Saturday, November 24, 2012

Children's Day Parade

Back on October 20th, I had another "double-header" appearance day. I began the morning at the Children's Day Parade at the Henry Kaufmann CampgroundAt the event, which was sponsored by District 31 of the City Department of Education, students from more than 10 Staten Island public schools had the chance to showcase their talents.
Joined, once again, by Alexa Moley, Miss Richmond County's Outstanding Teen, I began the day greeting the many children who were participating in the event. We met the District Superintendent, Erminia Claudio, and all of the volunteers working to make the day special.
Before the parade began, we had time to enjoy the beautiful weather and surroundings. Though it was October, the weather felt like Spring, and it was certainly enjoyed by everyone.
Alexa and I were shown to our spots, right next to the Grand Marshall (& her granddaughter). The parade then began. We were followed by all of the students from various Staten Island public schools. We marched to the other side of the camp for the second part of the event. After the Pledge of Allegiance,  national anthem, and speech by the Grand Marshall, the schools began their performances. One by one, they blew me away! From music to dancing, they were all so talented.

I had a lot of fun at the Children's Day Parade with Alexa. We were lucky to have such a gorgeous day to spend outside and it was wonderful to see how much talent lies in our public schools. As a product of the public school system in District 31, myself, it was an honor to be a part of this day. It just goes to show what can come from an amazing public school education in Staten Island! Thank you for having me!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Italian Heritage Award

Advance columnist, Carol Ann Benanti, is always working to promote the "unsung heroes" of Staten Island in her Inside Out column. On October 14th, though, Ms. Benanti was the one being recognized and honored with an Italian Heritage Award.
The Miss Staten Island Organization titleholders were invited to join in the celebration at the Grand Oaks Country Club. Ms. Benanti has been instrumental in sharing my volunteering endeavors with the Staten Island community. With her help, I have been able to truly be a figurehead for this borough. It was my honor to join her on her special day.
The ceremony included special performances by Italian organizations from the island, including a singing trio, child violinists, and a dance troop. Brunch was served and everyone seemed to be enjoying the beautiful tribute to the Italian culture.
Carol Ann Benanti accepted a plaque, which was presented to her by our Borough President, James Molinaro. I could tell how grateful she was, not only for the award, but for the presence of her friends and family. For such a wonderful woman, though, how could she not have all of our support?
Thank you, Ms. Benanti, for thinking of us on this day. All of us at the Miss Staten Island Organization are lucky to have your support and we are glad to give it to you in return. You are an amazing woman and perfect representation of the strong Italian Heritage on Staten Island.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Out Of The Darkness

October 14th was a busy day with two appearances (followed by dance team at Wagner). First was the AFSP Out Of The Darkness Community Walk. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. This walk, which was held in Clove Lakes Park, benefited AFSP.
I was invited to the walk by a family friend, Sara. She lost her brother to suicide and knows the impact it can have on a family. Those who were at the walk had similar stories. The pathway was lined with photographs of loved ones who had passed and a crafted quilt held many others. It was heart breaking to see the amount of young faces in those photos. Suicide is "the third leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old," according to the AFSP website.
The opening ceremony was beautiful, filled with personal stories, music and poems. Everyone shared a common goal, to let others know that they are not alone and that there are some things in life we cannot prevent or understand. I couldn't help but feel like I needed to seize every moment in life and every opportunity to be with the ones I care about. Each speaker said it in their own way: You don't know how much time you will have with those close to you.
The courage of the families who have had to move on after these tragedies is amazing. Organizations like the AFSP do a great job with helping these families move forward while educating the public on mental disorders. It was an honor to be a part of this day. Thank you, Sara!


During my fall break, I spent a day at Zion Lutheran Preschool. I had previously visited the school in June for their Family Carnival after an invite from friends, Diane and Kim. This time, I went with Alexa Moley, Miss Richmond County's Outstanding Teen, to Zion's Zoctoberfest.
It was one of the first cold days of fall, but Alexa and I were ready to enjoy the chilly weather and get in the spirit of Halloween! Zoctoberfest included games, rides, and a pumpkin patch for all of the kids to pick out there very own pumpkins. Much like at the Family Carnival, there were children all over, enjoying all the event had to offer.
The theme of this Zoctoberfest was The Wizard of OZ! I've been a fan of this movie since I was a little girl. For those who don't already know the story, when I was in preschool I was convinced that I was Dorothy. I even wore the outfit to school...maybe a little too often. That is why I was so excited with this theme! It couldn't have been more perfect.
Alexa and I even got a chance to pick out our own pumpkins. I don't usually get the chance to go pumpkin picking. Since Halloween is my favorite holiday, though, it was great to be able to take a pumpkin home and carve it!
Thank you Zion Lutheran for another fun event. You have such a tight-knit community filled with love and Alexa and I are honored to be a part of your family. We look forward to continued support of your wonderful organization!

Casino Night

After a day of volunteering for those who were affected by Hurricane Sandy, I have decided to post my blogs from my October appearances. I begin with one from the very beginning of the month.

On October 6th, I was invited by my friend Tammi to a Casino Night at Moore Catholic High School for the Jared Dane Scotto Foundation, named after a graduate who bravely battled sarcoma. Jared passed away in 2009, but his legacy lives on through his family, who generously works to raise money for sarcoma research and to provide a scholarship at Moore.
Prior to the event, I had my hair and makeup done at Zoe Salon. Jessica (makeup) and Claudia (hair) always do a fantastic job. Thank you both so much – I felt wonderful all night! After getting prepped and ready, it was time to attend the event. I entered the Moore High School gym and I was not prepared for what I found. There were more people than I could have begun to imagine. The gym was filled with tables, food, & raffles, and there was a DJ to keep the party going.
In the adjacent room were casino tables provided by Down To The Felt. Instead of money, chips were exchanged for tickets, which could be used to win the raffle baskets. The idea was simple: the more chips you win at the tables, the more chances you have to win a prize! Though I’m not much of a gambler, my mom and I did have fun learning the games from the experts. The dealers were extremely nice and helpful. They taught us how to play the games and even let me "play dealer" for a little : ]

The night included special appearances by Renee Graziano, and disco legend, France Joli. I had met France previously at the "Gianna's Heart of Hope" benefit. Both women are very kind and it was wonderful of them to come support the cause.
Everyone danced (and gambled) the night away and, together, we raised a lot of money for the Jared Dane Scotto Foundation! I even had the privilege of presenting one of the three checks, to the Sarcoma Foundation of America. The other two checks went towards a scholarship in Jared's name to Moore Catholic High School, and to the Biology Department at Iona College (where Jared was a student).

Thank you to the Scotto Family and Tammi for having me at this event. My mom and I had so much fun! I met many great people who I know I will be in touch with in the future and I am so grateful to have been a part of this. Thank you!