Volunteers of the Week: The Blauvelt Lions ‘Leo Club’ Students at Tappan Zee High School

A large group of Tappan Zee High School Blauvelt Lions ‘Leo Club’ Volunteers are shown with adviser Ms. Tricia Castelli.

By Barry Warner

Volunteer work presents a great opportunity for teenagers to prepare for the future, as well as to improve their communities. In addition to boosting socializing skills and awareness of local organizations and social issues, Tappan Zee High School students who volunteer on a regular basis, may have an advantage over their peers when preparing to go to college. 

Due to their hard work on many projects, The Blauvelt Lions Leo Club at Tappan Zee High School have been chosen as Volunteers of the Week. Leo Club Adviser Tricia Castelli told the Rockland County Times the club has had a busy few months. 

The Leo Club members volunteered on September 24 and November 19 at the Soup Angels Kitchen in Nyack by setting tables, preparing bounty bags plus helping to prepare dinner and serve dinner to the many adults and children who visit the Soup Kitchen for food and friendship. As members of Team A, the Leo Club, along with members of the Blauvelt Lions, are assigned a Monday evening every two months throughout the year. Over 40 student Leo members  volunteered at the autumn Fest at St. Dominic’s Convent in Blauvelt on September 29, while others helped out at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Fundraiser at the OMM Soccer Fields in Orangeburg. 

On Sunday, September 30, Castelli said Leo members participated on a breakfast run into Manhattan along with members of the Immaculate Conception Church from Stony Point, bringing food, clothing and toiletries to over 80 homeless individuals. In October, Leo members volunteered at the Community Yard Sale in Tappan, the Halloween Parade in Nyack, as well as for the District PTA events. The Leos joined the Lions in a road cleanup as part of the Keep Rockland Beautiful Adopt-A-Road Program in the County, by cleaning up Erie Street and Van Wyck Road. In November, the Leos again helped out several community organizations holding events and also ran the ninth annual ‘Zumba for Charity’ event in the TZHS gym, raising $850 for two children with serious illnesses. 

Castelli said, “Leo Club members had logged close to 1,500 hours of community service in the first five months of the 2017-2018 school year. The Leos will again be participating on a Breakfast Run into Manhattan on December 22.

Leo Club President Skye Yang said, “I like to go to Soup Angels to help feed about 80 homeless and less fortunate people. We prepare the food of pulled-pork sandwiches, soup, chips, pickles and cole slaw. I help set the tables, do the drinks and wash the dishes.”

Co-President Carlo Florencia said, “I like to participate in the road cleanup to make the area look nicer. We use trash pickup devices, bags and gloves. I think I have good leadership skills and enjoy the club. Why not combine both things? To attract students to the Leo Club, we have morning announcements and collection boxes with the Leo name on them everywhere in the school.”

Co-President Sean Costello said, “I joined the Leo Club as a freshman and have been giving more time each year. For the Midnight and Breakfast Runs in to the city, I have organized the jackets into bins and labeled them. We set up tables for a quarter of a block in New York City and get an assembly line going for the homeless to pick up food, clothing and a toiletry item. Each time I go on the Run, I recognize some of the homeless people from the year before and they do show appreciation.”

Lions Clubs International extends it mission of service everyday in local communities and all corners of the globe. The needs are great and the services are broad including sight, health, youth, the elderly, the environment and disaster relief. Its international network has grown to include more than 207 countries and geographic areas. The Blauvelt Lions Club started in 1953 with 27 charter members and has grown to almost 100 members today. Over the years, their members have involved themselves in various community activities and fundraising to help prop up numerous projects. These efforts by the Lions and their supporters have made it possible to increase both the number of people and charities that are aided, as well as the sizes of the donations. 

Pictured with ‘Leo Club’ Adviser Ms. Tricia Castelli are Tappan Zee High School student volunteers Skye Yang, Sean Costello, Carlo Florencia, Nick Byrne, Fiona Donovan, Alexandra Kopac and James Costello. The bags of coats and toiletry items collected will be donated to the homeless in New York City during their next Midnight Run.

The holidays are a popular time for people to step-up at soup kitchens. Rockland County is experiencing colder temperatures, making homelessness difficult for many and encouraging volunteers to give back to their communities during the ‘season of giving.’ Soup Angels is a nonprofit organization, housed in the First Reformed Church of Nyack, with a focused goal of helping the less fortunate in the Rockland Community. 

It provides a safe, clean, uplifting environment for guests in need of food and fellowship. The nonprofit provides assistance to anyone who walks through its doors-no paperwork, no questions and no fear of embarrassment. The Soup Kitchen relies on the generosity of individuals and businesses for support.  

Midnight Run is a volunteer organization dedicated to finding common ground between the housed and the homeless. It coordinates over 1,000 relief missions each year, in which volunteers from churches, synagogues, schools and other civic groups distribute food, clothing, blankets and personal care items to the homeless poor on the streets of New York City. The late-night and morning breakfast relief efforts create a forum for trust, sharing and understanding. That human exchange is the essence of the Midnight Run mission, not a solution to homelessness. The goal is to advance a bond between housed and homeless people by establishing a foundation of sharing and caring from which solutions may gradually develop. Through Midnight Run, the adult and teenage volunteers come to see the homeless on the streets as real people. 

For additional information about the Blauvelt Lions Club, please e-mail blauveltlions@gmail.com.