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White Plains High Seniors Receive 'Youth Of The Year' Awards

White Plains Mayor Tom Roach presented Brian Gomez and Jackie Rayo with "Youth of the Year" awards at Monday night's meeting of the Common Council.
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach presented Brian Gomez and Jackie Rayo with "Youth of the Year" awards at Monday night's meeting of the Common Council. Photo Credit: Provided

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Mayor Tom Roach presented two "youth of the year" awards at Monday night's Common Council meeting.

This year's recipients are White Plains High School seniors Brian Gomez and Jacqueline Rayo.

Gomez is an outstanding young man who is driven to excellence, according to his nomination.

Rayo, also known as Jackie, "is ambitious to help change the world we live in," according to her nomination.

"Brian came into my office at White Plains High School as a sophomore looking for employment and some community service projects," Janet Spencer, a youth service aide, said. "He has been involved ever since."

Brian’s outgoing and positive nature is contagious no matter where he goes, Spencer added.

Since his first employment opportunity at the White Plains Youth Bureau, Gomez has received numerous other jobs through the Job Bank because of his extremely strong work ethic. He is currently working after school for AXA Equitable.

Gomez also has immersed himself in numerous other programs there including: Great Potential, Mayor’s Youth Council and White Plains Community Youth Court.

Gomez has helped with the Thanksgiving Food Drive at the Youth Bureau for several years, Spencer added.

He is a member of White Plains High School's Midnight Run Club, president of the WPHS General Organization and volunteers in the high school library.

Gomez has more than 1,200 hours of community service. Last February, he traveled abroad to complete various service projects such as distributing school supplies to children in Costa Rica.

Jackie Rayo has traveled to Albany for youth summits and leadership conferences. She feels strongly about having a voice and making sure people are being heard, according to Spencer.

She has been involved with the White Plains Youth Bureau for many years through its Youth Employment program, Great Potential, as well as Mayor’s Youth Council.

One of Rayo’s summer jobs involved working with senior citizens at the Community Center.

"This was a highlight of Jackie’s employment history because she enjoyed being around the seniors and they made her smile,'' Spencer said.

Rayo’s numerous community service projects included helping the city Recreation and Parks Department coach fifth- and sixth-grade soccer as well as working with the elderly and pre-school children.

Rayo loved working with senior citizens so much that she volunteered at the Kensington Assisted Living Residence. There, she worked with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease -- helping them with meals, music, arts and crafts.

She also volunteered at the John A. Coleman School which serves pre-school children with disabilities.

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