2020 Winner: Melissa Banks

“We are happy to announce Melissa Banks as the 2020 Kingston Proud recipient for her exceptional success as the founder and director of Christmas Wishes Ulster County, a charitable organization that serves more than 1,000 children each year,” said John Fisher, founder of The New York Injury & Malpractice Law Firm, P.C., a catastrophic personal injury law firm located in Kingston, NY.

Kingston Proud is an important part of the John H. Fisher law firm’s commitment to improving the Kingston community by acknowledging a local business person or business organization who best exemplifies a sense of community while achieving noteworthy success. The Kingston Proud recipient receives a $ 500 award that is donated to a charitable organization of their choice.

Ms. Banks is donating her $500 award to Christmas Wishes Ulster County, a non-profit 5013c organization she founded in 2014, driven by the single goal of “doing our part in making the world a better place for all by helping those in need.”

Christmas Wishes Ulster County started with providing holiday gifts for at-risk children and then expanded to provide services to help families through a variety of programs throughout the year including; Adopt-a -Child for Christmas to purchase Christmas gifts for children, Back to School Drive to provide backpacks and school supplies, Halloween & Character Parties for children year-round, Birthday Party Programs for at-risk children, and gift supply kits for chemotherapy patients.

“This Kingston Proud award of $500 couldn’t come at a more important time for Christmas Wishes,” said Ms. Banks concerned over the shortened garage sale season and other fundraising events during a pandemic.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 Kingston Proud Award. To be eligible, the nominee should a person or organization of notable success and who has also made contributions to the betterment of our community in the Kingston area.


2019 Winner: Elenie Loizou

“Congratulations Elenie! You exemplify what makes Kingston and Ulster County a great place to grow a business or a family,” announced John Fisher, owner and founder of The New York Injury & Malpractice Law Firm, P.C., a Kingston law firm representing the catastrophically injured in New York and across the country.

Nominated for her thirty years championing services for those in need, Elenie serves in a variety of leadership roles including; past president of Junior League of Kingston ‘Cinderella’s Closet’ providing free prom dresses and tuxedos for high school students from Ulster and Dutchess Counties, Vice President of People’s Place, a Kingston food and clothing free pantry, president of the Hellenic Society and active member of the St. George Orthodox Church, president of KUBA, the Kingston Uptown Business Association, and continues to serve as an advisory member of the Ulster County Executive Committee working on extending social opportunities for our elderly.

As a third-generation owner of Dietz Stadium Diner located at 127 North Front Street in Kingston, Elenie says she learned early about giving back to the community. Keeping a business operating through economic ups and downs and helping others is a family tradition with Elenie starting with her grandparents who founded the popular diner in 1961.

“My take away in life is pretty simple. I give back to the community that has given to me and to our family and I include my children in all of our community activities,” says Elenie as she continues the family tradition of uber-community involvement with her husband of 30 years and their five children, including two sets of twins.

Elenie will donate the $500 Kingston Proud Award to People’s Place, “where they could use the money,” says Elenie.

2018 Winner: John Perry

Congratulations to John Perry, the 2018 Kingston Proud Award Recipient, in recognition for his twenty years as a successful entrepreneur and owner of Signature Fitness, a premier institution for anyone interested in maintaining and improving their health and fitness. Located at 33 Front Street in the Kingston Historic District, Signature Fitness remains a signature part of the Kingston Uptown landscape.

Mr. Perry’s exemplary character has resulted in his business and community successes. His life of service has enriched the lives of our citizens, most especially the youngest and most vulnerable.

The $500 Kingston Proud Award is being donated to Mr. Perry’s local charity of choice – The Boys & Girls Club of Ulster County – where he once received critical services that made all the difference in his life as the child of a single parent living in low-income housing.

Mr. Perry, we acknowledge and thank you for being an important part of what makes Kingston such a caring and extraordinary place that we are proud to call, “Home.”