Denali is not your average pooch. He’s an overachieving Italian, cover model, and all around do-gooder; he is a therapy dog. But, a hero never truly works alone. His proud owners, Robert "Bob" Ipcar and Jane Landis, deserve credit in part for their Spinone’s accomplishments as they, too, are exemplars of community service.Bob and Jane with Denali
Bob, a retired cameraman with the United States Army who became a Director of Photography for thirty years in civilian life, and Jane, an English as Second Language teacher and environmentalist at the Audubon Center in Brooklyn, initially tried therapy work with their first dog, a Mastiff named Yuffie. Though the efforts were good-natured, Yuffie's size startled patients and staff upon entrance onto hospital floors from the elevator. Yuffie did, however, receive recognition from The Good Dog Foundation and was appointed their mascot!
Jane, Bob, and Denali at work
After Yuffie's passing, Bob and Jane toyed with the idea of getting another dog. While backstage at the West Minster Dog Show, they were introduced to the Spinoni breed, a non-aggressive, pleasing type of hunting dog, and, as the old adage goes, the rest is history.
Denali, whose temperament is calm and sweet, is definitely in his comfort zone as a therapy dog. “Whether we’re in the physical therapy unit at New York Methodist Hospital, on the palliative care/hospice floor at the Brooklyn VA, or making rounds with nursing home evacuees from hurricane Sandy at our local armory, Denali is hailed on a first name basis, basking in “shout-outs” from patients and staff alike. It’s a precious connection that will always stay with us,” says Bob.
Denali and me!
Upon meeting Denali, I instantly saw what made him special. His willingness to let me pet him, smush his cute face, and talk to him in a baby-like manner (an embarrassing habit I can’t seem to break) made me feel at home with him. Bob and Jane, equally inviting, offered up stories of their dog, including a few memorable awards he received for being an advocate for the community at large.
Denali with hospital staff
Denali volunteers on a weekly basis at NY Methodist Hospital where he visits patients undergoing physical therapy. “The coordinator, Amanda Nable, embraces our presence and encourages Denali and the rest of the therapy dogs who volunteer. There are a great many things happening there because of her,” Bob says. Jane smiles, agreeing with her husband.
Denali's therapy work at the Brooklyn VA Hospital is particularly special for Bob. “It’s a way to give back,” he says with an expression that tells me he is grateful for his days as a soldier.
Available on Amazon.com
Jane informs me that her work with the displaced elderly at Park Slope Armory after hurricane Sandy spawned the idea of bringing Denali to provide comfort for the victims. “After receiving permission from the lead psychiatrist of the operation, Denali visited with the evacuees from Belle Harbor Nursing Home and, boy, were they happy to see him.”
Who could resist that cute chocolate face? Certainly not the publishing industry! Denali posed for the cover of Barron’s Dog Training Bible, by Andrea Arden, and is also featured on several pages throughout the book. He was also featured in the Daily News article, “Furry Docs on Duty.” Though he isn’t in Hollywood, he is most definitely on YouTube. Check out adorable Denali bringing Jane flowers for Mother’s Day. (Dog lovers, consider yourselves warned!)
*If you'd like to read more about dogs (therapy or other), visit my friend Dorri's blog.
Heroes may be at the forefront of conflict, but mothers are at the forefront of everything.
It takes a lot of strength and selflessness to be hero. These qualities also hold true for mothers. You see, moms are everyday heroes; providers of constant support and fulfilling needs that are as basic and as complex as one could imagine. Now, if you look at mothers of heroes, the already long list of motherhood “to-do’s” (and “to-don’ts”) grows longer…
Sally's eldest son
Just ask Sally Campbell, mother of two firefighters. She knows firsthand how her call to duty is as instantaneous as her sons’: there is no task too small, no alarm ever false. Sally’s oldest son is not only a fireman, but is also a former Marine with the United States Marine Corps. A decision he made despite his mother’s pleas, Sally is proud nonetheless. “My attempts to steer my son away from a career in the military were because of the death of my cousin Kevin Dugan, a soldier in the Army, who was killed in Vietnam.” Kevin Howard Dugan, Specialist Four in the United States Army, sustained fatal injuries after his convoy ran over a landmine trying to deliver supplies to other soldiers. “Kevin’s death wasn’t immediate. He survived the trip from Vietnam to a hospital in Japan, even calling his mother, my aunt, to let her know that he was okay, but shortly after their conversation he succumbed to the wounds.” Though Sally’s perspective on the military hasn’t changed, she says she will forever be proud of her sons for having the courage to do what they do. “As a mother, I am extremely proud of my boys. What they do is remarkable. As scary as it may be for me, it's incredibly brave of them.”
Bernadette with her son
In a post-9/11 world, no one community appears to be “safe.” This is a hard concept for many Americans to accept, but it’s a reality we must live with. Bernadette Buatti, a mother to a former sailor in the United States Navy, can tell you how uneasy life became after September 11th, 2001. “My son, who was only enlisted for nine months in September of 2001, was suddenly deployed for war,” she says, “and to my amazement - and horror - he spent the majority of his enlistment in the Middle East between battles in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
One of several homecomings
Though the military is different from that of the fire department, Sally says that the worrying never stops. “Firefighting is a job on the home front. Yes, my boys get to see their families more frequently than that of a soldier, but the sacrifice spans over a lifetime, just like that of a combatant.”
Sally and Bernadette agree that making care packages is the best way of providing comforts of home for their heroes. “It shows your support. That you care about them and what they’re doing,” Bernadette says.
If you or someone you know is a mother of a hero in any branch of service, Bernadette and Sally recommend joining a support group. “Navy Moms, an online support group, helped me tremendously during my son’s deployments,” Bernadette says. “I can’t say thank you enough to those women.”
Photograph of Sally with her sons is courtesy of Amanda Marie Artistry. For more information on Amanda's services, please click on the photo or her name above.
Featured Hero: Joseph N. Esposito (1938-2005) Veteran of the United States Army, as told through his loving daughter Elizabeth Esposito Campbell, genealogy advisor/owner of Roots & Branches
"My father, Joseph N. Esposito, was born on July 18, 1938 in Manhattan, New York," Elizabeth begins, eyes watery. She apologizes before continuing, but I understand her sadness as this coming Sunday, the 5th of May, marks the anniversary of his departure from her in the physical sense. Elizabeth quickly regains composure, however, and talks on like a proud daughter would; her words story-like yet matter-of-fact like that of a genealogy enthusiast. "He was the third of seven children born to my grandparents and, from an early age, had a knack for building and creating marvelous things.
Elizabeth and I sharing a good laugh.
"By the time he was 17, he'd built a hovercraft, a helicopter that really flew, and rigged up several different types of wires and radios that caught the "S.O.S.” signal of the Andrea Doria. Believe it or not, the FBI showed up at my grandparents’ front door!" she says, chuckling.
In August 1959, Joseph enlisted in the United States Army and was eventually sent to Korea.
"The peace treaty was already signed by the time my father arrived in Asia, but apparently no one told the soldiers because my father did see his share of gunfire and combat."
In 1960, Joseph participated in the Eighth Army’s rifle, pistol and automatic rifle matches in Hawaii. He was classified as a pistol Master by the NRA and won many medals for sharpshooting. He was honorably discharged after three years of service and married Elizabeth's mother in 1962.
"My father and I became closer in the summer of 1991 following his first of four heart attacks. He was unable to work and developed a passion for lighthouses. I would travel throughout New York and New Jersey with him to take pictures and explore these structures. He was so enamored with them that he built scale replicas and eventually asked the United States Coast Guard if he could be the volunteer Lighthouse Keeper of the Staten Island Lighthouse, Lighthouse Hill. He was instated Lighthouse Keeper from 1992-2001. Many of his scale models are displayed throughout Staten Island in such places as Fort Wadsworth, Miller Field, and the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences. On May 5, 2005, my parents’ 43rd wedding anniversary, my father succumbed to an abdominal aortic aneurysm." Joseph is survived by his wife, Anna, his daughters Joann, Ellena, and Elizabeth, his son Joseph, and four grandchildren.
Roots & Branches
Elizabeth's passion for family history developed as a child while sifting through old family photos at her grandmother's house. Her company, Roots & Branches, is a product of those childhood moments with her grandma. Like her kin, Elizabeth takes fragments of others' family history and pieces them together. "I am not a licensed genealogist, nor do I present myself as one, but I feel that I have a natural talent for research and want to help others solve the mysteries of their past."
Roots & Branches provides a preliminary search to make sure that efforts will be fruitful for the client in the end result. Elizabeth's fees are reasonable compared to that of a licensed genealogist. "I am charging for my time, and it does take time to provide accurate results. I make a point of being professional because customer service is the key to being successful. I spend a great deal of time conversing one-on-one with my clients to ensure that we are focusing on the same short and long-term goals." Browse the Facebook page for Roots & Branches. There, you will find some projects that Elizabeth created for family members as well as a pricing guide. For the sake of confidentiality, she is unable to publish anything discovered for clients.
"It is important to know whom we came from so we know where we’re going."
Featured Hero: Stephen Passacantilli - Boston Marathon Runner/ Assistant to District 1 Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina
Vigil at the statue of Paul Revere
Sometimes an ordinary community experiences extraordinary circumstances
and the term hero stretches beyond a uniform.
Stephen Passacantilli is an athletic man, but isn’t your typical marathon runner. He doesn’t train professionally or participate for prize money. Stephen, a community activist who works at Boston’s City Hall alongside Mayor Menino and District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina, was presented the opportunity to run with co-workers. After some hemming and hawing over whether to do the grueling 26.2 miles, he said yes.
© 2013 northendregionalreview.com
As the marathon ensued, Stephen kept at a pace he was comfortable with beside his best friend. At around Fenway Park, about a half mile away from completing the race (and now jogging alone as his buddy had gained speed), he heard a loud blast. Police officers nearby talked rapidly into radios as he moved passed until suddenly they blocked the route, bringing the runners to a halt. “Everyone stopped in their tracks, wondering what was going on and if it was related to the loud noises we heard.” When Stephen caught wind that bombs went off at the finish, he panicked, “Not only was my friend ahead of me, but my wife, father, and five-year old daughter were in the grandstands waiting to watch me cross the finish line.” Luckily his family members were unharmed, as his wife immediately answered her cell phone when he called. As for Stephen's running partner, it took two daunting hours to find out that he was okay.
I asked Stephen if his first marathon experience marked his last, to which he replied,
“Definitely not. I’m trying to get permission to run in the [upcoming] New York City Marathon for one of the runners who intended to, but lost their leg. I’d like to do it in their honor.”
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino created The One Fund to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013. In just eleven days, over twenty-three million dollars has been raised. Stephen’s office reports that all victims will receive assistance (about 280 injured; 3 perished.) With that goal in mind, monetary contributions are still being collected. If you would like to donate, it’s not too late.
Michael with Kim Cattrall
There’s something sexy about a man fighting smoldering fire, but a real firefighter who turned up the heat on Sex and the City? Now you’re talking!
Mike fighting a fire in Brooklyn, NY
Michael Lombardi’s dreams were never small. As a kid, he wanted to be a fireman; this desire catapulted him into an elite unit, Rescue 5, within the Fire Department of New York City. As a young man, Mike worked hard to be physically fit; his striking appearance presented an opportunity to pose in the infamous FDNY calendar, which then led to being voted one of People Magazine’s “Men @ Work: The Most Sexiest Men Alive.” And just when things couldn’t possibly get better, the most popular show on television, Sex & The City, decided to cast him as Ricky, Samantha Jones’s firefighter boy toy in the Season 3 premiere episode, “Where There's Smoke.”
The cover that started the controversy.
But don’t be mistaken; Michael’s life wasn’t always glitz and glamour. With every success came struggle, including a very public controversy over the role he played on HBO’s hit series. A part that appeared relatively innocent was turned into a paparazzi-induced scandal that almost cost him his job. Thankfully, Mike received permission from the FDNY at the onset of his acting debut, and was dismissed of any wrongdoing. Unfortunately for us ladies, his decision to stay with the fire department squelched the flames for future television and movie roles.
The World Trade Center
Then September 11th happened and his unit, Rescue 5, lost eleven men, the most of any firehouse in the city. Because Mike was on the dive team, he was training in Queens on that tragic day and was not on his regular schedule. The devastating loss he and his brothers endured not only brought on survivor’s guilt, but a steadfast mission to recover the bodies of the fallen. Only one was found. Due to a medical condition that developed during recovery efforts, Michael had to retire from the job he so longingly dreamt of as a kid.
I asked Michael what he misses most about firefighting and his response was an immediate, “Everything.” When asked to be more specific, he pointed out that the camaraderie was unlike any other he’s experienced and the adrenaline rush he got when fighting fires was indescribable. I also inquired about the Hollywood days to which he said, “That was all in good fun. Memories I’ll have forever. But mostly, a lot of laughs.”
Sal and The Paint Brush Cover
There is only one word to describe Sal DePaola and that’s FIRE! He puts out fire, cooks with fire, and has even invented a product called The Paint Brush Cover for the hardware industry, which is spreading like wildfire.
Check it out.
In 2006, when Sal was finishing the probationary period with the New York City Fire Department and was making beginner's wage, he decided to start his own painting company to supplement his firefighting income. This idea stemmed from a knack he had for painting since age 16. As his business took off and he learned the ins and outs of the trade, he stumbled upon a reoccurring problem with the high-quality paintbrushes he was purchasing - they were getting severely damaged. He wanted to prevent his brushes from ruin, thinking there had to be a better way to store them during and after each use. At the firehouse roundtable, and while munching on some good eats, Sal began brainstorming ways that could solve his contracting conundrum: a paintbrush cover.
Companies have attempted to create such a cover, but have ultimately failed in one way or another. Sal instantly recognized these flaws and, with a lot of creativity, created the definitive solution: The Paint Brush Cover by Likwid Concepts. What sets Sal’s covers apart from the competition is its airtight seal. Special foam has been adhered to the inner tops of The Paint Brush Cover, which hugs paintbrush handles of various sizes (another bonus!), allowing zero room for air to sneak in. Because The Paint Brush Cover is airtight, the bristles on paintbrushes will remain intact thus extending the life. Paintbrushes can be stored for weeks, months, even years (if kept in a refrigerator) with The Paint Brush Cover!
Sal and the rest of the gang at Likwid Concepts care about the earth, making The Paint Brush Cover eco-friendly. Its compactable size reduces the amount of material used in the manufacturing process and is 100% recyclable. (The nifty size also proves beneficial to painters who can easily store The Paint Brush Cover in toolboxes and/or buckets.) In addition, The Paint Brush Cover reduces paint waste in drains, therefore saving water, and completely eliminates the use of plastic wraps and zip-bags as makeshift protectors.
For immediate purchase, please visit: www.thepaintbrushcover.com.
The Paint Brush Cover is currently available in 80 stores throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, but is rapidly appearing on shelves nationwide. Sal will be at the National Hardware Trade Show in Las Vegas next month. If you are planning to attend, say hello! Tell him Dawn sent ya!
There are more great products in development, so stay connected with Likwid Concepts and The Paint Brush Cover on facebook, twitter, linkedin.
For a quick how-to, please watch the video below: