Bank of America has chosen to honor two Bronx residents for their work and dedication to improving their communities and helping those in need.
Through the Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, a Bank of America philanthropic program that recognizes and rewards community-based organizations, local heroes and student leaders, O’Neil Hutchinson and Dimitri Rodriguez were honored on Thursday, November 19.
Awarded as a “local hero,” Hutchinson, a Sedgwick Avenue resident, has dedicated more than 800 hours to the Community Kitchen and Food Pantry of West Harlem.
“If you look around you will see homeless people, people who are depressed and people who can’t make ends meet,” Hutchinson said. “The best place to help is a soup kitchen because people congregate there and everyone needs something to eat.”
Despite working full time in the evenings as an engineer, Hutchinson visits the soup kitchen and food pantry from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. several times a week to prepare and serve dinner to those in need.
He was surprised to learn he had won the award, given the number of applicants reviewed and the rigorous selection process.
“I am just one of the many people in New York who does this on a daily basis,” Hutchinson said. ‘We don’t do it for the award. We do it because we truly want to help somebody. When a person finishes eating a meal, you will see the smile of their face because they are full, and it will help you with the rest of your day and your evening.”
Bank of America allowed Hutchinson to select an organization to benefit from a $5,000 donation. Hutching choose the food pantry and soup kitchen where he spends so much time.
Dimitri Rodriguez, a recent graduate of All Hallows High School, impressed Bank of America with his leadership skills and volunteer activities, and earned a “student leader” award.
“His resume was incredible: a teen council representative, a student government representative, helped organize a college fair for students,” said Jeff Barker, NYC market president for Bank of America. “It’s hard to believe these are just kids. They’re so active and find a way to make all their free time very, very meaningful.”
Rodriguez was able to intern at The Public Theater, a non-profit organization, and was sent on a trip to Washington D.C. to learn about social service and volunteerism.
Rodriguez was unable to comment as of press time due to the fact that he has started classes in Europe before he begins his studies at Syracuse University.
Reach reporter Amanda Marinaccio at 718 742-3394 or amarinacci
©2009 Community News Group
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