Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and the town board recently presented 12 awards to outstanding residents at the 18th annual “Make a Difference” Awards Ceremony. The ceremony highlighted local heroes, including those who make a difference in the lives of others on an everyday basis, such as Kathryn Tuffy of Bellerose Village.
For Tuffy, helping children who are at-risk or in-need is not only her career; she has made it her life’s quest. “Kate”, as her friends and family call her, spends her days working with children and their families as a behavior analyst. When she is off the clock, Tuffy takes her passion for helping children above and beyond the call of duty.
While many families celebrate their own holiday traditions, the Tuffys have a very unique one. Every Christmas for the past 19 years, Tuffy, her husband Thomas, and their three children work to clear out the entire first floor of their home. That space is used to store thousands of holiday gifts that Tuffy collects from generous donors. Then, along with her husband, the couple anonymously distributes gifts, more than 3,000 of them, to local families in need.
In addition to this heralded holiday tradition, Tuffy co-founded “Beautiful Me,” a self-esteem program designed to educate young ladies by promoting appreciation for their genuine qualities, their self-awareness and the satisfaction found in helping others.
The program, based in Floral Park and Bellerose schools, was created in honor of Emma, Alyson and Katie Hance, who tragically lost their lives in an upstate car accident in 2009.
This successful youth program, sponsored by the Hance Foundation, has now been implemented into schools across the region.
What’s more, Tuffy is an active parishioner at Our Lady of Victory Church and participates in a variety of other activities and organizations.
Murray opened the ceremony with a tribute to late 9/11 responder, New York City Police Officer Francis T. Pitone of East Meadow, who died in August of 2013 from an illness related to his recovery work at Ground Zero and at the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island. Members of the Pitone family were special guests at Hempstead Town’s Make a Difference ceremony as Murray called the fallen officer an inspiration for the ceremony and for all people who strive to make a positive difference in our communities.
“The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in Hempstead Town,” Murray said. “I thank all of our honorees for making our township a better place.”
The honorees represent several communities across the Town of Hempstead. Hundreds of nominations were received for the town’s “Make a Difference” Award. Murray presented each honoree with a commemorative medal and certificate.