By Jennifer L. Warren
CORNWALL – The historic place, inaugural occasion and awe-inspiring people being honored Saturday afternoon all carried deep, symbolic and moving significance for New York State Assemblyman, Christopher Eachus.
“This is the spot where I started my teaching career 40 years ago,” said Eachus, who presides over the 99th District, as he surveyed the parameters of New York Military Academy’s Davis Chapel. “I’m so honored to have the opportunity to be here today to recognize these women for their dedication, hard work and love they have for their community.”
Those five females made up the first esteemed class of Extraordinary Women of the 99th Assembly District. Their impressive and selfless community contributions, along with uplifting, inspiring presences were celebrated at a special Awards Ceremony, the first official event led by Eachus in his new role as Assemblyman. In addition to honoring Women’s History Month and the priceless role of this gender on the local level, the gathering further emphasized the positive transformative impact of community service.
“It is important we honor these women in our communities who dedicate themselves to helping others and making our neighborhoods a better place to call home,” explained Eachus, who indicated the large pool of candidates who were in the running.
“One of those female trailblazers selected was lifelong Orange County resident, Lisa VanNostrand, described as a devoted mother, hardworking professional and generous volunteer, who thrived in an over three decade career in facilities management at Sharp Electronics and Ascena Retail as well as diligently honed her professional development while mentoring others in Personal Finance Counseling. All the while, VanNostrand maintained a heartfelt passion for volunteering, developing a community-driven resume including; candy striper at Castle Point, work at Middlehope Fire Department and a long-time supporter of the veterans at New Windsor America Post 1796, where she serves as Auxiliary President.
“Thank you for acknowledging women,” said a visibly touched VanNostrand. “My truth is community made me stronger.” Upon accepting the recognition, which included an official proclamation, VanNostrand, surrounded by friends and family, cited a quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
The other recipient who was on hand to accept her honor was Donna Jean Anderson of Stony Point. Described by Eachus as “A true champion of community,” Anderson aspires to not allowing those in need to go without. Her “heart of gold” has resulted in diligent efforts aimed at food drives for North Rockland Food Pantry, toy drives as well as an annual bake sale, supporting the Stony Point Seals and their Polar Plunge which this past winter raised over $1000 helping assist children and families in medical need.
“I’m very humbled and grateful for this recognition today,” said Anderson, who pre-Covid, in conjunction with restaurants and community members, helped cook meals and desserts for the Rockland Warming Center for the Homeless as well as has adopted several families over the years. “I do what I do not for the awards or attention, but because I truly want to inspire others to be just as kind and just do something nice for someone.”
Three other extraordinary community members earned recognition as well as proclamations but were unable to attend the ceremony. LisaMarie Smith-Hintze of Highland Mills, a lifelong advocate of environmentalism, volunteering and veteran activism, who co-organizes the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial Day Welcome Home Ceremony with over 200 veterans, involves her daughter, Madison, and boyfriend, Anthony Spagna, with volunteer pursuits in the church, with animals and veterans, hoping to inspire many others to give back. A member of We Are Woodbury as well as co-chair of the Woodbury Climate Smart Community Task Force, Smith-Hintze’s civic pride is described as “boundless” with “an extraordinary determination to improve the lives of all in her community.”
Stony Point’s Christine Silverstein, after learning of a medical challenge endured by a friend, became the Founder of United Women of Rockland, assisting women struggling with devastating health diagnoses with rides to appointments, meals and paying bills, volunteers her time on many Boards as well as is a frequent helper at her children’s schools. Eachus said of Silverstein, “When she sees there is a need for something, she finds a way to get it done, and lets nothing stand in her way. Silverstein’s son, Connor, was on hand to offer words of gratitude on his mother’s behalf and accept the proclamation.
Rounding out the honorees was Carlys Romano Lemler of Fort Montgomery. A West Point graduate with a Juris Doctorate from Rutgers, Romano Lemler was described by Eachus as “an educationally amazing woman.” Devoted to serving the nation in the Army and community wherever she lives, Romano Lemler proudly carried out the critical responsibilities of her roles as a Military Intelligence and Air Defense Artillery Officer during Global War on Terror and Operation Enduring Freedom and also devotes time to leadership roles, working to attain resources and support for other military families as well as serves as a role model, coaching youth sports.
“We are very grateful to her,” said Eachus about Romano Lemler’s contributions.
That deep appreciation resonated with the enduring imprints all five women have and continue to make on the lives of so many, a point Eachus elaborated upon.
“When we walk throughout our community, attend events, send our children to school- we know it may be likely one of these five remarkable women had an impact on shaping our daily lives for the better.”