By David Weber
Seven Long Island teenagers were recently honored at the CTeen West Suffolk Awards Dinner for their service to the organization and their communities.
Carly Tamer, of East Northport, won this year’s Dedication Award, while Hannah Sharifian, of Dix Hills, won this year’s Leadership Award and Sarah Strent, of Commack, received the Chesed Award for Kindness. Ethan Ertel, of Dix Hills, was awarded Teen of the Year, with Tyler Bonasera, of Smithtown, and Tyler Eliades, of Commack, both took home the Rookie of the Year award.
Dana Blitzer, of Smithtown, was named CTeen Female Leader of the Year, marking the third year in a row the West Suffolk County chapter has won a national award. The chapter previously won awards for Male Leader of the Year in 2016, and in 2015, Chapter of the Year.
With over 200 represented chapters, CTeen is one of the fastest growing teen networks in the world with tens of thousands of members worldwide. West Suffolk’s chapter has tripled in size since its incarnation in 2014.
The organization’s goal is to give back to the community through positive character development while transforming youth into powerful role models.
At the June 5 dinner, each member received a letter signed and written by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as a certificate of achievement and proclamation from Huntington councilmembers Susan Berland, Mark Cuthbertson, Eugene Cook, and Tracey Edwards.
State senators Kirsten Gillibrand, John Flanagan, and Carl Marcelino also attended the dinner. along with Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone and Suffolk Legislator Steve Stern.
CTeen Director Dovid Weinbaum said he strives for the program to be a second home for the youngsters, one where they feel comfortable enough to nominate each other for leadership board positions.
This year alone, he said, the teens held a toy drive, brought holiday gifts to ill children, became pen-pals with Israeli soldiers overseas, ran a bowl-a-thon to raise funds for special-needs children, and represented Long Island in three Shabbatons on a national and local level.
“The kids in our program look for ways to help families in need in their community,” Weinbaum said. “They all worked so hard for this recognition.”
Stern called the teens “a special group of young people” destined to accomplish great things moving forward.
He added, “I have every confidence that they will continue to bring great pride to their families, and our entire community.”