"Growing up in Ossining, going to birthday parties was like seeing a mini-United Nations," said Omar Herrera, now 22, when describing what he loves most about living here.
He described his friends and their nationalities—Italian, Irish, African-American, Spanish, to name a few—as something he embraced and still treasures about the town.
"It's great to see so many cultures and customs come together," said the Ossining High School graduate, due to graduate from Pace University this spring.
And now he's partially responsible for getting the diverse voices of local residents heard by local lawmakers. Herrera was recently appointed as Community Coordinator by Catherine Borgia, Westchester county legislator for district nine.
He's charged with finding ways to unite the five towns the district covers—Ossining, Croton, Cortlandt, Peekskill and Briarcliff Manor—and with opening communications between residents and Borgia's office.
To that end, he's helped orchestrate two "meet the legislator" coffee hours to be held on Jan. 26 at The Black Cow, from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
"These are opportunities for locals to meet Catherine and let her know what their concerns are," Herrera said.
He's no slouch himself when it comes to talking with locals and finding ways to channel their vision. Herrera is a creative designer of events and through his company, OJH Productions, he has planned everything from weddings with a camping theme to one of the main stages at the annual Ossining Village Fair. And, as a member of the board of directors for the Ossining Chamber of Commerce he markets the groups services and does public relations for their programs.
Exposed to politics at a young age—he completed an internship with Assemblywoman Sandy Galef as a student at Ossining High School—he said he enjoys working with a community leaders.
What he enjoys about local politics, he said, is seeing as many local voices as possible be a part of the political process.