Sunday, October 25, 2009

Block Institute's Brightest Star Awards Gala

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm working with Block Institute on it's inaugural Brightest Star Award- a pageant that recognizes outstanding achievement in the developmentally disabled community. The program pairs up outstanding members of the Block Institute community with mentors from the pageant community who prepare them for stage, and a Brightest Star is selected out of the ten finalists who best embodies the core values of the program (Spirit, Leadership, Wellness, Talent, Independence, Mastery, Fellowship, Citizenship, Growth and Community). I'm mentoring Joseph Carerra, talent finalist, and I had the privilege of meeting him in person for the first time last week at Block Institute! Joe's a gifted visual artist (and a pretty snazzy dancer), and I look forward to getting to know him better through this process!

Joseph and I with his sister, Rosemary, at a Brightest Star Rehearsal

The Brightest Star Awards Gala will be held a Block Institute on Saturday, November 14th from 7:30-10p at Block Institute (376 Bay 44th St, Brooklyn). If you're interested in attending, tickets are $20, and can be purchased through Anne Marie Russo (718-906-5414,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Holiday Stocking Project with Services for the Under-Served

Just a quick post to let you know about an amazing project I took part in last year, and will be participating in again this year:

Services for the Underserved, a NYC-based non-profit that helps individuals and families that face a variety of issues such as mental illness, developmental or physical disability, homelessness, AIDS, unemployment or poverty, hosts an annual "Holiday Stocking Drive", where they assign volunteers to an individual/ individuals (you can do more than one stocking if you'd like) and provide volunteers with some basic info about the client you'll be making a stocking for. Volunteers then create a stocking to be mailed to their client or dropped off at the SUS office in Chelsea. The stocking can be filled with small gifts, toiletries, gift-certificates, stationary, toy... It's not about any particular religious holiday and it's not about spending lots of money- it's simply a gesture of compassion to someone who needs it. The usual range of stocking value is $25-$50, but you give what you can. I did a lot of bargain shopping for my stocking last year, and including the stocking itself, spent just under $20.

If you'd like to get involved, simply e-mail Sarah Petrey at, and include your name, address, phone number and number of stockings you'd like to create. Stockings must be mailed out or dropped off by December 4th.

"The Reality: No one has the answers; Everyone has the Responsibility"

As I mentioned earlier, I'm slightly obsessed with TED, and since subscribing to their "TEDTalks" podcast, I've come across approximately ONE HUNDRED MILLION videos I'd like to share with you. For the sake of time and cohesiveness, I promise to keep what I post on here related to arts in education or the Miss America Organization in general (though feel free to contact me if you'd like suggestions on some other TEDTalks to check out!) Please enjoy Liz Coleman's riveting discussion on some of the issues that face our liberal education system today, and what changes must be made now to alter the course that American pedagogy is currently barreling down.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Why Arts in Education?

I'm swamped with homework, but since my educational endeavors are so closely related to my platform, I'm constantly finding things I want to blog about. I recently stumbled across this excerpt from Larry O'Farrell's essay "Writing Arts Curriculum in a Public Sector-Private Sector Partnership", which explains quite succinctly how beneficial the arts are in education.

"Experiences in the arts -- drama, dance, media arts, music and the visual arts -- play a valuable role in the education of all students. The arts nourish the imagination and develop a sense of beauty, while providing unique ways for students to gain insights into the world around them. All of the arts communicate through complex symbols-- verbal, visual and aural -- and help students understand aspects of life in different ways. Students gain insights into the human condition through exposure to works of art. They can imagine what it would be like to be in the same situation as a character in a play, an opera, or a painting, and try to understand that character's point of view. They identify common values, both aesthetic and human, in various works of art, and in doing so, increase their understanding of others and learn that the arts can have a civilizing influence on society. In producing their own works, they communicate their insights while developing artistic skills and aesthetic judgment. Since artistic activities are closely connected to play and human interaction, students experience a sense of wonder and joy when engaged in the arts, which can motivate them to participate more fully in cultural life and in other educational opportunities."

Friday, October 9, 2009


The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development have recently announced the availability of After-School Arts Partnership awards; $5000 one time grants for city-funded after-school programs to create cultural art projects. The deadline to apply for this generous grant is 10/15/09, so if you know anyone involved in a city-funded after-school program, pass this info on to them FAST! The application can be found here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Busy on Columbus Day?

If you're free in on Monday, 10/12, and you're looking for a fun way to spend the evening, get an awesome free dinner in TriBeCa, and help make a difference, then listen up! I've been invited to attend PFLAG NYC's Annual Dinner & Fundraiser by my friend Claire (Miss Jubilee), who's an activist with this group. She informed me that they're still looking for volunteers and in-kind donors, so read the excerpt from her blog, below, and send an email to: or .

VOLUNTEERS for the PFLAG NYC Annual Dinner & Fundraiser

Monday, October 12 at Tribeca Rooftop (2 Debrosses Street, NYC), 6pm-10pm

We need volunteers to work the silent auction, the VIP cocktail reception, greet people, etc. You get a free GOURMET meal!! (I've been on the tasting, you're in for a treat - email me for a menu) There is a volunteer training meeting on Wednesday, October 7 6:30-8 at the PFLAG NYC Office at the GMHC Building 119 W. 24th St. (between 6th and 7th Avenues) 9th Floor Board Room. Please RSVP by contacting Kara at 646-403-3682 or via email Even if you cannot attend the meeting, but can volunteer for the dinner, we need you! Email Kara (or me).

IN-KIND DONATIONS for the PFLAG NYC Annual Dinner & Fundraiser

If you are a local business owner, or have any services you'd like to donate to the dinner auction, please contact me with details or Drew Tagliabue

Silent and Live Auction Contributions
Past auctions have covered the range - from a week in a Tuscan villa to theatre tickets and dinner for two to goods and services of many local businesses. Donors will be recognized at the auction, in the dinner journal, in the PFLAG NYC Newsletter. If you are not able to make a donation in-kind, consider also making a tax-deductible gift to PFLAG NYC for the purpose of the auction and we'll do the shopping for you!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Atlantic Antic

With Melanie Hope Greenberg, author/ illustrator of Mermaids on Parade!

With Tammy Hall, storyteller, at the Atlantic Antic!

With the ladies of GUMBO (493 Atlantic Ave), after reading a few stories to the kids!

Reading Melanie Hope Greenberg's Mermaids on Parade!

What a day! And it's only 3p! I arrived at the Atlantic Antic a bit early to scope out the scene, and sample some of the delicious street fair food offerings. Have I mentioned that I LOVE STREET FAIR FOOD? At around 12:30p, a nice little crowd had gathered in front of GUMBO, lured in by the incredible talents of Tammy Hall, a local storyteller. I was up after Melanie, and I read first her fantastic book, Mermaids on Parade. I then read Two Bad Mice- one of my favorite tales from The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter. I took a brief trip up and down the street fair, and though there was still lots to see and do, headed home (but not before picking up a cupcake and kettlecorn for Joe). I have an ominous pile of homework staring at me from across the room, so it's a good thing I got all my fun in earlier!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and my good friend Inga (Miss Manhattan), passed some important information to me that I'd like to share with you. From 11a-2p on 10/11, Lynn Calat, NP, of Midwood Wellness and Lutheran Medical Center (Brooklyn) will be offering free breast cancer screenings.

About Lynn:

"At the Midwood Wellness, I will provide compassionate and comprehensive care, to women of all ages. Whether it's your first gynecological exam or you are entering the preliminary stages of menopause and beyond. I will provide a safe haven with time to listen and deliver individualized care...I look forward to helping you achieve your goal of overall health and well being" -Lynn Calat Latino

Her services include:
Routine Gynecologic Exams
Pap Smears
HPV Screening
Family Planning
Birth Control
Adolscent Health
Perimenopause and beyond
Alternative Medicine

She also has medical aesthetic services like Botox and Cosmetic Fillers.

1318 Avenue H
Brooklyn, NY 11230
Phone: 718-434-0081

Living in an area as populous and diverse and Brooklyn, I understand how intimidating it can be to attempt to navigate the vast sea of medical care providers available. Selecting a practice from a long list at random is incredibly unnerving, and I know it meant a lot to me to hear first hand from my local friends who they had seen, and why they liked them. Referrals are valuable, and Inga was incredibly enthusiastic about Ms. Calat both as a person and a medical professional. Thanks for the info, Inga!