Legacy

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Long before the day itself, the true harbingers of Memorial Day, the red poppies sold by veterans at any storefront where I shop appear. Photos will appear in every newspaper on that weekend, and they should. There will be a silhouetted shot of a bugler sounding Taps, of rows of flags on the graves of veterans. A country must remember its fallen.

While visiting a friend in Crossville, Tennessee, I read through the local newspaper, The Glade Sun. An article by a Rod McBrayer was entitled, “This truth remains: Your life will outlive you.” He recounted the life, times and lasting impact of his grandmother’s words and actions.

In author Mark Helprin’s collection, The Pacific and Other Stories,  an older man recalls stories of his late father and is saddened by the realization that with his own passing those tales so resonant in his heart and soul, that speak so pointedly to him will be deleted from collective memory when he also passes away.

I joke with my wife about the depth of my interest and understanding about many things. In her former life, Kate was a teacher of LOTE, a Language Other Than English, a rather pc way of saying she taught Spanish. Because of her, I know the names Lorca and Neruda, fiery poets of contemporary literature. Looking through The Captain’s Verses by Neruda, I came across the following lines in the poem The Mountain and the River:

Who are those who suffer?

I do not know but they call to me.

I do not know, but they are mine

And they say to me: “We suffer.”

Further, in the poem, Lives, Neruda wrote

…because it is the voice of all

those who did not speak,

of those who did not sing…

Certainly, in the cases of Carlie, Hailey Owens, Jessica Holloway, Leiby Kletzky, their immortality, tragically and notoriously earned, will endure far beyond the temporal span of their existence among us. Their voices were lost; their songs not sung.

We must remember. Most of us did not know them. Yet they are ours. All of us who remember now speak and sing for them.

Within the next six weeks our Foundation will visit at least five different schools and groups, presenting our lessons 11 times. Our Really Beyond Prime Time Group will interact with students in Brooklyn, Brentwood, Holbrook, Holtsville, Lake Grove and Smithtown, meeting over 2,300 students, grades K through 5!

We do not know them. Yet, they too are ours.

 

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.

Stage Fright

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Through my teaching years there were several days when I felt anxiety-the first day of any class year when I got the only chance to make a first impression, a transfer from one building to another, the day of finals. With our Foundation, every time we enter a building there is anxious anticipation about how we will interact with the school’s students, whether we can engage them in our lesson and, by and large, see if we can keep the adult audience similarly attentive. There is also an exhilaration, at least in me, having the mind and spirit to do it all again, something akin to the retired firehouse dog responding to an alarm at the station.

Of all the times we have appeared at schools, one recent presentation appeared on our scheduled that actually filled me with more worry/concern; perhaps we may have expected too much of ourselves.

We are usually contacted by school representatives who search the web and find a link to us under the generic heading, “puppet shows”. This may have been how we started, but in Rose Brucia 3.0, our latest iteration, although some form of puppet show is included in our lessons, we have moved far past “puppet shows” being our defining characteristic.

In March, we were asked to make a presentation for Eastern Suffolk BOCES (Board of Cooperative Education Services) at their Bellport Academic Center. Could we provide two separate shows for an audience that would total 100 children with special needs? The Center services students who have mild to moderate behavioral and/or intensive counseling concerns and/or mild to moderate learning disabilities.” The students range in age from 16 to 21, with cognitive abilities topping out about 6th grade. The group included students with Downs Syndrome, autism, and other developmental issues. With such disparate learning abilities, how to get our message across?

Matt and I, after communicating with Steven Berkowitz, in charge of transition from the classroom to life after school, agreed to go. I expressed to Matt my unease and/or my distrust in my abilities to connect with this group of students. My discomfit rises from the personal knowledge that such students truly need some protective skills of stranger safety awareness to get along in the “real world.” My grandson has a form of mental retardation known as Williams Syndrome. Everyone he meets is his new best friend. At a workshop during a national Williams’ convention several years ago, my wife and I learned to our horror how the mentally disabled are sought out by sexual predators because these children are far too eager and willing to please people…any people.

So, with mixed emotions and some trepidation, Matt and I went to Bellport. After being approached by a security guard on the grounds (we were already lost!), gaining admission to the building, meeting with Mr. Berkowitz, and being shown into staging area (the kitchen classroom), we met our first audience member.

“Hi, I’m Jesse,” the young man said. “Are you the puppeteer?” I countered that I might even use him to be a volunteer puppeteer. (We never introduce ourselves by name to any of the audience until the very end of the presentation; that’s part our lesson). And then the rest of the audience filed in.

It would be better to say the audience moved into our hearts. One hundred students, each so different, each so unique, each so willing to participate, each becoming a veritable actor on this very private stage. After our shared learning and laughter, after these people moved out of the classroom, stopping to shake our hands, to say thank you, in each class one young man spoke to me. After the first session, Jesse said, “Patrick, you are good at what you do. You should keep on doing it.” After the second session John said, “Patrick, you have earned my trust. I trust you!”

This quote from one of my favorite authors speaks to the impact THESE YOUNG MEN and YOUNG WOMEN HAD on ME that day.

“The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring…                                                                                                    ― Leo Buscaglia

The risk was worth it, for them and for us.

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.

National Fundraiser Hosted by Best-Selling Author at Barnes & Noble in NYC

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Tomorrow night, March 18th at Barnes & Noble at 150 E. 86th Street at 7pm, Best-Selling Author Lori Ann LaRocco will be launching her new book “Opportunity Knocking” published by Agate Publishing and donating her royalties to The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation.  We are inviting all our supporters and the general public to join us.  All attendees will have the opportunity to purchase an autographed copy of the book while helping support The Stranger Safety Awareness Program that is available, free of charge, to all parents, teachers and elementary schools across the globe.

In honor of LaRocco’s support, Barnes & Noble will also donate a percentage of the March 18th purchases to the foundation.  To ensure that your purchases benefit The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, please use book fair voucher #11321908 at the checkout when you make purchases in-stores or online. The voucher will remain in effect online through March 23rd.

Known as “the producer with the trillion-dollar Rolodex”, LaRocco knows how to get business leaders and entrepreneurs to talk.  She has worked with leaders from many different industries, and brings their knowledge to light with her “Opportunity Pyramid”.

Opportunity Knocking is a wonderful compilation of business ideas, compelling leadership stories and a realistic peek into the personalities behind the corporate veil. Lori Ann LaRocco brings otherwise inaccessible business leaders right to the reader. Her unique style allows the reader to gain insight into each individual business mind and then she breaks down their techniques and ideas for easy implementation. I thoroughly enjoyed her own comments at the end of the chapters. I would recommend this book to all who enjoy their work – from those just starting out to the most seasoned in the business world. A great read!

But don’t take my word for it – listen to what some of the greatest business leaders in the world have to say:

A must-read filled with big ideas from some of the best in the business. LaRocco breaks down the steps to achieving success with a unique and actionable strategy. Compelling“, says real-state mogul Donald J. Trump.

Lori Ann has put together an impressive anthology“, says Dick Armey.

This is a seven-layer opportunity pyramid one must climb up to achieve uber success“, says industry titan Wilbur Ross, Chairman and CEO of WL Ross & Co, LLC.

Great writer, interviewer, and conceptual thinker – Lori Ann LaRocco has it all“, says investment leader Ron Baron, Chairman and CEO, Baron Capital Group.

In her latest book, LaRocco targets a wide audience—company owners, employees, and entrepreneurs—looking for inspiration and guidance in furthering their careers…[providing] a slew of engaging profiles of business leaders.” —Publishers Weekly

Lori Ann LaRocco shares real-world examples from some of the world’s smartest, most innovative leaders about how they prepare for, identify and embrace opportunities. Weaving in her own analysis, experiences and wisdom, she shows readers how to apply these leaders’ strategies and lessons to their own unique circumstances.“—SUCCESS magazine

Please share this blog with everyone you know who wants to know more about how to achieve success AND help children remain safe!!!!

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.

Shop at Barnes & Noble to Help Support Rose Brucia on March 18th, 7pm in NYC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: 
Anjali Becker, Agate Publishing
847-475-4457 ext. 4#
becker@agatepublishing.com
 

 Author Teams Up with Barnes & Noble to Donate Proceeds from Opportunity Knocking Book Launch to The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

 

New York City—Lori Ann LaRocco, author and producer of CNBC’s Squawk Box, will host a book release party for her forthcoming title, OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING: Lessons from Business Leaders (Agate B2, 978-1-932841-87-9, $24) on March 18th at Barnes & Noble/Upper East Side (150 East 86th Street).  This event will begin at 7:00 pm, will include a presentation and book signing, and is free and open to the public.

The author will donate all royalties from the event to The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to reducing child abductions. In honor of LaRocco’s support, Barnes & Noble will also donate a percentage of March 18th purchases to the foundation. To ensure that your purchases benefit The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, please use book fair voucher #11321908 at the checkout when you make purchases in-stores or online. The voucher will be good for online purchases through March 23rd.

Known as “the producer with the trillion-dollar Rolodex,” LaRocco knows how to get business leaders and entrepreneurs to talk. While LaRocco has worked with leaders from many different industries, she came to recognize that all leaders shared similar methods for both identifying opportunities and executing on the strategies for success.

In Opportunity Knocking, LaRocco guides readers through these methods for exploiting opportunity through her “Opportunity Pyramid.” LaRocco illustrates each level of the pyramid through an in-depth interview with a business leader whose story helps illustrate that principle. The book features interviews with Ford’s Alan Mulally, The Case Foundation’s Steve Case, BlogHer’s Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page, and Jory Des Jardins, as well as an introduction by Dick Armey and afterword by Wilbur L. Ross. By giving readers real-world examples and bringing them into the mindset of these successful executives, Opportunity Knocking provides a blueprint for achieving success by recognizing the right opportunities—and seizing them.

About Lori Ann LaRocco

Lori Ann LaRocco is the senior talent producer at CNBC and “C-Suite Insider” columnist for CNBC.com. She has worked at CNBC since 2000, when she was hired as one of Maria Bartiromo’s producers on Market Week. She lives outside of New York City with her husband and three children.

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.

Casting Shadows

by Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

As I was reading in our den, I could hear the soft murmur of the TV coming from another room. A few seconds later my wife entered the room. She looked saddened and before I could ask what was going on she said, “They found that little boy, the autistic boy who ran away last month. They said the police found his remains; they mentioned body parts.” She sighed and asked, “That means someone took him, doesn’t it?”  The boy was missing for over 3 months and his body was found at a distant location from his home. With our involvement in the foundation, knowing how children can disappear, it was an easy conclusion to draw given the set of particulars-a handicapped child, roaming the streets of a borough of New York City, no money, no jacket, lost and possibly finding it difficult to communicate his plight to strangers. As time passed and more information came out,  the remains were definitively determined to be those of Avonte  Oquendo, the 13-year old autistic child who had walked out of his school and been missing since October 4, 2013. And this is all that is known. The tragedy strikes the hearts and minds of everyone. At least, I hope that is true.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program (OJJDP) prepared the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway (NISMART) children. The 2002 publication of the study present the following information:

A runaway episode is one that meets any one of the following criteria:

  • A child leaves home without permission and stays away overnight.
  • A child 14 years old or younger (or older and mentally incompetent) who is away from home chooses not to come home when expected to and stays away overnight.
  • A child 15 years old or older who is away from home chooses not to come home and stays away two nights.

A thrownaway episode is one that meets either of the following criteria:

  • A child is asked or told to leave home by a parent or other household adult, no adequate alternative care is arranged for the child by a household adult, and the child is out of the household overnight.
  • A child who is away from home is prevented from returning home by a parent or other household adult, no adequate alternative care is arranged for the child by a household adult, and the child is out of the household overnight.

Analyzing the data, the study concludes

  • In 1999, an estimated 1,682,900 youth had a runaway/ thrownaway episode. Of these youth, 37 percent were missing from their caretakers and 21 percent were reported to authorities for purposes of locating them.
  • Of the total runaway/thrownaway youth, an estimated 1,190,900 (71 percent) could have been endangered during their runaway/thrownaway episode by virtue of factors such as substance dependency, use of hard drugs, sexual or physical abuse, presence in a place where criminal activity was occurring, or extremely young age (13 years old or younger).
  • Youth ages 15–17 made up two-thirds of the youth with runaway/thrownaway episodes during the study year.
  • There is suggestive evidence that the runaway problem may have been smaller in 1999 than it was in 1988.

The numbers themselves are dry, simple nouns.  Add just a bit of what you know about abduction and exploitation and far too many of them in this report are chilling: 71%, drugs, abuse, criminal activity, all red flags.

Why bring up this data? Let’s never forget the endgame of the abductors we are trying to thwart. We are dealing with a group of individuals who wish to satisfy their particular desires. They need a supply of victims to attain their goal. Whether these victims are coaxed or coerced into this world of criminality, the end result of degradation and the potential for death are too real to ignore.

The SuperBowl takes place February 2nd in New Jersey. Read the newspapers, listen to the radio or TV and you learn of all the hoopla , overkill and excess that surrounds the game, how it is a financial boon to all aligned businesses.

Cindy McCain, wife of US Senator John McCain of Arizona, is in the forefront of efforts to combat human trafficking, said this in relation to the upcoming 2015 SuperBowl set for her home state: (The SuperBowl)…will be the largest human trafficking venue on the planet.

Bradley Myles, CEO of the Polaris Project, a non-profit working to combat sex trafficking, notes…the overall size of the phenomenon in the US is much more significant than statistics show.

Danielle Douglas, who says she is a sex trafficking survivor, says visitors are coming to the SuperBowl to have sex with women, and/or men or children.

I wonder how many of the missing, abducted, runaway and thrownaway children are or have been part of this dark underside of the game. Where do you think abducted children wind up?

February 1st marks the tenth anniversary of Carlie’s death. The world has gone on. There has been healing to close the wounds of her passing. She didn’t live to fulfill her dreams. From some English course I took many years ago, I remember the professor exhorting us with a line-something about measuring the greatness of your soul by the shadow it casts. Carlie’s shadow falls on us even today.

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.

No Thanks, I’ll Walk – Carlie Brucia’s 10th Anniversary

By Matthew Barbis, Founder & Chairman

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Last night I settled down in bed and was just checking in with the social media world when I came across a note from an old friend.  She reached out to me to share a news piece from NBC in Florida.  It was a three minute news spot titled, “Remembering Carlie Brucia”. It recounted Carlie’s abduction 10 years ago.

I don’t think I have to tell you that I don’t need a video to help me remember, since I have made it my life’s work to think of Carlie each and every day.  On a daily basis, I and my very devoted staff, educational committee and volunteers continue to sharpen our focus on educating children about what to do before a stranger approaches.  Nevertheless, the video brought me right back to that very day and the extremely difficult times following Carlie’s abduction. After reflecting on it most of the night last night, I came to the exact same conclusion I came to 10 years ago – there may not be anything we can do to stop a stranger from taking a child, but we can certainly teach children to stay away from predators in the first place.

The foundation took an entire year to get off the ground. I knew nothing of developing a charity, screening volunteers, or even where to begin when it came to developing an educationally sound program, but with the help of many special people, we were able to bring my dream into reality.

Today, I would like to share with you the culmination of 10 years of that dream. The video episode is called, “No thanks, I’ll walk”. It takes place in a very real neighborhood, with a very real child on his way to school, in a very real situation that seems to all too familiar and stereotypical – offering a child a ride in a car. Attempted abductions are on the rise. No surprise there because the local news and school districts are constantly reporting students being approached and offered rides in cars and vans almost weekly.  This is our answer to the question, “Do you want to go for a ride?” – No Thanks, I’ll Walk”.

This video was made possible due to the continued support of our donors, particularly Invest in Others, The Marcie Mazzola Foundation and one of our very own spokespeople, Donald J. Trump.

My wish is for this video lesson to go viral on the internet so that it may be shared with every child on the planet – what better way to show our love for Carlie? Please help me make that happen. We love you Carlie Jane.

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.

Defying Gravity

By Patrick M. Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

 

I believe you remember this fable by Aesop:

A scorpion meets a frog on the bank of a stream and the

scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back.

The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?”

The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

 

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,

the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of

paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,

but has enough time to gasp “Why?” The scorpion says

“It is my nature…”

          While the recent Newsday article trumpeted a recidivism rate around 3% for three years after a convicted sex predator has been released, my mind goes back to a conversation I had with a clergyman this past April. He sorrowfully noted a man he had known for years had been removed from his church office because he had been convicted as a child predator. This acquaintance had absolved himself of all blame because he felt there was nothing wrong, morally or legally, with his behavior. It was the way he was made. I guess nature tops nurture in that case. Tell me how to deal with that mindset.

When I taught physical science, I would present information about the forces of nature to my charges. Students would present so many instances they had gleaned from TV or the misconstructed ideas they had formed about the natural world. Newton, I am sure, must have had so laughs when he heard our discussions. My favorite to this day concerns The Case of the Falling Elevator. It is very possible my students came to class with fully formed concepts about gravity based upon the behavior of Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner and Daffy Duck. Thank you Warner Brothers! Concerning the elevator in distress: my students would argue that, should they find themselves in a rapidly descending, out of control car, they would only have to watch the lights indicating the present floor level, wait and jump just before the car hit the bottom of the elevator shaft! I always told the kids, you have to obey gravity; it’s the law!

How naïve their preconceptions! But chalk it up to youth and imagination! But when a local newspaper article reports recidivism rates at “only 3%”, tell me how you would feel if your child, grandchild, nephew, niece, neighbor’s child, or any other child is included in that 3%? When is the number statistically relevant?

A recent song by the Goo Goo Dolls, Come to Me, includes the lyric, History’s like gravity. History has weight; it has substance. Georges Santayana wrote about those ignoring the past being doomed to repeat it.

Learning is an always thing. We cannot simply open our charges minds; pour in correct thinking along with right actions. Learning needs reinforcement.  The trick is to make learning stranger safety awareness skills games that can be continually revisited.

Small things can make a difference. Here’s something that you might find helpful. First, go over the meaning of personal space. Have your child stand and physically describe their personal space. They should spread their arms out to the side and turn slowly back and forth to show their space. Write the letters D, E, R, U, T, T, and S on index cards or pieces of paper. Have your child(ren) spell out as many words as possible with these letters. Hopefully they will get to the word, T-R-U-S-T-E-D. Go over with them why they can call someone “a trusted adult.” Your home and therefore your rules and definitions! On a sheet of paper, print in large letters, T-R-U-S-T. Stress to your child the idea that trust is a bridge one person makes to another person. Draw or have your child draw a figure of a person on each side of the word. Draw a line over the top of each letter and reinforce the idea of the “BRIDGE’ from one side of the word to the other. Ask the child to identity the middle letter of the word. The “U” represents the child. Tell them YOU are the center of the activity we call TRUST. Ask them what would happen to the “bridge” if the letter “U” is removed. Hopefully they’ll say the bridge is broken, does not stand, or the bridge is incomplete. Tell them that without “U/YOU”, there is no chance of trusting someone. There can be no bridge.

If there is one word to be stressed over and over again, it is T-R-U-S-T! Say it loudly and often.

I wish I could come up with some rhyme based on Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” something based on the idea of would you trust them in a car. Maybe one of you out there can help us.

We cannot defy gravity. We CAN give our children the skills and wherewithal to fly safely into their future.

Be safe!

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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