Story by Lon Tytell
The Warwick Valley Rotary Club held an awards dinner recently at the Landmark Inn in Warwick. At the dinner, the club honored the contributions of Claire Gabelmann, who was named the Outstanding Citizen of the Year 2016-17. George McManus and George Arnott each received the Outstanding Community Service Award.
Stan Martin and Leo Kaytes, Sr., both former Warwick Rotary presidents, and co-chair of the award ceremony, resurrected the Warwick Citizen of the Year program, which was inaugurated in 1968 by the now defunct Warwick Jaycees.
“There are so many local residents who deserve recognition for making Warwick a quality place to live,” said Martin.
“These volunteers have demonstrated a commitment to community service over an extended period of time,” said Kaytes. “With so many outstanding nominations, our committee was having difficulty selecting one Citizen of the Year winner. So four years ago, we added the additional recognition award for outstanding community service to honor long term volunteerism to the Warwick community. We’re happy we did.”
Claire Gabelmann, who was named Warwick Citizen of the Year, has enriched the lives of economically disadvantaged children in the Warwick community. As chairperson of the Holiday Project for Children in Need, she coordinates with local citizens who sponsor or volunteer at the event held in December. She spends most of the year procuring clothing, toys, gifts and planning activities for this event which affords an opportunity for the children to shop for their families.
This is the third year that the Rotary has joined with the Warwick Lions Club to serve nearly 150 children and their families. Gabelmann worked this summer with the Mustard Seed Ministry, helping with transportation on various field trips for children to New York City, the Liberty Science Center, the movies and bowling. In addition, she has taught crafts and baking skills and organized the Mustard Seed Olympics, providing a complete program of activities. She has been an active member of Warwick in Bloom, the Warwick Valley Gardeners, and has assisted in fundraising events for St. Anthony Community Hospital.
“I enjoy doing my part and working side by side with others to make a difference. This is a caring and supportive community and I could not be more proud of being named Warwick Citizen of the Year,” said Gabelmann.
The awards ceremony also honored two citizens for their outstanding community service – George McManus and George Arnott.
George McManus served on the Warwick School Board for 15 years and is a Village of Warwick Trustee. As a member of the Warwick Lions Club, he is a former president, chair of the Warwick Labor Day Race, whose proceeds are designated for the Lions Quest program and high school scholarships, chair of the Ultamania Basketball game for several years, and participates in all of the Lions community projects throughout the year. McManus is a member of the Warwick VFW color guard. He served three years in the Navy, including 14 months in Vietnam.
“I was surprised when I was notified of being a recipient. There are so many people doing good things in our community that being picked is really an honor. Thank you to the Rotary for the award and the person who sent in the nomination,” said George McManus.
George Arnott grew up in Warwick, graduating from Warwick Valley High School. He earned the Boy Scout Eagle Award working on many projects. He spent four years in the U.S. Air Force. He joined the Warwick Police Force in 1966 and retired as a Sergeant after serving 37 years on the Warwick Village and later the Town Police Department. He created the DARE telethons for the PBA and helped coordinate the yearly Warwick Jaycees Bicycle Safety Program.
As chairman of the Warwick 9/11 Memorial Committee, he met with families, organized community fundraisers and donated his time to lead the construction of the monument honoring local citizens who lost their lives on 9/11. He presents a scholarship to seniors with the remaining funds at the Warwick High School Awards Ceremony. He is currently volunteering his service on the upcoming Village of Warwick Sesquicentennial celebration.
“My thanks to the Warwick Rotary for their great community work in Warwick and for setting the example of our youth, that what matters in life is bigger than ourselves,” said Arnott.
Rotarian and Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, who served as master of ceremonies for the event, presented a plaque to each of the recipients. They each also received certificates from State Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, State Senator John Bonacic, the Orange County Legislature and Warwick Village Mayor Michael Newhard.