Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York

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Meet the Humanitarian of the Year Finalists

September 25, 2018 9:11 AM | Donna-Jean Plante (Administrator)

SAAGNY Humanitarian of the Year Award

The SAAGNY Humanitarian of the Year Award is presented to the principal, employee, affiliate, and/or independent contractor of a SAAGNY member company that exemplifies the following traits:

  •  Enhances the image or operations of a charitable entity through their actions and deeds
  • Tirelessly volunteers his/her time to charitable endeavors within or outside the industry
  • Is an example of integrity and professionalism for their company and the industry
  • Generously donates time, money and/or other resources to charitable endeavors within or outside the industry

Meet the Finalists: 

Larry Cohen

Gail Deutchman - Gail has served on SAAGNY Board of Directors for 15 years, The SAAGNY Foundation Board for 5 years, and numerous SAAGNY committees. Gail solicited product donations from industry suppliers used for Happiness is Camping and Foundation events; sold tickets at events to raise money for the Foundation increasing the amount collected year over year; set up the Fall Show for 10 years; set up the Foundation Chinese Auction. Gail is always willing to assist SAAGNY and the Foundation with projects to this day. Gail volunteers in her community- President of the Hebrew school PTA; at her Synagogue spearheading collections of clothing and other items for tragedy victims and hard-hit communities; fundraising at her Synagogue including the Fashion Show and Silent Auction; cares for the elderly including shopping for them and companionship. Gail is always willing to help her fellow Distributors with issues with vendors and “where do I get this product.” They are her competitors but always takes the time to assist in solving a problem for them and brainstorming solutions for their issues.

Ian Miller 

  • Ian is on the Essex County Mental Health Board.  He has been spearheading a drive to get one main routing number for anyone with mental health issues So, one would call a main number, then through a series of prompts be routed to a person who specializes in the issues that one is seeking help.  That will include things like Suicide hot line,  PTST, cops to cops, Alzheimer’s help line and the full spectrum of mental health issues. You will only need one phone number to find help. The last prompt will get you to a crises center. 
  •  Ian is on the board of Tender Loving Totes.  TLT give out tote bags full with products to help homeless people.  With the participation of vendors like Superbag, we supply some of the products and bags for this very worthy charity. The bags are filled with things like shampoo, soap  socks,  gloves and hats as well as water and a book.
  • Ian is involved in peer counseling for people who are dealing with family members who are suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s supplying resources, and a person to speak with who has been there.
  • Ian is working with the Essex County jails to determine what if any part Literacy is affecting the inmate population, If a determination is made that there is a cause/effect relationship ( study is currently underway) then programs will be put in place to help address the problem.


Shari Verrone - I’m
very honored to be nominated for this year’s SAAGNY Humanitarian of the Year Award.  Helping those within my community and industry has always been a rewarding experience for me.

Personally, I volunteer working with senior citizens by being a companion and playing cards with them.  I also volunteer and visit an elderly woman when her family is not available so she is not lonely. I am in the final stage of becoming a ‘buddy’ who I will meet with once a month from a local homeless shelter to be a role model and confidant. I had the fortunate opportunity to volunteer at a camp once specializing in helping kids with cancer as well.

I encourage my staff to volunteer within the community or at an organization that has meaning to them by offering them a paid day to spend volunteering once a month in the summer months.  I’m also initiating an internal self-development program called Stackable Sensations University.  Each employee, in order to graduate, will be required to take a language course (Rosetta Stone), LinkedIn courses, Health and Wellness program and read a book and give an oral presentation of their choice to name a few of their classes. 

I do my best to give wherever I can. Monetarily or donations to Disability Matters, Cardinal McCloskey Community Services, JDRF-Diabetes, Make a Wish Foundation as well as local schools and sports teams.  Last year during the hurricane that devastated Houston I took a supplier on a shopping trip for new clothes that had lost everything.  Many of our larger clients are also ramping up diversity and inclusion clubs and I connect clients that can learn from each other to help everyone achieve their goals.

Within the industry I am an active mentor in Promo Kitchen plus mentor two other distributors (Florida and Canada) helping them with creativity and strategizing.  I have been a speaker at the WPEO (Women Presidents’ Educational Organization) meeting in NYC to help businesses get to the next level.  We have outlined a section of our new website coming out shortly dedicated to “helping connect” people with resources or contacts they are looking to meet that can help grow their business.  Recently I was in Florida seeing a client and after my meeting I met up with my Florida mentees, who are newer to the industry, looking for some guidance on their processes and projects.   It was a very productive afternoon for all of us and something I wish I would have been able to have when I started in the industry.

Thank you for this nomination.  Every year I’m grateful for being a SAAGNY member and relationships that have come out of it.


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