One of the things that will always and forever amaze me about covering the news in Delaware County is the never-ending stream of interesting and really good people who make a positive difference in our area by the work that they do here.
They are usually really humble and don’t like or want any accolades for what they do, but I want to take a few minutes to congratulate and give shoutouts to a few of these special people whom I had the honor of meeting up with during the last few weeks.
To begin with, I want to congratulate Nancy Gibbons Craskey, of Broomall, development officer of Cityteam Philadelphia, located in Chester, an organization that serves those struggling with poverty, homelessness and addiction. Nancy was a recent guest of the Delco Press Club where she spoke about the ongoing mission of Cityteam to treat every person who comes to its door with dignity and respect and to help them overcome their struggles by giving them a hand up. In addition to wearing many different hats at Cityteam, Nancy’s job is to go out into the community and get people involved in the organization’s ministry by donating, fundraising and volunteering. She is always inviting those she meets to stop by Cityteam for a tour.
“I invite everyone to come down and take a tour of our facility. Hearing is one thing. Seeing Cityteam for yourself is totally another,” she told members of the Press Club. “Every time I get to take people on a tour of all of our different programs at Cityteam, they will inevitably say, ‘I had no idea.’ They immediately want to get involved, especially after meeting the men, women and children that we serve.”
The reason Nancy stands out as a special person is how she doesn’t “just talk the talk.” As a mom, she gets her whole family involved. Her children work right alongside her, conducting backpack drives, serving meals, packing and delivering toys, sorting clothes and participating in all kinds of other charitable works.
Last month, Nancy worked along with radio personality John DeBella to make this year’s 102.9MGK Turkey Drop another rousing success, gathering hundreds of turkeys and monetary donations to help feed those in need. She is currently spearheading Cityteam’s annual toy drive. In a single day last week, Nancy and her team stopped at Loomis Elementary School to pick up 300 pairs of pajamas and books collected by the students there. They then stopped at Walmart, where they met middle schoolers from Walden School who loaded hundreds of bikes into their truck, which then went to Cityteam’s warehouse where freshmen from Malvern Prep stood ready to unload and set up all the bikes, books, pajamas and toys.
Nancy’s gift to the people of Delaware County is getting them motivated and involved, allowing them to experience that really good feeling that comes from helping others. She truly lives out the spirit of Christmas every day, all year long.
Ditto for Casey Fosbenner, of Broomall. “Casey Boy,” as most know him, is executive producer of WMMR’s Preston & Steve Show and played a vital part in the 93.3 WMMR’s Camp Out For Hunger campaign that took place last week, Nov. 27 to Dec. 1. The annual campout in South Philly has collected millions of pounds of food for Philabundance and is the largest single-location food drive in the nation. The total amount collected for this year’s drive will be announced this week. Camp Out for Hunger accounts for more than half of Philabundance’s food drive donations each year.
Casey is another one, just like Craskey, who doesn’t just talk but actually puts those words into actions. He, too, was a recent Delco Press Club guest. A graduate of Cardinal O’Hara High School, Casey said that one of the best parts of his career is being in a position to do good and help others.
“That’s really what it’s all about. I believe we should all be grateful for what we have and never take our good fortune or gifts for granted,” Casey said sincerely. “The best way to show our gratitude is by giving back.”
Kudos to Casey for making Delco proud of both his generous heart and his winning personality, as well as his ongoing efforts to not only do good things for the community but to inspire and motivate others to follow his lead.
Congrats is also in order for another Press Club guest Cheryl Colleluori, president of the HEADstrong Foundation, an organization that is improving the quality of life for patients with cancer and their families. Cheryl lived every mother’s worst nightmare in 2006 when she lost her son at the age of 21 after a courageous battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During his treatment, the Ridley High School lacrosse standout and college lacrosse player at Hofstra University discovered a need for affordable housing for cancer patients. After losing Nick, Cheryl turned her grief into action and has worked tirelessly through the HEADstrong Foundation to raise more than $9 million and help almost 14,000 families in the Philadelphia area whose worlds have been turned upside down after a cancer diagnosis.
Cheryl raised enough money to open Nick’s House in Ridley Township, which has served 65 rotating guests who have stayed at the home rent-free while they sought cancer treatment at area health care facilities. She recently expanded HEADstrong’s efforts and acquired a seven-bedroom home in Swarthmore that could accommodate up to 14 people and serve even more families in need of housing while getting treatment. The determined mom, with the mission and memory of her son Nick emblazoned in her heart, has struggled past opposing neighbors and other hurdles to forge ahead and create a welcoming place for families going through exactly what she did over a decade ago. Kudos to Cheryl for never giving up, for keeping her eye on HEADstrong’s mission and not letting anything stand in the way of what her beloved son Nick would have wanted. I think almost all mothers understand where she is coming from and where she gets her strength and perseverance. She’s an inspiration to us all, and her work is a gift to countless families from all over the world and to the Delaware County community.
Last but not least of the Press Club’s memorable guests a few weeks back is Justina Calgiano, director of public relations at Providence Animal Center (PAC). Justina spoke about the strides made at PAC, including the recent dog and cat rescues from a shelter in Corpus Christi, Texas. By bringing those animals into PAC for fostering and adoption, space opened up at the Texas shelter, enabling the Texas staff to take in the many animals displaced by the recent hurricane there. Justina reviewed PAC’s mission of finding forever homes for animals, as well as providing education and proper care.
In addition to the extraordinary guests at the recent Delco Press Club event, I want to offer my sincere congratulations to the second vice president of the Delco Press Club, Paul Kotrotsios, of Broomall, founder and publisher of the Hellenic News of America, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Based out of Delaware County, Hellenic News of America was the very first bilingual newspaper in America. Paul came to America from Greece in 1979 to achieve his MBA degree from St. Joseph University. Ten years later, he founded the Hellenic News of America to share news from Greece and from the Greek-American community in America, forming a medium to link the Greek community together at home and abroad, and to inform and enlighten readers. Paul, a successful businessman, holds the annual Hermes Expo International each spring at the Concordville Inn. He also recently gave Hellenic News a vibrant web and social media presence as well.
According to the Kotrotsios family, the anniversary party was meant to “highlight decades of stories from the Hellenic News of America, covering the roots and passions of the Hellenic community while perpetuating Hellenic principles and ideals.” The event also paid tribute and honored a host of extraordinary Greek Americans in our region. For a full listing and more information about the event’s honorees, visit hellenicnews.com.
The 30th anniversary awards dinner, planned with the theme of “Continuing the Hellenic legacy,” was truly one of the most extravagant celebrations to date. Held at the gorgeous and elegant Merion Catering and Special Events facility in Cinnaminson, N.J., the black tie anniversary gala featured Greek vocalist Dimitris Basis, flown in from Greece, an orchestra, dancing and food and delicacies fit for a king or queen. Honestly, I cannot even begin to describe the food in words, but just picture feta cheese blocks the size of Rubik Cubes and olives the size of ping pong balls. It was a lot of fun, especially seeing what people wore. Paul’s lovely wife Linda and his beautiful daughters, Aphrodite, who is co-publisher of Hellenic News of America, Stavroula and Ioanna, were dressed as if they were at the Hollywood Oscars in absolutely stunning gowns. They fit right in because one dress at the affair was prettier and more eye-catching than the next. Guests came from all over the United States, as well as from Greece, to pay tribute to the Hellenic News of America and to Paul and his family and the legacy they’ve created.
To add to the elegance of the occasion, a huge red carpet was positioned at the entrance for people to walk down to the main dining room. The memorable celebration was something else!
Kudos to Paul and his family and the team at the Hellenic News of America for exemplifying the principles of the Greek-American community for 30 years and providing an invaluable service to the community by publishing the Hellenic News and doing such a nice job with it. By strengthening the Greek culture and family ties in this region, Paul adds to the entire community’s vibrancy and character. By sharing the Greek-American culture and tradition with so many non-Greeks, including myself, Paul adds to the rich ethnic diversity of Delaware County and that’s something we all appreciate.
To find out more about any of the organizations listed above and the very interesting and special people who are a part of them, “like” their Facebook pages.