By Janee Law
Debbie Rimler, executive director of Tri-Community and Youth Agency (Tri-CYA), was recently recognized by Suffolk Legislator William “Doc” Spencer as the 2017 Woman of Distinction from the 18th District.
Rimler was recognized with a proclamation on March 28 at the legislature’s annual county-wide Reception for women of distinction.
“I was very surprised and humbled and it was a very wonderful honor to get,” Rimler, of Northport, said. “I’m very grateful to Doc Spencer for giving me this award. His office does wonderful work.”
Rimler has been with the Tri-CYA since January 1987, starting out as a program coordinator and then became executive director in 1990.
The private nonprofit agency is dedicated to educational, recreational, cultural counseling and advocacy programs, working with youths from 5-21 years old and their families.
“I love what I do and I believe in this agency,” Rimler said. “We meet youth where they are and work with their strengths so they grow into the best, most productive adults they can be.”
Rimler wears many hats overseeing the agency, including supervising the staff and volunteers, working with the volunteer board of directors to ensure the organization is staying on its mission, and ensure that all programs are running smoothly.
“Over the years, Debbie has selflessly dedicated herself to enriching and improving the quality of life for the young people and their families in our community,” Spencer said. “She makes herself available during the day, in the evening and even on weekends as families in crisis need her support.
“She never turns anyone away.”
When Rimler was 12, she began her service to the community working as a candy striper at Creedmoor Hospital. She was also a babysitter for a special needs child and volunteered at the Queens Botanical Gardens and the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.
“I always volunteered. It’s something that’s just in my blood and it’s just part of who I am,” Rimler said. “I can’t not help someone or reach out to someone if they’re in need.”
In 1986, Rimler moved to Halesite from Queens to continue her efforts in community advocacy and counseling. In 1992, she moved to Northport.
In regards to her efforts working with kids and community members, Rimler said it’s very rewarding. She added, “It’s important to give back. If everybody did a little bit, the world would be a better place.”
Rimler earned her associate’s degree from SUNY Cobleskill in 1977 and her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Binghamton 1979. From there, she earned her master’s degree in social work at Stony Brook University in 2013. She is also licensed a social worker from the New York State Education Department.
During her free time, Rimler enjoys reading and outdoor activities, whether it’s going on walks or bike rides.
On May 7, she’s set to participate in the 40-mile TD Five Boro Bike Tour in New York City.