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Art By: George Ortiz

Ric Swierat to Receive Legacy Award at A Matter of Taste

Posted on : 10/02/2017

On Tuesday, October 17th, during the 14thAnnual A Matter of Taste at the Glen Island Harbour Club, our executive director, Ric Swierat, will be honored with the Legacy Award. During his 35 years leading our organization, Ric has played an integral role in helping Arc of Westchester’s clients build meaningful lives and deepen their connection to the community.We spoke with Ric about the upcoming event and what the hopes attendees take away from their experience at A Matter of Taste.

Talk to us about the early days of A Matter of Taste

A Matter of Taste started as a much smaller event, but quickly amassed a loyal group of supporters. As attendance has grown and more restaurants have participated, we’ve had the opportunity to connect with more families, employers and resources. Our volunteer committee is the backbone of this event and what they have helped this organization to accomplish through A Matter of Taste is incredible. Our gallery265 now has a permanent art exhibit at Sam’s of Gedney Way in White Plains and that’s all thanks to Peter Herrero who is part of that committee. 

What do you hope attendees will take away from the event?

Every year attendees are struck by the fact that we have another great story to tell. Arc of Westchester provides so many services to so many people with intellectual and development disabilities (I/DD)and there are countless ways in which these services are delivered. We still have many more stories to tell and that’s what makes A Matter of Taste much more than just an event.

Is there a moment that stands out to you from a prior A Matter of Taste?

In 2015, we presented the Business Partner Award to Jackson Lewis PC. They hired their first Project SEARCH Collaborates for Autism graduate in 2013 and that was the beginning of a wonderful partnership. When Joseph Saccomano accepted the award, he gave one of the most emotionally compelling and impactful speeches I have ever heard about why employers should hire people with I/DD. The story he told about the firm’s experience hiring our clients proved that great employers integrate the fabric of the entire community into their workforce.

What if your hope for the future of A Matter of Taste?

I hope that our organization continues to learn from the event. A Matter of Taste gives us an avenue for connecting with people who can give us new things to think about. Whether it’s what we do as an organization,or how we think about our work and those we serve, there is a lot we can learn from those who support and partner with us throughout the year.Every year, we have a room full of people telling their own heartfelt stories to one another about their loved ones and how they have been impacted by Arc of Westchester. Those stories are what keep us going and motivate us to find new ways to better the lives of those we serve.

What is your hope for the future of Arc of Westchester?

I hope that people continue to listen to each other and seize opportunities to build off of their thinking about the people that we support. Ideally, someday people will come to see organizations like Arc of Westchester as iconic in the way they often see public figures and celebrities. Organizations like ours are changing perceptions and lifestyles, and it would be great for the community to recognize this work in the same way.

We thank Ric for his steadfast leadership and his unwavering commitment to helping people with I/DD flourish in the Westchester community.It is our pleasure to honor him with the Legacy Award at our 14th Annual A Matter of Taste.

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