Three Rye seniors were among a group of 49 across Westchester honored (virtually!) at the 38th Annual Senior Citizens Hall of Fame Awards this past Friday. Harvey Geller, Cheryl Geller and Sarah Stephanie Iachetta were honored for their achievements.
Rye guy and County boss George Latimer said: “It is my honor to commend this active group of Westchester County residents, and induct them into our Senior Citizens Hall of Fame for their dedication and commitment to our communities. This longstanding tradition is a simple way for us to say thank you.”
Meet Harvey Geller, 76, Cheryl Geller, 76
The Gellars are residents of Milton Road and are one of only two couples being recognized by the County this year. The two were nominated by State Senator Shelley Mayer. Both are retired.
During the late 60’s Harvey worked with young men to further their education, helping many of them get into college and develop the skills to stay there. He worked with African-American students from the Newark area, who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to go to Colgate, to do so on scholarship. He was a year out of college and did this in his spare time while embarking on his successful career in employee benefits. By the 1990s Harvey was chair of the alumni board at Colgate University. He mentored students, and was instrumental in advancing the university’s diversity. He has worked with SCORE of Westchester, a business mentorship program, sits as the president of his synagogue, president of his co-op board and spends spare time helping adults learn to read and speak English.
Both Cheryl and Harvey worked tirelessly in support of the Harrison public schools. While their children were young, Cheryl held leadership positions in the PTA for all the 18 years her children were in the school system, and volunteered at every school event, putting her costuming skills to use by making the costumes for all the school plays. Most importantly, Harvey and Cheryl worked tirelessly with other parents to help the Harrison public schools serve all children in the district. They were incredibly successful in electing candidates to the school board who were committed to the public schools.
Both Cheryl and Harvey were active in Meals on Wheels in the Westchester area. Harvey serves as the president of his synagogue and president of his COOP board. Cheryl served as president of the PTA and is on the board of NY for Biden-Harris.
Harvey graduated from Colgate University. Cheryl and Harvey met on a blind date in the early 70s and married shortly afterwards, where they lived in NYC. In August of 1978, they moved to Westchester with their two children, Noah and Kate. They have lived in Westchester since. Harvey and Cheryl’s children note that they feel strongly that their parents instilled a sense of empathy and duty to help those that haven’t had the opportunities they have had. They feel fortunate that their parents taught them to have empathy and compassion for everyone, no matter gender, race or financial status. As their daughter noted, “They inspire me every day and I feel so lucky to have them as parents.”
Meet Sarah Stephanie Iachetta, 82
Iachetta lives in Water’s Edge and was nominated by Michael Iachettaa.
She is retired from IBM and works as a senior aerobics instructor with the Rye YMCA. At IBM she was an administrator and prior to IBM worked as a speech therapist.
The nomination was made for her work as the former co-chair of Contemplative Outreach of Westchester. She is the author of the international best-seller “Daily Reader for Contemplative Living,” a compilation of the best biblical quotations and sermons selected from the works of Rev. Thomas Keating, one of the founders of the international and ecumenical contemplative prayer movement. The book is used at meetings of Contemplative Outreach worldwide as well as at Westchester meetings and it is the “Bible” of motivational and upbeat ways to start the day globally.
Iachetta serves as a senior aerobics instructor for the Rye YMCA, now using ZOOM classes during the virus shutdown. She has also taught at YMCAs from White Plains to New Rochelle to Rye’s Wainwright House, America’s largest ongoing holistic healing center. She has also taught Zumba, Enhanced Fitness and Silver Sneakers (both for active senior adults aged 55-plus) and LIVESTRONG (for cancer survivors) for the YMCAs.
As an administrator for IBM, she won a $40,000 cash award for innovative thinking. She served as a speech therapist at Ursuline Academy in the Bronx as well as in the Rockland County School System. She tutored needy students at Iona College, while raising the couple’s four children, supporting her husband and being a parishioner, communicant and donor to Rye’s Church of the Resurrection.
Stephanie is a liberal arts graduate of The College of New Rochelle (with an emphasis on speech and communications) with a master’s degree from Iona in business. She has lived in Westchester for more than half-a-century and helped build the couple’s first home in Westchester from a 95 cent paperback: How to Buy and Build a House. That house in Scarsdale is where they raised our four children and lived for more than a quarter-of-a-century before moving to Rye in 2002.