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White Plains' Slater Center Director Rewarded

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Thomas H. Slater Center Executive Director Heather Miller will be rewarded for her commitment to White Plains' youth at the 29th annual awards breakfast for the regional NAACP youth coalition Saturday.

The NAACP Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics ( ACT-SO) , an enrichment program for talented high schoolers of African descent, chose to honor Miller and two others.

Julius Ford, who chaired the fundraising event, said the scholastic, recreational and community service events Miller runs at the Slater Center parallel the mission of ACT-SO.

"Heather has done an outstanding job. She’s well respected," said Ford. "She was a prime candidate and fortunately, was selected to be honored."

Miller said she was "very, very excited" about the award.

"When I first got the call I was saying, 'Me?'" she said.

In 1981, Miller started working as a secretary at the Slater Center, which was created on city property to serve the Winbrook Public Housing community and the surrounding residents in 1979. She never left, even while taking full-time jobs at the local YWCA and Westhab.

"I’ve always kept part-time employment there," she said. "From day one, when I walked in here, I fell in love with the place, the people, the programs, the city of White Plains."

Miller, a Mount Vernon resident, became the Slater Center's executive director in 2005, overseeing the Family Service of Westchester's Head Start, youth bureau-run after-school programs, a food pantry, drum core groups, a "man to man" mentoring program, Step Up for girls, the Next Generation for boys, dance fitness classes, narcotics anonymous, a gardening project and other initiatives.

"In simple words, we say what we do is we reach and we serve, meaning that we reach out to the community and we provide them with services," said Miller, who was a teacher in Jamaica before moving to New York. "My passion is people in general, however, my deepest passion is children."

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