The Mid-Hudson Valley Family Church hosted a wonderful Ambassadors For Peace Awards dinner in the beautifully renovated UTS dining room on Wednesday, Dec. 19.

A warm and friendly atmosphere was created by Rev. Gavin Hamnett who served as MC. and after a delicious meal was served by the UTS kitchen staff, an exciting video presentation on the worldwide Ambassadors for Peace movement was played by UTS student from Russia, Ravil Kayumov.

Many believe this is a new age of woman, who will lead the way to world peace, where men have failed. In keeping with this belief, five outstanding women in the Hudson Valley were honored that evening for their work and dedication. Each one in their own right is a peacemaker and bridge-builder, with plenty of heart.

Among the women who received the Ambassador for Peace award was the Honorable Marirose Blum Bump, Town Supervisor for the Township of Red Hook, who was nominated by Henry Christopher.

Ms. Blum Bump was elected in 2003. She is the first woman to be elected to this position in the history of the community which includes the Hamlet of Barrytown where she and her husband and five children are neighbors to the Unification Theological Seminary.

Ms. Blum Bump said, “I love my work as supervisor. I liken it to juggling, not three balls but nine, which is certainly more challenging. I get this metaphor from one of my sons who is a juggler and unicycler.”

She also recognizes her parents and eight brothers and seven sisters as providing the early and continuing training ground for both the vision and the skills needed when aspiring to a thriving community.

Ms. Blum Bump is truly a peacemaker and bridge builder and a person who has been working to break down barriers that divide people. In the last four years as town supervisor she has demonstrated incredible patience, kindness and strength in working for the residents of Red Hook who elected her.

Ms. Blum Bump is a lover of nature and the beauty of the natural environment around Barrytown. She frequently walked the trails at UTS and it was she who approached UTS two years ago with the suggestion that UTS open its trails to the public for the benefit of all and to help UTS improve its image in the community.

She guided UTS to hold meetings with local and state officials, sitting in on many of those meetings, which ultimately lead to Father’s Trail becoming a NY State Greenway Trail. As a result, the seminary received letters of praise from the US Congress, and resolutions from both the NY Senate and Assembly thanking them for its generosity for opening the trail to the public. UTS also got a “Three Cheers” from the Poughkeepsie Journal in its editorial section.

Ms. Blum Bump appointed UTS Community Relations Director Henry Christopher to the Red Hook Trails Committee and is working closely with the seminary on a number of projects. Last winter UTS allowed the historic Hudson River Ice Yacht Club to access the Tivoli Bay through its campus and for 10 days dozens of ice boaters enjoyed the winter sport. UTS and Ms. Blum Bump are working on a plan to relocate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s family iceboat house to the campus near the bay. Three members of the club own iceboats that once belonged to the FD.R. family. It would become both a museum and storage house for the club.

The focus of Ms. Blum Bump’s work in Town Hall has been her efforts to have good land use planning as the town grows and as sprawl is becoming more of a reality, threatening the identity of our small-town, agriculture based community.

At the heart of these efforts is the calling to work together of the various municipalities and institutions which make up the Red Hook community. These include The Town of Red Hook, The Village of Red Hook, The Village of Tivoli, and The Red Hook Central School District, all which have separate elected officials and boards and independent powers.

Her efforts to bring together representatives from these municipalities and the school district is nothing short of historic for New York state, where local political leaders have always held on tightly to their power within their jurisdiction and did not work well together with neighboring townships.

This inter-municipal planning work is recognized as groundbreaking in its call to mutual and voluntary efforts of separate powers to plan and legislate as one community.

Also called to work together are the various educational institutions which have a major presence and impact in the Red Hook Community. These include Bard College, Devereaux and The Unification Theological Seminary.

The four other honorees are:

Miriam Nalweyiso - nominated by John and Sandra Lowen. She is a survivor of the Ugandan holocaust and was orphaned when her father, a diplomat and minister of education of Uganda was murdered. She traveled to America and became a social worker for the Family Restoration Worker, an agency in Albany, NY where she has been counseling families.

Cecilia St. King - nominated by Gillian Corcoran. Cecilia St. King was born and raised in New York City. She is a singer/songwriter who performs motivational spirit based, non-denominational music with such titles as, “Your Word is Magic,” “Not Going To Hate,” “Peace On Earth,” “Where Courage Will Lead,” amongst others.

Currently she lives in New York State’s first capital Kingston.

She has traveled around the world wowing audiences in Europe, Japan and New Zealand.

Ms. King donates much of her time to such worthy causes as singing for Musicians On Call, a group dedicated to bringing the healing power of music to area hospitals, performing for senior citizens and bringing her motivational music programs to inner city schools.

After running from the falling towers on that fateful day, 9/11 – she took to the streets to sing her songs to rescue workers and people searching for word of the missing.

Months later she discovered she had thyroid cancer that threatened to take her voice.

After spending 6 months healing in a monastery in New Zealand, like a phoenix rising she came back to lift her voice, committed to being a Peace Troubadour.

Diana Witkus - nominated by Abdu and Mara Gaye. Ms. Witkus is a social activist from Kingston.

Kathy Dundorf - nominated by Dorothy Hill. She is a physical therapist, who is very public minded.

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