Friday, August 24, 2012

"Wish For Change" in Summer Camps

For most people, the summer is a time of sun and relaxation. The work of Miss Staten Island, however, never ends! This summer, I decided to visit all 4 United Activities Unlimited (UAU) Camps on the island. Just as I did in the schools during the year, I went into the camps and explained about Make-A-Wish and the "Wish For Change" Fundraiser. The four camps included: St. John's Lutheran, Staten Island Technical High School, PS 53, & PS 55/56.
All of the campers were very excited to begin their fundraising and I was eager to see who would come out victorious. It was up to the camp directors to decide how they wanted to split up the teams, but overall it seemed that the girls raised the most! Congratulations to the winning groups:

St. John's Lutheran: Girls ages 8-9
Staten Island Tech: Girls
PS 53: Girls
PS 55/56: 3rd grade

The winning groups received a special (& delicious) prize from me!

Since it was summer, I wasn't sure how well the program would work. I'm glad I gave it a try, though, because all of the campers did an awesome job! They created their own mini fundraisers (like bake sales and car washes) and raised a lot of money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation! We came out with a grand total of:

All of this money has been sent directly to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York and Western New York. I realized the other day that this brings my personal total for the year to over $18,000 donated. I am incredibly excited and proud!

One camp, though, went above and beyond, raising nearly 71% of the entire total for all UAU Camps!
Congratulations to PS 55/56 UAU Camp which raised $1,150.33!
Under the direction of Kieran Burns, this camp showed the true spirit of volunteering. On August 10th, I joined the 3rd grade campers at PS 55/56 for a pizza party to reward them for all of their hard work. After a delicious meal, we gathered the entire camp in the gym, where I commended them for their time and efforts, answered more questions, and rewarded a few of the kids for really displaying what volunteering is all about. Campers Anthony Arnone, Samantha Arnone, Gianna Badamo, Richard Badamo, and Omar Elmogazy all held their own fundraisers and contributed to their outstanding $1,150 total. Congratulations to all of you at PS 55/56 Camp! You are amazing!
Want to see more pictures? Check out this album on my Miss Staten Island Public Figure FB Page!

A special thanks goes out to Executive Director Joe Menella and Camp Directors Kieran Burns, Brianne Previti, Meghan Donoghue and Mike Riccardelli for all their help.  Way to go Staten Island!

Monday, August 20, 2012

S.I. Yankees: First Pitch

On Saturday, August 11th, I was asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a S.I. Yankees Game. It was coordinated for me by Terry Tarangelo, who is both a member of the South Shore Rotary and on the Miss New York Board. When I was asked, I was excited, but definitely nervous, as well. I had never done anything like that - especially not in front of a huge crowd!
When I arrived I was brought down by the field and told how things were going to run. I met the mascots and the the S.I. Yankee crew. Cardinal Dolan was also in the stadium. He was throwing out another "first pitch" right after me. I had the opportunity to talk with him - what a funny man!
I started to feel my nerves. All I hoped for was to make it to the plate. They announced me and I walked onto the field. After a few deeps breaths I let the ball fly from my hand and....
I reached the plate!
Okay, so it hit the ground once it got to the plate, but I still made it there! Feeling proud of myself, and a little shaky, I got my first pitch baseball signed by the catcher, Evan DeLuca #26 (who is typically the team's pitcher).
Just when I thought it was time to relax, I was told of another appearance I would be making on the field. Though I am a "performer" I still get very nervous improvising in front of crowd, so when I heard about the skit I would be doing, I was a little scared. My nerves were quickly calmed, though, after the 4th inning when I met my skit partners: Red (one of the mascots) and a little boy named Mikey. I had a lot of fun performing with the two of them and I think crowd enjoyed it, as well!
Of course, the night wouldn’t have been complete without a little bit of drama. We discovered that our car had broken down and we were unable to drive anywhere after the game! It took a while to get home that night, but with some help from Doreen (my boyfriend’s mom) and the “tow truck man,” we finally made it. Thank you both for all of your help.
The game was an experience I will never forget and something I'm honored to have been asked to do. Thank you so much to the S.I. Yankees for having me, and to the Miss NY Organization for thinking of me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Interview with "Just Be Me!"

I first met Belinda Mendez-Azzollini when I participated in her "Show Everyone Love" Campaign Fundraiser. From that day, it has been wonderful to continue supporting her organization, "Just Be Me!" and help her develop new ways for it to grow.
"Just Be Me!" is an organization that works to foster leadership in today's youth. Their motto is, "Empowering young people to become active, so they can make a difference." The organization also focuses on current issues facing kids. For example, the "Show Everyone Love" Campaign worked to prevent bullying.
On Friday, Belinda asked me to join some the student volunteers for an interview by Senator Savino's office. On the steps of one of the courthouses, they asked me about bullying, cyber-bullying, and advice I would give to children. Because I was bullied as a teenager, I was able to speak openly about my opinions and experiences.
Thank you, Belinda, for always including me in your projects. It was a great interview and I look forward to working more with you in the near future!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Corporal Allan F. Kivlehan Park

Last week, on July 27th, I joined the Korean War Veterans to honor one of Staten Island’s very own heroes as we renamed New Dorp Beach Park, “Corporal Allan F. Kivlehan Park.”
On Sept. 29, 2011, the Parks Department renamed the small park in New Dorp Beach. There were no signs, however, to tell anyone who this man was. Last Friday, the signs were posted and additional plaques were given to Kivlehan’s family.
Cpl. Allan Kivlehan was only 18 years old when he was called to serve in the Korean War. Shortly after arriving in Korea, he was captured, along with many other American soldiers. These prisoners were herded and marched toward North Korea in what became known as the “Tiger Death March.” Over 800 started the march and only 240 lived through captivity. Along the way, Cpl. Kivlehan was killed, but his body was never recovered. This story is now permanently placed on a plaque in "Corporal Allan F. Kivlehan Park."
Kivlehan was born and raised in New Dorp Beach, which is what makes this dedication so special. He attended PS 41 in New Dorp and New Dorp High School. He also attended Our Lady of Lourdes Church, which is located within the park.
The ceremony included politicians, a Parks Department representative, members of the Staten Island Korean community, and, of course, our Korean War Veterans. Though the forecast said rain, the weather definitely held out. It was sunny and hot the entire morning! It’s a good thing, too, because it made the ceremony much more beautiful.

This event was especially important to me because my grandpa was a Korean War Veteran. It was an honor to have taken part in what will surely be a momentous occasion in Staten Island’s history. Just like my grandpa, and the other brave veterans, Cpl. Allan Kivlehan was a Staten Island hero who gave his life for our country and he will forever be remembered and admired by future generations.