CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. – Chereese Jervis-Hill, the newest member of Westchester County’s African American Advisory Board, is no stranger to the concept of giving back to the community.
The Cortlandt Manor mom of two has supported numerous causes, through her work as an event planner and public relations person for nonprofit organizations, communities, local businesses and corporations.
Her Mount Kisco-based business, Events To Remember, takes care of all the behind-the-scenes logistics for big gatherings, such as Yorktown’s Festival & Street Fair and Mount Kisco’s sidewalk sales.
“It’s a process, from the catering to the décor to publicity. We’re a one-stop shop,” Jervis-Hill says.
Now Jervis-Hill has the chance to make an even bigger impact in people’s lives with her new appointment to the board.
Its mission is to provide information and assistance to identify and resolve issues affecting African Americans.
The board partners with other agencies to make available resources regarding business development, employment opportunities and youth scholarships among other things. It also helps to develop and implement programs which recognize the history, accomplishments and contributions of Westchester’s African Americans.
Jervis-Hill was nominated in September and is just getting her feet wet as chairwoman of the board’s committee on housing, an issue she is passionate about.
Like a lot of people, Jervis-Hill said she didn’t even know the board existed or what it did until she heard about it at an event last year.
“I was really excited to hear about it,” she says.
Once on the board, she says she “stepped up” to head its housing committee.
Jervis-Hill, who was raised in the South Bronx, has lived in Westchester for more than 20 years. One daughter has graduated from Walter Panas High School in the Lakeland School District and is now in grad school; the other is a 10th-grader at Walter Panas and is an avid chef and lacrosse player.
She says the county’s amenities, such as its parks, hiking trails, schools and access to the beautiful Hudson River, never get old.
“People says it’s expensive, which is true,” she says, “but everyone still wants to live here.”
Jervis-Hill said she wants to shed light on affordable housing in Westchester.
One of her new missions is to. Jervis-Hill says, “shed light on affordable housing, especially for the African-American community.”
"I’d like to see more African-Americans living a prosperous life in a really nice area like Westchester,” she said.
Housing isn’t the only issue the board addresses; it also tackles the economy, health and human services, and education, to name a few. Barbara Edwards, president of the board, is "amazing," Jervis-Hill said.
“She keeps everyone on task,” she says. “There are a million and one things concerning the African American community that we could talk about, but our real goal is to come up with solutions.”
The board meets once a month and often invites various community leaders and county government types to come listen and to give feedback, Jervis-Hill says. For instance, she says, they recently confabbed with county folks on a fatherhood initiative.
Once solutions for a particular problem are solidified, they are handed off to County Executive Rob Astorino, whom Jervis-Hill commended for his support of the board’s mission.
Jervis-Hill also supports Support Connection in Yorktown and hosts her fundraisers like Sassy Lades Shopping Night Out, which raised funds for United for the Troops.
How does she have the energy not only to run a growing business, have a family and take on such an important county role?
“I drink a lot of coffee,” Jervis-Hill says, laughing. “No, really. I’m not going in there, saying I’m going to change the world.” “My hope, at the end of the day, is to make a small difference. If everyone of us could just cause a ripple, then we could create a wave.”