STARS Seeks Help After Aug. 1 FireQueens Chronicle
Thursday, August 17th, 2006 - page 12
by Joseph Wendelken, Assistant Editor
While no Howard Beach residents were injured after a Coleman Square convenience store burst into flames two and a half weeks ago, a neighborhood institution next door-the Striving To Achieve and Reach Success Youth Center-didn't fare quite as well.
Frances Scarantino, STARS' president and founder, estimated the Howard Beach facility's entrance and the wall that it shares with the Subway Stop convenience store sustained $20,000 in damage.
The nonprofit community organization serves children between the ages of 1 and 21 from Howard Beach, Ozone Park and the surrounding communities. Through classes in arts and crafts, dance and cheerleading, STARS' core of volunteers aims to set young people on a path to healthy self development. That includes giving back to the community; STARS participants regularly take part in graffiti removal programs in the neighborhood.
But the Aug. 1 fire that sparked next door, reportedly caused by an electrical malfunction, has forced Scarantino to turn away members of the 500 families that make use of the facility's different programs. "This was a terrible happening. It's like a second home to the kids and the volunteers," she said of the organization, which just recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary.
"I don't have children, but I love kids. It was like something happening to my first child," added Scarantino, who runs the Reach For the Stars day care facility 10 blocks from the STARS Youth Center at 8 Coleman Square.
Beginning with infant and toddler programs like Discover With Me, First Step and Toddler Time, many young people grew up at the STARS Youth Center.
When these individuals began reaching out to her, Scarantino decided to start planning fundraisers that would help repair the damaged facility.
Burger King, at 161 50 Cross Bay Blvd., has pledged to STARS 20 percent of its sales on Aug. 24 and Sept. 28, when Scarantino and youth center volunteers will be doing face painting at the Howard Beach restaurant.
On Sept. 21, a wine and cheese social is being held at the North Fork Bank branch at 155 14 Cross Bay Blvd. from 7 to 9 p.m. Organizers are asking for a $25 donation.
For more information about the fundraisers, contact Frances Scarantino at (718) 845 6956).