A Publication for Friends of Little Flower Children and Family Services of NY
Spring 2013
Alumni Spotlight
“My past drives me and my wife and kids motivate me-a great
combination for success!”
Felix Osorio has jumped through many hurdles in life, literally
and figuratively, to reach the level of success he has today.
Like many children placed in foster care, Felix’s family was
unable to care for him at a young age and he entered Little
Flower at eight years old. He remembers clearly the night he
Before that life changing moment, Felix lived with his mother and
siblings in New York City (his father left when he was a toddler).
On their last night together, Felix and his siblings were taken to
a neighbor’s house. After Felix’s mother said her goodbyes, Felix
followed her to the door, where she asked him to take care of his
brothers and sister until she returned. However, Felix felt
apprehensive and asked his mother if she was coming back.
She reassured him that she will return and asked again for him
to look after his siblings. That was the last time Felix saw his
mother for seven years.
Two weeks later Felix was introduced to Columbo. Together they
walked out of the apartment, got on a train and several hours
later reached their destination in Wading River – Little Flower.
After bouncing around for eight years and spending time in a
group home, Felix was placed in his last and best foster home.
Over the years Felix competed in Track-n-Field and as a young
freshman in high school he won the Gold medal in the long jump
at the Junior Olympics in Garden City, NY! During that year he
met another student, Timothy Vuolo, who also competed in the
long jump. Timmy followed him everywhere during practices and
imitated everything he did; a bond and trust started to build
between the two athletes.
One day at school, Felix was called to see his guidance
counselor and was asked about his relationship with Timothy.
Felix thought Timothy was a nice kid and enjoyed assisting him
with his long jump during practice. He was then informed that
the Vuolos wanted to be his new family.
Timothy told his parents he wanted a brother and he wanted
Felix as his brother. Felix became part of the Vuolo family for the
remainder of high school.
Felix graduated from Port Jefferson High School and was
awarded a football/track scholarship to Huron College in Huron,
South Dakota.
After college, Felix moved to Connecticut where he met his wife
of 30 years, Sally Osorio, who worked as a teller in Stratford,
Connecticut. They have two children, Samantha, 26 years old
and Jonathan, 28 years old.
Currently, Felix works with a leading BioTech instrumentation
company. He enjoys staying active and participates in a range
of recreational activities, including competitive Street Handball
and has won some doubles tournaments.
Felix plays Conga Drums professionally and performed with his
colleague, Master William Bronson (saxophone) at the RibbonCutting Ceremony for the new Bascom Public Library in San Jose,
California on February 23rd, attended by the San Jose Mayor
Chuck Reed and other dignitaries. You can view the video on
Little Flower’s website at www.littleflowerny.com.
Felix has great ambition and drive, leading him to continue to
work and create FOSO Media, LLC, a marketing/entertainment
company, based in San Jose, California.
Felix recently renewed his relationship with Little Flower as a
founding member of the Alumni Council. He hopes that through
the council he will be able to provide inspiration to at least one
child, person or individual and show that despite a difficult
childhood and obstacles, you can succeed and live your dreams.
Message from the Executive Director - Grace Lo Grande, LMSW-MPA
Thank You! This holiday season was an incredible success thanks to the generosity and support of so many. Whether you donated
toys, electronics, clothing or auction items for the holiday party, your generosity did not go unnoticed.
Dear Friends,
Spring – a time to celebrate life. As I left my house this morning I noticed all the lovely flowers sprouting up all
around me. It made me smile.
That’s the same feeling I get when I read the stories in this current issue of our newsletter. This issue focuses
on the “who” – not the legendary rock group – but the individuals who make Little Flower what it is. Whether
you are a board member, staff person, foster child in care, or alumni; a care taker, long time donor or a child
just learning what it means to give, this issue is about you!
Spring is an exciting time at Little Flower, with our Msgr. John T. Fagan Awards Dinner in May, proms,
graduations and moving up ceremonies throughout the month of June, planning an open house for July 16th in Wading River and a host of
other activities that celebrate our history, mission and passion.
Our print newsletter comes out twice a year, but if you wish to keep current please visit our website and sign up for our monthly enewsletter and friend us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We look forward to keeping in touch.
Grace G. Lo Grande
Executive Director
Welcome to the Little Flower Family
Little Flower is honored to welcome three new members to our Board of Directors.
Robert B. Campbell, Director
Rev. Peter J Garry, Director
Frank R. Seddio, Director
Hats Off to our Medical and Mental Health Departments
On January 25, 2013, Little Flower was recognized by New York City Administration for Children Services and Dr. Angel Mendoza, MD,
assistant commissioner of Child and Family Services for Children’s Services for outstanding performance in providing medical and mental
health services for children in foster care.
Congratulations to Grace Calderone, assistant executive director for Medical and Mental Health Services, Cynthia Dyer-Boucher, Nkechi
Osuji and all of the physicians, clinicians and staff of the Medical and Mental Health Departments on a job well done.
Thank you for your diligence and hard work. All of us at Little Flower are very proud!
Unfortunately, space does not allow us to list all of our contributors here, but your donations and consideration mean the world to
us. For a full list of donors, please visit our website at: www.littleflowerny.org.
Thank you all for making the holiday a little brighter for those we serve!
Little Flower would like to extend our most gracious thanks to the Colomb Family of Miramar Beach,
Florida. Lisa and David Colomb were Holiday angels to three families this past season.
The couple planned to spend Thanksgiving weekend in New York City with their family. Prior to their
trip, Lisa made arrangements for the family to attend two shows, The Lion King and The Rockettes
Christmas Spectacular and a football game, the New York Jets vs. the New England Patriots.
The Colombs, having experienced their fair share of hurricanes, knew the work and time needed to
recover. Thus, after Hurricane Sandy, Lisa and her family decided to
postpone the trip to NYC. Lisa was now left with these fabulous tickets.
She ran through her options of what to do and came to the conclusion
that because her family has been so blessed, they would love to share
their blessings with another family.
Lisa contacted Little Flower and donated these extraordinary packages
to three families. She hoped that it would be a fun and an exciting
experience for those attending. As evident by the thank you letters
and cards sent to the Colomb Family, it was one of the most special and remarkable gifts they
could have shared with others, making it a night these families won’t forget.
Recent Events at Little Flower
Long Island Harley Owners Group
(LI HOG) Toy Run
Sunday, December 2nd, for the 27th year, hundreds of the LI
HOGs drove in formation to the Little Flower Wading River
Campus. Led by Santa, the riders came to deliver toys and
clothes to kick off the holiday season.
We want to thank the
men and women of
the LI HOGs for
braving the cold to
not only deliver toys
and gifts but also
happiness and
holiday cheer to our
kids and residents.
Thank you for your
continued support
and generosity.
Holiday Party
Thanks to the Young Professionals Group for hosting a
wonderful night in support of Little Flower. Special thanks to
Henry Buhl for letting us spend the evening in his home and the
Holiday Chairs Christopher Barnet, Moira Dorst and Kathleen
Rafferty Hay for putting together a spectacular event.
From Our Kids
Having Anger Towards Anyone Reaching Success
At the core of Little Flower’s success and our ability to continue towards our mission of helping children,
families and developmentally disabled adults in need, are our dedicated and loyal donors.
By: Martel of the Music Therapy Program
Was sleeping, woke up still living the dream
Thought it played out well
Because I had the deck up my sleeve
Then it hit me
Like I was target practice
The ones who were supposed to support me
Were holding me back
Mr. Wayne P. Hall of Williamstown, New Jersey has been a constant and dedicated supporter of Little Flower
for over 20 years as a member of our monthly giving club, The Adoption Club.
Mr. Hall’s generosity stems from his faith: “My Christian teaching tells me to be silent in my philanthropy, but
if it might inspire others to pour out their love to Little Flower, I will briefly tell my story.”
Mr. Hall was born and raised on the coast of Maine by Baptist grandparents. He served in the US Army
three years and shortly thereafter moved to Atlantic City. By 1976, he moved to and started working in the
Long Island—NYC area.
In 1985, he settled in the town of Rocky Point and was invited to a Knights of Columbus function where he met Father John Fagan and learned
briefly who he was and what he did.
It wasn’t until he met two other staff members of the organization that he decided to support Little Flower. At the meeting, he met two women
who were home mothers for the children at Little Flower. He was so impressed with the work they did for, and with, the children, and the love
that they shared with them. It was this meeting, the stories, and the caring spirit of the two ladies that led Mr. Hall to believe that Little Flower
“is a worthy cause and a much needed service to children.”
He attended a golf tournament benefiting Little Flower but with a busy work schedule and family life, he made a mental commitment to support
Little Flower in other ways, which he has done since: “Giving is in my DNA and Christian beliefs; I desire to support those who have needs.”
When asked what he would tell others considering giving to Little Flower, he responded by saying, “if someone needs a reason for a vision to
support Little Flower, they should stop for a moment and think of a child without a home…if they are not moved by that, they need to do some
real soul searching.”
Mr. Hall still attends the Assembly of God Church his mother helped establish and feels he has been very blessed in life working in banking
and the automotive industry and is currently the General Manager at Garden State Honda Clifton in Passaic, New Jersey. Nearing retirement,
he has one regret; that he has not been able to support his tithes and charities at his past levels.
I remember when they told me
I can’t
That I’ll never make it from the ground up
That it’s only a dream that I need to wake up
But my mind was set
And a strong person would never give up
I don’t shoot hoops
I learned how to pass the negative
And pick myself up like a rebound
Now I’m past the critics
They told me it’s not realistic
I told them it’s not supposed to be
It’s a dream
I told myself if I don’t believe in myself
I’m just like them
I wasn’t going to stand in my own way
Because I let my haters be my motivators
And I love for them
But in my head I believe I made it
And I couldn’t do it without the support
I also say thank you
You cared so much
You pushed me to be my best
We at Little Flower would like to thank Mr. Hall for his generous spirit and for continuously supporting us in our endeavors. We hope his big
heartedness and generosity inspires others to show the same care and passion he has.
LGBTQ Teen Group
LGBTQ youth are over-represented in the
child welfare system. For some LGBTQ
teens in care, their sexual orientation,
gender identity, and/or expression is
the reason they may be living out of
the home. LGBTQ youth are at
increased risk of suicide, dropping out
of school due to harassment resulting from their sexual
orientation, isolation, violence, homelessness, HIV/Aids, hearing
homophobic remarks from school staff, peers, and child welfare
workers, health issues, and depression.
Little Flower recognized the need for a group focused on supporting our
LGBTQ Teens, which led to the creation of the LGBTQ Teen Group,
facilitated by Dr. Melinda Konigsberg. The group provides a designated
special place that appreciates and accepts LGBTQ individuals, where
they feel supported and are comfortable to share teen issues as well as
give each other support and feedback. Participants also learn of other
opportunities and resources, prepare to transition out of care, and
advocate for themselves.
Little Flower was able to partner with the Nutrition Education program at
Columbia University to address reoccurring themes around body image,
nutrition, diet and exercise. The LGBTQ group and the graduate
students enjoyed the nutrition workshops so much that Monica Guzman
volunteered to host healthy cooking demos with food tasting weekly
through June. The teens reported eating more fruits and vegetables
and shared stories of cooking the recipes they learned in the
workshops, in their foster homes. The mastery of a skill and taking
care of their bodies help increase self-respect and self-esteem as the
mind and body are connected.
Kids Helping Kids
The Gift of Giving
Five year old Ella Katz is a vivacious and busy young lady in Pre-K, who excels in dance class and
gymnastics. She may not understand the in’s and out’s of today’s high tech fundraising techniques,
but she is already well on her way to becoming a socially responsible citizen.
Thanks to the example set by her mom, Gloria, who works for a company with a strong philanthropic
culture, Ella was able to collect and donate warm sleepwear and nurturing books to the children of
Little Flower. She did this by celebrating her birthday in a different way. Yes, there were decorations
and cake and music, but surprisingly, no gifts for Ella. She instructed her friends to come to the
party laden with donations of pajamas and books which they placed in a big bag that Ella and her
mom had decorated with posters downloaded from a website called thepajamaprogram.org.
Thanks to Ella, children in need will go to bed each night now in warm, clean p.j.’s with a bedtime
book to lessen their fears as they close their eyes to sleep. Looks like Ella got the best gift of all –
the gift of giving!
Lexxi Saal developed a kind and generous spirit from a very young age. After hearing stories of her
mother’s experience in foster care, Lexxi decided she wanted to help others and created
Lexxi and her family have volunteered for Little Flower over the years, which helped her in deciding
what organization to dedicate her time to. Lexxi knew that she wanted to help children in foster care
and give them something unique and special. She thought about it and realized that children in
foster care usually receive toys and clothing, which she has donated in the past, but how many receive flowers? Her vision
then blossomed. The realization of how happy and surprised the children would be when they received a bouquet, and to know that there is
someone out there thinking of them and cares enough to send their love and wishes, was enough to make the dream a reality.
LexxiLoves.org teamed up with 1-800-Flowers and their partner florists for Imagine the Smiles, an initiative designed to recognize, honor
and celebrate members of our local communities and across the nation who deserve a smile. 1-800-Flowers and their partners are
committed to supporting everyday heroes throughout our communities, such as Lexxi. 1-800-flowers is proud to help deliver smiles for
LexxiLoves.org by sending flowers monthly to children in foster care.
Imagine the Smile a child gets when they receive an adorable bouquet made with love from LexxiLoves.org and 1-800-flowers.
Lexxi founded LexxiLoves.org when she was eight years old and her organization continues to grow and support children being cared for
by Little Flower, through various fundraising efforts as well as by enlisting the support from brands looking to make a difference, all with
the hope that every child in foster care feels loved.
Founder’s Day
Going Above and Beyond for the Children in our Care
It’s that time of year-Founder’s Day!! Little Flower
recently celebrated this historic day in our Brooklyn,
Queens and Wading River locations, commemorating
everyone’s contribution to the agency.
In January, Ms. Olympia Bristol and Ms. Rose Laure Alexis, case workers at Little Flower, went the
extra mile to help a child in our foster care program.
Upon learning that her great-grandmother, who cared for her as a young child, recently passed
away, the young lady wanted to attend the funeral.
Employees who reached their 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th,
25th, and 30th anniversaries were
acknowledged and honored. Congratulations to
those who reached these remarkable milestones
and thanks to all staff for all you do to help
fulfill our mission of turning caring into action
to improve the lives of those in our care!
Ms. Bristol understood the need for the child to pay her respects and worked on making a trip to
Haiti a reality. Due to complications in securing original documents for international travel, Ms.
Bristol began to come up against enormous obstacles. The Haitian Consulate in NYC was not able to help,
leading her to take an impromptu road trip to Washington D.C to seek assistance from the Haitian Embassy. Despite arriving at
closing time, the employees recognized the urgency and were sympathetic to her cause, helping the best they could.
After acquiring a temporary passport, Ms. Alexis then accompanied the child abroad to attend the funeral, visit the places she grew up
and see her mother and new siblings.
What seemed like smooth sailing at first, hit a roadblock. When trying to leave Haiti, the authorities did not allow Ms. Alexis and the
child to leave the country until they had the child’s original documents. Ms. Alexis and Ms. Bristol communicated every day, working
around the clock to obtain sufficient documents for the Haitian authorities. Ms. Alexis and the young lady went to the embassy every
day for two weeks until the travel documents were accepted by the Haitian authorities and the youngster and Ms. Alexis happily
returned to New York.
Ms. Alexis and Ms. Bristol have demonstrated dedication and commitment beyond expectation to the well-being and happiness of the
children in our care. On behalf of everyone at Little Flower, thank you ladies for a remarkable job in ensuring the happiness and safety
of all the children you serve.
Thank You to a Caring and Giving Individual
Ms. Cruz has been a dedicated and loving caregiver with Little Flower for over 20 years, first as a
foster mother and then as a caregiver for a developmentally disabled adult. She realized that
after 14 years, she can no longer physically meet the needs as a caregiver and is retiring.
Ms. Cruz became a foster mother in 1992 and cared for many children, sometimes four at a
time. After 10 years, she realized she wanted and needed to help people with disabilities,
believing they needed more attention.
In 1999, Lawrence, a teenager with developmental disabilities came to live with Ms. Cruz and
has been with her ever since. When Lawrence first arrived, it was a difficult adjustment for
them both-Lawrence getting use to a new home and family and Ms. Cruz taking on a new role and new responsibilities.
Because of Lawrence’s disabilities, there were things that were challenging for him to do on his own. Ms. Cruz trained Lawrence on
basic daily activities such as taking a shower, which he is now capable of doing on his own.
Over time, Lawrence developed his own sense of responsibility and independence. When they go out, Lawrence offers to pay and
helps Ms. Cruz with the shopping. He enjoys traveling and has been to Disney World and is planning on another trip. One of his
favorite places to go is the casino, where he likes to play the slot machines. He also enjoys going to the park and sitting with Ms.
Cruz, as they take in the sights and people watch!
5th Anniversary
Sahntanyna Blackwell
Shavonne S. Ceruti
Pamela B. Clarke
Cynthia A. Dyer-Boucher
Zoraida M. Gonzalez
Mamie Greene
Kristen Marzo
Maritza Mejia
Sherly Nicolas
J. Michael Prendergast
Sara Sadin
Mattie Simms
Jeanneth A. Villafane
Wading River
Michelle A. Amato
Sherry C. Baylous
Melanie M. Besold
Jessica A. Castillo
Sharon A. Condon
Gloria A. Durham
Judith S. Feller
Cristina R. Gawreluk
Loretta S. Klein
Jennifer L. Kosloski
Kathleen Levesque
Camille Lucarini
Serena E. Mc Gee
Wading River
Frank J. Perso
Rosana Quinones
Heather E. Robinson
Alison F. Schroeder
Suzanne Sturek
Donna Turner
Latrice N. Turpin
Xiao Xiang Zhang
Union Free School District
Omar Corridon
Roger Foster
Jonathan Marrero
Brenda Mc Millan
Steven Murphy
Janet Slote
Marlon Thompson
10th Anniversary
Davison Alleyne
Crismay Peters
Wading River
Clara Jean Dlag
Union Free School District
Marie Myler
15th Anniversary
Olympia Bristol
Tonia Holmes-Roper
Jennifer Pappo
Cynthia Richardson
Sylvester Minor Jr.
Wading River
Christina V. Conigliari
Christopher Samuels
Union Free School District
George Crigg
20th Anniversary
In the past few months, due to health complications Ms. Cruz has struggled to keep up with her usual activities with Lawrence. Simple
things like going to the park and sitting has become physically painful. Ms. Cruz cares very much for Lawrence, “he is a beautiful
person and is very special.” He never complained and always wants to help when he can. She is extremely proud of Lawrence, his
development and has come to see him as her own son.
Lucy Johnston
She has come to the grim realization that she can no longer care for Lawrence and has decided to close her home and move
Lawrence to another home. She worries about this drastic change and what it might mean for Lawrence, but knows this is the best
thing for him.
Anjanie Ragubir
Ms. Cruz was recently honored at a small reception for her service, dedication and love for all the children she cared for and for being
a resilient and compassionate guardian for Lawrence. We know that the next step will be hard, and Little Flower will be there to
support the both of them through it.
Crystal Beedles
Cynthia Bien-Aime
Tasheena N. Hall
Arowofela Teresa Jose
Clement Ojomo
Nonyem Onuoha
Jennifer S. Polissaint
Efigenia Robles
Denise D. Rogers
Judy A. Sherman-Greene
Juliet D. Sutton-Campbell
Hyacinth E. Tyson
Yvette Waiters
Wading River
Virginia A. Cummings
Mitchell Stromski
25th Anniversary
Wading River
Dwayne Holoman
Joseph Nolan
30th Anniversary
Janet Greaves
Wading River
Gerald Trent
Mary Young
Union Free School District
Christine Evola
35th Anniversary
Wading River
Claude Celcis
NoN-Profit org.
US PoStage
PerMit No. 1045
2450 N. Wading River Road
Wading River, NY 11792-1402
Save the Dates
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 • Msgr. John T. Fagan Awards Dinner
Guastavino’s, 409 East 59th Street, NYC
Get your tickets now at littleflowerny.org/events!
Tuesday, July 16, 2013, Little Flower Open House
Open House, Wading River Campus, 2450 North Wading River Road, Wading River
Sunday, August 18, 2013 • Long Island Ducks Game, Bethpage Ballpark
B2H, Brooklyn and Queens Foster Children Only
Want to sponsor a child and their family? Contact Maureen Fox at: 718-875-3500 ext. 5040 or [email protected]
Monday, September 9, 2013 • Annual Golf Classic
Engineer’s Country Club, Roslyn Harbor, Long Island
Help Little Flower Help Others
If you would like to make a donation to Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York
Please make checks payable to: Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York .
Kindly mail to: Little Flower, Development Office, 2450 N. Wading River Road, Wading River, NY 11792-1402
Donations can also be made online at www.littleflowerny.org and click on “donate now” button