Borough President Vito Fossella, LiveOnNY Celebrate Lives Saved by Uniting Organ Donors with Recipient Families
Brittany McCarthy didn’t think twice when checking the organ donation box on her driver’s license. Neither did Nicholas D’Amora when he received his non-driver’s license.
Both became organ donors too soon: Brittany passed away after suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm on Oct. 6, 2021, at the age of 21. Nicholas, a fierce advocate for those with non-verbal autism, passed away following an epileptic seizure on May 17, 2023, at the age of 25.
Their parents shared their stories of heartbreak and hope as Borough President Vito Fossella held a press conference to honor those who have donated organs, as well as those who have received donor organs. He was joined by LiveOnNY President and CEO Leonard Achan. LiveOnNY is a nonprofit which facilities life-saving transplants.
“The greatest gift you can give to someone else is life,” said Borough President . “So that is why we are here today to highlight the power of organ donation."
Brittany McCarthy planned on becoming a physician’s assistant and graduated posthumously with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the College of Staten Island. She set her goals high with her twin sister, Ashley, always at her side.
She saved three lives by donating her organs, including her eyes.
“As sad as we are and the pain we are in without her, she is living on and seeing the world,” said her mother, Patricia McCarthy-Hillers.
Nicholas D’Amora, who was nicknamed “The Changer,” co-founded CrimsonRise to support non-verbal autistic individuals with their communication skills.
“I told him from a young age that I didn’t want his autism to define him,” said his mother, Barbara D'Amora. “I told him God had a purpose for him and he would make an impact on the world. He saved five lives -- and I am sure that is why he was put on this earth. I pray the person who received his heart lets me hear it because I want to hear it so badly."
Tony Arcamone’s career in the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation began when he was handed a makeshift broom to clean areas of Midland Beach on Jan. 27, 1986, and now more than 30 years later, he is retiring as an Administrative Parks and Recreation Manager.
Borough President Vito Fossella welcomed Mr. Arcamone into Borough Hall to thank him for his dedication to “The Borough Of Parks” and to wish him well in his retirement.
Born in Brooklyn, he moved to Staten Island at the age of 10 and attended New Dorp High School. His first tools when he began working for the Parks Department were an old canvas bag and a cut-down broom handle with a nail at the base. He was told to pick up the trash in the parking lot and along the promenade at Midland Beach. When the Parks Department was given a Surf Rake to clean the sand, he began studying for his Commercial Driver’s License. To this day, he tells his staff that his desire to be more efficient was his motivation for obtaining the license because “he’d rather sit behind the wheel of a piece of equipment than do it by hand.”
Mr. Arcamone was named an Associate Park Worker in 1987, allowing him to use heavy-duty grass cutting tractors and equipment for raking the beach. Subsequently, he became a Provisional Associate Park Service Worker at the Clove Lake Garage and worked in additional roles at the beaches and pools until passing the Park Supervisor Civil Service exam in 2000. He then became the provisional Administrative Parks and Recreation Manager on December 26, 2000, the only one on Staten Island.
He recalls the toughest, as well as the proudest moments, of his career was collaborating with multiple city agencies after Staten Island was hit by Hurricane Sandy while at the same time handling damage to his own home. It was through the inter-agency network that he understood the true meaning of teamwork. He became an Administrative Parks and Recreation Manager after passing the civil service exam in 2017. Coming full circle, he is finished his career in Midland Beach -- the same place he began.
We thank you for your commitment to Staten Island’s parks.
'Loyalty and Respect:' Borough President Vito Fossella Honors Dennis W. Quirk on his Retirement from Court System
Vito welcomed Dennis W. Quirk into his office to congratulate him upon his retirement after five decades of service to the courts and to thank him for championing the needs of special education students.
In presenting him a proclamation, Vito declared November 15, 2023, as “Dennis W. Quirk Day” in the Borough of Staten Island.
“The two words that come to mind when I think about Dennis are loyalty and respect -- and those things matter,” said Borough President Fossella during the gathering, which included family members, friends, and court staff. “It seems, Dennis, as if you have been enriched with a lot of great things in your life both personally and professionally.”
Mr. Qurik is retiring after 51 years of service to the Unified Court System and serving more than 48 of those years as the President of the New York State Court Officers Association.
Known for his tough-as-nails approach to collective bargaining and grievance procedures, Mr. Quirk has a soft side that shows in his work for special education students and for organizing annual ice-skating parties at the World War II Veterans Memorial Ice-Skating Rink for the Seton Foundation for Learning.
As a Board Member of the Seton Foundation for Learning, he spearheaded the construction of the Bishop Patrick V. Ahern High School and renovated the Mother Franciska Elementary School. To make the multi-purpose room at the Seton Foundation’s Joan Ann Kennedy Memorial Preschool more colorful, he donated a collection of Disney murals to decorate the walls.
Mr. Qurik is a proud father and grandfather and recently held the Bible when his daughter, Susan Quirk, was sworn in as a New York State Supreme Court Justice in Brooklyn.
“It’s been great -- 50 years is a long time,” he said. “I couldn’t have done what I did without the help of so many people. They were always there for me.”
Borough President Vito Fossella announced that he is continuing the brushfire permit program, in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Conservation, which will allow residents in several Staten Island neighborhoods to create a firebreak around their homes.
“This is really all about safety and protecting the homeowners and the firefighters,” said Borough President Fossella during a press conference in South Beach with Council Member David Carr and FDNY Deputy Chief Brian Gorman. “Throughout Staten Island’s history, we’ve had some severe brush fires and one of the reasons is nature -- the phragmites you see here. So, years ago, what we started doing was allowing homeowners to obtain a permit to take care of these phragmites to basically prevent the fire from occurring or to prevent the damage. It’s one of those things where we’re working with nature, not against nature.”
Phragmites, an invasive species of vegetation, are prevalent across the borough, but the neighborhoods of Great Kills, Oakwood Beach, New Dorp Beach, Ocean Breeze, and South Beach have a particularly high rate of this vegetation growing directly next to private homes. Phragmites in dry seasons are fuel for brush fires and pose a hazard to surrounding properties.
“Since this program has been implemented, not one five-alarm fire has started and we have not lost one home to a brushfire,” said Borough President Fossella.
FDNY Deputy Chief Gorman said the program makes it safer for firefighters.
“We operate on risk versus reward and when a home is endangered our risk goes up because the firefighters are going to take a lot more chances,” said FDNY Chief Gorman. “So, when you apply for these permits, it helps significantly. This is our busy time of year for brushfires. We run five brushfire units every day and it’s very impactful when you can cut down the risk for the Fire Department. We appreciate it.”
Residents living in Great Kills, Oakwood Beach, New Dorp Beach, Ocean Breeze, and South Beach can apply for the permit on the Borough Hall website, by email, or by fax at 718-816-2060.
Borough President Vito Fossella attended the ribbon-cutting to celebrate the completion of a massive restoration and renovation project at the historic St. George Theatre.
“Over the years, we have been strong supporters of the St. George Theatre which continues to be a New York City jewel,” said Borough President Fossella during the ceremony in its stately lobby. “We visited the theater last month to observe the finishing touches to the interior, especially the new mosaic artwork and scenery. Simply put, it looks great. We encourage all to stop by the theater to take a look, and, more importantly, to attend a show. They are terrific.”
The work included restoration of the lobby, repairing the interior plaster and paintwork and the installation of a new mosaic at the outdoor entrance.
Ground was broken on the 2,800-seat St. George Theatre in August of 1928 and the doors opened on Dec. 4, 1929, with the vision of a “dream” show house rivaling those in Manhattan. The foyer was illuminated by large stained-glass chandeliers and winding staircases leading up to the mezzanine level. Hanging above the grand lobby were oversized paintings of a bullfight and a Spanish village. The first movie to play was “So This Is College” and the headline act was the husband-and-wife team of Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields.
The theater was sold in 1938 to the Fabian Theater chain, which continued to operate it as a movie palace until 1977. In the intervening years, the space was unsuccessfully used a roller skating rink, an antiques showroom, and a nightclub. An attempt was made in the mid-1990s to reopen it as a performing arts center, which ultimately failed. Except for filming the finale of the 2003 film “School of Rock” at the theatre, the venue was basically dark for over 30 years.
In 2004, Rosemary Cappozalo and her daughters, Luanne Sorrentino and Doreen Cugno, started a not-for-profit organization to save this historic theater from being torn down. Mrs. Rosemary, a prominent dance educator, donated her life savings (over $1 million) to the organization and “saved” the St. George Theatre.
Borough President Vito Fossella, Council Members Announce Funding For College Of Staten Island's Center for the Arts
Borough President Vito Fossella joined Council Member Joseph C. Borelli, Council Member David Carr, and Council Member Kamillah Hanks to announce the contributions of funds totaling $3 million for the Center for the Arts at the College of Staten Island.
The lighting project at CSI will overhaul all five theater spaces to include dimmer systems and control of 1P auditorium chandeliers and house lighting. The new lighting system will allow for a full return to activity in the theaters, which are used year-round for CSI events and community functions and shows. The scope will also include upgrades to audio visual equipment, as well.
“This is how we come together to make things better, not just for the College of Staten Island, but for all of Staten Island,” said Borough President Fossella. “Thousands of young people come here every day and we are committed to do what we can to improve the conditions here at the College of Staten Island."
CSI President Dr. Timothy J. Lynch said the rehabilitation project will begin immediately.
“The Center for the Arts is located in the heart of our campus and has long been a place where the Staten Island community has gathered for entertainment and public assemblies, and students in our music, dance, drama, performing and creative arts programs get to perform, study, and hone their skills on these stages,” said Dr. Lynch. “These funds will bring the rehabilitation needed to these spaces and will allow us to continue to be a focal point of Staten Island’s arts and cultural community.”