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Meditating On The Evils Of Sex Trafficking

One Love Long Island hosts 2012 Yoga Festival

According to a 2009 report released by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), more than 1.2 million children are involved in prostitution and sex trafficking in that country. It’s these kind of horrific statistics that gave the ladies who make up One Love Long Island (OLLI) the impetus to get involved working with Off the Mat, Into the World (OTM), an organization that uses the power of yoga to inspire conscious and sustainable activism in order to ignite grassroots social change. Every year, OTM sponsors an international service project called the Global Seva Challenge that involves picking a country and cause in need. This year India is the country and the scourge that is sex trafficking is the social ill that’s being addressed.

For its part, OLLI will be hosting the 2012 Yoga Festival at Oyster Bay’s Planting Fields Arboretum on Sunday, September 23, which also happens to be the day of the autumnal equinox. For this event, 14 yoga studios from around Long Island will lead participants through 108 sun salutations (a repetition of sequential yoga postures) in a round robin setup. It’s a fundraising setup not unlike what’s done by athletes who raise money by running in marathons. In addition, there will be a live music debut by OLLI member Laura Ahrens and Break the Norm’s Jessica, who will be implementing singing bowls. Lastly, there will be an appearance by guest speaker Aaron Cohen, the co-author of Slave Hunter: One Man’s Global Quest to Free Victims of Human Trafficking, a firsthand account of Cohen’s infiltrating the world of sex trafficking. Sitting in the studio of Garden City’s Yoga Nanda, OLLI’s Cara Stone and Nicole Marzigliano passionately explain how their attendance at a Yoga Freedom Project event in January pulled them into the Global Seva Challenge.  

“[Money was being raised for] Somaly Mam, who herself was a rescued woman who had been sex-trafficked as a child and she founded the Somaly Mam Foundation,” explained Marzigliano. “So when we had gone to this event, we heard Somaly Mam speak about the atrocities, what she went through and how her foundation goes into these countries and is part of that reintegration process [for these victims.] To hear it firsthand by someone who had actually gone through the atrocities, it just shifts your mind into action.”

“So that event actually was done in collaboration with OTM, and Suzanne Sterling, one of the founders was there and she opened the introduction,” added Stone. “So we were exposed to just a lot of Off the Mat philosophy. It was also a round robin-led practice by many different well-known yogis and of course, Somaly Mam, who is just so inspiring. It’s just so emotional to listen to hear her speak. After that, we went to look at the OTM website and decided to sign up because we had to do something.”

Along with Stone, Marzigliano and Ahrens, OLLI is rounded out by Garden City’s Sylvia Ehrhart, New Hyde Park’s Andrea Russo-Weithman and Port Washinton’s Nadine Wolff. With the full support of Yoga Nanda owner Jules Boutelle, 13 other yoga studios were recruited to participate in the 2012 Yoga Festival. This spirit of collaboration and social consciousness is very much in keeping with the essence of yoga, a point Stone and Marzigliano are quick to point out.

“It’s not only about the cause, which is eradicating sex trafficking in India and supporting [OTM], but it’s also about unifying all the yoga studios throughout Long Island,” explained Marzigliano. “It’s really about seeing each other for each other being yogis; for being part of compassionate things; for being part of a community and being part of something that’s bigger than ourselves.”

“I think that generally speaking, yogis have very similar values,” pointed out Stone. “They are very compassionate. So when we draw together as a community and then go out into our individual communities and become active and share that activism among other people who might not practice yoga, you bring it out into your world. It’s really about loving Long Island, joining communities and unifying together for a cause.”

Proceeds from the 2012 Yoga Festival will go toward funding a number of grassroots organizations in India that rescue victims of sex trafficking and also rehabilitate them. Among these groups are Sanlaap-Project Rehabilitation and Made By Survivors—Employment Center Expansion, all of which train survivors in learning a trade and give them access to therapy, a safe haven and most importantly, a second chance at a normal life. It’s a complicated procedure that is in need of charitable efforts like what One Love Long Island hopes to achieve at Planting Fields Arboretum.

“It’s a very, very slow process because there is so much psychological work that has to be taken care of. So the process is very long, but it’s worth it. It’s getting these girls the help that they need,” said Marzigliano. “We see [sex trafficking] in the United States [but] it’s not as in-our-face in this country. But the idea is to start waking people up. The yoga community is a very big community and it keeps growing and keeps growing and keeps growing. We’re really trying to make yogis aware, to be active and to start thinking they can help and do something that can contribute to perhaps getting these young girls out of these brothels and slowly getting them integrated. It’s a very long and arduous process.”

For more information on the 2012 Yoga Festival, please visit onelovelongisland.org.

News

April 19 fundraiser to be

held for baby with rare disease

Tom Onorato, the nephew and office manager of Dr. Joseph Onorato Garden City practice All Island Dermatology Plastic Surgery & Laser Center, recently celebrated the birth of a baby boy with his wife Melissa. Both were thrilled when Thomas Kevin Onorato came into the world on September 10, 2013. Despite being born five weeks early, baby Thomas managed to surprise his parents with his indomitable spirit and was sent home with a clean bill of health. A mere four days later began the fight for Thomas’ life.

Stewart Manor budget, mayor’s salary increase

At a time when municipalities are grappling with keeping expenditures down, the Village of Stewart Manor saw not only its 2014-15 operating budget increase, but its mayor’s salary. At a meeting of the board of trustees held on Monday, April, 8, Stewart Manor adopted a budget of $2,418,548.03, a 1.4 percent increase over the previous year. In addition, the board approved a raise of $1,000 for Mayor Gerard Tangredi, bringing his salary to $3,000. The salaries for trustees John Egan, M. Carole Schafenberg, and William Grogan are set at $2,000 each. Deputy Mayor Michael Onorato has declined his stipend.

Salaries and benefits make up 42 percent of the total budget. According to the state comptroller, it’s acceptable for that number to be as high as 65 percent. The total costs of salaries and benefits have actually decreased by around 5 percent from the previous year’s adopted budget.  


Sports

Easter Egg Hunt For Pre-K To Grade 5

The Garden City Recreation Department is once again sponsoring the annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19 at Community Park’s fields. This Year Three hunt will be held at 10 a.m. sharp with three age divisions: preschool to kindergarten, grades 1 and 2; and grades 3 to 5.

Special eggs will be stuffed and hidden for all divisions. Each hunt will also feature a grand prize (an Easter basket filled with goodies) which will go to the youngster who finds the egg marked “#1 Lucky Egg.” For further information about the hunt, please call the recreation department at 516-465-4075.

Commitment at Kellenberg

Garden City residents continue to excel while participating in the athletic program over at Uniondale’s Kellenberg Memorial High School.

Each season, coaches of Kellenberg sports pick one player from their squad who has demonstrated remarkable commitment to the team through their hard work at practice and in competition.

The Village of Garden City has a long history of residents who've excelled both on the academic and athletic side of the ledger at Kellenberg. This time around, seniors Kelly O’Donnell (varsity cheerleading), Stacy Madelmayer (varsity girls basketball) and Bryan Salecker (swimming and diving team) have all been awarded the Commitment Award for their outstanding efforts, devotion, hard work and commitment to their respective teams.


Calendar

Dinner & A Movie: In Transition 2.0

Thursday, April 17

School Budget Meeting

Wednesday, April 23

Judi Mark One-woman Show At Library

Thursday, April 24



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com