Vincent Poloniak and Roger Gavan, a pair of active Town of Warwick men in their 80s, have been chosen for Warwick Outstanding Community Service honors for 2021-2022.
They will be honored during a 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 15 ceremony at the Chateau Hathorn along with this year’s Warwick Citizen of the Year, Leo R. Kaytes Jr.
Vince Poloniak is known throughout Orange County for creating and maintaining spectacular Halloween and Christmas displays on Spanktown Road for more than 50 years. Families have shared with him that he has created yearly Christmas joy with his lights for multiple generations.
He has decades of community service, especially with farming, senior citizens and military veterans.
Most of his life he has been devoted to helping the local community as well as Orange County. He was the Orange County Director of Community Development for more than 30 years and worked on the family onion farm in Pine Island.
He continues today to be involved as a senior liaison for the Town of Warwick. He is president of the Pine Island Seniors and is also the president of the Orange County Senior Council.
Poloniak is a past commander of the Polish Legion of American Veterans Post 16 in Pine Island and is a member of American Legion Post 1250 in Florida.
Poloniak has received many awards for his outstanding work for the local community and its organizations. Over the years Poloniak is or has been a member of numerous community organizations and committees. He is a past president of the Florida Lions Club and past commissioner of the Florida Fire Company. He chaired the 1983 and 1989 Orange County Onion Harvest Festival and was chairman of the 90th and 100th anniversary of St. Joseph Church.
Roger Gavan has been described as “a Warwick treasure.”
During his three decades as a freelance correspondent with The Warwick Advertiser, Gavan has written more than 7,000 articles and taken countless more photographs publicizing activities of local civic organizations and businesses.
He does this for a small fee but mostly for the self-gratification he receives from helping the community he and his wife, Terry, love so much.
Gavan is not a Rotary or Lions Club member, yet he has contributed to the success of both by providing news coverage of the Children’s Christmas Party, Citizen of the Year, Flags for Heroes, the Senior BBQ and numerous other events. He makes himself available to the Boys and Girl Scouts, Little Leagues, St. Anthony Community Hospital, American Legion, VFW and first responders. He is a fixture at the Warwick Memorial Day Parade, 911 Ceremony in Memorial Park and the Veterans Day activities.
Few in Warwick have not seen his stories and photographs introducing new businesses to our community.
A 35-year member of Warwick’s American Legion Post 214, Gavan is an Air Force Veteran who was airborne during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He has a commercial pilot’s license with multiple ratings, including jet, multi-engine, instrument and seaplane.
Prior to COVID, a tribute to this quiet and humble man drew a standing room gathering, estimated at almost 125 persons, to Warwick Town Hall. Gavan thought he was covering an award ceremony for Prof. Richard Hull and was surprised when he was the recipient of the accolades.
Last year’s winners to be honored
Because of COVID cancellation of the 2020-2021 event, last year’s honorees will also be recognized.
Frank Truatt, who purchased an off-the-air AM radio station and turned WTBQ into a respected community-minded media outlet, is the reigning Citizen of the Year. Also being honored are last year’s recipients of Outstanding Community Service Awards – former Warwick Valley Dispatch editor and community volunteer Jennifer O’Connor and the duo of Carmela Borrazas and Nichole McCormick, whose unpaid efforts raised an estimated $700,000 to assist local small businesses during the pandemic.
Reservations can be made online at www.warwickvalleyrotary.org. The cost is $65 per person.
Warwick Valley Rotarians sponsor the event with proceeds donated to Rotary International’s project to eliminate polio world-wide. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matches these funds $2 for each dollar raised locally. Co-chairing the event for the 14th time are Leo Kaytes Sr. and Stan Martin. An 11-member selection committee evaluates and selects the honorees.