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MATCH SPOTLIGHT: Meet Little Justin & Big Bob Bob has instilled many life lessons in Justin that have had a positive influence on his life. Justin said, “One of the most valuable lessons Bob has taught me is to always keep my head up. He has made me realize that everything will be alright … no matter what. Bob has instilled in me the importance of listening and showing interest in other people. This has helped me so much in becoming who I am today.”

Justin & Bob at this year’s Annual Summer Picnic (top) and at the 2011 Fishing Trip (bottom)

Bob has also helped Justin focus on his future. “Over the years I’ve always tried to instill the importance of education and how it is something that should be appreciated and taken seriously. Justin is now very focused on attending college and that is something that makes me proud,” Bob shared.

Justin and Bob have been matched since 2006. “When Bob came in to my life it meant everything. He gave me what I didn't have. Without Bob in my life I would not be the person I am today,” said Justin.

Something that is extremely meaningful to Bob is that Justin recognizes him on Father’s Day. “It has meant so much to hear Justin express how much he truly appreciates the simple things like having me attend his sporting events,” said Bob.

Bob has been by Justin’s side to watch him mature into a confident and responsible young man. “I am so impressed with Justin’s sense of responsibility and how his confidence has developed over the years,” said Bob. Justin shared, “Without Bob in my life I would not be the person I am today. He has helped me progress into a more confident and outgoing person.”

Justin shared, “I am more open with Bob than I am with any other adult in my life. It's great that we can just go out to lunch and I can talk to him about absolutely anything. When I am older and settled, I hope to be a big brother myself one day. I definitely want to give back and help someone in the positive way Bob has helped me.” Summer 2015

BBBSLI is Pleased to Recognize AHRC Suffolk’s MagnificentVoices Group is the First to Meet the 2015 Clothing Drive Challenge When Magnificent Voices, a self-advocacy group at AHRC Suffolk comprised of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, heard they could make a difference in the lives of young people on Long Island by collecting 200 bags of used clothing, they were inspired and went right to work. Members of the group made posters, gave presentations and reminded everyone through word of mouth about the importance of the clothing drive. In the end, the group helped to collect 240 bags of clothing, 40 over their 200 bag goal! Magnificent Voices is using projects like the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island (BBBSLI) Clothing Drive Challenge as a platform for helping members get more involved in their communities while also teaching them to become better advocates for themselves and others.

Magnificent Voice Member, Peter Hathaway, loading donated clothes on to the BBBSLI truck.

“We can make a great difference in the world when we speak up for a good cause like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island,” said Magnificent Voices member, Peter Hathaway. Organizing this clothing drive helped members to find their voices and gain confidence by seeing how their efforts led to such success. “Even though it was hard work, I am so excited we were able to help Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island,” said Chrissy Koppel, President of Magnificent Voices. “I know there is a child out there that will be in a better place because of our help. We can’t wait to take the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island Clothing Drive Challenge again next year.”

Magnificent Voices President, Chrissy Koppel, carrying bags of donated clothes to the BBBSLI

Putting Their Best Foot Forward College Students Leah Shindler and Morgan Singer looked in their closets and decided that they had way too many shoes! Rather than just donating their own shoes, they put together a campaign called, “Put Your Best Foot Forward” as a way to collect shoe donations from their friends and dorm mates. All the shoes were donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island and the campaign was a great success!

If interested in conducting your own Donation Drive please contact: Joanne Kassebaum at (631) 234-0000 x115

Summer 2015


“Build Your Own Sandwich Day” The BBBSLI workplace mentoring program at OpenLink matches company employees with middle school students who are in need of a positive role model. Twice a month, Littles are bussed from their school to the OpenLink offices at RXR Plaza to meet with their Bigs. At the start of the program, Littles were given a tour of RXR Plaza which included an impressionable trip to the building’s expansive kitchen and gourmet cafeteria. Immediately following the tour, and several times throughout the year, Littles excitedly asked if a return trip to the corporate cafeteria could be arranged. On May 20 , Littles were surprised when they were led directly to the RXR kitchen to meet their Bigs. They were greeted by the Head Chef who gave each of them their own chef’s hat as he announced that it was “Build Your Own Sandwich Day”. After giving them a full tour of the kitchen, Littles were ecstatic as the Chef provided step by step instructions to the group on how to build a large hero sandwich. th

Once prepared, all the matches gathered in the corporate cafeteria to eat their tasty sandwiches together. On the bus ride back, every child had a white chef’s hat on their head and a huge smile on their face!

Congratulations to Our 2015-16 Board of Directors Officers Slate 

Thomas Slome: Chair

Richard Grossi: Vice President

Michael Paley: Treasurer

Kathleen Courtney: Secretary

Thank You to Our Outgoing Board Chair John Talotta We would like express our appreciation to our outgoing Board Chair, John Talotta, for his dedication and commitment to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, and for the establishment of the Dorothy & John Talotta Endowed Scholarship.

Summer 2015


New Staff Spotlight Alana Famiglietti, Case Manager Prior to joining BBBSLI as a Case Manager, Alana worked as a Social Worker with a Mobile Crisis Team advocating for people with developmental disabilities as well as mental health diagnoses. Alana graduated from Molloy College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and minor in Sociology. She went on to continue her studies at Fordham University where she earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work. At BBBSLI, Alana hopes to empower children for positive social change by providing them with mentors to advocate for their future growth and success.

Alana Famiglietti

Kelly McGowan, Intake Specialist Prior to joining BBBSLI as an Intake Specialist, Kelly’s experience included work in a variety of handson environments with children of all ages and their families. Kelly received her Master’s Degree in Human Services Leadership and Management from St. Joseph’s College. She also holds Bachelor’s Degrees in both Human Development and Hispanic Studies from Boston College and the Universidad de Alcala de Henares. She is also bi-lingual, Spanish speaking. At BBBSLI, Kelly hopes to make a difference in the lives of both the families and volunteer participants by helping them form friendships that will have a lasting positive impact. Kelly McGowan

Volunteer Appreciation Reception On Tuesday, April 14th, Big Brothers Big Sister of Long Island celebrated their volunteer mentors (‘Bigs’) at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Reception, sponsored by Darby Dental. Volunteers, board members and supporters of BBBSLI gathered at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, to celebrate over 25,000 cumulative hours of time and energy spent annually to positively impact the lives of children on Long Island. This celebratory reception was held during National Volunteer Appreciation Week. During the evening’s program, all Big Brothers and Big Sisters were acknowledged for their volunteerism in mentoring children facing adversity. Special recognition was given to those Bigs who have been matched with their Littles for over six years. Volunteers were surprised at the end of the evening by an a Capella performance by Hofstra University’s singing group, Sigma’Capella, which concluded the evening’s wonderful celebration on a high note!

Scholarship Recipients Also acknowledged at the Volunteer Appreciation Reception, were our 2015 scholarship award recipients. Scholarships are awarded to Littles, former Littles and High school Bigs pursuing higher education this fall, who have achieved academic excellence and demonstrate high levels of motivation, responsibility and resiliency in their everyday lives. This scholarship opportunity is made possible by supporters of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island as well as the families of the late Jeff Grant, the late Glenn Trovato and the late Michael J. Weisbrod. Summer 2015


Annual Summer Picnic 2015

On Sunday, June 14th, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island hosted their Annual Summer Picnic at Heckscher State Park. This year’s event was presented by The Federated Group and was attended by more than 200 Bigs, Littles and their families. Each year the summer picnic provides a fun-filled day of food, music, games, art and other activities. DJ Joe played music and games throughout the day while Bigs and Littles took to the fields playing softball and dodge ball. Inside the pavilion, others took fun pictures with props in the photo booth, played board games and created hand print murals that will be displayed in the Levittown and Islandia offices. In addition, every child received brand new books from the book fair table and a backpack filled with giveaways. The pavilion was filled with excitement as our raffle winners were announced sending many Littles home with wonderful prizes. The fun-filled afternoon concluded with dessert, cotton candy and tons of big smiles. BBBSLI wants to express a special thank you to the volunteers from The Federated Group and Chase who assisted BBBSLI staff members throughout the day in running the event. Additionally, we would like to thank our food, drink and snack sponsors – Jim’s Deli, Snapple, ROAR and UTZ Snacks.

Summer 2015


First Annual “LOL for Mentoring” Comedy Night On Wednesday, February 25th, more than 130 people gathered at Governor’s of Levittown to attend BBBSLI’s first annual “LOL for Mentoring” Comedy Night. The event was presented by co-sponsors Executive Business Association (EBA) and Network Long Island (NLI). Valuing the power of networking, both groups decided to bring their members together for a night of networking and lots of laughs, all in support of BBBSLI’s mentoring program. We look forward to bringing everyone together for another night of laughs at our second annual Comedy Fundraiser Night next year.

“Poker Night” 2015 On Tuesday, March 10th, 130 players – ranging in skill from novices to the actual 2002 WSOP Main Event Champion – kicked off Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island’s 2015 Poker & Networking Series at “Poker Night”. The packed event, presented by Steve Madden, was held at The Main Event Restaurant & Sports Bar in Farmingdale and raised close to $24,000. The funds raised at “Poker Night” directly supports our mentoring program and allowed the agency to create 10 new matches. Robert Varkonyi revealed the championship hand at the coveted final table. Jeff Leibowitz and Jeremy Ecker finished in 2nd and 3rd Place, respectively. The top PRIZE was a $1,500 Traveler’s Choice Voucher. Second prize was a 50 inch Samsung LED TV and the third place winner received a Wine & Spirits getaway for two at Hotel Indigo. Our next 2015 Poker & Networking Series event – “Summer Sizzle” Poker, presented by ZBF Geothermal – will take place on July 21st at The Main Event in Farmingdale. For event details, sponsorship opportunities or to register, visit –

“It was great to see so many new faces at “Poker Night”. It’s a testament to the quality of networking that happens at these events bringing together individuals from so many different backgrounds all to support our mission” - Jamison Skala, BBBSLI Director of Development

Summer 2015


Walk for Kids’ Sake Raises $55,000 On April 25th, 2015, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island hosted our annual Walk for Kids’ Sake event, presented by GEICO, raising $55,000. This annual event provides an opportunity for the community to join together and raise funds to help BBBSLI sustain and grow the number of children served through our mentoring programs, which provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, 1-to-1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Over 200 walkers braved the chilly spring morning and came together at Eisenhower Park in support of mentoring on Long Island. Everybody warmed up with a stretching session led by the GEICO gecko. As is tradition, a Big and Little match are selected to blow the horn marking the start of the 5K walk. This year, the honor went to Big Brother Brian Mangan and his Little Brother Brian who were celebrating their one year match anniversary to the day. Among the many walkers completing the 5K walk-a-thon were Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his wife Linda. The event concluded with a Finishers’ Picnic which featured a surprise visit from Chuck E. Cheese to entertain the many children in attendance.

Summer 2015


CEO Mark Cox

Staff Director of Finance Helen Liriano

July 21st at The Main Event in Farmingdale, NY

Director of Development

August 10th (rescheduled date) at The Muttontown Club in East Norwich, NY

Jamison Skala

Director of Marketing & PR Amy Sledz-Sarin

Director of Services Nancy Travers

Director of Human Resources Carmelina Vassallo

Manager of Site Based Programs Rachelle Ayala

Manager of Community Based Programs Brian Cooper

Quality Assurance Manager

August 14th thru 23rd in Hampton Bays, NY

September 19th

, NY

Josephine Todisco

Events Coordinator Deanna Tropeano

Case Managers Alana Famiglietti Ashley Hinds Sheniqua Lee Nuria Martinez

Intake Specialist Kelly McGowan

Newsletter Editor Amy Sledz-Sarin

Contact Us:

October 1st at The Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, NY

November 14th at The Nutty Irishman in Farmingdale, NY

Nassau 516.731.7880

Suffolk 631.273.1469

Donation Center 631.234.0000



BBBSLI Big News Summer 2015 Newsletter  
BBBSLI Big News Summer 2015 Newsletter