In this episode, Bob Policastro, the founder of Angela’s House shares with us how, 23 years ago, when his daughter, Angela, was born, he saw the lack of places and resources that could provide the proper care for medically frail children in Long Island, NY. Angela’s House was created in his daughter’s memory to ensure children receive the proper care at home and don’t need to be institutionalized due to lack of resources.
Also joining us is Anne Bingham, whose daughter is a resident of Angela’s House in Smithtown. Anne explains how, prior to arriving at Angela’s House, horrific images came to mind when she thought about putting her daughter in a home. After visiting the house, she realized how beautiful and inviting it was, with loving and caring staff.
It Started with Pennies
For decades, there has been poverty, hunger, and lack of education in Haiti. Father Thomas “Tom” Donohoe made a lifelong commitment to helping the children of Haiti. Even after his death in 2012, his legacy continues to make a profound difference in the lives of many children.
A Soldier’s Story (The Greatest Generation)
Sadly, there are a dwindling number of World War II veterans with us today who are able to share their perspectives on what it was like to be in war. We can’t ever forget the thousands of brave soldiers who fought for our country and those who gave their lives for our freedom.
In this episode of Family Comes First, we are joined by Stephen DeMarco, a Staff Sargent in the Army Air Force in WWII, and his daughter, Stephanie DeMarco. Stephen walks us through what it was like to be a young man drafted to fight for his country during WWII.
Stephanie shares the honors her father has received, including the bronze star medal, good conduct medal, and European Union medal. She also states, “My father never lost a plane. Out of all the ones that didn’t come back, none were his. He made sure every one of his planes came back, and that was a pretty amazing record.”
No Greater Love
On September 11, 2001, terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center. All eyes turned to New York City as the buildings burned and then fell. On that horrifying day, some people were saved by the heroic efforts of others whom we refer to as heroes. Welles Remy Crowther was one of those heroes.
During this episode of Family Comes First™, Welles’ parents, Alison and Jefferson Crowther, join us to honor Welles’ life and share his heroic story. Welles was a 24-year-old equities trader who worked on the 104th floor of the South Tower. The day the Trade Towers fell, Welles drew from his training as a volunteer firefighter to put his life on the line in order to save many civilians. Welles’ parents were able to identify his brave actions that day through the stories of “a civilian wearing a red bandana who saved many lives on September 11, 2001.”
Miracles Among Us
As a parent, from the moment your child enters the world, you strive to provide the best life for them. There are always obstacles to overcome in day-to-day life. However, when a parent learns their child is medically fragile, these day-to-day activities become additionally challenging. Due to medical research and advances, many of these children can live at home, but not without significant challenges to overcome.
During this episode of Family Comes First™, we meet Jenny and Darin Iacobelli. Jenny and Darin’s daughter, Nola was diagnosed with Cardiofaciocutaneous Syndrome at just 1 year old. The disease is very rare—only 400 children in the world have been diagnosed. The Iacobelli’s are able to maintain their family and lifestyle despite the stress and challenges. They are truly role models to families everywhere.
A Legacy of Inclusion
For more than 100 years, the Girl Scouts has remained steadfast in its mission to help girls build courage, confidence, and character, and go on to make the world a better place. Many women can relate to a time in their childhood when they wanted to join a local Girl Scout troop.
We visit with Girl Scout troop leader, Edith, and her daughter, Linda. Edith shares her motivation to start a Girl Scout troop for girls like her daughter, who has special needs. Using her Special Ed background, Edith helps troop members succeed by taking an activity and breaking it down so it’s easier for the young girls to achieve. Edith is a role model for parents everywhere.
Walking Together – Hand in Hand
We often hear stories of people who live in underdeveloped countries and the daily struggles they face due to scarce resources. Often times, these countries lack the means to have proper schools, hospitals and help to properly care for their occupants.
In this episode, we meet with Richard Costa, the Campus Minister at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School and Father Robert Ketcham, Chaplain at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School. They share with us their school’s mission to help the children of Lima, Peru. Together, some students of the school along with Richard Costa and Father Robert Ketcham visit the Villa la Paz Foundation, center for destitute and sick children once a year to provide companionship to the children in the underdeveloped city of Lima, Peru. While in Peru, they also take the children to doctors’ visits, therapy visits and hospital visits that they could not typically get to otherwise.
Caregiving – A Modern Dilemma
Many of us face the issue of caring for our parents or a loved one as they age. There are so many decisions that have to be made. Among these difficult decisions is whether the best care for your loved one will be provided at home or in a nursing home.
Joining us on this episode of Family Comes First is Nick Delillo. Nick shares his passion and mission to provide care for his mother at home rather than in a nursing home. He feels there is a certain level of comfort that is maintained by remaining at home, and that moving her elsewhere would be too overwhelming for her. The reality is, however, that there is a high cost of care in New York. Nick shares how his artwork supplement his mother’s income by painting to care for her.
Messages from the Heart
Every day, our troops put their lives on the line to serve and protect our great country. These men and women fight for our freedom yet ask for nothing in return. There are however, ways that we can show support, love and gratitude to our troops overseas.
During this episode of Family Comes First, we meet with Emily who joins us to share the heartwarming mission of her organization. Emily became actively involved in the military community after her husband was deployed to Afghanistan just 3 months after their wedding in 2012. Her mission is to connect the community to our soldiers and extend the same love & appreciation to not only her husband and his unit, but to as many soldiers as possible for their work, sacrifice and courage.
Heartillery Group collects cards and items for care packages from all over the world to show love and gratitude to soldiers. These cards and care packages help to boost the soldiers’ spirits when they are missing home.
Often when veterans come home from serving overseas, they face many challenges including:
where to live;
where to work; and
how to readjust to civilian life.
When people think of military service, they often think of the men in our armed forces, but what about the women serving?
During this episode we explore the complex and unique challenges that our female veterans face when they return home
The Pages of Life
During this episode, we are pleased to reacquaint you with Eric, Hedy and Jo Anne Page. We first met with the Pages back in 2009. Eric and Hedy are both Holocaust survivors who came to America after living through such a dark and terrifying time. They shared with us their bright perspective on life and how they found the strength to persevere.
During the show in 2009, Eric had shared “…If I discriminate to people just because of a nationality or color, I would be just as low as they were. Nobody will get me down to that level.” Being in a concentration camp and living through such a horrifying time can understandably make someone angry and bitter. Instead, during this update, Eric and Hedy share how their experiences have lead them to volunteer with the Fortune Society along with their daughter, Jo Anne (who is the Executive Director). They are uniquely qualified to share their inspiration and determination with prisoners. Eric points out that although no one cared about him when he was interned, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about these prisoners.
The Best of Season 7
This past season of Family Comes First™ has been inspirational and filled with stories that are heartwarming and moving. During this show, The Best of Season 7, we will be taking a look back on the families and resources that moved us during this season.
Our guests on these past 6 shows are so courageous and committed to their missions. They remind us how important it is to give back and to always look at the glass as half full.
Jason Da Silva: Imitating Life
Jason Da Silva was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was just 25 years old. Jason is a filmmaker and was enjoying making documentaries and traveling the world prior to being diagnosed. Although, he has had to learn to make adjustments to continue pursuing his passion, he has not given up. Since being diagnosed, he has turned the camera on himself to allow viewers to get a glimpse into his daily life. His documentaries are stories that show triumph over tragedy.
Jason is now married, has a child and continues to pursue his dreams. He has also created an app called axsmap to help people who are handicapped navigate the world around them.
In this episode with Jason, he provides encouraging messages to people going through difficulties. He says, “I think the biggest thing is that people should, if they are going through a challenge, big or small be it MS or otherwise, just know there is a light at the end of the tunnel…” Jason is truly an inspiration.
Japanese-American Internment Camps: Fighting for Justice
We have all heard the stories of the Nazi internment camps during World War II however, what most of us don’t remember, is that right here in America after Pearl Harbor, the United States Government ordered the internment of over 110,000 people of Japanese heritage. Sixty-two percent of the internees were American citizens.
In this episode, we meet with Mitsue Salador, an internee at the time. She was only a college freshman and because of the executive order, was unable to return home to be with her parents during such a frightening time. Mitsue shares with us that during the relocation, her brother was in the US Army and regardless of their efforts to be “good Americans” as their parents advised, the relocation was inevitable. We also meet with Robert Machida who shares his story of his aunt, Margaret Suda who had been interned.
It is important as Americans to join in listening to their story so we don’t repeat the mistakes of our past.
Manny Silberman: For All Ages
When you think of Lego’s, who comes to mind? Likely, most of us would think of young children, but for 97 year old Manny Silberman, Lego’s are a part of his daily life.
In this episode, we meet Manny Silberman who shares his life story and where and why his joy of Lego’s emerged. He also shows us some of the things he has built over the last few years. Manny tells us how Lego’s have helped him pass his time rather than just watching television or falling asleep in an easy chair like other men his age. We will also talk with his daughter Lynda Levy, who tells us how Manny’s love of building with Lego’s has been beneficial to him.
Hospice & Families: Giving Care
Carol Steger lost her husband, Gerald to Leukemia. Carol and her daughter, Tracy Ressa share their perspective on how Hospice helped their family by providing them with palliative and supportive care. Carol also shares that through Hospice, she was able to keep her promise to her husband that he would not pass in a hospital. Hospice was able to provide a homey place for Gerald and his family to spend time together. Hospice also provided psychologists and support groups to help the family deal with their grief. These support groups helped Carol to realize that she is not alone and many others are dealing with the same grief of losing a loved one.
Sikidi Conde Update: Rhythm of the Soul
We met with Sidiki Conde back in 2011 where he shared his story of his childhood in West Africa and how as a child, he suddenly and inexplicably lost the use of his legs. Despite such a life altering challenge, he is an accomplished dancer, singer, musician and songwriter.
Sidiki is an amazing person. His smile and bright outlook on life is contagious. He refuses to be labeled by his disability.
On this episode, Sidiki is joined by Susan Russo, the executive director of the Theresa Academy of Performing Arts for children with Special Needs. Sidiki is currently working at the Academy as a teacher of the performing arts. He helps to build the student’s self-confidence and self-esteem through example. He is able to show the children that they should be proud of what they can do and not to linger on the things they cannot.
He is also working to raise funds to build a school back in his hometown. Children do not have a lot of opportunities where he is from and are often subjected to begging in the streets. He hopes the school will be able to provide the children with better opportunities for them and their family.
The Waters Family: Aging in Place
Premiering on Monday, March 18th at 10:30 pm on Telecare TV (Cablevision channels 29/137 and Verizon FiOS TV channel 296) and will re-air on Wednesday at 1:30pm, Thursday at 9:30am and Friday at 1:30pm
Marta Waters and her husband, Martin live in Garden City. They have a son who lives in the home (high school) as well as two of their nieces, (also high school). Marta and Martin have custody of their nieces.
Marta’s parents, Pedro and Carmen live with them too, as well as Martin’s mother. Currently Marta’s father, Pedro Rojas is receiving Medicaid Home Care. He requires 24 hour care as he has severe dementia and requires assistance with all of his ADLs. Marta is his daughter, and is quite dedicated to keeping him and her mom, Carmen Rojas, as well as her mother-in-law at home.
It is a very busy household with three teenagers and three elderly grandparents. The young people are particularly devoted to their grandparents. Marta has found that taking care of everyone is a full time job. She is also very involved with her parish and a prayer group which started with a few of her friends and has grown to over 200 members. The family feels very blessed to be able to care for the grandparents in their home.
The Godfrey Family: The New Homeless on Long Island
The three boys are self-taught musicians who first performed at a church function. Their performance totally surprised their parents and grandparents who until then, didn’t realize that the boys were so talented. Their specialty is jazz, and they play all of the greats like Brubeck, as well as their own compositions.A few years ago Esther (mom) and her sons Matthew, David & Jordan found themselves homeless due to a series of unfortunate events. While living in a local shelter the family found it difficult to maintain their daily practice schedule.
It was during this time that they won talent night at the Apollo Theatre in NYC.The shelter, which has very strict rules for those who live there, generously gave them one of the common rooms so that they could practice. Esther and her husband worked very hard to find good paying jobs so that they could move out and find a place of their own.
They are a “success story “for the shelter because they only lived there for three months before they were able to get back on their feet and move out.
The Funaro Family: Teaching Kids About Money
James is 8 years old and wore a tie for over 300 days to raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation. As time passed, he kept increasing his personal goal to raise money for Make a Wish. The foundation arranged for James’s donation to fund the wish of a little boy, who is the same age as James, to take a trip to Hawaii with his family.
James raised over $11,000.00 for “Make a Wish” and still continues to fund-raise for the foundation.
He got the idea from watching his mom giving money to different organizations when she would go shopping.
The Alpert Family: Young Adults with Special Needs…the Housing Crisis
Millie Alpert is the mom of twin sons with high functioning Autism who are now in their twenties. Millie and her husband have been strong advocates for Brian and Chris both educationally and socially.Although the boys can function on their own, with some guidance, Millie and her husband are worried about the future and what will happen to the boys when they are not around to take care of them. Both of the boys live at home right now and have part time jobs when they can find work.Their sister (Nina) is married and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband. Millie doesn’t want her daughter to have to deal with this issue.
Millie will talk about her struggle to find appropriate housing for the boys. Children such as Brian and Chris don’t fit into the “typical” group home situation on LI, or the day-hab programs because they are so high functioning. This population simply falls through the cracks .
Millie would like to know that there is a suitable place for the boys before she and her husband are no longer capable to care for them.
Special Update-Living with a Disability
A special family update on past Family Comes First guests Michael Amoruso, Mark Haubner and Gary Carpenter, who are all living with a disability.
We met the Belmonte family in 2009 as they were one of our first episodes! This family had to make a tough decision to place their father in a nursing home. Join us now for an update!
How would you & your family cope with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis? Gary Carpenter is one remarkable man. Join us and learn for yourself how he would not allow this diagnosis slow him down.
Alex and Laura Blanco have three beautiful children. Their oldest, Alejandro, has Autism. More and more families are touched by special needs. Let us introduce you to this family, their story and learn why they soon realized that “it takes a village” to raise a child with special needs.
Have you ever been told that you “can’t” do something for whatever reason? There is a misconception that because a person is disabled, a world of activities are closed to them, especially the performing arts. Join us as we visit with Sidiki Conde who was stricken with an illness that left him paralyzed and yet, he continues to dance.
According to recent estimates, as many as 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. It is the seventh leading cause of death for Americans. We know that Alzheimer’s disease affects seniors but what is most shocking is that it also affects people under the age of 65. This is very alarming. There are over 250,000 Americans with Alzheimer’s disease under age 65.
Until the 1980s, medically fragile children were most often cared for in hospitals and then institutions. Deinstitutionalization, which started with Willowbrook, resulted in children being moved into community settings. In addition, advances in healthcare technology have enabled more children with special needs to leave hospitals.
People with disabilities are living longer than ever before, outliving their parents. Over 65% of adults with mental illness and 80% of adults with developmental disabilities live with their parents, most of who are in their 60s, 70s and 80s.
When a child is born with special needs it’s usually the parents that bear the responsibility for that child. But what happens when the parents are no longer living or able to take care of their child? Is it then the siblings’ responsibility? Are they available, willing and able?
The Family Business can be passed on to the next generation successfully if everything is done correctly. The LaSpina’s family story is a success story.
John LaSpina is a second generation owners of Maple Lanes in Brooklyn, NY, and also owns five other bowling alleys on Long Island. His children are now involved as the business passes to the third generation of LaSpinas and John’s son Joseph joins the conversation.
Norman and Ruth Mooney, both incredibly talented artists, have been touched by a child with special needs. Their son Rian, the oldest of three children, was born with cerebral palsy. The Mooney’s are extremely dedicated and determined individuals who tirelessly support and champion Rian’s life. Learn about how this family copes, how they found the resources they need and more.
Eric and Hedy Page were children when Hitler began to gain power in Europe. Hedy’s family was among the small number of fortunate and brave Jews that were able to flee Europe. Eric and his family were not able to flee and his family met personal tragedy. How did they meet? What is their family like today? What was it like for their children to learn about the Holocaust in school while having survivors as parents? What are some suggested resources for your family?
Michael Amoruso is a successful lawyer, practicing elder law, special needs, and estate planning and is someone who truly defines the word inspiration. He suffers from Usher Syndrome Type 2, lives with two hearing aids and a degenerative vision problem in which he will eventually lose all of his sight completely. Choosing to view himself as “differently-abled,” Michael has soared above the expectations and predictions of many doctors and teachers. With the love and support of his family and Canine Companions, Michael continues to win.
Not everyone is blessed with the ability to have children and adoption is a wonderful option that brings people yearning to be parents together with babies in need of a loving home. The process however can be daunting. Meet Lana Noone and Cynthia DiMicelli. Lana, and her late husband Byron, served as pioneers of international adoption on Long Island in the late 1970’s. Cynthia, now an adoption consultant, and her husband Dominic adopted domestically after having one son biologically and being unable to conceive again. Explore with them the options and resources available to help make sense of these important decisions.
Peter Belmonte, a baby-boomer, is juggling a job, his own family of four, his responsibilities to his Mom who lives in the community, and his Father, who after a painful family decision, is in a nursing home. How does this family cope? Our very own co-host, Vincent J. Russo speaks to viewers about the importance of planning.
Gloria’s story about her husband, David, is heart-warming and heart-breaking, emotions not unknown to those who suffer silently through the effects of Alzheimer’s on a loved one. What are her emotions, experiences, support system? Ms. MaryAnn Malach-Ragona, Executive Director and CEO, Alzhiemer’s Association, Long Island shares information,resources and the latest news in research for treatment with viewers.
How many single mothers are out there like Monique English whose heart is bursting with joy because her twenty-one-year-old daughter, Kiara, is graduating? Kiara is graduating from the Children’s Learning Center at United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County (UCPN), Roosevelt, Long Island, where she has been a student since the age of three. Monique tells their story and Mr. Kurt Murgo of UCPN offers viewers advice and information about resources.
Mark Haubner, who was severely-challenged by osteoarthritis at the age of forty-four, shares his story, his family and his advice for living with arthritis. Mr. Pat McAsey and Ms. Pat Brasley from the Arthritis Foundation, Long Island Chapter share insights, resources and news on the latest in treatment.