Community & School News January 2019

Camp Good Grief
When a child has felt the devastating loss of a parent or loved one, spending time with others who understand their pain is a good way for everyone to heal together. That’s why Camp Good Grief is the perfect fit for young people who have experienced such a heartbreaking loss.

Camp Good Grief is an organization which aims to assist bereaved children, teens and their families in coping with their special needs. It serves to help young people grieve, even when it might appear to others they are not affected. The camp hosts two sessions annually that are open to anyone from or connected to Staten Island, who is between the ages of 7 and 17 and has experienced the significant loss of a loved one. It does not have to be a parent or relative.

Camp Good Grief founder Linda Steinman is no stranger to loss. Widowed at a young age, she then married a man who had also lost a spouse, and together they raised five children who had all lost a parent. Sadly, one of those children was lost during 9/11. It was those experiences that led Mrs. Steinman and her husband, Irwin, to initiate Camp Good Grief in 2010.

Camp is held in both the spring and fall at the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island (1466 Manor Rd.). Everything is provided as needed for those attending. According to Mrs. Steinman, the activities are “not therapy but therapeutic.” The indoor, weekend-long event includes drumming, memory boxes, mask-making, arts and crafts, dance, magic shows, a visit from a naturalist with live animals, and a special performance by Illuminart Productions called “Sometimes I Just Want Ice Cream,” an original play by and for students about experiencing loss.

On Saturday night, camp hosts a special memorial service, featuring a balloon launch, for all campers. “Some children are precluded from other services,” Mrs. Steinman remarked. “So it’s a very important part of the camp, and a very therapeutic part as well.”

Each camp session hosts between 30 and 35 kids. Their next camp will be held during the last weekend of May and registration is ongoing. To learn more about Camp Good Grief or to register, volunteer, or donate, go to You can also call Linda Steinman at 917-273-6845.

Smoke Free Housing: Isn’t it Time?
This year, some Staten Island children and their families are living in healthier homes. But not all.The good news is thousands of parents who live in public housing in Staten Island are now enjoying a much healthier living environment, residing in apartments and apartment buildings where their children and all residents are no longer suffering daily exposure to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. This is thanks to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development smoke free housing rule that took effect this past July. The rule has impacted millions nationwide, providing clean air regardless of socioeconomic status.

The bad news? Sadly, this smoke-free rule doesn’t apply to all developments. Many Staten Islanders will continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke, which tobacco companies now admit causes lung cancer and heart disease in adults who don’t smoke. Even if members of one family aren’t smokers, smoke easily travels through ventilation systems from apartment to apartment. As you probably already know, there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. In children, studies show secondhand smoke can cause ear infections, exacerbate asthma and other respiratory symptoms and infections and increases the risk for sudden infant death syndrome.

As the pendulum begins to shift, more and more people are recognizing the need for all apartments to become tobacco-free.  Implementing tobacco-free policies in multi-unit homes protects all residents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. Implementing a tobacco-free policy protects and maintains the value of your property, attracts tenants, decreases the potential of a fire caused by smoking and most importantly, protects all residents.

Resources are available at no cost to property managers and landlords looking to implement policies to protect all residents, as well as to residents who want to quit.

For more information contact Ashley Zanatta, the Community Engagement Manager of Tobacco-Free Staten Island (a program of the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island), by emailing [email protected] or calling 718-475-5277. Tobacco-Free Staten Island (TFSI) strives to change the social norm regarding tobacco by de-normalizing and de-glamorizing tobacco, tobacco use and the tobacco industry.

Guided Snowshoe Hikes
Clay Pit Ponds State Park Reserve is offering free guided snowshoe hikes when more than six inches of snow covers the ground. The hikes will be January 1 through March 30, Tuesday through Saturday, weather permitting.

For those unfamiliar with the activity, snowshoeing is a fairly simple but fun wintertime activity wherein participants wear specialized shoes for walking safely on snowy grounds.

Snowshoeing is recommended for ages six and up. Snowshoes will be provided and no registration or fee is necessary. Simply show up and an instructor will guide you through the park. Visit the Clay Pit Ponds Facebook page to check if conditions are appropriate and for dates and times ( Clay Pit  Ponds is loacted at 83 Nielsen Avenue, 10309.

MulchFest 2019
Don’t just recycle your Christmas tree; TREEcycle it! The NYC Department of Sanitation and GreeNYC are once again urging New Yorkers to participate in Mulchfest, the annual recycling of holiday trees into wood chips that will nourish trees and plants all over the city. Last year, over 25,000 trees were recycled through MulchFest!

Want to chip in? Just drop off your tree at a designated chipping location on January 12 or 13 between 10am and 2pm. Your tree will be chipped right away and you can bring home your very own bag of mulch to use in your backyard or to make a winter bed for a street tree. Staten Island’s designated chipping locations are Clove Lakes Park, Conference House Park, Midland Beach (parking lot #6 on Father Capodanno and Graham Boulevard), and Westerleigh Park. Drop-off only locations (no chipping) include: Father Macris Park, Silver Lake Tennis House, High Rock Park, Tappen Park. WIllowbrook Park and Wolfe’s Pond Park. You can say goodbye to your tree and take a family photo at these locations.

In addition, the Department of Sanitation will be conducting curbside collections for mulching and recycling of Christmas trees from January 2 through January 12. Click here for more information about Mulchfest, including tips on making a street tree bed and helpful info from the Department of Sanitation on preparing you tree for chipping.

Daly Award Recipients Announced
Congratulations to Ingrid Ebanks, Physical Education teacher at Curtis High School and teacher at the JCC Beacon Afterschool Program at I.S. 49, as well as John Fodera, President of St. Peter’s Boys High School. The outstanding educators have received the Patrick F. Daly Award for 2018. The award is bestowed upon two teachers who exemplify the values of the fallen principal, who was gunned down 26 years ago in Red Hook, Brooklyn while searching for a student who had left the school building. The award was established shortly after Mr. Daly’s death and was revived last year to honor his legacy of service to the community, his steadfast commitment to his students, and his leadership.

“I’m happy to continue this award to honor Mr. Daly’s legacy, and sacrifice, as well as recognize outstanding educators in our community,” said BP Oddo. “I believe Ingrid Ebanks and John Fodera embody many of the exceptional qualities Mr. Daly had as an educator. Both have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their students and a love of education and their communities. As the Daly family members noted when we selected them, both Ms. Ebanks and Mr. Fodera are following in the footsteps of Mr. Daly through their inspiring work inside and outside of school.”

Bye Bye Corded Blinds
If you’ve been shopping for blinds lately, you might notice corded ones are no longer available. As of December 15, window covering manufacturers banned the sale of corded blinds in response to a study showing nearly one child under the age of 6 dies every month and about two are injured every day in window blind-related incidents.  The study, which was published in the Pediatrics medical journal, showed that from 1990 to 2015, nearly 17,000 children younger than 6 were treated in emergency rooms for window-blind related injuries. Almost 90% of these incidents occurred when children were under the care of parents (via If you currently have corded blinds in your home, you might want to consider switching them out for cordless ones – especially if you have small children.

Free Anti-Bully Workshops
Although many schools claim to have a “zero tolerance” policy on bullying, it’s still going on almost every day in schools everywhere. For anyone who has ever been a victim of bullying, it helps to know that you aren’t alone. The anti-bullying organization Play It Forward NY offers free monthly workshops for kids and teens who have been bullied or teased. The workshops are led by Play It Forward founder Stefan Barone, who experienced bullying throughout his own childhood, with some help from his mom, Debra, who can offer insight to parents of children who are bullied.

At the workshops, children are able to share their experiences in a safe environment and meet others who have had similar experiences. Parents are welcome to join and meet with other parents. The meetings are held every month on both the North Shore and South Shore of Staten Island. Be sure to call Debra Barone at 646-765-6531 to confirm the meeting date before you attend. The dates for the next six months are below, but you can always check our calendar at for each month’s upcoming workshop date.

North Shore workshops are held at Projectivity (B.U.I.L.D. Center) at 51 Broad Street from 4pm to 6pm on the following dates: January 8, February 12, March 12, April 9, May 7 and June 11.

South Shore workshops are held at AME Zion lower hall, 584 Bloomingdale Road, from 4pm to 6pm on the following dates: January 9, February 13, March 13, April 10, May 8 and June 12.

Catholic Schools Week 2019
National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. This year’s celebration is set for January 27 to February 2. The theme is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” The event is typically observed through Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners, and community members. Each day offers a new celebratory theme within the parish, community, students, nation, vocation, staff, and family. Participants are welcome to share their celebrations via social media using the hashtag #CSW19. Go to page 27 of our January Issue for information from the Archdiocese of New York to find out how Catholic Schools around Staten Island are celebrating 2019 Catholic Schools Week.

Tech Upgrades for P.S. 26 & P.S.30
Two Staten Island schools are receiving $50,000 each for classroom upgrades this year, Assemblymember Michael Cusick announced recently. P.S. 26 in Travis and P.S. 30 in Westerleigh plan to use the additional funding for classroom technology upgrades.

“As part of our mission, we initiated Google Classroom in our school to support the diverse needs and high demands of 21st century technology,” said P.S. 26 Principal Laura Kump. “We are looking to expand the technology offerings in our school to include interactive Promethean ActivPanels and additional Google Chromebooks. The Promethean will be used to enhance learning experiences of all learners, making lessons more interactive and engaging. Purchasing additional Chromebooks will provide access for students who may not have the means to purchase their own. We are so thankful to Assemblyman Cusick for his support of our school’s mission and vision to provide equity through access to high quality learning experiences.”

“We are very excited to have received this grant,” P.S. 30 Principal Alan Ihne said. “We are grateful to Assemblymember Cusick for providing these funds to us. We plan on using these fund to purchase various technology and STEM materials to help support our students. These funds will go a long way to providing our students with the tools they need to be successful.”