Vito J. Pitta Scholarships awarded to 35 students
HTC - June 25, 2012
In what is always considered to be one of the happiest days of the year, a total of $280,000 in college scholarships was awarded on June 14th to 35 high school seniors. The students are children of eligible members of our Union, and they represent a promising future for all of us.
The awards ceremony was held at the Park Lane Hotel. The ceremony was opened by Victoria Spitalere, the administrator of the Training and Scholarship Fund.
Ms. Spitalere introduced the members of the scholarship committee, all of whom are professional educators. It is these professionals who determine the recipients of the scholarship awards, with the Union and management having no say in selecting the winners.
Hotel Association President Joseph Spinnato welcomed the scholarship recipients, telling them that he was happy and proud to participate in the ceremony. He urged them to continue to do well in their studies and said he was confident they would succeed in their professional careers.
Union President Peter Ward said that not only did the students deserve congratulations but their parents did as well. "These scholarships represent a lot of hard work, from both parents and students, and we salute them all," he said.
Ward thanked Benefit Funds Chief Executive Officer Dr. Robert Greenspan and the staff of the Funds Office for their excellent work administering the scholarship program and all the other benefits enjoyed by members of our Union and their families.
Ward also thanked the Hotel Association and Joseph Spinnato for meeting with the Union six months before the expiration of the current contract and agreeing to a new, seven-year deal (which begins July 1). "It is management that funds the scholarship program and all the other benefits," Ward said, "so it is most appropriate to express appreciation to them today, when these bright and promising students receive grants to help them achieve their educational and career goals." Ward concluded by telling the students' parents, "You make our industry a success," and telling the students, "You make all of us proud."
Benefit Funds CEO Dr. Robert Greenspan told the students that colleges and universities are "incubators of independent thought." He told them they would no doubt feel pressure "to conform, to fit in, and to go with the flow." He urged them to resist this pressure and not to be afraid to dissent. "We need more rebels and prime movers," Greenspan said, adding, "Only be questioning what is can you imagine what can be."
Dr. Lawrence Momo, the Chairman of the Awards Selection Committee, told the students that like many of them he was the first in his family to attend college. He encouraged the students to always reach out to others. He then announced the scholarship recipients, as each one came forward to receive their award certificate from Ward and Spinnato.
The annual scholarship awards are one of the proudest accomplishments for the Union. Since the program's inception, in 1987, a total of $6,800,000 has been awarded to 850 children of Hotel Trades Council and/or Local 6 members. The parents of 803 of those scholarship recipients work or worked in hotels, and the rest work or worked in private clubs covered by Local 6 contracts.
This year's grant recipients are an extraordinary group of scholars. Short sketches of each scholarship winner are published in the centerfold of this edition of Hotel Voice. We are confident that these students will do as well as their predecessors and continue the scholarship program's unprecedented record of success.
We express our sincere congratulations to the 2012 Vito J. Pitta Scholarship recipients and to their hard working parents. All of them - parents and students alike - make us proud!