The City of Peekskill recognized the honorees of this year's Black History Month Awards Monday night in city hall.
Every year, the city recognizes black residents who have achieved personal or professional success and have made significant civic contributions. All of the honorees were nominated by either community groups or individuals.
This year’s honorees were Geraldine “Geri” Kearse, Kecia Palmer-Cousins and the Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church Food Pantry Ministry.
“The African-American community has a rich history and deep roots in this community and the contributions that have been made both in creating businesses, improving the quality of life, in education and giving back to the community continues to this day,” said Mayor Mary Foster
Kearse, whose sister Rosette Kearse received the same honor last year, is the first black woman to work as a clerk and carrier in the Peekskill Post Office. In 1985, she became the postmaster of the Crompond Post Office and held the position before retiring in 2003.
Westchester District of the U.S. Postal Service’s Postmaster of the Year award, the Peekskill-Cortlandt Professional Woman of the Year award and the community service award from the Peekskill chapter National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She is currently board vice president of the Seabury Fieldhome in Cortlandt Manor.
“First of all, my mother always taught me to keep God first in my life,” Kearse said. “She said there is nothing I couldn’t do if I didn’t put God first.”
Cousins co-owns G&K Sweet Foods, a Peekskill-based food company that sells canned sweet potato filling and pies to various bakeries. She also chaired the foundation for the Hudson Valley Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc. and helped to spearhead a fundraisers for the city Youth Bureau Leadership Initiative Teen Program, the Kiley Youth Center and a holiday party for the homeless.
Cousins was given a “10 Most Influential Blacks” Award in 2011 by the African American Chamber of Commerce of Westchester & Rockland Counties.
“I have met so many small business owners, so many community member, church members...and my goal is just to bring whatever resources and experiences I have to share with everyone,” said Cousins, who moved to Peekskill from Mount Vernon with her family in 2002.
The Mount Lebanon Baptist Church Food Pantry, which has been in operation for 13 years and serves about 2,300 families a month. Food pantry ministry members Dorothy Sims, Mia McKellar and Mollie Branciforti accepted the award Monday.
“I thank and praise God for allowing me to serve and I really enjoy serving people,” Sims said.