On a particularly distressing night, while under attack, a young 25th Infantry Division American Soldier in Vietnam named Joseph Ruszala wondered if he would make it home alive, and if he did, what his life would become. Today, nearly 40 years later, that young soldier, who did survive and return to Western New York, is being honored and recognized for his remarkable community service.
Cindy Abbott Letro is committed to strengthening the fabric of her community through volunteerism, philanthropy and leadership. Lending her expertise developed over 25 years as a broadcast/marketing professional, Ms. Letro has helped a wide variety of not-for-profi t organizations in the Buff alo Niagara region raise millions of dollars.
Ms. Letro is past chair of the Buff alo Philharmonic Orchestra Society Board of Directors. She chaired its “Carnegie Hall Committee,” which raised funds for the Spring For Music Festival at Carnegie Hall, breaking Festival box office records and raising more than $510,000. As past chair of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Center fulfilled its dream of opening a new $35 million facility on the campus of Buff alo State College.
Captain Roger L. Woodworth enlisted in the Army in 1996, attending basic training in South Carolina and advanced individual training in Virginia. After serving three years as an enlisted Terrain Analyst on the 42nd Infantry Division Terrain Team, he attended Offi cers Candidate School. Commissioned in 1999, he began his career as an Army Offi cer with service in Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment, Engineer Brigade, 42nd Infantry Division as a Tactical Intelligence Officer.
Leslie Zemsky, is the Director of Special Events and Projects for the Larkin Group in the City of Buffalo. Known as the company’s “Director of Fun,” Ms. Zemsky plays an integral role in the success of the Larkin Development Group, considered one of the most prestigious companies based in Buffalo’s central business district.
Ms. Zemsky is also the owner of Rockspring Designs, LLC. Using her artistic skills, she produces artwork in the mediums of watercolor, gouache and oil and provides services for custom illustrating and design and layout features for cards, invitations and other special print products.
Matthew Mondoux, a 31-year old Niagara Falls resident, is an extraordinary man who sees himself as just an ordinary person. After the September 11th terrorist attacks, Matthew felt he wanted to give back to his country, and traded college to join the Army. Matthew was assigned to the New York State Army National Guard 27th Brigade and the 2/108th infantry out of Genesso. Eventually, he was sent overseas and fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan. For his exemplary service to our country, he received numerous services awards; including the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Armed Forces Reserved Medal and a Combat Action Badge for his time in Iraq.
Specialist Jaroslaw “Jerry” Kril served in Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, First Infantry Division of the United States Army. He fought in the Vietnam War. For his outstanding service, Jerry was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, and received three air medals for performing over one hundred helicopter air assaults. He received an Honorable Discharge in January 19, 1970.
Loraine O’Donnell has been a staple of the Buffalo arts community since she arrived for her first acting gig right out of a New York City drama school. The Boonville native has appeared on almost every stage in Western New York and has contributed to the theater as writer, director, costumer and singer.
Michael Lewandowski was born in Amherst on December 12, 1982. Michael spent his childhood in Cheektowaga and attended Kenmore West High School. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in February 2003 after receiving his Associates Degree from Erie Community College in Buffalo. He was sent to boot camp in May 2003 in Parris Island, South Carolina for 13 weeks. After completing his first year of studies at Hilbert College in Hamburg, he completed eight weeks of infantry school at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
He took off the Fall 2004 semester from school and traveled to southern California for infantry specialty school for two weeks and then traveled to North Carolina for Arabic Language Course for three weeks.
I would like to thank Harvey Austin Elementary School #97 and their students for participating in our Earth Day Poster Competition. In keeping with the theme of our Earth Day Celebration of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” We will celebrate and honor Earth Day this year by displaying your work on my website. Also, each participant will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation in the competition. Thank you and don’t forget to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!”