City of Newburgh

Woman of History award winner announced

By Dae Vitale
Posted 2/8/24

Greetings from River City. Happy Saint Valentine’s Day… I hope that the day is a happy one for you, whether with the making of new memories or the remembrance of old dear memories. In …

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City of Newburgh

Woman of History award winner announced


Greetings from River City. Happy Saint Valentine’s Day… I hope that the day is a happy one for you, whether with the making of new memories or the remembrance of old dear memories. In these grotesquely turbulent, frightening times, we still celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day, that day when people are encouraged to remember and to declare their love for one another. God bless such times; may we always hold them dear. Happy Saint Valentine’s Day one and all!

Mount Saint Mary College will host the 13th annual St. Thomas Aquinas Philosophy Workshop, “Aquinas on Divine Simplicity,” from May 29 - June 2. Registration is now open to all, visit and follow the prompts under the Registration header on the page.

Congratulations! Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties member Fenella Heckscher has been named the 2024 Martha Washington Woman of History. This award is given annually by Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site to a woman who has made a contribution to the history of the Hudson Valley through education, promotion, or preservation.

The honor was inspired by Martha Washington, an outstanding woman in history who resided in the Hudson Valley with her husband, General George Washington, during the last days of the Revolutionary War.

Through her volunteer work at the Garden Club, Heckscher has studied and shared the work of Jane Colden, Andrew Jackson Downing, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead. She has championed projects with the Trailside Museum and Zoo at Bear Mountain State Park, and created a wildflower garden named for Jane Colden, America’s first female botanist.

She also secured funding from the Garden Club of America to revitalize the plantings in Newburgh’s Downing Park. These and other volunteer efforts have shed light on the history and preservation of our natural environment, and to share this with the public.

The 2024 Martha Washington Woman of History Award will be presented to Fenella Heckscher at an event entitled, The General’s Lady, to be held on March 17 at 2 p.m. at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh. For more information, call (845) 562-1195.

Safe Harbors Announces Black History Month Programs Weekly Events at Ann Street Gallery and the Lobby at the Ritz, featuring Jean-Marc Superville Sovak, Shawn Strong, Decarius McLearn, Willie Williams, Ralph M’Vore and others with a slate of Black History Month events and programs throughout the month of February. All events are free and open to the public.

“The Grooved Pavement Live” Podcast is Sundays from 3 - 6 p.m. at Safe Harbors Lobby at the Ritz - 107 Broadway. Every Sunday throughout February, hosts Shawn Strong and Decarius McClearn will present their podcast live in the Lobby at the Ritz. This weekly podcast explores the history of Black film and television from its origins through Blaxploitation and how it has affected and influenced current filmmaking, media, and the culture at large. Joined by special guest Dr. Willie Williams, Chief Diversity Officer at SUNY Orange, Strong and McClearn will share a screening followed by a deep dive discussion into the content and its place in history.

From the Ground UP – Saturdays & Sundays from 12 - 4 p.m. Safe Harbors Ann Street Gallery – 104 Ann Street. Led by Ann Street Gallery Artist Researcher in Residence Jean-Marc Superville Sovak, From the Ground UP is an evolving and collectively built exhibition dedicated to remembering and honoring African-Americans buried in, and disinterred from, Newburgh’s “Colored Burial Ground” through conversation and the arts.
Part exhibition and part social practice, the project has been in residence at the Gallery since October 2023, hosting a range of community discussions, workshops, and artist talks. The project asks: How should the dead, once desecrated, now be honored? How can the arts and spaces designed for the exhibition of art facilitate community dialogue, healing, and remembering?

The Gallery will be open to the public from 12 - 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays throughout February, with special events each Saturday afternoon featuring visual art, offerings from the public, artist talks and workshops, presentations from a variety of community members, performances, readings, and community conversations. Individual event details will be posted on Ann Street Gallery’s website and Instagram weekly.

All members of the public are invited to participate and contribute to the project as a living monument and memorial to those buried in and exhumed from the burial ground, and an open call for participation can be found on the Ann Street Gallery website. To find more information about From the Ground UP, visit

Afehyia - A Celebration! – February 25 at 3 p.m. at Safe Harbors Lobby at the Ritz – 107 Broadway. “Save the date for “Afehyia” (“a-fee-shee-a”) – a truly uplifting celebration! Experience an afternoon of cultural richness with soul-stirring singing, captivating dance performances, inspiring poetry readings and more!

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” Frederick Douglass. May we take heed of his example, for our own sake and that of the world. As always, I close with my prayers for God’s blessings on your heads, my dears.