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Provider Appreciation Awards Ceremony

Honored for investing in children

Jonathan Fickies

Provider Chapter Chair Tammie Miller (front left) and Vice Chair Carolyn Roman (front right) are beaming as they stand with honorees at the UFT’s Provider Appreciation Awards Ceremony.

DISTINCTION AWARDS

Union Legacy Award

George Altomare, UFT founder 

Partnership Awards

Jon Kest Award: Desean Burrus,
organizer, New York Communities
for Change

UFT Award:
Nellie Suarez, director,
Seamen’s Society for Children
and Families

PROVIDER APPRECIATION AWARDS

Exceptional Educator Awards

Tonya Garnett
Noreen Griffith
Melanie Howard
Lynda John

Union Advocacy Award

Miriam Cheta, Queens

Merit Awards

Michelle Burns
Dominique Jones
Desideria Matos
Tiarsha Pascal
Carlene Stone

Community Awards

Yanery Escorbores
Lisa Johnson

Family child-care provider Carlene Stone named Winnie’s Day Care in the Bronx in memory of her brother, Winston. “He encouraged me to open a day care because I have a way with children,” she said. 

Stone helps kids learn their letters, numbers and colors, and when it’s time to go home, she said, one boy’s parents “have to run around to catch him because he doesn’t want to leave.”

Stone, a Merit Award winner, was among the 12 providers recognized at the UFT’s fourth annual Provider Appreciation Awards Ceremony on May 12.

Little children “completely exhaust me, and that’s after 20 minutes. They’re very needy,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said. “I don’t know how you do what you do. I respect it immensely,” he told the 300 attendees at UFT headquarters in Manhattan. “You care for children so you can also care for your families. Thank you for the important service you offer our city.”

While a founding UFT member and union partners also received special awards, “this is a time to celebrate all of you,” Chapter Chair Tammie Miller told the providers. 

Dominique Jones’ first job was at her mother’s Queens day care, changing diapers, washing bottles and reading stories. Now, the Merit Award winner runs her own day care in Spanish Harlem. “I was always a single mom struggling to find day care so I could get to work,” she said. “I wanted to help the women in our community.”

Union Advocacy Award winner Miriam Cheta has operated Miriam’s Learning Center in South Richmond Hill, Queens, for 15 years. “I love to make a difference in children’s lives,” she said. “When you love what you do, you get a blessing at the same time.” She encourages other day care owners “to get involved, to become union members.”

Yanery Escorbores, a Community Award winner, has three group day care facilities in Brooklyn. “The community I serve is poor; I look for programs that support families and help them pay for child care,” said Escorbores. Then, she pushes parents to apply for aid and oversees the process through an outreach center. “I take them by the hand and work with them,” she said.

Exceptional Educator honoree Noreen Griffith started Mrs. G’s Christian Day Nursery 11 years ago to be home for her teenage daughter and to combat the violence in her Canarsie, Brooklyn, neighborhood. “I wanted to invest in children,” Griffith said. “I thought if I could teach them Christian values it might help.” 

Being a provider is the most rewarding job she’s ever had. “I’m strong on discipline,” Griffith said, “but also strong on loving them, embracing them and letting them know they’re special.”

See more photos in the gallery »

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