Jon Breen letter to MVHS 10-15-2002

The Jon Breen Memorial Fund

Mount Vernon High School

100 California Road

Mount Vernon, NY 10552

914-524-8381 pm/ 914-467-7802 am

MVHS Class of 1963 Website


October 15, 2002


Dear Friend and Classmate,


Hello from rainy and wet Westchester County. First let me wish a Happy New Year to all of my friends and classmates who celebrate the High Holy Days. It has been an incredibly difficult year for the country and the western world and hopefully the next one will be a good deal better. Since my last letter in March a number of important things have happened.

First of all, after living 33 years in White Plains, my wife Linda and I sold our house and moved into a very roomy townhouse in (2801 Watch Hill Drive) Tarrytown, NY.  After 4.5 months of packing and 450 cartons that were stuffed, sealed and opened, we have eased into the comfort of our new location. The river towns along the Hudson are quite nice, full of small town life, antique stores and out-door restaurants.


With regards to the Jon Breen Fund, a new process selected this year’s winners. As I had mentioned in the March letter, with the help of Paul Court, the lead Social Studies teacher, we were able to have all of our essayists in an assembly, with the Mayor, the County Legislator and the City Historian serving on a panel to judge the essay finalists. We were able to tape and cablecast the entire program and the finalists read their essays, and both the panel and essayists answered questions posed by the audience and me as moderator. Thankfully, I can report, it was as an educational and artistic success. I am looking forward to making this process an annual effort.


Over the past 9 years, with your help, we have raised about $20,000 that has been used as scholarship money for our winning essayists. Listed below are the past topics and winners with their colleges::


            1995 – E Pluribus Unum– Mary Clark, Yale

            1996 – We the People– Blessun Samuel- Columbia

            1997 – The Meaning of Freedom– Joby George – Northwestern

            1998 – Trial by Jury, Can it Work? – Sasha Clark- Hofstra

            1999 – Is the President Above the Law? – Stefan McKinley- Yale

            2000 – The Presidency, Who Decides? – Stephanie Brown- Harvard

            2001 – Who Should Elect the President, the People or the Electoral

                        College? – Victor Tineo, Vassar

            2002 – Freedom vs. Security, a Delicate Balance! – Monique Jones, Brown


This year’s winner Ms. Monique Jones was also the winner of the 2nd annual Henry M. Littlefield History Award. Ms. Jones ranked 5th in her class of 500, and had an average in Social Studies/History of 98.5 over four years and scored a “5” in the 2002 AP history exam. I also had the pleasure of reading three of her recent papers; Ratify the Constitution: Yes or No, Why they Impeached Andrew Johnson and Was John D. Rockefeller a “Robber Baron”.


For to our 40th reunion, our committee has met and talked a number of times. We have solicited input from the class and the overwhelming response that we have received is to use our own judgment. After much debate and research we have decided to use the reunion company that served us quite well 1n 1998, and 40th reunion will be held at the Westchester Marriott on the weekend of August 23rd, 2003. Even though this date is close to Labor Day, you have almost one year to plan your calendar. The members of our reunion committee have visited the Marriott and we all believe that their facilities are first rate. We are all assured that the weekend’s activities will be both comfortable and enjoyable.


Since my last letter I have had the pleasure of hearing from some of our classmates: Eve Cole, Jim Kurtz, Sherry Beckman, Fran Lazar, Alan Rosenberg, Stan Goldmark, Frank Engel, Alan Rosenberg, Warren Adis, Laura Kosoff, Lewis Perelman, Michael Rosenblum, Ayn Silverman, Susan Satenstein, Peter Altieri, Norman Raphael, Dr. Larry Reich, Barbara Tucci, Cathy Cuomo, Terry brescia, Michael Fuchs, Harvey Berenger, and Jim Finch. Also I recently met Laurette Fagan a former Graham school gal who moved to Eastchester after junior high school and is married to Rabbi Ed Schechter of Beth Shalom Temple in Hastings, NY.


In my own little world, I have been lecturing on FDR and the New Deal in front of different groups since 1995. Because of my association with this great topic I have become acquainted with Ambassador William vanden Heuval, the director of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. Through this association I have been in contact with him regarding various issues of mutual interest. Recently I attended the inaugural meeting at Hyde Park of a new committee that is looking to re-institute the FDR Birthday Balls of 1930’s and 1940’s in conjunction with the March of Dimes current effort to eradicate birth defects. I also am a member of the Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board of the Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, NY. Our group had a tour of their facilities recently. The tasks they engage in and accomplish are remarkable. On top of that I have been appointed by the Town of Greenburgh to serve on the town’s Recreation and Parks Commission. So all and all I’m keeping quite busy.


Again, please reserve the August 23rd, 2003 weekend. Also I would love to see some more donations to the Jon Breen Fund. No amount will be refused. I am sure that many of you would be happy to know that your $25 check (or more) will help encourage the best and brightest from Mount Vernon H.S. to go out and take the reins of leadership. The success of our society is connected directly to the ability of each group to have access to opportunity. My sincere belief is that intellectual achievement can make a difference in their lives and the lives of the community that they will eventually serve. We are all in this large boat together, and if we wish to make sure that our children have a safe and strong America for them and their grandchildren to enjoy and prosper in, then we must encourage our young leaders and intellects. The need for a strong leadership class in all elements of our society is essential for our democracy and our economic well-being. Your check will go a long way to ensuring that positive future.


Regards to all,



Richard J. Garfunkel

Acorn Financial Service 914-467-7802

Specializing in Long Term Care Insurance

Managing Risk to protect Assets and provide comfort and care.