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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus has named Port Jervis Middle School seventh grader Grady Witkowski as June’s Citizen of the Month.
Witkowski, 13, was recognized for the work he has performed through his Instagram page “joyofgrady”, which was created to spread love in the community.
“Grady has inspired all of us with his compassion and ability to make people smile with his kindness and big heart,” Neuhaus said. “The impact he has made with these acts of kindness and humility is incredible. Grady should be commended for his efforts and for his commitment to making his community and Orange County a little brighter and friendlier. We are all proud and grateful for him.”
The “joyofgrady” Instagram page was created by Grady and his mother, Erin, during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to his mom, Grady stayed home from school for approximately 900 days due to social distancing guidelines. Grady is outgoing and loves to hug and communicate with his friends and loved ones. His family thought it would be best for Grady to remain home during the pandemic due to his gregarious and affectionate nature.
Like many other students throughout the country, Grady struggled with not being able to participate in normal activities or to see his friends. His Instagram page provided him with a forum to interact with the world through videos and photos, including Grady performing one his favorite activities, infectiously dancing. After COVID-19, Grady and his mom began what has been the Instagram page’s signature feature.
Mother and son take flowers from weddings, provided by florist Kim Youngblood, and repurpose them into bouquets. Grady prepares hand-written letters and randomly drops the arrangements off to residents and businesses in the Port Jervis area with the help of his School Aide/Community Habilitation Buddy, Amanda Schoch. Many of the interactions are captured on social media.
Grady Witkowski provided County Executive Neuhaus, his staff and County Clerk Kelly Eskew with small flower vases during his visit to the Government Center on Thursday, May 25th.
“I think it is a beautiful thing to see the smile on someone’s face when they get a gift from Grady,” Erin Witkowski said. “It is very powerful and I think it pays a lot of things forward. Our visits are always random and unexpected and spread joy and kindness. Wherever we can find people, Grady will drop an arrangement off. This endeavor has no limits.”
Grady lives in Sparrowbush with his mom and father, Paul Witkowski, a U.S. Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Grady has three siblings, Mason, 15, June, 10, and River, 6. He participates in modified soccer and track, loves spending time with his support dog, Tug, and his cat, Toby. Grady also enjoys fishing, hunting, listening to music and riding four-wheelers.
Neuhaus introduced his Citizen of the Month Award, which acknowledges outstanding Orange County residents, in January of 2017. To nominate someone for the Citizen of the Month Award, please email email@example.com or mail a letter to “Citizen of the Month” at 255-275 Main Street Goshen, NY 10924. Be sure to include the nominee’s name, hometown, a list of their accomplishments, why you are nominating them, and any other pertinent information. Nominees must be from Orange County.
For more information, contact Justin Rodriguez, Assistant to the County Executive for Communications and Media Relations at 845.291.3255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.