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Giselle Barkley

Linda Hallock, Jennie Sweeney, Kathy Sciacchitano, Jane Del Prête and Betty Baumach pose with their dollhouse. Photo from Mather Hospital

The women of Crafters for a Cause usually help their students learn to paint, but this summer the ladies decided to help people outside of the classroom.

Members Betty Baumach, Linda Hallock, Virginia Sweeney, Jane Del Prête, Kathy Sciacchitano and Martha Palermo recently donated a handmade dollhouse to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital to help fight breast cancer through its Fortunato Breast Health Center. The dollhouse will be raffled off at next year’s Families Walk & Run for Hope, an annual springtime fundraiser.

The women started building the roughly 2-foot-tall dollhouse in June. According to Baumach, a Lake Grove resident who leads the group, which meets at the New Village Recreation Center in Centereach, the volunteers teach people various forms of painting year-round — except during the summer.

“During the summer the teachers don’t teach,” Baumach said in a phone interview. “We still wanted to get together anyway so we said, ‘Oh, what could we do this summer to fill the time?’ so I suggested building a dollhouse.”

Baumach got the idea to donate the house to the Port Jefferson hospital because she brought her sick aunt to Mather in the past.

She had previously built five or six dollhouses, including this particular model of house, so drawing the plans was simple. Like all of Baumach’s dollhouse projects, it was made without a kit — the women designed and built each component by hand.

Until it is raffled off, the dollhouse will reside in the office of Cindy Court, the hospital’s development coordinator.

The eight-room house includes a living room, a dining room, a bedroom, a bathroom and a sewing room, among others. According to Court, the crafters brought individual boxes of furniture to decorate the house the day they donated it to the hospital.

“Each builder was responsible for decorating and furnishing one of the eight rooms,” Court said in an email. “They precisely [placed] each piece, down to the smallest detail.”

The group didn’t plan on furnishing the dollhouse until Sweeney found furniture on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Baumach provided the materials to build the house and was responsible for its exterior.

Court said the group used tongue depressors to make the roof shingles.

“I think it’s wonderful this group of women put so much time and love into this dollhouse and then donated it to Mather to help raise funds for the Fortunato Breast Health Center,” Dr. Joseph Carrucciu, who specializes in radiology at the center, said in an email.

While Crafters for a Cause enjoyed giving back to their community, it remains to be seen whether the dollhouse will become an annual effort.

“I think this was a one-shot deal as far as dollhouses go,” Baumach said in a follow-up email interview. “But they are trying to convince me to do another next summer.”

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Last year, tragedy struck after 16-year-old Thomas Cutinella, a former Shoreham-Wading River High School football player, suffered a fatal head injury after colliding with another player during a football game on Oct. 1. Cutinella died later that day.

To honor his memory, community members from Shoreham-Wading River gathered on Sunday at Wildwood State Park in Wading River for the first Patriot Run. The event was sponsored by the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcat Athletic Club.

John Regazzi, a physical education teacher at Wading River Elementary School, created and organized the event to honor Cutinella. Alice Steinbrecher, a second grade elementary school teacher at Miller Avenue Elementary School also helped, and said the two decided to call the event the Patriot Run to honor Cutinella’s own patriotism.

“One of [Tom’s] biggest loves was his country, besides his family,” Steinbrecher said. “He cared so much about the men and women fighting for our country.”

According to Steinbrecher, more than 300 people attend the event to either show their support or run the race. Cutinella’s former football number, 54, was also considered when they determined the length of the race. The number was included as the race was made a 2.54 mile run.

Those who wanted to participate had to register to enter the race. The fee was $20 for adults and $15 for children if residents register before or by Sept. 4. Those who registered the day of the event paid an additional $5. Although everyone who registered for the event received a ticket for the barbecue that followed the race, only those who pre-registered received a T-Shirt in support of the event.

According to a friend of Cutinella who wanted to remain unidentified, the money is going toward the Tom Cutinella Scholarship fund.

“I knew him for a while… and he just, he’s the kind of kid you’d see in the hallway and no matter who you are… he’d say hi,” the friend said. “He didn’t see social barriers. He [was] just a friend to everybody. I think that’s why the whole community was united [after his death].”

A total of $70,545 has been raised for the scholarship before the event, but it is still unclear when Regazzi will know how much money they raised at the Patriot Run. The Cutinella family didn’t speak regarding the event or the loss of their son as the media was asked to respect the family’s privacy.

Jim Madden of Wading River is a parent of a student who went to school with Cutinella. Madden says the incident reminds people that unexpected events can happen.

“He was hurt on the football field and many of us have children that participate in sports whether it’s football, lacrosse, baseball,” he said. “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare when something like that happens. It’s chilling to all the other spectators and the other parents and it’s a reminder to everyone that things like this can happen. Life really is very fragile you have to cherish every day.”

The event is one of several scheduled for this year. The Thomas Cutinella Memorial foundation is also support Cutinella in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower Run in New York City on Sunday Sept. 27 and the first golf tournament fundraiser in his name on Monday Oct. 12 at the Baiting Hollow Country Club in Baiting Hollow.

The hope is that these events, including the Patriot Run, will help those Cutinella cared about while keeping his memory alive.

“He was a great kid,” Steinbrecher said. “Last fall was a big tragedy for our community so this year we wanted a chance for the community to come together in a positive way. The Cutinella family [is] asking people to go out and do acts of kindness in his honor and so this was our way of getting the community together.”

 

Editor’s note: This online story was updated to name the correct title for John Regazzi.

Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center hosts 18th annual Pet-A-Palooza

The Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center in Huntington held its 18th annual Pet-A-Palooza event over the weekend, featuring cats, dogs, a Chinese auction, live entertainment, face-painting and more. The weekend-long event at the Warner Road shelter is a celebration of all things furry and friendly.

 

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The Class of 2015 celebrated their graduation in Port Jefferson on Friday, remembering their pasts as they looked toward their bright futures.