The Eleanor Roosevelt Award has been established to recognize the women of Oswego County who exemplify the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Eleanor, orphaned at 10, niece of one president and wife of another, was an outspoken advocate for human rights, women’s issues and children’s causes.
Mother of six, she was active in public service, working for the Red Cross and standing up to racial discrimination.
After World War II, Eleanor was our delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1953 and chaired the UN’s Human Rights Commission, helping to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 1961 President Kennedy appointed her as UN delegate once again and chair of the Commission on the Status of women.
She died in 1962 leaving a legacy of courage and unselfish commitment to service, justice and compassion.
Martha Hammill was selected as the first recipient of this award for her outstanding contributions to this community in the spirit of Eleanor.
Her commitment to serving the community started early with her church youth group, which she served as president.
She graduated from Nottingham High School and SUNY Potsdam, where she met her husband more than 50 years ago.
They have two sons and four grandchildren.
Martha started teaching at a Montessori Nursery School and spent 35 years teaching fourth and fifth grade.
At SUNY Oswego, Martha developed an oral history project for fifth graders, with interviews of grandparents compiled and published as a book for each child and grandparent.
Martha has been a leader and volunteer for many years in all aspects of her life.
As a teacher she served as a union representative for the Classroom Teachers Association, team leader for Intermediate Grades, was Teacher of the Year 1983, and established the Laurie Godfrey Writing Award which is annually awarded to a fifth grader at Leighton Elementary School.
She also supervised student teachers for SUNY Oswego Education Department.
Martha has been everything from a Cub Scout leader, band parent, poll watcher and to an election inspector.
She has served on the Oswego City Democratic Committee, chaired the Campus City Relations Committee and served on the boards of the Oswego County Opportunities, Oswego Maritime Foundation and the Oswego Opera Theater.
She has volunteered for the Oswego Public Library, Marine Museum, YMCA and Oswego Yacht Club.
Martha was an integral part of husband Terry’s campaign for mayor of the city of Oswego and assumed the many responsibilities of First Lady of Oswego for eight years.
She has been a great mentor for many that have pursued elected office since then.
Amy Tresidder, Oswego Legislator and candidate for New York State Senate, praised Martha for her humility and commitment to service.
She spoke of how Martha had served as a role model and mentor to her.
Martha’s example, as well as Amy’s own family’s values, led her to the decision to enter the race for New York State Senate.
Stephanie Miner, mayor of Syracuse and co-chair of the New York State Democratic Party was the featured speaker at the event, which was held at the Oasis Banquet facility in Fulton.
She spoke about women’s issues in today’s political climate and the importance of each of us speaking up and taking action when we see things that are wrong.
Mike Kunzwiler, chair of the Oswego County Democratic Committee, lauded DAWN for what has been accomplished in the few months since it was organized.
DAWN is Oswego County’s organization of Democratic women working to make a difference for our community.
It was formed in the spring of this year to support candidates for public office who support women’s issues, educate its members and neighbors about current affairs in Oswego County, and make connections with like-minded women.
Membership is open to Democratic women who want to connect with like-minded women and make a difference for the better.
Interested women can contact the group at [email protected]