Matthew Ricker of New Rochelle

Volunteer New York! Honors Winners of the 44th Annual Volunteer Spirit Awards Breakfast Benefit, Presented by Regeneron

On April 12th, 2024, Volunteer New York! honored six Westchester volunteers with Volunteer Spirit Awards by category and presented one Legacy Award during the 44th annual Volunteer Spirit Awards Breakfast Benefit, presented by Regeneron. Over 600 guests gathered at the Westchester Marriot to recognize the impactful work of these volunteers. 

“Being able to spotlight these incredible changemakers was an honor and a reminder that volunteerism is essential in making our communities more vibrant, resilient, and equitable,” said Jeanette Gisbert, Executive Director of Volunteer New York!. “We are extremely grateful to all of the event sponsors, our corporate champions, and the local community members who came out to support our mission and this year’s winners.”

“At Regeneron, ‘Doing Well by Doing Good’ is not just a motto but the essence of our commitment to help build more resilient communities—socially, economically and environmentally,” said Christina Chan, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs at Regeneron. “In concert with Volunteer! New York, and as Presenting and Social Advocacy Award sponsor, we are honored to recognize and celebrate the 2024 Volunteer Spirit Awards’ honorees, whose collaborative spirit and compassion are key to building a more sustainable Westchester.”

This annual celebration is the largest volunteer recognition event in the Lower Hudson Valley. For nearly 45 years, Volunteer New York! has recognized a distinguished group of volunteers who have done extraordinary work in our region. Volunteers are nominated in six categories, and an independent panel of judges selects one person or group for each category. The final award category, the Legacy Award, goes to a business or civic leader who has made a personal and professional commitment to volunteerism, has significantly supported the values and mission of Volunteer New York!, and who encourages deep employee and community engagement in service.   

As Volunteer New York! approaches its 75th year and gears up for the 45th anniversary of the Volunteer Spirit Awards in 2025, the organization is looking forward to celebrating these major milestones and continuing their mission with even greater vigor. 

“We invite the community to join us in this upcoming landmark year as volunteers, supporters, and changemakers,” said Jeanette Gisbert, Executive Director at Volunteer New York!. “Whether you’ve supported us for decades or are new to our community, your engagement is crucial to sustaining and expanding our impact. Together, we can continue making our community more vibrant, resilient, and equitable.”

This 44th Annual Volunteer Spirit Awards was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Volunteer Spirit Awards event sponsors, including Brown & Brown, Carla Rojas, Con Edison, The Gallin Family, Hudson Valley Credit Union, Mercy University, New York Life, Nelson Services Systems, PCSB Community Foundation, PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP, Regeneron, Retirement Transformed, The Seiden Family, Webster Bank, WMCHealth, and Zaro Family Bakery. 



Education & Literacy Award
Jim Isenberg of White Plains
for volunteer action with Grandpas United

Going Green Award
Michael Penziner of Rye
for volunteer action with Friends of Rye Nature Center

Quality of Life Award
Laura Romeo Sobel of Dobbs Ferry
for volunteer action with Dance For A Difference

Resiliency Award
Matthew Ricker of New Rochelle
for volunteer action with New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce

Social Advocacy Award
Colleen Brathwaite of Greenburgh
for volunteer action with Westchester Women’s Agenda

Youth Leadership Award
Mouhamadou Alou of Mount Vernon
for volunteer action with Mount Vernon High School

Legacy Award
Dr. Valerie Mason Cunningham of Chappaqua