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Budget Cuts Force Changes In Popular Program

Undaunted, Boys and Girls Club

Peer Tutoring Program thrives

The budget may have been slashed, but the enthusiasm remains strong for the Peer Tutoring Program at the Hicksville Boys and Girls Club.

The club was humming late one recent Thursday afternoon with tutoring sessions underway in quiet upstairs offices away from the happy noise of the first floor lounge where students played games, read or relaxed after school.

Executive Director Thomas Bruno says a one-third reduction in county funding from last year forced them to make changes.

“Right now we have 29 matches,” he said, with some students coming more than once.

Matches, or tutoring sessions, are held Monday through Friday between the hours of 4 and 5 p.m. in the club’s headquarters at 79 West Old Country Road, a white two-story house warmly outfitted to young people’s needs and interests – including games for recreation and socialization and computers and quiet space to study – all within walking distance of the nearby Middle School and High School.

In a recent interview in his second floor office, lined with photos and awards, Bruno said, “We lost $50,000 from the county and had to cut back our hours.” Last year the sessions ran until eight o’clock Monday through Thursday evenings – three hours longer than right now.

“A kind of magic happens,” he said when the tutors first meet their students, who are about the same age as they are. “The kids have a real feel for each other.”

Most tutors, he said, are high school students and the closeness in age and year in school between the tutor and student makes for a special relationship that is sometimes absent if an older adult is involved.

“We have such a nice variety of kids. They’re from Hicksville, Syosset, Plainview and Jericho,” Bruno said of the tutors.

After they formally apply for the position, he said, volunteers are screened, interviewed and asked to provide references. When they are approved, they are matched up with a student who requests help “in any subject,” he said.

He smiled at the recollection of one of his “many success stories” involving that of a young man who came to them “shy and withdrawn.” The experience provided him with a newfound confidence and he went on to become a tutor himself. He said kids who come to the club hear about the program through school or their friends.

Once their service is over, Bruno said he provides the tutors with a letter from him praising their work. With colleges placing a greater emphasis than ever on community service, these letters are a prized possession and part of the

Another casualty of the budget cutting, Bruno said, is the popular English as a Second Language Program (ESL), although he remains hopeful it will return and some of the funding restored.

News

Local veterans groups and residents gathered at Hicksville Middle School Veterans Memorial Park recently to honor brave servicemen and woman, past and present. William M. Gouse Jr. Post 3211 hosted Hicksville’s annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11.

The ceremonies began with the pledge and national anthem sung by Hicksville High School student Cassie Pursoo, accompanied by trumpeter Conner Hoelzer. Monsignor Thomas Costa from Our Lady of Church in Hicksville gave the invocation.

On Nov. 10, a dedication ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of a beautiful new two-story house in Hicksville. However, while new dwellings are an ordinary occurrence on Long Island, this one was unique and special in a way that very few are.

The house at 77 Thorman Ave. was built in memory of Navy Lieutenant and posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Michael P. Murphy, a Long Island native who tragically died in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2005. However, this house represents more than just the dedicated service of a man to his country; it represents the beginning of a new life full of hope for a brother-in-arms and his family as well.


Sports

Football was Mike Torrellas’ heart and soul. He also liked a good Turkey Bowl.  

Unfortunately, the Hicksville Crusaders co-founder wasn’t able to witness the program’s inaugural event, which took place Saturday, Nov. 8.

Torrellas passed away suddenly last December due to a blood clot, but the spirit and drive of the man who wore the number 53 and tragically passed at that age still surrounds the Crusaders football program.

The Long Island Fight for Charity will be hosting its 11th annual Charity Boxing Event on Nov. 24 at the Hilton in Melville. Among the 20 volunteers putting up their fists for funds will be Hicksville business owner Mell Goldman, who will be fighting under the nickname “The Kid.”  

Goldman is the President of All Boro Cleaning Services. He stated that he was enticed at the opportunity and wanted to contribute to charity.


Calendar

Fall Drama Production

November 20-22

Blood Drive

November 24

Christmas Holiday Fair

November 24



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