The HOPE for Youth Foundation supports charities primarily in the Hudson Valley that focus on assisting young people who are disabled, ill or disadvantaged.The foundation also supports youth programs which facilitate healthy growth whether it is academic, emotional or athletic, and sponsors college scholarships for worthy students.
The HOPE for Youth Foundation, Inc. (HFY) is a 501(c)(3) Not For Profit that was formed in 1986, through the efforts of Gary B. Pease, former owner of WHUD-FM/WLNA-AM and Jim Witt, former owner of Fleetweather Inc. At that time the Foundation’s vision was to benefit children by donating all proceeds from the sale of the Hudson Valley Long-Range Weather Calendars to local children’s charities.
The original calendars were in black and white and had limited distribution. Eventually Joe Deutsch joined the HFY and provided his professional colored photographs of the Hudson Valley to produce the beautiful calendars sold today. As the calendars gained recognition and sales increased, more and more Hudson Valley children who were ill, physically or mentally challenged, or disadvantaged were benefiting from the HFY.
In 1998, HFY established a scholarship program for graduating seniors who demonstrated outstanding service to school and community. Currently four scholarships are being offered to graduating seniors each June: one for either Panas or Lakeland High School, The Merrill and Ellen Roth Work Ethic Scholarship for Hendrick Hudson High School, The Joan Goldstein Memorial Scholarship for Peekskill High School and The Thomas J. Witt Memorial Scholarship for Putnam Valley High School.
Over the years with the expanding sale of calendars, the HFY also expanded by introducing fundraising activities and donation opportunities. Today the vision to benefit children remains the same, and we are proud that we have contributed close to three million dollars to worthy children’s organizations in the Hudson Valley.
100% of the funds we raise go to benefit the charities we support!
President, Founder & CEO
Jim taught science and chaired the Science Department at the Lakeland Schools. It was at Lakeland where he established and operated a nationally famous secondary school weather program. Jim was on the faculty of Columbia University and taught a weather program for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In addition, he was an instructor of meteorology at Western Connecticut State College and Pace University. From 1970 to 1996, Jim was co-owner and Vice President of Fleetweather, Inc. Jim has received multiple awards for distinguished community service. In 2011 he was “The Special Award” winner of the American Meteorological Society for leadership in teaching meteorology. He authored a number of publications in meteorology and pedagogy. Jim is an on-air radio personality who is currently broadcasting on WHUD and WKIT (Bangor, Maine). Jim frequently guest lectures on long and short range forecasting, speaks to students of all ages at local schools and continues his research on long range weather.
Ellen was raised on Long Island, spent her early adulthood in Manhattan and moved to Montrose in 1990 with her husband, Merrill. She has two children, Stephen and Nina, who are in their early 20s. She graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a BS in Nursing and worked as bone marrow transplant nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering. At night she went to NYU and earned her MBA. She then worked in Procter and Gamble’s Patient Care Division until her she had her children. While raising them she immersed herself in volunteering in her school and community, including serving as PTA President at three schools in the Hendrick Hudson District and volunteering at Phelps Hospice. In the past she has served on the board of the Montrose Child Care Center and currently at Temple Israel of Northern Westchester and the Hendrick Hudson Free Library. She also facilitates a support group for blood cancer patients and their families for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and manages her family’s real estate business.
Jenet, a Peekskill High School graduate is a former H.O.P.E. for Youth scholarship recipient. Mrs. Ferris is currently the marketing director for Greater Hudson Bank, a true community-minded bank. Most recently, she worked in Hudson Valley Hospital Center’s marketing department. Prior to that, she worked in the events and catering department for the St. Regis New York. She also supported the travel public relations team for the Jamaica Tourist Board account while working for Ruder Finn public relations agency. Mrs. Ferris earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She resides in Peekskill with her husband, Nicholas.
Roger was former president and treasurer of The Appraisers Association of America, the largest non-profit appraisal organization in America. He was also the former owner and President of the New York Centaurs – professional soccer team in the A-League. He was previously a member of the board of directors of at St. Christopher’s Inn – a drug and alcohol rehab facility in Garrison.
Cliff, a native Vermonter, has resided with his wife of 47 years, Diana, in Cortlandt Manor since 1967. They have three adult sons, David, Eric, and Seth. After graduating from Hamilton College with a BA in history, Cliff received a Master of Arts in teaching degree from the University of Vermont. Later he was involved in a doctoral program in Educational Administration at New York University.
Cliff has been an educator his entire life, starting in Smithtown High School on Long Island, moving to Mt. Vernon High School and then spending 31 years at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua. He also coached the Greeley girls’ and boys’ swimming teams which collectively won 14 sectional championships.
Upon retiring from Greeley, Cliff trained student teachers at Pace University and Manhattanville College. He is an active member of the Peekskill Presbyterian Church, serving on Session, leading adult education and singing in the choir. His hobbies include golf, travel, reading and watching each of his ten grandchildren participate in their sporting, dance and academic activities.
Cliff joined Rotary in 2003 and served on the Board of Directors from 2005-2007. He became club secretary in 2008, was program chair in 2009 and headed the 40thannual Horse Show in 2010. He introduced the Rotary district’s Four-Way Speech contest for high school students to the local club. He has particularly enjoyed helping Rotary to honor deserving seniors from the three local high schools in the areas of scholarship, fellowship and athletics.
George Oros, a resident of Cortlandt Manor where he resides with his wife of 37 years Marianne, was born in Trenton New Jersey. Upon graduation from Pace University and Pace Law School, George settled in the Cortlandt area and has remained ever since, though he has never waived in his support of his first “home town” team the Philadelphia Phillies.
A practicing attorney, George has been involved and political, governmental and community organizations for the past 35 years. His most recent position was serving as Westchester County’s Director of Economic Development. Prior to that he served as former County Executive Rob Astorino’s Chief of Staff. George has held elected office as a Town of Cortlandt Town Board member and in 1995 was elected as the County Legislator representing Cortlandt, Peekskill and portions of Yorktown. Reelected 6 times, he also held serval leadership positions on the Board including Chairman and Minority Leader.
Active in not for profit groups, he is a past board member of the Hudson Valley Hospital and the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce (HVGCC). Currently he is active on the Boards of the Westchester County Leadership Prayer Breakfast, the Peekskill Museum, the HVGCC Foundation and the Westchester Polar Plunge for Special Olympics.
George is known as a “gearhead” with a passion for classic cars, including his own 1972 Lincoln, as well as avidly following NASCAR.
However, by far his most enjoyable and rewarding role is father to grown children, John and Christina who reside in New York City.
Clare very recently moved to Cortlandt Manor after living in Briarcliff Manor for 48 years with her late husband Paul. They have two married children and two wonderful granddaughters.
Clare spent her entire 47 year professional career working with children both in her private practice as a clinical psychologist and in schools, first as a school psychologist and later as an assistant superintendent retiring in 2016. Clare has always been involved with volunteer-work including serving on ethics boards in the Village of Ossining and previously in the Village of Briarcliff Manor and on the Westchester County Pychological Association’s (WCPA)ethics committee and was the president of WCPA. She is currently the Education Committee Chair at Congregation Sons of Israel in Briarcliff and a member of the synagogue’s Board of Trustees.
Bruce graduated from Tufts University in 1974, with a civil engineering degree and started working in Boston at Camp Dresser and McKee. He left there in 1976 to join his family owned business, Frank & Lindy Plumbing & Heating.
He has been involved in many community activities. He was a member of the Hudson Valley Hospital Board of Trustees and an officer of their foundation. Bruce founded the Peekskill Celebration Festival and served as their Chairman. He twice served as Board Chairman of the Hudson Valley Chamber of Commerce and continues as a Board Member. Bruce has been a Rotarian since 1979.
He was awarded the Chester A. Smith award by the Field Library in Peekskill for his community service and received the Maureen Erickson Volunteer of the Year award by the Chamber of Commerce.
Bruce has two grown children, Scott and Brian, and lives in Cortlandt Manor. His wife, Cheryl, died of breast cancer in 2005 and the Cancer Center at New York Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital is named in her honor.
Nancy is a retired teacher and licensed Mental Health Counselor. She worked in the public school system for 28 years and also had a private practice. Nancy holds a BA from Adelphi University, an MS in secondary science education from Western Connecticut State College, an MS in counseling and certification in family therapy from Long Island University.
Nancy has volunteered for Hospice, Make-a-Wish, sat on the Board of Putnam Valley and Community Services and Boscobel, and was a community mediator for Putnam County. Currently she facilitates a general loss bereavement group in Cold Spring. Jim and Nancy Witt have been married since 1960. They reside in Cold Spring and have three children and five grandchildren.
Children were always a big part of Janice’s upbringing as she came from a large close knit family who instilled in her the importance of community involvement. Janice Shaw was born, raised and educated in Brooklyn, NY and called it her home until 1984. In the fall of that year she and her husband Ed decided to move to the suburbs and start a family. Cortlandt seemed like an affordable, safe community that was an easy commute to NYC, with good schools and a vibrant community. She worked in Manhattan as a graphic artist until the birth of her second daughter in 1991. It was from then on that she had the ability to stay home to raise the children. Janice became involved with her children’s elementary school almost from the first day of kindergarten and served as a PTA leader for over 10 years.
Janice went back to school in the late 1990’s and graduated with an advanced degree in nutrition in 2008 and has since worked as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in community health and nutrition working mostly with school aged children and their families. She has created, organized and implemented numerous programs which supported school aged children, both in mind and body. Her most recent projects included: wellness and illness prevention programs, health education, nutrition assessment, nutrition counseling, as well as, academic support and enrichment programs. She is fully committed to the belief that children of all ages thrive when they have people who believe in them and support their needs.
Carol and her husband, Bruce, moved to Cold Spring from Larchmont in 2013. They have two daughters, Amy and Nicole, and four amazing (just ask her) grandchildren. Carol’s first career was as a teacher in the Mamaroneck school system. When she returned to work after starting a family, she developed a career in Human Resource Management. She retired from her position as VP, Human Resources Director for Parade Publications after 16 years with the company. Prior to that, she had been Personnel Director at The H.W. Wilson Company. She earned a BS in English Education at the State University of NY at Cortland and a MS in College and University Administration and Personnel at Indiana University. Recently she has been a Medicare Rights Advocate and a volunteer at Mt. Kisco Elementary School.
John is the owner of Arthur Weeks and Son Jewelers, a family owned Peekskill business since 1896. He is Registered Jeweler of the American Gem Society. He is very involved with community service. He is a Member of Salvation Army Advisory Board, a Member of the Board of Directors of the Cortlandt Cemetary Association, a Member of the Board of Directors of the Peekskill Rotary Club, and a Member of the Poughkeepsie United Methodist Church. He and his wife Debra have resided in Hopewell Junction, Dutchess County since 1994. They have two children Brittany and Robert.
John C. Sullivan, Esq. -Council
John is is the founder of the John C. Sullivan P.C. a law firm in Yorktown Heights. He represents clients in a variety of legal matters, including real estate, wills, trusts & estates, business law and litigation.
Prior to founding the firm in 1992, Mr. Sullivan was an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. He received his law degree from New York Law School in 1988. He is admitted to practice law in the State of New York and is a member of the New York State Bar Association.
Frances Wills, Ph.D.
Dr. Frances Wills has been serving as Superintendent of Schools in Putnam Valley, New York, after spending three years as a consultant and Coordinator of Professional Development for Pace University’s School of Education . She retired in June, 2010 as Superintendent of Schools in Briarcliff Manor, New York where she served for 16 years. The Briarcliff Manor community recognized her contributions by naming the auditorium in her honor. Frances was formerly Superintendent in Belfast, Maine for five years and prior to that served for 20 years as Director of Curriculum and Instruction, middle school principal, assistant high school principal, guidance counselor, and middle and high school English teacher in Maine and Massachusetts.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hunter College, Frances holds a M.A.from Cornell University and a M.Ed. from University of Maine, Orono. During 1987-88, Dr. Wills was granted a sabbatical to pursue her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and was awarded her Ph.D. in 1990. Frances has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maine, Orono and Fordham University, and most recently is teaching in St. John Fisher’s Executive Leadership doctoral program located at the College of New Rochelle.
Dr. Wills has authored numerous articles on educational issues and co-authored a chapter on leading change in a text on district leadership, edited by noted scholar, Dr. Kenneth Leithwood, published by SUNY Press. She has received numerous educational honors and awards and belongs to many organizations including the New York State Council of School Administrators, Lower Hudson Council of Administrative Women in Education, Hunter College High School Alumni Association, University of Wisconsin Alumni Association, and Suburban School Superintendents. Most recently, Dr. Wills was nominated to serve on the HOPE for Youth Foundation Board of Directors.
Fran has three children and three grandchildren and resides with her husband, Tom, a retired RN and therapist, in Ossining.