Gift of Life Names 2 New Members to the Board

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Gift of Life, a Rotary-sponsored charity, has appointed two members to the board during its June meeting: Lyn Roth-Jacobs and Ralph Scottino.

These Rotarians will help to direct the operations of Gift of Life in its lifesaving heart surgery operations for children from several foreign countries.

Roth-Jacobs served a previous term on the Board and serves on the Hosting Committee.  She has spent her professional career in education. Lyn has been an active member of the Rotary Club of the Pelham’s annual Tastings fundraiser for children with cardiac needs since its inception in 2005, and to date has hosted 4 GOL children with her husband Bill.

Scottino has been a member of the Bronx Rotary Club since 1996. He, along with partner Jack Epstein, own and operate Timpson Trading Corporation in the Bronx which specializes in scrap metal recycling. Ralph has been an active supporter of the Gift of Life program since 2007.

Second of three children from Kosovo undergoes successful life-saving surgery

On Monday, May 11th, 2 ½ year old Rexhep and his father Rasim from Kosovo arrived on schedule at JFK Airport. Initially they stayed with the grandparents of Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj in the Bronx until the Assemblyman returned from Albany.

RexhepThe support team (Lilyanna Pekic as interpreter, Rotarians Lyn Roth-Jacobs representing the host club of Pelham and District 7230 Gift of Life Chairman Bill Currie) went and met
with Dr. Giamelli later that afternoon. Rexhep has several issues with his heart and even though he is only 2 1/2 years old, those problems are starting to mount, which is why this surgery is so vital to him at this point.

On May 15th, Rexhep underwent successful surgery. Bill Currie picked up Lilyanna in the Bronx about 6AM and then headed over to meet Rexhep, his father Rasim and Mark Gjonaj’s mother, Roza to go to Maria Fareri Hospital in Valhalla. He went up for surgery just after 9AM and finished around 1:25PM. Dr. Giamelli said all went well, and added that it was good he had the surgery now since the walls of his heart are thickening due to the pressure on his heart. His prognosis is excellent for a good life.

Rexhep had a followup visit with Dr. Giamelli on May 21st. The surgeon was very pleased with Rexhep’s progress so far. He is a little concerned about the thick wall that surrounds the upper part of his heart, caused by the valve in the upper chamber of his heart not working properly. The valve is now operating well but the doctor would like to monitor the heart for another two weeks mostly to make sure he gets the proper care for his heart when he returns to Kosovo.

So, this sweet little boy will have another appointment with the doctor on June 3rd. The doctor said he is cleared to go home but just wants to watch the recovery progress for a little longer to that he get the right medication if needed and the proper care when he goes home.

Recently Completed Successful Medical Training Mission to Uganda

A joint medical team from the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington,DC, Heart Healers International and World Children’s Initiative recently teamed up with Ugandan healthcare professionals on a two week medical mission.  To read more about this amazing project and to learn about some of the children who received life-saving medical help, please click on the following link:

Rotary District 7230 raises over $17,000 for Gift of Life

Approximately 250 guests (with the occasional Elvis, James Dean, Fonzie and Cher look-a likes) enjoyed a fun and very entertaining 50’s and 60’s bash to support Rotary’s Gift of Life efforts.  The event was held on March 8th, 2015 at the Doubletree Hotel in Tarrytown, NY, complete with classic cars of the period.

The event honored Bea Castiglia-Catullo, Founder of R.A.I.N. and supporter of GOL and Georgene Mongarella, Immediate Past Chair Rotary District 7230 Gift of Life, Inc.  DJ Johnny Z from WFAS Radio serenaded the party-goers with favorite songs from the 50’s & 60’s.

To view the revelry, please click on the following link:

Save the Date! District GOL 50’s / 60’s Fundraiser is March 8th, 2015!

composite dancers lighter

The Board of Directors of Rotary District 7230 Gift of Life, Inc. invites you to a

50’s – 60’s rockin’ party to celebrate and support our Gift of Life Program.

Our Honorees for this event are

Bea Castiglia-Catullo, Founder of R.A.I.N. and supporter of GOL and

Georgene Mongarella, Immediate Past Chair Rotary District 7230 Gift of Life, Inc.

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Festive Attire (break out those poodle skirts or bell bottoms!)

Cocktail Reception at 4:00 pm

Dinner at 5:00 pm

Open Bar           Silent Auction

Comfort food from the 50’s & 60’s

Carving Stations, Dessert Bars and much more!

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Dance to your favorite songs from the 50’s & 60’s

with DJ Johnny Z from WFAS Radio

Early Bird discounts through February 15th


Click here for reservations and tickets!

4 Year Old GOL Patient Returns Home After Successful Heart Surgery

Four year old Erda, the District’s most recent Gift of Life recipient,  returned home to Kosovo on Sunday, January 11th after successful heart surgery.

Erda Aliu and her mother Mynevere arrived in New York on December 1st, and have been staying with the Rrasi family in Yonkers.   The Eastchester Rotary Club sponsored Erda’s surgery, which was performed at Westchester Medical Center’s Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.

Many thanks to all involved with Erda’s care, especially the entire medical team at Maria Fareri, headed by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Sett, the Rrasi host family and Bill Currie, Mike Fix and Rich Sullivan from the District GOL Board.

Currently, there are 2 additional children from Kosovo who have been accepted by Westchester Medical Center and are awaiting scheduling.

First of 3 children from Kosovo has completed life saving surgery

erdaThe following update was provided today by Bill Currie, Chairman of Rotary District 7230 Gift of Life, Inc.

“This morning just after 5 AM, Rich Sullivan picked up Erda, her mother Mynevere, Rosa from the host family, and Supressa who was our interpreter.  I met them before 6AM at the hospital.  Shortly after 7 AM, Erda went into the surgical area to get ready, I know she had no idea what was coming and that was a good thing.

Just at Noon, Dr. Sett, the cardiothoracic surgeon, sent word that Erda was off the heart bypass machine and was doing well.  Surgery ended around 1:30 PM and Dr. Sett came out and met with all of us.  He told us the size of the hole in Erda’s heart was 18mm wide and that it was successfully repaired.  Erda did not awaken until a little after 5 PM
tonight and was in a remarkable good frame of mind considering what she had been through. I left the hospital about 6:30PM tonight feeling good about the entire experience.

Tonight, Mynevere will stay in her room in the pediatric ICU to be close to her.  The team at Maria Fareri do not expect any complications and, if all goes well, she will probably be leaving the hospital and go back to the host family by Monday.  Erda is in the PICU and is NOT in any form of isolation but if you decide to visit, please keep your visit
short.  This is one beautiful hospital and the staff of RN’s and other professionals are wonderful caring people.

I want to say a word or two about what a beautiful experience we all had today.  We had fun, shared stories, laughed a lot and cried a little as we stood with Erda’s mother and saw her through the long wait.  Special thanks to Rich Sullivan for his ability to connect with these families and make them feel that he is not just a nice man but he is
really the loving and caring ‘grandpa’ they left back home.  I also want to say what a privilege to be with Rosa and her family.  As I left tonight, five members of her family were there to support Mynevere and to lift her spirits.  There were many smiles and warm feelings shared in that room – what an honor for me to be a small part of it.

Thank you Gift of Life for giving me this opportunity to help this child and to work with such beautiful people, it is the best Christmas gift I could ever hope for.”

Yours in Rotary,

Bill C.

PELHAM: Annual Fundraiser secures $30,000 for cardiac needs

The TASTINGS X event on October 19th sponsored by the Rotary Club of the Pelhams raised more than $30,000 to help children from foreign countries needing heart surgery.
More than 175 attended the event at Pelham Country Club, enjoying signature dishes from 16 restaurants and wines from The French Wine Shop.
The local Rotary club is working with Rotary District 7230 Gift of Life, Inc.  to find suitable host families for 3 children from Kosovo who will be receiving open heart surgery or cardiac catherization procedures thanks to fundraising efforts such as TASTINGS.
The children are Erda Alia, a four year old girl, Enea Ejupi, a 3 year old boy, and Rexhep Murteza, a 2 year old boy.  The children will arrive toward the end of the year, as soon as final arrangements can be made with the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center.
Anyone interested in opening their homes to these children and a member of their family should call District 7230 GOL Board Member John Felicetti at 914.441.8266.


Gift Of Life Names White Plains Rotarian Currie As Chairman

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. —  Gift of Life, a Rotary-sponsored charity, has elected Valhalla resident and White Plains Rotarian Bill Currie to its chairman of the board for a two-year term, and has appointed three members to the board: Janet DiBenedetto,  member of the Pleasantville Rotary Club, John Felicetti, a 20-year resident and Richard Sherman.Leon Horwitz, who has held numerous Rotary board positions, has been promoted to vice chairman of the board.

These Rotarians will help to direct the operations of Gift of Life in its lifesaving heart surgery operations for children from several foreign countries.

Currie has served on the Gift of Life Board since 1998. He became involved with the International Gift of Life program shortly after it was founded in 2002, eventually serving as vice chairman from 2007-09 and as chairman/president from 2009-13.

He currently serves as secretary and uses his financial background to assist the organization. He has helped raise money and awareness of the Gift of Life by addressing Rotary conferences on four continents and has spoken to groups of medical professionals about the lifesaving work of Gift of Life.

DiBenedetto, a veteran Rotarian, has been a winner of the Rotary’s highest honor, the Service Above Self Award, clear evidence that she represents the essence of the worldwide service organization.

DiBenedetto, a member of the Pleasantville Rotary Club, has been a member of the Gift of Life for 20 years. A grant writer and teacher of grant writing, DiBenedetto says that she is serving on the board to share her grant-writing expertise

Felicetti has spent his professional career in information technology and management consulting. Felicetti has been an active member of the Rotary Club of the Pelham’s annual Tastings fundraiser for children with cardiac needs since its inception in 2005.

Area Hospital to Accept 3 Children for Life-Saving Cardiac Care

Rotary District 7230 Gift of Life, Inc. Board President Bill Currie announced that Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, NY will accept 3 children from Kosovo for cardiac procedures. The plan is to bring in the child needing heart surgery first before bringing in the two children needing cardiac catherization procedures. Although in the early stages of planning, surgeons at the hospital would like the first child to be here the week of October 20th, with surgery scheduled the following week.  Further, they would like to bring the two children in the following two weeks (one per week).   District 7230’s Board will begin the process of securing host families for the children, Visas and other support services for the children.