Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Busy Holiday Season!

Well, I have been slacking on my blog but between finals and appearances my life has gotten a little hectic. Lets rewind back to a week ago, December 8th. I was invited, along with Miss Richmond County, Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen, and Miss Richmond County's Outstanding Teen, to a holiday party run by On Your Mark at one of the homes that they run on Staten Island. On Your Mark is a Staten Island based non-profit organization that provides comprehensive services to children and adults with a wide range of disabilities. The goal of this organization is to promote independence, community involvement and integration as well as social integration. They offer a broad base of services including group home housing. This holiday party was held in one of their group homes which houses young adults with disabilities. We were able to meet the residents of the house as well as their families, eat dinner and sing some holiday music with them. It was really a remarkable experience.

The girls with the residents of the Stafford House

On December 10th, I attended and performed at the Borough Hall Tree Lighting. Putting aside the freezing weather, it was really a fun event. Two of Santa's reindeer even made an appearance! (Thanks to the Staten Island Zoo). Children from around Staten Island came to celebrate the lighting of the tree and meet Santa. After the musical performance I helped hand out gifts along with the other titleholders.

Tonight, I was honored by the Iron Hills Civic Association for my involvement in the Staten Island community. The dinner was held at the Excelsior Grand. Along with myself the Iron Hills Civic Association honored Edward Burke, deputy borough president of Staten Island; Dr. Srinivas Duvvuri, a Staten Island cardiologist; Dr. Mark Sherman, a Staten Island orthopedic surgeon; Dr. Jamshad Wyne, president of Staten Island Heart Imaging Foundation Inc., and his wife, Andrea Wyne, Staten Island Heart Imaging executive director. It was remarkably flattering to be honored among such amazing individuals who have done so much for Staten Island. I was also able to perform a few songs, even with some minor technical difficulties! (Flexibility is key to being a titleholder.) It was an amazing night and I even planned some exciting up coming appearances!

Standing, from left, Anthony Aliffi; Victoria Spagnola; Dr. Mohammad Khalid, association president; Lisa Bova-Hiatt; Donna Barone and Annette Esposito. Sitting are co-chair Melissa Rabinovich and honorees Dr. Mark Sherman, Andrea Wyne, Deputy Borough President Edward Burke, Miss Staten Island 2011 Maria DeSantis and Dr. Srinivas Duvvuri

With Carol Benanti of the Staten Island Advance & Dr. Khalid, President of the Iron Hills Civic Association.
Performing with the band

With a fellow honoree Dr. Sherman

Jim Smith, Executive Director of Miss Staten Island

Jerry Ruggerio, President of Miss Staten Island and his wife Lori

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dinner at the Dove

As you all know, the Miss Staten Island Organization is run entirely by volunteers. No one involved on any level of the Miss America Organization is compensated monetarily. In addition, all of the funding for the scholarships for Miss Staten Island come from community sponsors. Throughout the year we try to recognize all of our sponsors and thank them for their support of this organization. Recently, I made a stop at the Golden Dove diner on Richmond Avenue for a quick dinner with some of the Miss Staten Island board members and the owner and longtime sponsor Lenny. Of course there was a photo op involved.

Thank you for all of your support Lenny!
In the next two weeks I have several appearances scheduled for the holiday season. I will blog about them as soon as they happen, but here is a little sneak peak, the advance featured me in an article about an honor I am receiving a week from now.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Child Nutrition Bill Clears Congress

My platform, "Healthy Kids for a Healthier Tomorrow," is extremely relevant in the news recently.

Last Thursday, December 2, Congress passed a bill which will expand the public school lunch program as well as increase the nutritional value of the meals provided by including more fruits and vegetables. With school lunch programs feeding more than 31 million children a day and the reliance of many families on the nutrition provided in these school lunches, it is extremely important that they are well balanced and hearty meals. This bill sets national standards to finally eliminate high calorie junk food from the cafeteria and classrooms. The bill also grants the secretary of agriculture the power to establish nutrition standards for foods sold in schools during the school day, including items in vending machines. The standards would require schools to serve more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

Of course this all sounds extremely positive, however, if this transition was simple it would have gone into effect years ago. The problem lies in funding. More nutritious, fresh foods are simply more expensive than preprocessed foods. About half of the $4.5 billion cost of the new bill is financed by a cut in food stamps starting in several years. In addition, the prices of school lunches are going to need to be raised. However, for the first time in more than thirty years, the bill will increase federal reimbursement for school lunches beyond inflation which will help to cover the cost of higher-quality meals. It will also allow more than 100,000 children on Medicaid to qualify automatically for free school meals. School districts that comply with the new standards can receive an additional federal payment of 6 cents for each lunch served.

I am thrilled by the passage of this new bill and I am eager for schools on Staten Island to start complying with the new standards in order to increase the health of our community's children. Although this is a large step in the right direction for combating the obesity epidemic in America, we all must keep in mind that nutrition in school is just one component, now focus has to turn to setting new standards for physical activity programs in our schools as well as improved health education.

Read the article about the bill in the NYTimes:

For more information about the national fight against childhood obesity visit:

12/5/10 Miss NY's Send Off Party!

Today was a day filled with inspirational women doing amazing things!

I started off the day with Kim Cantoni, Miss Richmond County 2010, and Christina Moore, Miss Brooklyn 2011, driving to NYC to attend Claire Buffie, Miss NY's, send off party for Miss America! The party, hosted by Amanda Mason in a banquet area of the beautiful Olivia, was warm and welcoming and decked out in Claire's favorite shade of purple. It was so nice to see the various titelholders, past and present, as well as board members and friends of the Miss NY organization. Claire shared little tidbits about her competition wardrobe, which I cannot wait to see in Las Vegas and the attendees made scrapbook pages that will be compiled into a book for Claire to bring to Miss America with her. (I thought this was an adorable idea).

Miss NY local titleholders, past and present, with Claire Buffie Miss NY!

The most amazing part of the party was Claire sharing a bit about her most recent project with her platform, "Straight for Equality, Lets Talk." In efforts to reach those affected by bullying through the "It Gets Better Project," Claire created her own inspirational video incorporating several of the other state titleholders competing for the title of Miss America in January. It was really amazing seeing her work.

After the party was over I headed downtown to Washington Square Park to attend the senior vocal recitals of my good friends and former classmates, Kristen DaCosta and Ashley Sweetman. As some of you may know, I originally began my time in college as a classical voice major in New York University's Steinhardt School. After my freshman year at NYU I realized that I did not want to pursue a career in music and made a switch to majoring in accounting at Wagner College and moved back home to work with my father, a CPA on Staten Island. Anyway, back on track, I am still very close with Kristen and Ashley and was thrilled to be able to attend their senior recitals. They were truly remarkable.

Kristen DaCosta
Ashley Sweetman

Can't wait to sneak backstage after these ladies debut on Broadway :) Love you both!!!

After an excitement filled day I got on the ferry and headed back to Staten Island for some much needed rest before my last day of classes and the start of finals.