Hearts burst at HeartShare centennial celebration

July 14, 2014 Heather Chin
Share this:

Music, dancing and fun filled the MetroTech Commons courtyard on Saturday, July 12 as families and HeartShare staffers from across New York City gathered for a block party in celebration of HeartShare Human Services of New York’s 100th anniversary.

“For me, this is such a nice event because it shows who we are,” said HeartShare President/CEO Bill Guarinello, who attended the event with his six-year-old granddaughter Gianna. “What better way to have time together than this.”

“HeartShare has been a blessing [because] I know when he goes to the program, he’s in good hands,” said Robyne Davis about her brother John Doerr, who participates in a day habilitation job training program in Queens. “They teach him independence.”

For the past century, the nonprofit social services agency—founded as the Catholic Guardian Society of Brooklyn and Queens— has provided programs and prevention services in education, healthcare, foster care, recreation and other services for families with children and individuals with developmental disabilities. It also runs the HeartShare School in Bensonhurst for youth diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

Dozens of community sponsors from across southern Brooklyn provided food, games and a bouncy house, but it was the talent and achievements of HeartShare-supported students that stole the show.

Dancers from the P.S./I.S. 288 Beacon Program entertained partygoers with synchronized dance routines, while the HeartShare School Rock Band performed covers of classic rock hits the likes of The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” Twisted Sisters’ “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and Katy Perry’s “Roar.”

Teenagers Nicholas, Ashley, Jonathan, Lucas, Jared, Israel and Rokhaya rocked out on stage for their first public performance and they had a blast. Their band was created in 2013 as a form of musical therapy and they and their families have embraced it completely.

“You see the essence of each child magnified when they perform,” enthused Marie Racos, Nicholas’ mom. Jonathan’s mother Jane Frank agreed, stating, “They are wonderfully close, but this is another way for them to be together with their shared love of music.”

Watching the band perform and so many members of the HeartShare community enjoy themselves at the party, HeartShare Vice President of Education Services Carol Verdi smiled and said she’s “certainly seen many miracles over the years.

“I’ve been able to mold my whole career, over 32 years, from school social worker to overseeing children’s programs, at HeartShare,” Verdi said. “To be able to do that at a place that puts children and adults first is wonderful.”

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment