February 2014 Newsletter
Happy Freezing February. We’d be hard-pressed to find complimentary words for this February’s weather and mishaps. March is usually pretty tough to slog through, too, but let’s be hopeful that we find early Spring in March. Last night’s attendance was light due to the weather, but we made lots of wonderful progress. Jamie Macchia’s gift basket scared up $124 for her pediatric cancer research charity and Cha Sanders won the beautiful basket. We collected $430.00 for the monthly charity raffle and of significant recognition is the fact that Donna Fischer, after six full years of trying, finally won on her ticket. See the distribution of the money below. Our March and April calendars are filling up with loads of community outreach opportunities. Climb onboard. See your social calendar below.
ON YOUR MARK, Staten Island, New York
Although we have donated to On Your Mark several times throughout our tenure, this time Donna Fischer was able to score on her own ticket. Her six-year long curse has been broken. Donna chooses On Your Mark because the organization has very special meaning to her and her family. Her oldest child, Lori, is a long-time resident/worker of On Your Mark and the organization has been a Godsend to the Fischer family.
On Your Mark was founded by Eugene Spatz. Since 1979, On Your Mark, has responded to the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families on Staten Island. The organization assists families with “what to do” as their disabled children grow older and who won’t be able to rely on aging parents for housing, daily living, etc. They service children and adults with disabilities including intellectual disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, tramatic brain injuries and neurological impairments.
We’re happy to be able to donate $215.00 to On Your Mark in honor of Lori and her pals.
MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY ASSOCIATION – MDA Fighting Muscle Disease
Lucille VanWormer is my longest, dearest lady friend from my hometown, Watertown. Lucille is in her ‘80’s and is one of the most vital, energetic women I’ve ever known. Very often Lucille sends the Giving Circle donation checks and keeps up with our activities through our newsletters. Recently she sent a check for $100. I put $50 (five tickets) into the charity raffle and deposited the other $50 in our bank account. One of Lucille’s tickets was drawn on February 26 and I decided to donate her $215.00 winnings to Muscular Dystrophy in honor of Monty Gardner who I met on the recent Cabot Creamery cruise. He is the husband of Dr. Teresa Gardner, the “celebrity” being honored by Cabot for her volunteerism with The Health Wagon in Virginia (actually you can see Teresa on a “60 Minutes” segment very soon). Check out her website at: www.thehealthwagon.org. Monty is struggling mightily with MD; it was so disturbing to watch him try to express himself in conversation when the disease has taken so much of his control away.
MDA is the world’s leading nonprofit health organization sponsoring research seeking the causes of and effective treatments for neuromuscular diseases. MDA research grants currently are supporting more than 250 projects worldwide. Find information on their website about specific services that MDA offers and how to best utilize these man resources, which can make a critical difference in understanding, managing and living day to day with muscle disease.
Update on our 2014 Adopt-a-Pantry Initiative
We are so excited and gratified to find that this very simple, easy to put forward idea has taken a real foothold in our community. It is our goal to find business owners, organizations and individuals to be donors to fund our nearly 40 food pantries throughout the year. Our plan is easy. The Donor must commit to a six-month stint with the pantry of their choice (or we can assign a pantry is that is more desirable). Gold Level Donors will contribute $500/month for six months; Silver Level Donors will contribute $350/month; and, Bronze Level Donors will contribute $200/month. The Diamond Level would be an exclusive honor to the Donor contributing $500/month for an entire year. In the just over one month since we rolled out this initiative we have been able to secure nearly $10,000 in donations for our community. And just since last night’s meeting, I have two very solid possibilities (Kohl’s and the Soroptimist organization). I will be in touch with the principles at these two community activists to try to reach a definitive collaboration. Also, The Nicotra Foundation finalized their $1,500 donation to our initiative with Trinity Lutheran Church and Cabot Creamery (VT) pledged a bronze level commitment to St. Edward Food Pantry. It’s our hope and objective to have each and every one of you pursue at least one prospective Donor. This is an invaluable project and wouldn’t you feel so proud to be able to say, “I found a donor.” Everyone we approach has had nothing but complimentary comments about this initiative. I think we really hit on the perfect year-long initiative. And it’s my hope that we can encourage the Donors to have meaningful dialogs with the Pantries they choose with the hope that commitment will continue far beyond this first year of our plan.
Nino’s Restaurant Richmond Senior Services
Dairy Maid Ravioli Our Lady of Good Counsel
The Nicotra Foundation Trinity Lutheran Church
Linda Walsh Holy Rosary
Cabot Creamery St. Edward Food Pantry
St. Pio of Pietrelcina Society Holy Rosary
(These are our definites; we have several pending promises that just need official sign offs. These donors are: Soroptimists, Kohl’s, possibly The Staaten, possibly Fidelis Cares, possibly Staten Island Nissan, possibly the Retired Principals/Vice-Principals group, Styl-o-Pedic Shoes is reading our information as is LaStrada Restaurant). And Robert and Mary Alfano are taking a second look at a possible donorship.
At the end of Wednesday’s meeting Mr. Robert Alfano called me over and handed me a sealed envelop with a check to be given to the Three Brothers (remember in December Michele Baialardo told us about these three boys). These teenaged boys lost their mother (no father on the scene) and were trying to manage on their own in an apartment instead of going into foster care. In December Mr. Alfano contributed $500 to the boys and the Social Worker bought food and necessities for them. Well, this time Mr. Alfano was hoping to give the money to the boys outright so they could buy something of their choice. We were subsequently informed by the Social Worker that the situation has deteriorated to a point where it would be unfair to take this money from Mr. Alfano as the boys are in such disarray that it is most probable that they will have to enter foster care. Mr. Alfano’s generosity seems to get thwarted, but we do not want to take advantage so we must keep explaining these situations to him in the hopes that he doesn’t give up on our projects and in the hopes he finds it in his heart to redirect these kind offerings of money.
Successful Old Business
We are so happy to report that our collaboration with Oakwood Community Church on their bi-annual blood drive February 23 was very successful; Oakwood had a full house for the majority of the day. This is an endeavor so necessary, particularly in such a bad winter. Mike used two pints of blood during his surgery so I am thankful that Oakwood Church and the Giving Circle made such a strong effort to restock the shelves.
Camp Good Grief
Linda Steinman wrote us a lovely thank you for our October charity donation and Camille Stern (the raffle winner) wanted me to be sure to remind you all to keep track of what Camp Good Grief is doing all year long. If you know of a child who would benefit from this very wonderful community outreach, please get in contact with Linda and Erwin Steinman. These are remarkable people. Google Camp Good Grief to give your heart a rush.
A Couple of Things on Hold
Jennifer DePaolo – our military adoptee
Tina explained that we still have had no response from our military adoptee herself or from the organization acknowledging our packages or commitment to connect with Jennifer DePaolo. We are stymied about the lack of communication and continue to try to find out the status of our six-month commitment, but right now we still haven’t made contact.
Workshops for Project Hospitality
Our hope to present a Parenting Workshop has been slowed as well. We are trying to work with Maritza at Project Hospitality to agree on a speaker, date, etc. This event has been slowed due to Maritza’s heavy-duty schedule and my absence full time because of Mike’s hospitalization. We hope to get this event tucked away in March. If finding the “right” moderator proves probematic right now, we can move on to another workshop such as Resume Writing, Nutrition, Zumba.
International Potluck Dinner
Because we are hoping to make the International Potluck Dinner more than just a social eating event for ourselves (we want to make it a community-wide fundraiser), and because Mike was interested in trying to get the committee going and is now in absentia, this event has slowed, but we feel sure we can organize something substantial for the autumn. We’re hoping to secure a beautiful venue (possibly Snug Harbor) and invite the community.
UAME Roof and Other Repair Work to be done this early summer by Ohio Habitat for Humanity people and the Saratoga Giving Circle have not been forgotten. Mike is in charge of coordinating these projects and, please know that he just has been incommunicato for a few weeks due to his accident and hospitalization; he is very anxious to proceed with plans for these projects.
LOTS GOING FORWARD
Prom Attire and Communion Attire - You know the drill….bring in gently-used prom attire (dresses, shoes, handbags and tuxedos if you have them). We will store everything at the bank facility (Richmond County Bank) until Spring. We hope to find a venue again this year where the young people can come peruse our collection and choose a gown for their special night. You can also contribute communion attire which we will offer to a church or two for children receiving Communion and needing the very expensive attire. Styl-o-Pedic Shoes (Ron Cole) delivered a couple hundred pairs of shoes to us to distribute last week and part of the contribution included prom shoes. The rest of the shoes will go to Delaware County to very impoverished children of Appalachia.
Children’s Birthday Parties and Movie Nights – Continuing on like clockwork thanks to our dedicated team (Phyllis, Ann, Lucille and helpers).
Carole Speth will be putting together the March Gift Basket.
We will be coordinating with Oakwood Community Church to hold a GIANT SPRING RUMMAGE/YARD SALE. We will let you know a date asap. Proceeds will help boost our savings account so we can continue with our birthday parties, administrative expenses (website, postage, etc.) AND we will all get rid of lots of extra “stuff.” It will be fun and profitable.
Our Junior Giving Circle at I.S. 75 (supervised by Samantha Pettinato) is going full tilt ahead. These kids are putting forth wonderful, creative ideas and making them click. They hosted an in school Have a Heart dance at Valentine’s time and raised a nice amount of money for a hospital that performs heart transplants. They ran a pet supplies and blanket drive and delivered the goods to an animal rescue facility. They collected 100 teddy bears and handmade cards which were distributed to residents of Eger Nursing Home on Valentine’s Day. These kids are going to run right past us if we aren’t careful. I love all their ideas.
Wednesday, March 5 I am looking forward to a telephone conversation with Mike Foote from The DREAM Project and we can start to brainstorm how this magnificent educational mentoring program can work here on Staten Island.
Sunday, March 9 – Yogathon Fundraiser for Staten Island Meals on Wheels, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Contact FranRYT@gmail.com.
Wednesday, March 19 will be our next meeting, at 7 p.m. at the Old Bermuda Inn and our guest speaker will be Michael Skinner from Staten Island Mental Health. Mr. Skinner will have lots of new information on the programs continuing for Hurricane Sandy victims after the end of the Project Hope initiative.
Saturday, March 22 – Pack 5/Troop 5 Pancake Breakfast. This is our favorite little Cub Pack/Boy Scout Troop (Tina’s boys are members). The yummy breakfast will be held 9:00 a.m. – 11 a.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea – O’Mara Hall; $5/person. There is a 50/50 raffle. Remember Tina’s e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, March 23 – Soroptimist Ruby Award: For Women Helping Women. Our own Mary Traina and Michele Baialardo will be receiving the Ruby Award at a luncheon at The Hilton Garden Inn from noon to 4:00 p.m. The Luncheon is $70/person (red shoes optional). You can send your checks to Joanie Galestro, 81 Sampson Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10308 by March 10. Let’s all be there to support two of our favorite Giving Circle execs.
Saturday, March 29 – Miss Staten Island 2014, Jamie Macchia, will be performing along with a great group of talented performers at the College of Staten Island from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Jamie’s proceeds will fund her platform of pediatric cancer research. You can order tickets through her website at: www.MissSI2014.eventbrite.com. This is another great opportunity to come together to honor one of our favorite members.
AND, the ENTIRE month of March is Margaret Mary (Margaret Jr.)’s huge month-long campaign “Luck of the Irish” to benefit her “Little Sister,” Yesenia Parker (young girl shot and paralyzed last year). There will be a winner every day and Margaret has scared up unbelievable prizes.
Thursday, April 10 – “DINING OUT AGAINST HUNGER” – We will once again congregate at the Old Bermuda Inn (this has become an annual event for us). Last year we had 90 people Dining Out. Let’s try to equal or surpass that big turnout. We have 20+ people signed on already this year. Contact me if you want to get on this list. The dinner is $40 (which includes gratuity). This event closely mirrors our 2014 initiative to feed the hungry. Don’t forget to bring along Easter basket goodies for Dawn Casale and her team to construct baskets for underprivileged kids in our community.
Tuesday, April 15, a group of us will travel to the Ronald McDonald House in Long Island to prepare and serve the families housed there that particular evening. We went last year and it filled our hearts with great gratitude to be able to participate there. We are allowed ten people and have eight signed on so only two slots left. Please contact Tina Bilcher-Murphy right away if you want to snag those last two spots. Tina will give you details on how to get there, what to take, etc. The ingredients are bought here and transported; all preparation is done when we arrive on Long Island; no prepared food is allowed. We leave here around 3 p.m. Remember Tina’s e-mail is: email@example.com.
Sunday, April 20 is Easter and Dawn Casale, Laura Altieri and their team will have prepared Easter baskets for disadvantaged kids in our community. Please contribute Easter basket goodies NOW so the baskets can be made up in plenty of time for the big day. You can drop contributions to Dawn at 399 Lenevar Avenue.
Saturday, April 26 at UAME Church will be Margaret Grandstaff’s beautiful baby shower for nearly 30 young, expectant or new mothers in the Stapleton area. She will be looking for diapers, baby food, clothing and baby equipment. Many times these mothers are starting out with nothing. This is the second year Margaret has hosted this event. Margaret will be collecting items right up to the last moment….every item counts. Margaret can use $$$, extra hands, supplies. Carol Crocitto will be supplying a dessert table.
January – Ginny Koeth
February – Jamie Macchia
March – Carole Speth
April – Jeanne Raleigh
May – Adrienne LaGressa and Phyllis Ballarino
June – Camille Stern and Joan Calabrisotto
July – Samantha Pettinato
August – Mirtha Moriarity
September – Carol Crocitto
October – Michele Baialardo and family
November – Kohl’s Girls
December – Eilean Kosinski
Please review the list below for basic ideas for food to bring to each meeting to be given to the food pantries. We will now try to distribute the foods you bring to the pantries not yet being sponsored by donors in our Adopt-a-Pantry program. Seniors and kids are particularly vulnerable this time of year.
SOUP WITH FLIP-TOPS (I.E., PROGRESSO)
BOXED MACARONI & CHEESE
CANNED OR POWDERED MILK OR PARMALOT
COFFEE (INSTANT OR REGULAR)
Always looking for used cell phones (to be refurbished to dial “911” for women on the streets), eyeglasses (for worldwide distribution), pennies/coins for food pantry food.
AND ALWAYS LOOKING FOR DONATIONS OF UNPERISHABLE FOOD FOR THE FOOD PANTRIES. MY PORCH, 240 GUYON AVENUE, HOLDS A TON!!!
Thought for the Day:
LIFE IS A SPECIAL OCCASION!!!
A Poem Dedicated to the Staten Island Giving Circle By Dwight Owens
Giving doesn’t always require money cause time and effort are free.
Giving doesn’t require a resume; it doesn’t require a college degree.
Giving means sacrifice; it’s unselfish and it’s kind.
Giving can mean being a mentor; It’s not meant for those that whine.
Giving shows compassion; It can mean to serve or to volunteer.
But it has to be from the heart; it has to be sincere.
I give because God gave me a 2nd chance at life; It’s my destination.
I owe it all to him as part of my salvation.
I give to help save lives and to give others hope.
I don’t ever want people to be depressed or to sit around and mope.
I give because I literally get chills when I see others smile.
No matter what I’m going through, their joy makes everything worthwhile.
You should give because it could help someone else heal.
That could mean just listening to someone or providing a meal.
You should give because you didn’t get where you are by yourself.
No matter how successful you are, at some point you received someone else’s help.
You should give because it’s simply the right thing to do.
No matter what or how you give, I show my appreciation to you.
If you haven’t been a giver, then start doing it today.
Accidents happen; you may need the same help one day.
No matter how bad your situation may be, there is always someone worse.
It would be wise not to always do it for payback or to be reimbursed.
I’m impressed with the Giving Circle; I’m sure I’m not alone!
Thank you for making a difference; I encourage you to give on.
*The Staten Island Giving Circle is now accepting donations through our website. Please be advised that we are not a 501(3)(c) organization simply because the paperwork would be voluminous trying to track $10 and $20 donations individually. You can, if you choose, earmark your donations for your charity of choice (for a raffle pull) or tell us simply to “add to general fund” for community outreach activities.