Maritza Wilson Earns State Commendation Award

By Jennifer L. Warren

NEWBURGH – When you love your job and are passionate about what you do, why leave?
For 35 years, Maritza Wilson has been contentedly living that reality. First securing her position at the age of 14 through the Summer Youth Employment Program, one of several she now oversees, Wilson holds a special place in her heart for the catalyst that provided her with her first, and to this day, only job.

“For me, this program (Summer Youth Employment) is personal, getting my first job through it,” pointed out Wilson. “I know the program very well, having been a member of it, and it’s just a great way to pave the way for kids to develop very important life and job skills; we need to try to figure out a way we can have it year round, really helping kids get jobs and a start on their futures.”

It’s that level of commitment to the programs she supervises as well as the City of Newburgh community Wilson faithfully and diligently serves that recently got the attention of 39th District Assemblyman James Skoufis. Recognizing Wilson’s unwavering dedication to the children, youth and senior citizens she assists at the Newburgh Activity Center, Skoufis awarded her with a prestigious State Commendation Award, granted to individuals who have selflessly made lasting contributions to their community. Dubbed as one of the highest honors for citizens in New York State, the esteemed award was presented to Wilson in a special ceremony on November 19 at her 401 Washington Street work setting.

Maritza Wilson (left) poses for a photo with Lillie Howard (right) after being honored at the Newburgh Activity Center, with a prestigious State Commendation Award. Hudson Valley Press/CHUCK STEWART JR.
Maritza Wilson (left) poses for a photo with Lillie Howard (right) after being honored at the Newburgh Activity Center, with a prestigious State Commendation Award. Hudson Valley Press/CHUCK STEWART JR.

“I feel very humbled that they recognize the work I do in the community; honestly I just really love my job,” said Wilson, a native of the City of Newburgh, who lived in Puerto Rico for a part of her childhood, before returning to Newburgh at age 8 when she learned English in bilingual school classes. “I’m grateful I’ve been able to leave a lasting impression in the hearts of the community in the same way, they have left one in mine.”

Responsible for overseeing the office and staff for the Recreation Department as well as organizing and implementing community events for the City of Newburgh, Wilson is continually on the go, never bored and always brainstorming ways to make things better for her community. Her job has literally meshed with her family life; all three of her now adult children: Samuel (30), Mirna (25) and Matthew (21), whom she is very proud of, grew up, immersed in the plentiful Activities Center offerings and continue to volunteer, assisting their mother in any way they can. Whether it’s working on recreational programs for the youth (formally called The Youth Bureau), coming up with ideas for the Senior Center, or figuring out ways to secure grant monies for the Summer Youth Employment Program that played such a key role in shaping her work career, Wilson is always trying to improve things for those around her.

“My work gives me the opportunity to help some very important groups of people-the youth, children and seniors, in this community,” said Wilson. “I’m in a position where I can provide resources and programs for them to make the quality of their lives better.”

In 35 years going strong at the same position, Wilson has not only achieved longevity, but taken on constantly evolving roles, as her responsibilities have increased as well as changed with the times. The added work and dynamics of her responsibility have only resulted in more joy for her passion: helping others.

“I now use my Spanish a great deal, as there are many more Spanish-speaking people coming into the Center, and it’s extremely helpful and rewarding to be able to communicate with and connect them with the right resources,” said Wilson. “I’m also always doing things beyond my regular job description, outside of the norm sometimes, working with other local agencies as well, doing whatever it takes to make their lives better.”

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