In celebration of February’s Black History Month, Senator Pete Harckham has honored an exceptional married couple, Tuesday Paige McDonald and Martin McDonald of Peekskill, Reverend Jeanette J. Phillips of Peekskill and recently retired Carmel Planning Board chairman, Harold Gary, for their exemplary contributions to their communities over many decades.
“Tuesday Paige McDonald, Martin McDonald, Reverend Jeannette Phillips and Harold Gary have each devoted their lives to improving their community,” said Senator Pete Harckham, 40th Senate District. “They are widely admired and respected for their exemplary service on behalf of others. I can’t think of more worthy individuals to honor in celebration of Black History Month."
Ms. McDonald is the Executive Director of the Peekskill Youth Bureau where she oversees programs designed to engage and help at risk youth, and works to develop policies for the betterment of all children’s social well-being. She served on the Peekskill School Board and was president for four years. She worked with Hudson River Healthcare to create educational and vocational youth programs, while mentoring middle and high school students. She also served on the Peekskill Housing Authority to create after school programs for students. Ms. McDonald is a member of the Zeta Phi sorority and the Director of Music and Worship at Mount Olivet Baptist Church.
Mr. McDonald is the Director and Founder of the Black Diamond Academic Success Program, designed to mentor boys of color to become high achieving students who are ready for life after high school. He was a founder of Project Earthquake, a mentoring program for African American youth. He helped create Men of Ubiquity, a group founded after the Million Man March, as well as the group Fathers In Support Together, and helped guide a mentoring program for boys called Rising Tide. Mr. McDonald also served as the president of the Peekskill Area NAACP and worked to ensure equal rights and opportunity for all.
Reverend Phillips is one of Hudson River Healthcare’s (HRHCare) founders and was instrumental in improving access to quality health care services in underserved communities across the Hudson Valley. In 1975, she launched the flagship health center in Peekskill — then known as the Peekskill Area Ambulatory Health Care Center — and served as its first outreach director and board chair. Forty-four years later, that single location in Peekskill has grown into Hudson River Healthcare, the largest network of community health centers in New York State providing services to over 225,000 people annually in the Hudson Valley, Long Island and all five boroughs. In addition to serving as the Executive Vice President of Community Development at HRHCare, Reverend Phillips is an Associate Minister at Park Street African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and is deeply involved in local community-based organizations that focus on youth development and education. In 2015, the health center in Peekskill, which she founded, was re-named in her honor to the Jeanette J. Phillips Health Center.
Mr. Gary served as chairman of the Carmel Town Planning Board for over three decades. He grew up in Virginia, served in World War II, then attended Howard University where he met his future wife, the late Dora Louise Giles, who hailed from Croton Falls. After they married, they moved to Putnam County where Mr. Gary worked as a carpenter and general contractor for his father-in-law for 37 years. After retiring from the building trades, he got a degree in education from SUNY New Paltz and started teaching at BOCES. Mr. Gary turned 90 this past fall.
Senator Harckham presented proclamations to Tuesday and Martin McDonald at the Peekskill NAACP meeting on Sunday. Reverend Phillips received a New York State Senate resolution on Wednesday, sponsored by Senators Metzger and Harckham. Mr. Gary, who is out of town due to family matters, will be presented with a proclamation at a later date.