The Levittown School District hosted its Eighth Annual Recognition Night for Community Service last Thursday, honoring those individuals who go to great lengths to help others in the community through various organizations. The ceremony was held at the Gerald R. Claps Career and Technical Center at the Levittown Memorial Educational Center and was preceded by a delicious dinner annually coordinated by culinary arts students at the center.
Prior to the event, various organizations throughout the community are invited to nominate an individual from their group to be honored. Those honored are chosen because they go above and beyond to make the Levittown community a better place.
The program for the evening, printed by Levittown Vocational Printing students, stated that the word community is defined by one dictionary as "the people living in the same district, city, etc. under the same laws." It also defines service as "helpful, beneficial or friendly action or conduct; act of giving assistance or advantage to another."
The program further stated that "there are many members of our community who do so much for Levittown. The majority of the community does not know their names or faces but do reap the benefits because of their efforts."
Dr. Harry Chertok, ALSA (Association of Levittown School Administrators) president, made the first presentation to Richard Cirillo on behalf of the organization. Rosemary Winter made a presentation on behalf of the CSEA to Joanne Botticelli and Gary Levy, both of whom were honored by the organization for their great contributions to the community.
Honoree Mauro Cassano, Legislator Dennis Dunne, honoree Linda Kellner, Councilman Gary Hudes and honorees James Hasselmann, Mario Bucci and Kenneth Clare. Photos by M. Kane
Cindi Chaimowitz presented an award to Linda Kellner on behalf of the Girl Scouts. Kellner was cited for over 14 years of service to the organization and additional service to the school district. Jim McHale of the Holy Innocents Council honored Thomas Sepe for his contributions to the organization through various fund-raising programs in which he has participated to help better the community.
Levittown Chamber of Commerce President Louise Cassano honored Frank Mormando, owner of North and South Levittown Lanes and Westbury Bowl. Started by his father Nick, the Levittown bowling establishments are some of the oldest businesses in the area. Mormando has contributed greatly to the community by lending the support of his business for various charity and fund-raising activities. He also assists in various chamber activities.
Levittown Community Council President Donna Ryan presented an award to Mauro Cassano, who has been coordinator of the council for over 15 years. Among the numerous tasks Cassano undertakes include organizing the council's calendar and coordinating festivals. George Anderson of the Levittown Fire Department made a presentation to James Zupo of Ladder Company 6, citing him for over four decades of service to the department and the community.
Kiwanis Club President Gary Crozier presented awards on behalf of the club to husband/wife team Len and Sue Hahn, recognizing them for their contributions to the Terrific Kids Programs held throughout Levittown's Schools and all their assistance in various activities and fund raisers.
The Levittown PTA Council, as is tradition, honored all PTA volunteers at the dinner. The award was accepted by Theresa Paladini, who said that each year it's impossible to single out one individual to recognize, as all volunteers put in much time and effort.
School District Superintendent Dr. Herman Sirois presented the district's award to Mario Bucci, who coordinates this recognition dinner each year. Dr. Sirois said that Bucci has been very instrumental in bringing the community together in a variety of ways, just one being in his capacity as chairperson of the culinary arts program at the Claps Career and Technical Center. Bucci, who is retiring at the end of the school year, received a standing ovation upon accepting his award.
When accepting his award, Bucci said there were countless people to thank and offered this quote by John Adams: "A man is measured by the level of commitment of the people around him," adding "if that's true, I should be 18 feet tall." Bucci also said that one of the reasons he started this dinner was to not only provide an opportunity to honor and recognize individuals in the community, but also to allow the culinary students at the center to show off their skills (the students later received a standing ovation from all in attendance).
Levittown/Island Trees Youth Council Executive Director Kevin Regan honored Anna Schmitt and Linda Northrop. Regan noted that a program's success is due to the many dedicated staff members, as well as the students who participate in the youth council activities. He described Schmitt and Northrop as the "unsung heroes" of the organization, noting that they truly care about the well-being of the children in the community.
Janet Reddy of the March of Dimes honored John Tallon. She noted that the organization would not be able to accomplish any of its efforts without the help of its volunteers, particularly those who contribute so much to others like Tallon does.
Nassau County Police Department 8th Precinct's Inspector Kirby honored Donald Costleigh, two-time recipient of the "Top Cop" award in 2003. Insp. Kirby said that Costleigh, former member of the NYPD, has made many successful arrests in burglaries, robberies and other incidences, making the community a safer place for all residents.
Frank Weiden of Levittown VFW Post 9592 honored James Hasselmann, who has served the organization for many years. Hasselmann, described by Weiden as a strong role model, was cited for organizing and overseeing the youth essay contest in local schools and for his rich dedication and devotion to the community.
Dana Mori of the Yours, Ours, Mine Community Center honored Dr. Kenneth Clare, who volunteers in the organization's senior nutrition program. Mori noted that Dr. Clare has touched the lives of countless seniors, treating each student as if they were a member of his own family.