Rayn Boncie heads a crisis intervention nonprofit for abused children. Tracy Neitzel advocates for the chronically homeless in Troy. Ned Norton trains people to better handle the physical challenges of their disabilities.
The three “hometown heroes” who might otherwise go unnoticed recently received a special lunch, a plaque of recognition and $1,000 toward their charity of choice.
Trustco Bank announced them as its first three inductees into its Hometown Heroes Hall of Fame on Friday, a wall erected at the bank’s corporate headquarters on Sarnowski Drive in Glenville that displays plaques inscribed with the winners’ names.
The Hall of Fame was created to celebrate local individuals who demonstrate strong community involvement and work hard to make a positive change in their communities, according to a news release issued Friday.
“We are pleased to honor these three individuals who consider themselves to be ordinary people but who each make extraordinary contributions to their communities while asking nothing for themselves,” President and CEO Robert McCormick said in the release. “We may not see their faces on the news or see their names in the headlines, but make no mistake that it is people like this who help to make our communities better places for us all to live in.”
The public nominated individuals for the Hall of Fame honor; a committee reviewed the picks and chose the winners.
Trustco Bank provided the following information about this year’s winners:
• Boncie founded the nonprofit organization Things of My Very Own Inc. in 2008 to provide services to children who have experienced extensive abuse or neglect or live in at-risk situations. Based in Glenville, the organization works with about 5,000 children each year within hours of the initial abuse. Boncie also helps children in Schenectady County with educational, self-esteem-boosting and physical fitness activities.
• Neitzel has spent nearly 25 years advocating for chronically homeless individuals in Troy. She is the executive director of Joseph’s House & Shelter, a nonprofit that operates under the belief that if the homeless are given an opportunity to have a decent, affordable and safe place to live, many of them will make the lifestyle changes necessary to avoid becoming homeless again. Shelter residents have become good neighbors who contribute in their local communities.
• Norton founded the nonprofit Warriors on Wheels 25 years ago as a way to provide strength and stamina training for individuals with disabilities, especially those confined to a wheelchair. The workouts lead to more independence and improved psychological outlooks. His approach gained national and international attention, leading to the creation of similar programs elsewhere.