BRIDGES’ annual In My Shoes fundraising gala, an evening dedicated to dispelling preconceived notions of disability, will be held May 4, 2023 at 6:00 PM at the Crowne Plaza Suffern-Mahwah in Suffern N.Y.
In My Shoes highlights personal accounts of people with disabilities, Veterans, and justice-involved persons in Rockland County and beyond who are willing to share their journeys, stories, and vision. This year’s event celebrates Entrepreneurship by recognizing three honorees that exemplify the mission of inclusivity and autonomy and who embed principles of entrepreneurship into their work.
The 2023 honorees are:
Rockland BOCES Hudson Valley P-TECH will receive the Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office Leadership Award, given to those in our community at the forefront of creating a world that values diversity and inclusion, embraces differences in others, and champions enhanced quality of life for people with disabilities, those involved with the justice system, and Veterans.
Rockland BOCES Hudson Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) is a four-to-six-year program (grades 9-14) focused on engaging students in hands-on, project-based learning to be successful in careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Students who successfully complete the program earn a high school diploma and an associate degree at no cost from Rockland Community College. P-TECH is designed for students who want something different from their high school career. Students of all academic achievement levels are encouraged to apply. Special effort is made to recruit and support students who are considered academically and/or economically at-risk; populations that historically lack access or success in higher education.
Edwin V. White Sr. will receive the Empowerment Award, given to those in our community who give others power to rise, power to become, and power to be.
Owner of Ed’s Sweets & Things, Mr. White, who is visually impaired, operates a concession stand and vending machine business in the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, NY, as part of the New York State Business Enterprise Program (BEP). BEP is a federal program that gives blind individuals opportunities to operate food service facilities in federal and state buildings. Mr. White represents the NYC Region of the Committee of Blind Vendors, works with the NYS Commission for the Blind to advise the State on program policies, and helps create new business opportunities for facility managers. He empowers people with blindness and other disabilities by hiring them to work for his businesses, encouraging them to become entrepreneurs in their own right, and advocates for blind individuals and their families. Mr. White serves as a board member of the Association for the Visually Impaired, the National Federation of the Blind, and BRIDGES.
M&T Bank will receive the Access Award, given to those in our community who break down barriers for people with disabilities, whether those barriers are physical, virtual, or practical.
M&T offers offer advice, guidance, expertise, and solutions across the entire financial spectrum. M&T’s Charitable Foundation is the philanthropic arm with a long history of community-focused banking. It strives to strengthen communities by providing support for a diverse range of civic, cultural, health, and human services organizations including BRIDGES through grants, employee volunteerism, and in-kind services.
When discussing In My Shoes, BRIDGES Executive Director, Carlos Martinez said: “In My Shoes is an event meant to highlight the contributions of people with and without disabilities that offer leadership, empowerment, and access in various ways to our community including people with disabilities. I am excited to be focusing on Entrepreneurship this year as it represents an area of freedom for so many who have achieved this level of self-employment. In line with our vision for a barrier-free society, we are recognizing people and organizations that have achieved and helped others achieve their goals of entrepreneurship and created a more accessible path to that end.”
Money raised at the event supports BRIDGES’ many programs, including In My Shoes which allows participants to spend the day experiencing the challenges presented in society when faced with any type of disability.
Thank you to the In My Shoes sponsors for their generous support: Lamb Insurance Services, Lia Toyota of Rockland, Anchor Trading, and Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office.