Written by Andy Newman, email@example.com Saturday, 24 August 2013 00:00
While visiting a terminally ill patient at St. Francis Hospital in 2011, Munsey Park resident Angela Lostritto, needed to step out of the room, gather her thoughts and get a cup of coffee. She had no idea, when she arrived at the hospital’s coffee shop that the direction of her life was about to change so dramatically.
Lostritto saw what appeared to be a press conference and party going on and she was angry. “I’m really mad at this point,” Lostritto recalled, “because I’m thinking of the serious condition of the patient I just left. I see all this commotion and it looks like they’re having a party.”
The “party” was actually a conference held by Gift of Life International, the organization whose mission is to provide life saving open-heart surgeries to underprivileged children around the world. There she saw Robbie Donno, a friend from Manhasset who has been associated with the program since its creation in 1975 by Manhasset Rotary. He is the Chairman Emeritus of the worldwide organization that has now aided over 15,000 children in 70 countries since that first year.
Donno, of course, helped explain to her what was going on. “I was still very angry,” Lostritto added, “but I see that they’re talking about saving children’s lives. So what do you say? May God forgive me for being angry at that moment. At that point I fell in love with the whole organization. So I told them right there, ‘Let me sponsor a child.’”
“Two weeks later I get a phone call telling me, my little girl is here,” she recalled. “She came and she was a blessing. And I wanted to do more. I think this is what my purpose is. “
Donno is proud of what Angela has accomplished so far. “I’ve been at this 38 years,” said Donno. “Angela’s been at it a little over a year and she’s saved six kids already.”
Lostritto has traveled to Siberia, Jamaica, Moscow, El Salvador, Hungary and Portugal for the program. “I wanted to be on the board but I couldn’t because you had to be a Rotarian,” Lostritto revealed. “So I joined.”
Her most recent project involved bringing a 2½-year-old boy and his mother from Russia last month. Slava Zharkov, born with only half of a normal heart, needed an operation that cost in excess of $200,000. Lostritto met Slava and his mother, Veronica Zharkova, at the airport and brought them to her home to stay with her in early July, prior to the operation.
Lostritto helped mother and son, who live in the city of Voronezh (a five hour drive from Moscow), become acclimated to their surroundings before driving them to Philadelphia for the procedure. She remained with them in the hospital and through the recovery period before bringing them home again. With the operation a success, Zharkova and her son returned to Russia last week.
“The doctors in Philadelphia told me that the prognosis is very good,” Zharkova said. “When I was in Russia all of the doctors there told me that he has a very poor life expectancy. They told me he probably wouldn’t be able to walk. He won’t be able to jump or run because he will get too tired. They told me he is going to be a disabled person but the doctors in Philadelphia told me he will be very active.”
Doctors in Russia had actually advised his mother to terminate the pregnancy at 22 weeks. “They told me that he was going to die,” Zharkova said. “They told me he had no chance to live.”
Zharkova was determined to prove the doctors wrong. Three days after he was born, a first operation was performed in a St. Petersburg hospital. A second operation was done in Berlin several months later, but a third operation was needed and that’s when Gift of Life International became involved. Efforts were coordinated in Russia by Michael Yurieff and Wally Kowabuku from the Gift organization there and Lev Ambinder, a Russian newspaperman.
“I’ve been fortunate to witness some miracles,” Donno said of his many years of experience with the program. “The teams of doctors, the parents, the volunteers all working and blending together to breathe life into this little kid was one of them. A miracle, again, is where you have somebody who I didn’t know well a year ago who’s now pitched in for six kids and helped them,” he said in tribute to Lostritto. “And now to have this lady (Zharkova) sitting here in Manhasset with her son is like hitting the lottery.”
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:00
A new Child Care Centerfor children ages eight weeks through Pre-K—opened at Farmingdale State College this week, which will be open to the community and the college campus.
“The College owes a great deal of thanks to everyone involved in this project,” said Farmingdale State College President Hubert Keen. “This center provides a safe and nurturing environment for the children of our students, faculty and staff.
Especially for our students, the availability of quality child care can determine whether or not they are able to complete their education.”
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 10:48
Preparations are underway for the Annual Christmas Tree lighting to be held this Friday, Dec. 6 at Mary Jane Davies Park on Plandome Road. The event is scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m.
Workers have been busy decorating the gazebo with garland and lights to make the this year’s celebration the best yet. Sponsored by the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, The Town of North Hempstead and the Manhasset Park District, the event will feature holiday music performed by the Manhasset High School Brass Choir.
The program will begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and the blessing offered by Rev. Dr. Steven D. Pierce of the Community Reformed Church. The winners of the poster contest will be announced during the ceremony followed by the anticipated lighting of the Manhasset Christmas tree. The Manhasset Parks Department will be dispensing hot chocolate and treats, too.Santa Claus will make a ‘surprise’ appearance on Manhasset-Lakeville’s Fire truck and volunteer firefighters will be handing out candy canes to girls and boys. Come on down and celebrate the beginning of the season.
Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00
On Saturday, November 9, the MHS Girls Swim Team competed in the Nassau County Team Championships. After a strong preliminary performance on Friday, the girls had their sights set on swimming even faster on Saturday at the finals. On Friday, Manhasset qualified 14 individual swims in the top 10 and all three relays. The team also had an additional 7 swims in the consolation finals (places 11-20). On Saturday, the top 20 individuals and relays compete in each event, all finishers scoring points towards their team total.
In the championship’s opening event, the 200 yd. medley relay team from Manhasset set the tone for what turned out to be a historic day in Manhasset Girls Swimming. The relay team of Grace Kenlon, Allegra Sodi, Megan Smith and Meredith Johnson finished third and set a new school record time of 1:51.96, also qualifying for the New York State Championships.
Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00
The Indians' regular season came to a close recently, but not before the boys locked up several more post-season honors to complete a highly successful campaign that brought an undefeated season as well as Division and Conference Championships. Manhasset headed into the post-season with high aspirations and battled it out with rival Wantagh High School for two weekends in a row—at both the Class Country Championships and the State Qualification race—coming up just short on both occasions, but achieving many milestones along the way.