Three local residents will receive the 2023 Human Rights Award from The Rye City Human Rights Commission at the City Council meeting on Wednesday evening, January 24, 2024.
The awards are made in two categories. The first award goes to an individual (18 years or older) or organization whose eﬀorts in 2023 made an important contribution to fostering human rights and/or relations in Rye City. The second award goes to individuals 18 years or younger who live in Rye or attend any of the schools in Rye City or Rye Neck whose eﬀorts also made an important contribution to fostering human rights and/or relations in Rye City. The commission received nominations from the community this past December.
2023 Rye Human Rights Award: Sue Wexler
The 2023 Rye Human Rights Award is being awarded to Sue Wexler. Sue is the Director of Community Outreach for Global Tree Global better known in our community as Bread of Life. Their mission is very simply to provide food, essential goods and support to those in need. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize in our community those that need these types of services. That’s where someone like Sue Wexler steps in. Wexler in a constant presence in and around Rye working with a variety of groups, organizations and individuals to help share what Bread of Life can oﬀer. She does so in a discreet yet impactful manner encouraging those in need to reach out without shame.
One of the achievements Bread of Life is most proud of this past year is their aid of seniors, especially low-income seniors, in our community. Wexler is continually in contact with this vulnerable population. Without her involvement and the service that Bread of Life provides, some seniors in our community would miss meals. Her motivation and compassion has made a diﬀerence in their lives.
2023 Rye Youth Human Rights Award
The 2023 Rye Youth Human Rights Award recognized co-recipients this year.
Rye Neck High School senior Clara Reis
The first individual in our youth category is Rye Neck School senior Clara Reis. A genuine concern and commitment to others is the essence of Reis. As a child, she did missionary work in Mexico which proved formative and set the foundation for her approach in life and in her community. At school, she is a member of several clubs that are focused on health, local and international issues. She was a member of the Key Club for several years and this year, Reis is president.
She was instrumental in organizing Rye Neck’s role in the Polar Plunge which raised $260,000 for Special Olympics. She also is a member of the HOSA Club, which is for future health professionals. She also participates in the International Committee, which is part of the Rye Neck PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) that focuses on helping families new to the US with language challenges, assisting with social and cultural challenges and acclimating to school environments. Locally, Reis volunteers with the Rye Child Care Foundation, an organization that assists families who are dealing with cancer and who are also experiencing financial crises.
Rye High School senior Paulina Tepan
The second 2023 Rye Youth Human Rights Award is awarded to Rye High School senior Paulina Tepan. Tepan is motivated by an intrinsic desire to foster change in how we can build a greater understanding of others. She is resilient in the face of adversity and uses this skill to continue to pursue her goal of making a diﬀerence.
Tepan is the president of the “Be The Change” Club. “Be The Change” is focused on making all students feel supported and welcomed at Rye High School. She has spent countless hours reaching out to students to better understand their backgrounds and experiences with special focus on those students in need. She creates positive messages of acceptance that are showcased in the hallways of Rye High. She is proactively involved in substantial projects in the club demonstrating her leadership and determination.
Tepan strives to make those around her feel safe and welcome using her talent as a baker to connect with others. She engages with students with disabilities by teaching them how to bake as a means of connection and communication. Paulina actively works to transform Rye High School into a more inclusive environment through her actions and her words, both figuratively and literally, on the walls of the school which will be her legacy.