2023 Grand Marshal
I'm very excited to be the Grand Marshal for the 2023 Eastchester Christopher Columbus Day parade. I wish to thank our Town Supervisor Tony Colavita, the Eastchester Town Board, and the Eastchester Bronxville Tuckahoe Columbus Day Committee for honoring me.
My extended family and I have lived in Tuckahoe and Eastchester our entire lives. This community means so much to us. When I was born, we lived in Tuckahoe surrounded by a very proud immigrant environment where everyone spoke Italian but aspired to learn English and integrate as soon as possible into American society.
My parents Salvatore Cermele, immigrated from Italy in 1958, and my mother Giuseppina (Pina) immigrated from Italy to Canada in 1960 since America stopped all immigration from Italy from 1960 to 1965. My parents met in their hometown of Sant' Elia a Pianisi, Campobasso, in the Molise region and married in Toronto on August 3, 1963. It was very important to them to have their children be born in America to realize the American dream. I am the oldest of four children. My siblings are Maria (Tony) Sayegh, Angela (Kenneth) Cermele and Carlo (Debra) Cermele.
lt is ironic to me that I'm speaking about my Italian culture. Since I was very little, we were discouraged from talking Italian in public because we didn't want people to think we were speaking about them. I learned English very quickly at 4-1/2 years old when I entered kindergarten. The nuns at Assumption School, now the town hall, visited our apartment and told us I wouldn't be able to continue school unless I learned English. The American speaking boys next door taught me English in two weeks. Needless to say, as my extended family learned English, we spoke less and less Italian to help each other in our assimilation to the American ways.
However, that's not to say we take our Italian heritage and culture for granted. I'd like to think we are very 'quietly proud' of being Italian and all that the Italian immigrants have provided to their adopted country, especially New York State. After all these years I cherish belonging to the Antonio Meucci Lodge #213 in White Plains where my uncle Mario Cermele is the president, and the Eastchester Italian American Citizens Club where Carmine Gizzo is the president. Our lodge and club members celebrate the opportunity to share the beauty of our Italian culture, our passion for life, and look forward to our next Italian/American citizen's achievements.
Our wonderful Italian/American community has taught me to embrace people of all different types of ethnic backgrounds. I'm very fortunate to be part of the Tuckahoe-Eastchester Lions Club as we celebrate our 99th year in town. Our motto is 'We Serve' as in helping other organizations reach their goals. At the request of Helen Keller, we started performing eye examinations for children and adults throughout the world to promote good eye care and distribute free prescription glasses to the underprivileged.
Another organization that I am proud to belong to is the Eastchester Knights of Columbus out of Immaculate Conception Church. This organization is vital in providing a Christian presence in the community and assisting the local churches with their various needs. Maintaining a strong Christian faith is very important to me. Having faith and moral guidance are attributes I wish to pass on to my children.
I met my beautiful wife Leslie at Blessed Sacrament High School in New Rochelle. At that time, it was an an-boy school. She was involved in our music and drama program. She invited me to her ninth-grade prom. After 11 years dating and 32 years married, were still together. We have three fantastic adult children, Joseph Salvatore is 30 and lives in Austin Texas, and we have twin girls, Amanda Rose and Alyssa Marie 25 who live in Manhattan but return often enough to keep us happy.
My longest affiliation with an Italian/American group is my college fraternity, Alpha Phi Delta (APD) at Manhattan College where I met some of my longest and dearest friends. Our fraternity was founded in Syracuse University in 1914.
Today, we continue to cherish our Italian culture nationwide as we welcome members of all ethnic backgrounds.
I received a degree in mechanical engineering at Manhattan College and worked as a construction manager for twenty years in NYC. I established my own construction company in 2002 but was enamored by our family business, an auto repair shop, since I was 9 years old. When my father decided to slow down and retire, I took over Sal's Auto Service located at the north end of Eastchester. My father and his brother, my uncle Matty (Matty's Auto Body), combined their talents, Cermele Brothers, in October of 1974. I worked there every weekend and day off from school or my engineering job until I took it over in October of 2003. Today, my partner and brother, Carlo and I continue to operate Sal's Auto Service.
Carlo and I feel very fortunate to have a family business in this town. Staying engaged in the community is a priority for us. We help the Community Fund and the Eastchester Volunteer Ambulance Corporation by prioritizing the servicing of their ambulances and medic trucks. Cermele Brothers donated to the building of their present facility on Main Street. We help repair the vehicles of smaller, less known organizations as well.
Besides volunteering for ten years on the Eastchester Planning Board from 2003 to 2013, I also helped coach youth sports in the Eastchester Youth Soccer program for my son and daughter's teams, the Eastchester Little League Baseball program with my son, and the Eastchester Little League Softball program with my daughters.
In 2018, Leslie and I were one of a few founding members to start a community group aimed at bringing awareness and resources to combat drug and alcohol dependency, suicide prevention, social media bullying and mental illness, called The Care Coalition. Today, with the help of eager, young members, we are a 501- 3c charitable organization. We are so proud to have been asked by the Eastchester School Board of Education to help educate our middle and high school students of these issues starting this school year.
And so, on this Columbus Day everyone is Italian, and in this wonderful town we celebrate our Italian heritage and seek to extend our beautiful culture to future generations.
As our Antonio Meucci Lodge President, Mario Cermele, always says in closing,
2023 Michael Provenzale Community Service Award
Born and raised in Eastchester and as owner of Merone Landscaping Inc. dba Merone Sports Fields Lenny has dedicated countless hours expanding his knowledge on organic lawn care practices and sports field management and has successfully blended the two to run his business to meet the needs of those who wish to steward a healthy environment and to those countless kids who just want to get out there and play ball.
Lenny and his wife Veronica of 30 years have three boys who went through the Eastchester school system and ELL,TEB and EYS programs- all of whom help with the company and with whose support makes it possible for Lenny to commit the hours he does to our town.
His love for baseball and his desire for Eastchester to have some of the best playing fields around gives him his drive to always help when needed. He volunteers countless hours prepping the fields for tournaments, summer camps and year round baseball. He’s always willing to help out when needed and to help teach those willing to learn the art of baseball field maintenance.
Lenny is a current member of the Sports Field Management Association and Eastchester Environmental Committee and has been awarded the Green Medallion award. He has been recognized by Eastchester Sports Club for his service to the fields and has received a lifetime of service award from ELL. Lenny has dedicated his time, energy and love for baseball to give back to a town he loves and takes great pride in.
To receive the 2023 Michael Provenzale memorial award is truly humbling. Mike was such a well respected member of this community who gave so much of his time and service. My family and I are greatly honored.
2023 David R. DiRubba Community Service Award
Danielle LeStrange, MSN, MBA, RN, FACHE, is the Director of Critical Care Services at New York Presbyterian Westchester Hospital. Danielle received her MSN from Hunter College of the City University of New York, and her MBA from Iona University. She is currently a DNP scholar in the Population Health Track at Quinnipiac University.
Danielle is passionate about community health. In her current role, she is privileged to serve the community she resides in. She participates in many outreach programs and contributes a monthly wellness column to the local community magazine. She also serves on the Quality Committee for EVAC. Danielle and her husband, Walter, have lived in Eastchester for over 30 years. All 5 of their children are graduates of EHS, and both of their granddaughters currently attend Eastchester schools.