for their distinguished volunteer service and civic commitment as a Women of Distinction representing the City of Peekskill, New York.
Created and hosted by Senator Ball, The Women Of Distinction Hall of Fame was designed to honor outstanding women from throughout the 40th Senate District. Each city, town and village within the Senator’s district was asked to nominate a woman to be honored at the event. All the nominees were formally honored and inducted in the Hall of Fame at a district-wide ceremony at The Donald B. Smith, Putnam County Emergency Services Building in Carmel, NY.
Jeannette Phillips, the Executive Vice President of Hudson River HealthCare, was chosen by the African American women of the Peekskill community to lead their effort to start a community health center, pressing her to become pro tem chairwoman of the ad hoc committee. A pioneer in securing access to health care for disenfranchised populations, especially for at-risk, low-income women of color in northern Westchester County. Mrs. Phillips became the first Chair of the Board of Directors when the Health Center opened its doors in 1975. As the Associate Pastor of the Park St. A.M.E. Zion Church, Reverend Phillips’ commitment to her community is reflected in her outreach and ministry, her service on Boards and as a member of countless community-based organizations. Her contributions to her community, and especially to HRHCare, are immeasurable.
Willie Mae Jackson was one of the first people to speak about the need for affordable, accessible healthcare in Peekskill. At the first public meeting at the United Methodist Church, organized to discuss the need for a community health center, Ms. Jackson, as a mother of twelve, came forward and shared her experiences of four-hour round-trip bus rides, and the long waits, in order to get healthcare for herself and her children. In spite of the demands of raising a large family, Ms. Jackson found time to volunteer her services, and even prepared food and provided babysitting for important meetings during the Health Center’s early years. Ms. Jackson always viewed her work at the Health Center as “her joy.”
It was around a table in Mary Woods’ kitchen that the first community health center discussions were held. Mary went door to door, with a survey, which revealed that the need for affordable, accessible health care was the community’s number one priority, thus giving credence to the concerns that the women in Ms. Wood’s kitchen had voiced.
Pearl Woods spent many years serving the Health Center. She has been honored numerous times for her work in the community and has served on numerous community boards. Although illness has separated her from her work at the Health Center, Ms. Woods’ will always have a strong connection to Hudson River HealthCare.
“The woman who are here today were nominated by their communities, hand-picked because they chose a path of leadership, living a life of service before self,” said Senator Greg Ball. “Each one of these women here today is so well deserving of this honor because they have built a reputation of action, compassion and integrity a path that that stands as an example to all.”
For more information or to speak with Senator Ball, please contact Joe Bachmeier: (845) 200-9716.