Putnam County Honorees
Hazel Martinez was born a coal miner's daughter and grew up in Connellsville, Pa. She moved to New York City in 1947, bought property in Putnam Lake in 1965, and finally moved up there in 1970.
At 16, she was sent to training and began working for the Social Security Administration. As an adult she took the initiative and went to Dutchess Community College and received her Associates in Human Services/Social Work. For eight years she worked at Green Chimney's as a social worker.
Hazel has an incredible amount of accomplishments. In 1964, she became a den mother for the Cub Scouts. Additionally, in the 1960's she demonstrated in Albany for Women's Rights. In the 1970's, she was one of two women to take a course which allowed them to be a Boy Scout Master Hazel has also successfully completed her bucket list, which concluded with a 3,000 mile drive through Minnesota and Wisconsin. Impressively she has been to all 50 states and has gone deep sea fishing in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Among all her achievements she is the proud mother of three sons. Unfortunately one son, PFC Robert Gracia, was killed during the Vietnam War. Since her son lost his life in the service of his country, with a heavy heart, she became a member of the American Gold Star Mothers organization.
As seen by her chosen profession of social work Hazel has an unwavering dedication to help others. One of her contributions to her community includes being an active member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary #9257 of Putnam Lake for 35 years. She assists with events that help support the military and their families. Hazel is also a 5 year volunteer for Castle Point Veterans, in which she brings clothes and other items to help those men and women in need. Once a month she travels to Castle Point to play Bingo and barbeque with them. Hazel is also an active member of the Golden Agers of Patterson which keeps her involved with the local senior community.
Hazel is a remarkable woman and a prime example as to the importance of contributing to the community and helping those who are less fortunate. When asked about how she feels about being named one of Putnam County's Seniors of the Year she was quick to commend others in her community who she believed to be just as deserving of this recognition. She volunteers not for herself but for those who need extra support. It is reward enough for her to see people feeling good and have a smile on their face. Hazel has been volunteering for close to 50 years and does not have any plans on stopping.
John W. Hyland was born and raised in the Bronx and is currently residing in Brewster. He had a 33-year career with what is now Verizon Communications.
John's contributions include: Part of the NYC Auxiliary Police since 1969. He has won several awards including an Award for Valor for saving a woman trapped in a burning vehicle. He was President of the NYC Auxiliary Police Benevolent Assoc. since early 1970's. He is an Active Hibernian holding every elected office in Division 7 in the Bronx and is closely affiliated with the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan, serving as Aide to the Grand Marshall in 2010. He volunteers for the Argonne American Legion Post 71. He was President of Samuel Gompers High School Alumni Association in the Bronx and Santa Claus in the annual Putnam County Humane Society Parade. John does the annual train exhibit at Brewster Library as well as the Sept. 11th Exhibit. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Assoc. of Bell Telephone Retirees with 128,000 members. He is closely affiliated with the Archdiocese of NY and the old St. Patrick's Church.
John has been volunteering since 1969 as an auxiliary policeman.
In everything John has done as a "volunteer" his hope has been that his service would make a positive impact on people's lives.
John's greatest reward from volunteering has been "the feeling of satisfaction that he has gotten from knowing that what he does makes the lives of those affected that much better."