Taking community service to new heights.
Bay Ridge native Dominick Santo, who graduated from Xaverian High School last year, is currently studying at the University of Scranton, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his roots and the importance of giving back.
He helped create the school’s Detective Brian Moore Scholarship, which went to its first recipient this year, and helped start an event in memory of Larry Morrish, a community activist and leader who died in 2016, just to name a few.
The inspiration behind the scholarship started in 2014.
“When Officers Ramos and Liu were killed, I spoke with my parents about doing something to show support for our officers while also mourning the officers who were killed,” he said. “So on December 26, 2014, with the permission of (then) Captain Festino of the 68th Precinct, I organized a candlelight ceremony. I purchased blue candles. As I placed them all in a line, I turned around to see more than 100 people there — from community leaders, to Xaverian staff and brothers, to many from the community.”
Then in May of 2015 when Moore was killed, Santo spoke with his parents and the assistant principal at Xaverian where he was a junior and presented the idea of starting a scholarship in the slain officer’s memory.
“I had the support of the Detectives’ Endowment Association and within weeks, with my family’s help, along with Indigo Murphy’s owner Kathleen Conlin and John Bennett, we put together the first event in Detective Brian Moore’s memory,” he said. “Since then I have raised over $13,000 in his memory.”
During the first year, the money was divided among several organizations, such as the 68th Precinct Youth Council, Redeemer St.John’s Lutheran Church, the Kiwanis Club and Xaverian.
“In 2016, all the funds went directly to Xaverian,” Santo said. “My hope with the scholarship is to help students while showing support for my school where many graduates are retired officers, and showing our youth, including myself, that we must always have respect for the NYPD and know that they are there to protect us while putting their lives in danger.”
Creating the scholarship was a highlight of his early career.
“It means a lot to me to give back to my school and community,” said Santo. “In 2016 at Xaverian, I had senior service to do and I was given permission to reach out to spread the word about the scholarship while also speaking about Detective Moore’s memory.”
During that time, he met with Congressmember Peter King, Councilmember Mark Treyger, and Assemblymembers Peter Abbate, Pam Harris and Felix Ortiz while sending out flyers to organizations for donations for raffles or directly to the school.
“I was surprised to actually hear from Billy Joel who donated two tickets for his June, 2016 concert at Madison Square Garden,” Santo said.
The first recipient of the scholarship student was an eighth grader from Our Lady of Guadalupe.
He also discussed how he created a veterans event in memory of Morrish.
“We did an annual event at our house every Thanksgiving weekend with Larry, asking friends and neighbors to bring gift cards. Peppino’s was generous enough to donate the food every year so once Larry passed in February of 2016, with the permission and support of Phillipa Morrish, Larry’s wife, I started a yearly event in November, 2016 all about what Larry held close, his country,” Santo said. “We started the Larry Morrish Man of the Year Award and the Larry Morrish Unsung Hero Award to honor active soldiers or veterans. I’ve been very thankful for the support of many in the community and Larry’s friends.”
It meant a lot for Santo to remember Morrish.
“Larry did a lot for his community,” he said. “I’m thankful to hold an event that Phillipa can attend and see how much love I had for Larry and keep his memory alive.”
Santo, who is studying to be an accountant, learned how to give back, thanks to his family. “My family instilled in me and my three sisters to help others. We always discuss our community and what a difference we can make a the dinner table,” he said. “That’s when I decided always to say, ‘Together we can make a difference.’”