The legacy of William Kaplan will forever be remembered and recognized in the City of Newburgh with a newly dedicated Legacy Wall that was revealed at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center on Thursday, September 15 in front of friends and family and various Armory supporters.
In 2010, the Armory was opened by the Kaplan Family who also helped and supported other entities and organizations in the local Newburgh community such as Mount Saint Mary College, Orange County Community College, Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital and Cornerstone Family Health Center to name a few.
At the Newburgh Armory, children from all across the greater Newburgh area come to learn new skills and information and spend time with one another in a safe and uplifting environment. With the Armory, Kaplan has touched and changed the lives of many children and parents, who continue to come back each Saturday morning to be a part of this work and mission.
With several rows filled with guests and a Zoom meeting window open, Andrew Komonchak of the Armory Board welcomed guests and supporters on the day of the ceremony and one by one introduced various speakers who shared several words to the gathered crowd.
Words and reflections were delivered by Harry Porr, Orange County Deputy Executive; Senator James Skoufis; Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey; Thomas Weddell, who read a letter from Russ Vernon of the Armory Board; Dr. Janine Bixler of Mount Saint Mary College; Armory parent Vanessa Rice; and Scholars in Scrubs teacher and Newburgh educator, Linda Romano with Komonchak sharing some words before Kaplan was called up to the podium.
“Bill and I suffer from the same affliction,” Porr said. “We have this unbelievable love for this city, and people who live in it. Can’t explain why, but we do. I just want to say to you, Bill, and your family, thank you so much for all you have done.”
“The Kaplan name is synonymous with two things, as far as I’m concerned and as far as I think most public is concerned. One is Newburgh. And two is philanthropy,” said Skoufis. “The cornerstone of the Kaplan, the Bill Kaplan legacy that will live on is this place [the Armory]. His legacy is this place, and the children who came through those doors.”
“Words cannot articulate how much Mr. William Kaplan and his family have done for the City of Newburgh,” Harvey said. “Today’s legacy wall dedication is a testament again, to the sweat and the hard work and what you’ve done, Mr. Kaplan, for our city.”
Holding back tears, Rice shares words of gratitude to Kaplan and the Armory for what they have been able to do for her and her family since she first joined and brought her children. “I’ve been involved in the Armory for the past nine years. My children, my two girls, they started attending here when they were three and five. And now they’re 12 and going on 14,” Rice said. “I just want to say on behalf of all the parents that Mr. Kaplan, you are loved and greatly appreciated. Thank you for what you have done.”
Romano, also held back tears as she shared several reflections on the work, compassion and love shown by Kaplan for her and the community. “Mr. Kaplan, from that first day I met you, I witnessed how much love and kindness you inspire others through the work all over this community, as well as here at the Armory,” Romano said. “You have made me feel so loved and valued. You inspire me to this very day to be the best me for others. My name is not Kaplan but I certainly feel like part of your family.”
After final remarks, the gathered crowd made their way to the entrance hallway of the Armory lobby where a large white sheet was removed from the wall, revealing the Legacy Wall that featured Kaplan, the history and mission of the Armory and the children that are served each and every weekend. The unveiling was followed by applause and cheers of joy and congratulations as Kaplan stood back in awe of the wall, smiling with joy. The special feature about this Legacy Wall, according to Komonchak, is that these photographs are not permanent. Rather they can be removed from their place and will ultimately be hung around the Armory and remain in the Armory for years and years to come.