Victor Pierre Melendez, Director of Clearwater’s Green Cities Initiative, was honored at the Passing the Torch Through the Arts’ annual Luminary Awards on Saturday, February 26, at the Rosendale Theater in Rosendale, NY. Melendez was recognized for his work through Clearwater’s Green Cities Initiative, bringing environmental education and watershed awareness to the communities of the Hudson Valley, and for his dance performance instruction serving under-represented communities through the Center for Creative Education in Kingston, NY.
In accepting the award, Melendez thanked Passing the Torch Through the Arts stating, “It is a great honor to receive this award that reinforces the vital work we are doing to serve all under-represented populations of the Hudson Valley. I have personally struggled to find a way to combine my passion for protecting our natural environment and dance performance, to support a sustainable future through community education. It is humbling to be recognized for doing what I love.”
Congressman Maurice Hinchey presented Melendez with the award and his congratulations via video. In the spirit of Clearwater’s mission, Environmental Action Director, Manna Jo Greene, thanked Melendez for providing her with an opportunity to “pass the torch,” saying she could think of “no one more deserving.”
Clearwater’s Green Cities Initiative promotes environmental justice and conducts youth empowerment programs, bringing environmental education and stewardship training to under-resourced communities. Continuing the legacy of Clearwater’s founder, Pete Seeger, the initiative puts emphasis on creating a healthier, greener and more equitable socio-economic Hudson Valley, and encourages sustainability practices in municipal and community planning.
The evening featured the Rock/Gospel play, “Sam, Where You Been Baby?” based on the short life of the pop singer Sam Cooke and written by Michael Monasterial, founder and artistic director of Passing the Torch Through the Arts. This American pop fable illuminates the life and musical genius of a true original who wrote, performed and produced 24 Billboard hits over his 8 years at the top of the charts. The play and awards event were presented as a fundraiser for the organization’s programs, which are dedicated to educating at-risk youth and inspiring social change through theater and the arts.
The Luminary Awards are presented to individuals who inspire a creating greater understanding of our world through history and education, with a focus on inspiring our youth and people of all ages through innovative programming and exposure to the Arts.