in Katonah held a 20th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday afternoon to thank the people who support it and celebrate with residents who are in need of their services.
The event commenced with a tree dedication to the center's visionary, Ralph C. Van Sicklin, who saved the building at 84 Bedford Road from demolition and led an army of volunteers who refurbished and transformed the neglected structure into the center it remains today.
Van Sicklin, a decorated Korean War veteran and past president of the Lions Club, died in Feb. 2011 and was previously recognized for his wory by the center as the honoree at the organization's 2009 gala benefit.
"It was called the King House back then," recalled Sherry Wolf, the center's executive director, before Saturday's ceremony. "It belonged to the Department of Environmental Protection and was slated for the wrecking ball. But Ralph got the DEP not to do it."
Van Sicklin, then owner of r, recruited people from the community who—along with volunteers from the humanitarian organization, AmeriCares—wore hard hats, gutted, then rebuilt the center to meet the community's needs.
"It was like a barn-raising," said Wolf. "We really are indebted to his efforts."
Van Sicklin, who was also a past president of the Lions Club, has surviving family still in the area: His daughter Deb Winter and her husband John are in Katonah; his son John—who now runs Van's Katonah—lives in Pound Ridge with his wife, Maria. Ralph Van Sicklin's wife, Anne, is in Long Boat Key, FL, his daughter Marianne Knight lives in Ontario; son James is in Massachusetts and Thomas is in Colorado.
Family members said they were proud of what their father had done for the center.
"My dad was a wonderful man," said Deb Winter. "He was very involved in the town of Katonah and he worked long and hard to get where he was in life."
In addition to the tree planting and dedication, volunteers gave tours of the facility while children played in a bounce castle and participated in an art contest.
Renowned puppeteer Peter Linz, entertained both children and adults alike at the event.
, the center has provided food pantry, clothing, shoes, linens, social services and to those in need. Two years ago their services expanded to nclude computer training, and career counseling. In partnership with the Sesame Workshop, they also offered nutrition sessions on stretching family budgets and making healthy food choices.
For more information on the center, visit their and website. Did you take pictures at the event? Upload them here!