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Local Teens Raise $1,600 for Orangetown Youth Programs

The Orangetown Police Department may be able to bring back the Youth Police Academy due in part to the efforts of the teen-organized George Bergerman Youth Activities Fund

Albertus Magnus student Alyson Benoit, 16, of Orangetown reported on the progress of the George Bergerman Youth Activities Fund at the Orangetown Council meeting Thursday.

Benoit and Chris Yannazzone, 17, of Sparkill organized the fund to raise money in the hopes of bringing back the Orangetown Youth Police Academy, which had been part of budget cuts for 2012.

"Our mission is to raise awareness of the need of funds and to raise funds so programs can continue for the young people of Orangetown," Benoit said.

The George Bergerman Youth Activities Fund, named for Benoit's grandfather, the former NYS Supreme Court Judge, has raised $1,600 to date. Benoit and the other teens used the local media to spread the word.

"Your grandfather would be very proud of you," Orangetown Councilman Denis Troy told Benoit.

"These individuals have rolled up their sleeves and raised over $1,600," said Orangetown Lt. Don Butterworth, the department's liaison with the George Bergerman Youth Activities Fund.

Though they still have a long way to go to reach the goal of $20,000, the group has already made an impact. Butterworth proposed bringing back the Youth Police Academy using the money raised so far and funds available within the Orangetown Police Department budget.

"Nobody wants this program to go away," Butterworth said. "We want it to work. We have a commitment to it as the town board does. I believe we can do this without any further money taken out of other budgets."

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Butterworth said the travel would have to be taken out of the program and it might be shortened to seven or eight days.

"I think that's a very reasonable proposal," Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart said.

"We are trying to reinvent this," Orangetown Police Chief Kevin Nulty said. "I thank Lt. Butterworth and Alyson Benoit."

Those who have donated so far include:

They have also received gifts in kind from Fordham Pizza and Central Military Surplus.

"We have been guided by Lt. Butterworth and (Orangtown Town Clerk) Charlotte Madigan, two amazing and tireless professionals who have taking their time volunteering to teach and mentor us."

Benoit said the group has also worked with Kenyatta Jones Arrietta of Re/Max Homes & Estates & District Manager of Arbonne International and Chris Smith of Blue Streak Strategies. Smith donated two Yankee game tickets which were auctioned off at a Rotary Club of Pearl River meeting for $225, then donated back to the fund. 

"We are also extremely grateful to Chief Nulty and Captain (Robert) Zimmerman for their unwavering support of the fund and their commitment to
working with us to keep the programs for the youth of Orangetown," Benoit said. 

Contributions can be made out to George Bergerman Youth Activities Fund and mailed to: 

26 Orangeburg Road, Orangeburg, NY 10962 ATTENTION: LT. BUTTERWORTH.

Jim April 27, 2012 at 06:55 PM
How sad is it that we have to have children fund raise for their programs when the Town of Orangetown will run a golf course in a huge deficit for adults. I wonder where the priorities are?
Kaitlyn April 27, 2012 at 08:33 PM
The three summers that I spent in the police academy resulted in amazing memories and lifelong friends. I plan on taking the NYPD exam this coming summer, which is a direct result of the Police Academy. Its makes me so sad to think that future generations might not be able to enjoy this amazing program. A big hats off to the teenagers spearheading the fundraising.

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