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Civic leaders and organizations honored at 41st annual Rotary Club of Verrazano dinner dance

It was a night to recognize civic leaders as The Brooklyn Rotary Club of Verrazano celebrated its 41st anniversary on Friday, May 17 at Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island.

Dr. Joseph Caruana served as master of ceremonies. The St. John’s University ROTC Color Guard presented the colors and performed the national anthem.

This year’s Humanitarians Award was presented to the Van Westerhout Cittadini Molesi Social Club and Club Carinese d’America, two prominent Italian-American social clubs that, along with the Rotary Club, helped sponsor three children from Kosovo to come to the United States for open heart surgery. The children received the life-saving surgery, and went home with suitcases full of toys and other essentials provided these organizations.

The Women and Children Award recipients were Camille Loccisano and Cathy Campanella. Loccisano founded “Frankie’s Mission,” a nonprofit charitable foundation established in her son’s name and memory, to assist and support the families of children with pediatric cancer.

“I want to thank the Rotary for this honor and I will say that I am not the only person who has lost a child,” said Loccisano. “And I know they will agree with me when I say when this happens you don’t know how to go on but you have to go on. You have to remain as a caring parent to your remaining children and you want to memorialize your child,” she continued.

“The Rotary has a long and wonderful list of things they do and included in that list is the support that they give to people like me, people who want to move on and make a difference in their child’s name.”

Campanella is a community leader and assistant principal who helped establish an engineering and STEM program PS/IS 192.The award recognized the two women for their efforts on behalf of children and their support of the Rotary Club and its community outreach.

The Paul Harris Fellow Award, named in honor of the man who founded the Rotary Club with three business associates in Chicago in 1905, was presented to individuals who have demonstrated the true spirit of Rotary by their hard work and dedication to humanitarian efforts.

“This year’s Paul Harris recipients, Salvator Fodera, Nino Russo, Aldo Adamo, Bruno Frustaci and Joseph Speziale, are being recognized for their support of our Homeless Veterans’ program, for their support of our Gift of Life New York program and for their service to our club,” said Caruana.

“By accepting this pin you will join a family of well over 950,000 Paul Harris Fellows worldwide,” Caruana went on. “Besides several members of our club, you stand with notables such as Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Prince Charles, Gandhi, Luciano Pavarotti, King Hussein of Jordan and Pope Paul II.”

A highlight of the evening was when incoming President Bill Sobolow explained that in order to attend the dinner dance he had to miss the first father-daughter dance at his daughter Theresa Marie’s school. He then escorted her out onto the dance floor for their first dance as everyone clapped and cheered.

The evening included a silent auction with proceeds supporting Gift of Life of NY, a nonprofit organization working to obtain life-saving heart surgeries for children in distress. Truncali explained the Rotary Club’s motto is “Service Above Self.”

The Rotary Club of Verrazano is one of more than 30,000 rotary clubs in 160 countries worldwide. They work to help feed the hungry, procure open heart surgeries for children overseas and support a variety of local projects.

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