Marya Vande-Doyle, of Palmyra, is this year’s honoree from the 54th District for the state Senate Women of Distinction.
Vande-Doyle and her husband, Bill Doyle, founded The Green Angels, an organization based in Wayne County that supports children and families throughout the region. She was nominated by Tricia Kuntz.
“New York State Senate Women of Distinction provides a terrific opportunity to recognize women whose outstanding work and significant contributions have made a difference through their families, careers and community service,” said state Sen. Pam Helming, R-54th District. “Marya Vande-Doyle is the epitome of a Woman of Distinction, a transformative leader who is changing lives, and someone who is an inspiration and mentor to the people around her. She is committed to and passionate about serving children and families in need, while balancing family commitments and a demanding career.
“Her work with The Green Angels has left a notable impact on those who have benefited from the organization’s generosity. For example, during the Free-Cycle holiday program last year, I met a young woman and her mother who went from being clients of The Green Angels to being volunteers with the organization. That shows that ‘Giving Forward and Back’ isn’t just a slogan for Marya and The Green Angels, it is a way of life as they seek to connect those in need with people who can help meet their needs. Marya is worthy of this prestigious honor, and I am pleased to recognize her as my 2019 Woman of Distinction.”
Vande-Doyle grew up in Palmyra, moved away as an adult, and returned with her husband and sons, Liam and Cylas, to be closer to family. She is the director of medical services program development, wellness and telemedicine at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
In 2008, Vande-Doyle and Doyle used a bonus check to create The Green Angels. Focused on helping children live healthier, happier, safer lives, they wrote a business plan and filed for nonprofit status. Vande-Doyle went to the library to read about grant writing so she could grow the organization.
In December 2008, Vande-Doyle and The Green Angels held the first Free-Cycle event, an annual program designed for local families in need of gifts for their children. Since then, the holiday program has grown to serve more than 850 people in a single day while the Free-Cycle has evolved into a year-round referral program.
The organization receives referrals on a daily basis from Wayne County school districts and agencies such as the Wayne Behavioral Health Network, Wayne County Public Health, Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, Victim Resource Center and Wayne County Rural Health Network. The Green Angels respond with toys, books, supplies, food, clothes and infant items in an effort to support children and families in need.
Vande-Doyle and The Green Angels now serve over 1,000 individuals per year throughout Wayne County and Webster with the Free-Cycle program and daily deliveries to local families. The organization is supported by 200 volunteers, one part-time associate and a board of directors. Many people the organization has helped in the past return as volunteers to support the program.
The organization prints a community resource guide. When a young mom shared she didn’t know who to call for free diapers and told Vande-Doyle she would scrape soiled diapers and reuse them wet, Vande-Doyle created the free health and human services directory. With support from the Wayne County Rural Health Network and Rochester Area Community Foundation, more than 65,000 copies have been distributed since 2009.
As president of The Green Angels, Vande-Doyle puts in hours of coordination and compassion alongside her family. According to Kuntz, Vande-Doyle sometimes drives late at night to rural homes with diapers and formula to help a mom in need.
“The Green Angels is empowered by the energy of a wonderful community and the vision of an extraordinary volunteer team,” Vande-Doyle said “I am just one of many who make our outreach happen.”