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‘Kids of Distinction’ Program Winners Announced

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto and Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way, Inc. co-founders Robert A.J. and Philip M. Eslick are pleased to announce the winners of the 2010 “Kids of Distinction” Program, created to recognize exceptional youngsters in the Town of Oyster Bay.

 

The winners were selected by the organization Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way, Inc., which established a committee to judge applications.

“We have so many exceptional young people living in the town that I’m certain it wasn’t easy selecting just a handful of recipients,” Supervisor Venditto said. “I thank the committee for their hard work and dedication in designating these fine six individuals.”

“This program is very much geared towards recognizing activities done on a youngster’s own initiative,” Robert said. “We are recognizing kids who participate in activities for the benefit of their community or neighborhood, outside of school-related activities.”

The six youngsters selected as “Kids of Distinction” for 2010 are:

Alyssa Innamorato
Fifth Grade, Robbins Lane Elementary School

About three years ago, Alyssa Innamorato first heard about Sunrise Day Camp in Oceanside. Sunrise is “the only camp in the nation dedicated for children with cancer and their siblings.” This was something that truly spoke to Alyssa, not because she knew anyone afflicted with cancer, but because of what the camp actually was, a place for these brave kids and their families to come and enjoy themselves. It was then in third grade that Alyssa decided she wanted to do something for them to show how much she cared.

With the help of her family, friends, and generous local business owners, she organized an old-time neighborhood carnival held in the cul-de-sac where she lives in Syosset. This carnival was a huge success in bringing the community together and educating people about Sunrise Day Camp, and ultimately ended up raising over $7,000. This amazing event has now turned into an annual fundraiser for Sunrise, and to date Alyssa has raised over $15,000 for the day camp.

On May 22, Alyssa held the Third Annual Sunrise Carnival to much success. Alyssa’s dedication to helping others is evident through her hard work and determination.

Dante Vigliotti
Sixth Grade, Jericho Middle School

Dante has always found a way to volunteer and help those in need. In his most recent efforts, Dante discovered that a classmate and friend named Allison Genatt was afflicted with a rare kidney disorder.

Continuing to exhibit the same drive and passion that has previously helped him raise money for the Glen Cove Animal Shelter, Dante organized a fundraiser for this friend called “Color Me for Allie” and enlisted the help of dozens of classmates to help recycle old crayons to make them into multi-colored new shaped crayons. Dante had the kids work in groups, and within a few hours, the kids peeled, sorted, melted, and packaged 120 crayons ready for sale. This fundraiser has raised over $3,000, all in an effort to help a friend in need.

Dante’s independent and can-do attitude, as well as his drive to help others is an inspiration to many.

Carmen Capobianco
Eighth Grade, Locust Valley Middle School

For the last 11 years, Carmen Capobianco has shown a great interest in, and a profound aptitude for dance. Carmen has always felt that she has been afforded so many opportunities through her dance school that she would not have otherwise been given that she needed to give back to the community. This led her this school year to begin teaching ballet to children who cannot afford dance lessons of their own at the Glen Cove Boys and Girls Club on Friday afternoons.

While other kids may be out spending their free time on Friday nights at the movies or the mall, Carmen has given up her time in order to offer these approximately 25 girls who participate in her classes an activity they would not have without her volunteer efforts. Carmen has also collected dance clothing and dance shoes from local studios so that these girls would each have their own.

This spring, Carmen’s girls will be performing at a talent show, in addition to the several performances they’ve already put on at local homes for the disabled. Carmen’s dedication to helping others, and providing those less fortunate with opportunities that they would lack otherwise, is evident through her hard work and determination.

Brett Schumer
11th Grade, Jericho High School

Brett is currently an 11th-grader at Jericho High School and the president and the founder of the teen division of Integrated Medical Foundation, New York’s leading source of improving healthcare through patient education and community outreach for prostate cancer, which is the world’s second most prevalent form of cancer in men.

Upon learning of this organization, Brett saw the need for young people’s involvement in such a worthy cause, and began to organize a teen division. Brett has volunteered to be part of many different events under IMF, and has completed many invaluable tasks for them. Furthermore, she has also organized and staffed a community outreach program to educate the residents of a traditionally medically underserved area about what IMF does, and the importance of patient education when it comes to prostate cancer.

Brett has also been involved in fundraising efforts for “Women for Women International,” an organization that provides vocational education for women in war-torn countries.

Brett has shown tremendous initiative in helping this relatively new organization flourish, and she has a can-do attitude and a passion to help others.

Fiona Meehan
12th Grade, Massapequa High School

Fiona is a senior at Massapequa High School. She has been a Girl Scout for the past 12 years and has a long-standing history of community service in the Town of Oyster Bay, both in and outside of Scouting.

This past year, while working on her Girl Scout Gold Award, Fiona chose a project to help children of families affected by the economy. In collaboration with the Massapequa Career Center at Town Hall South, Fiona conducted a program entitled “The Value of Money: Empowering Children During a Recession.” In this program, Fiona explained the recession, prepared activities and crafts to help reinforce the importance of saving money, compiled lists of places where parents can take their kids on LI that are free, and restaurants where kids eat free, created ideas for teens on how they could prepare for and find a job, and helped reinforce the importance of saving money. While this event was aimed mainly at kids, Fiona collected dozens of men’s and women’s suits and accessories that were displayed at the event so unemployed parents could shop for free, while their children enjoyed the event, to assist in their job search.

She also helped organize a food drive for St. Rose of Lima Church when she learned that their food pantry was running low this past summer. Fiona clearly gets joy out of helping others and is a role model of what a young person’s initiative in volunteering within their community should be.

Thomas Cremmins
12th Grade, St. Dominic High School (resident of Massapequa)

Thomas has been giving back to the community, his school, and his church for the majority of his life. During elementary school, Thomas served as an altar server at mass, volunteered at a soup kitchen and played bingo with nursing home residents.

As he began high school, he continued to volunteer through various programs, such as the CYO summer camps and the one he found most rewarding, the Massapequa Coast Challenger League. This group helps handicapped children from the community play baseball on Sunday afternoons. Through his work with the league, he has made many friends and developed close bonds with the participants. Thomas also lent his talents to the Town of Oyster Bay GAP program, a social and therapeutic recreation program developed to meet the needs of residents who are mentally challenged, developmentally disabled or learning disabled. Thomas has helped this year with bowling and special outings and has also assisted many of the same children in the summer GAP program, where they enjoy arts and crafts, sports and swimming, as well as an end-of-summer talent show.

Thomas does not look at of his involvement with these children as a job, but rather something he would like to continue doing throughout his life.

Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way Inc. Executive Director, Robert F. Eslick would like to thank Mr. Claude Zarate of Empire Bakery Equipment for their continued support and sponsorship of the Kids of Distinction Scholarships.

“Empire Bakery congratulates the 2010 recipients as Kids of Distinction. It is our honor to support these students for their passion, perseverance and stick-to-itiveness to help their peers,” said Mr. Zarate.

Other sponsors included Mr. Herb Hageman of Tompkins Square Distributors-Pepsi and Ms. Jenn Hellenbeck of Staples.

 “On behalf of the Kids Helping Kids by Kids Way Inc. Board of Directors, its members and the Kids of Distinction Selection Committee, we sincerely thank Supervisor John Venditto and the entire Town of Oyster Bay Board for their support and involvement in the Kids of Distinction Program,” co-founders Robert A.J. Eslick and Philip M. Eslick said. “We also thank our generous sponsors for allowing each award recipient to receive a $500 scholarship.”

 Kids of Distinction winners were recognized during a special ceremony at the May 25 meeting of the Oyster Bay Town Board, at which time they were presented with a plaque from Kids Helping Kids.

 “There are many young individuals who have contributed to the great quality of life we enjoy here in the Town of Oyster Bay. We felt it was important to recognize our young residents who involve themselves in voluntary community, charity or civic activities on their own individual initiative,” Supervisor Venditto said. “This provides a perfect opportunity for them to be recognized for their outstanding achievements. They will surely stand as role models for their peers.”