For Tom Leavey recognition as Hibernian of the Year, “means that you have been selected as a person that stands out among volunteers and as a leader who represents their ideals. To receive this award from the Ancient Order of Hibernians is an honor and humbling.”
The Hibernian of the Year award winner is one part of the Pearl River St. Patrick's Day Parade, set for 1:30 p.m. March 20.
“(The parade is more than) costumes, bagpipes, and Irish culture," Leavey said. "It is a reminder that the Irish came to a country where people had rights, where they wouldn’t face religious persecution.
“We came under duress and formed a community that fought religious intolerance and injustice. A lot of the ideals of the Irish people regarding social, political and economic justice are included in the U.S. constitution.”
The 10-year anniversary of the terrorist 9/11 terrorist attacks will be remembered in the dedication for this year's parade. Leavey was a first responder that day.
“The parade means people coming together, proud of their heritage and helping to build America," Leavey said. "Also, not afraid to stand up for what they believe in the face of adversity. Many people who will be marching in the parade were also helping at ground zero.”
Volunteerism plays a major role in Leavey’s life. He is a member of Division 5 of the AOH which is based in Blauvelt and active in events all over Rockland County.
On May 28, Leavey will be assisting in running the Helen Hayes Stroke Foundation Race at Rockland Lake which is sponsored by Division 5 AOH. He comments that the event features a four-mile-run and a one-mile walk to foster “a healthier life style to help combat stroke with exercise. Also, to show that if you have had a stroke, exercise can help you recover.”
He also is looking forward to the New York State AOH Convention at the Pearl River Hilton from July 13-16 and the Rockland County Feis (festival) on July 17 at Anthony Wayne State Park.
Throughout the years Leavey has been active with various local organizations. He coached St Catherine’s CYO basketball and Little League baseball in Orangetown. He received an award for his years of volunteer work with the Soap Box Derby in Pearl River. He assisted in organizing the Rockland County Fair in Clarkstown and also volunteers at the Rockland County Feis. He played semi pro football with the Rockland Warriors at The Marion Shrine in Haverstraw.
Leavey resides in Valley Cottage with his wife Barbara and their many rescue dogs. His son, Tom Jr., is a computer security specialist. Leavey’s hobbies include writing, photography, canoeing and jogging.
He is a member of the Haverstraw Elks Club, served as 1st vice president of Hi-Tor Animal Care Center and is currently on the Board of Directors of Hi-Tor ACC. Leavey was an Ed Moane recruit to the AOH. He is serving his third year as president of Division 5 AOH. His goal is to attract new members by participating in events that will benefit the Irish community.