Peebles Host Rose Brucia for Night of Hope 2011


The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

By Chris R. Vaccaro

Stranger safety foundation has fundraiser and awareness function at Don and Katrina Peebles’ home in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

It’s been a whirlwind year for The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation and their most recent stop took them to the home of real estate entrepreneur Don Peebles and his wife Katrina in Bridgehampton, N.Y. for a fundraiser Saturday evening.

Dubbed a “night of hope”, the event was the first major fundraiser and awareness function for the foundation, which started out of the compassion Matthew J. Barbis had for his cousin, 11-year old Carlie Brucia, who was abducted and murdered in Sarasota, Fla. in 2004. Barbis, a Holbrook resident and Sachem High School alumnus, has been working tirelessly to create stranger safety awareness.

“It involves children and the unthinkable,” said Don Peebles, who is chairman and CEO of The Peebles Corporation and sits on President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee. “With something like this, one’s compelled to do something about it. When you see a situation that requires action, all of us have an obligation to do something, that’s why we’re here. This foundation is going to continue to grow as many others become aware of its existence and are moved by its mission.”

Peebles and his wife have been actively involved with various charities and foundations over the years, including the Recreation Wish List with former Washington, D.C. First Lady Cora Barry, the Women’s Cancer League, Cancer Link, United Way, Honey Shine and the Miami Children’s Hospital Auxiliary board, among others.

Active in the political scene, they’ve hosted then Gov. Bill Clinton at their Washington, D.C. home for a fundraiser for his presidency and will be hosting President Barack Obama at the end of the month for a campaign fundraising dinner, but nothing seems to be more important than the well being of their son and daughter, 17 and 8, respectively.

“It’s indisputably the most important cause I’ve done,” said Katrina, who sits on the board of directors for The Peebles Corporation. “I’ll try to work it in to all that I do. We’re informing in a happy, beautiful way about something we hope never happens again, but statistically it will, so we’ve gathered together to try and make those numbers less.”

Aside from the Peebles, other notable attendees included billionaire investor Wilbur Ross and Richard LeFrak, as well as Dan Rattiner of Dan’s Papers.

Statistically, according to The Rose Brucia Foundation, 800,000 children go missing each year in the United States.

“Tonight was the launching pad for a program that’s going to be available and put into every school in the country,” said Barbis. “That was the ultimate goal and we’re going to get there.”

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York, introduced the “Rose Brucia Stranger Safety Awareness Day” resolution on June 13 in the House of Representatives, getting one step closer to The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation’s goal in protecting and educating children against the threats of abduction.

The resolution is currently pending before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and would support August 22 as a national day of recognition where all schools can go online and download a free curriculum designed to inform and empower children on keeping themselves safe from stranger abductions, according to the foundation.

Under the current system, there is no stranger safety program in the nation’s schools. This program teaches children from ages 5-11, the awareness and the tools they need to assist them in their own safety as it relates to strangers.

“This is about bringing people together for the common objective of keeping kids out of danger,” said CNBC’s Sue Herera, the national spokeswoman for the foundation. “If we can do that for just one child we’re a success. It’s a fabulous organization with its heart in the right place with people who are supporting it for the right reasons. There’s no better cause on the face of the Earth than saving a kid’s life.”

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Founded by Matthew J. Barbis after his 11-year-old cousin, Carlie Brucia, was abducted and murdered in Sarasota, FL in 2004. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation’s goal is to reduce the number of child abductions in the U.S. by educating and empowering young minds with the knowledge necessary to avoid abduction. Utilizing puppets and a formalized educational curriculum, the foundation provides elementary-aged children with the Stranger Safety Awareness Program, free of charge. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

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