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CFF Springfield HS Scholarship Recipient Emma Sulpizio’s Commitment to Others Drives Her Daily Life

Sunday, April 18th, 2021

By Samantha Matthews*

Emma Sulpizio

Emma Sulpizio is looking forward to joining the ranks of healthcare workers doing good for others.

Emma, the 2020 recipient of the Casey Feldman Foundation Springfield High School (SHS) Scholarship, is now studying to be a nurse at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania  a path she may not have chosen without an SHS program. 

The school’s Medical Careers program allows high school seniors who are interested in pursuing a future in medicine to learn an extensive medical curriculum from professionals and take part in clinical rotations. Emma calls it “the best experience of my life.”

Every day, Emma would wake up at 5 a.m. and commute to Taylor Hospital in Ridley Park, Pa., where she would shadow her mentor, observing everything from basic patient care to a hip replacement operation. She would stay at the medical facility until midday and then return to SHS to finish out the rest of her academic day.

In a letter of recommendation, her mentor, a nurse called Emma one of the top students in the program. “She is consistently prepared for class, her work is never late and she is rarely absent,” the letter read. “Emma participates in every class; in fact, her hand is usually up first whenever I pose a question to my students! Her answers reveal thoughtful insight and a level of maturity beyond her years.”

Emma’s time at Medical Careers allowed her to have face-to-face, hands-on interaction with patients — an opportunity that would greatly impact her future dreams. It ultimately shifted her goal of pursuing medical sonography to nursing, where she could be more active in patient’s lives. 

“I like being hands-on, I like talking to people and I feel like nursing is all about that,” Emma said. “As a nurse, you have the opportunity to get to know your patients and learn to love your patients and I realized that that’s what I really want to do.”  

Emma Sulpizio and her parents at her graduation from Springfield High School

In addition to her hospital duties, Emma made time to be a dedicated athlete at SHS. She was a varsity field hockey player her freshman and sophomore years, and captain of the track team during her junior and senior years, where she received the MVP award. “Working as a team with doctors and nurses, and knowing how to work together and communicate is just like being on a [sports] team because you have to use the same skills,” she said.

Rounding out her ultra-packed schedule was her participation as a committee member of THON, a student run philanthropy organized dedicated to raising awareness and fundraising for children and families affected by childhood cancer. Emma’s grandmother also got her involved in volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House from a young age, often pitching in to cook breakfast for families staying at the facility.

Emma’s sheer determination and commitment to others is what fills up her schedule most days and that’s just the way she likes it. When she graduates from Widener in 2024, she says she can’t wait to launch her career as a nurse and possibly further her education, eventually becoming a nurse practitioner.

“I don’t know exactly what part of nursing I want to go into but I do know that I just want to be able to make a difference,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

 

 

One Meal at a Time, 2020 PIIE Scholarship Recipient Ally Faller, is Changing Boulder

Monday, April 5th, 2021

By Samantha Matthews*

Ally Faller is charting her own path — turning a summer internship at Meals on Wheels into a career. The recent University of Colorado Boulder (CU) graduate plans to use her dual degrees in Creative Technologies and Design and English to fight food insecurity.

Ally, the recipient of CU’s 2020 Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) Casey Feldman Memorial Scholarship, is now working full time as a marketing and communications associate at the non-profit organization. In her position, which she began after her December 2020 graduation, Ally works on graphic design projects and heads the client acquisition campaign designed to spread awareness about the services Meals on Wheels offers to help a greater number of people in the Boulder, Colorado, area.

“Meals on Wheels is not a service you can only use when you’re in the worst situation of your entire life,” she said. “We can serve anyone who needs a little extra help.”

Ally Faller

 

When deciding between Meals and Wheels and one other organization for her PIIE application, the food non-profit struck an intense personal chord.

Ally, who is in recovery from an eating disorder she faced freshman year of college, says the experience left her with strong feelings about fighting food insecurity — a problem that affects nearly 54 million people in the United States. 

“When I first saw Meals on Wheels, I thought about how there are people in my community who do not have enough to eat and who feel invisible and unloved and uncared for,” she said. “Because of my own personal history, I felt like I could definitely care very, very deeply about the work that I would do with that organization.”

Meals on Wheels Boulder provides daily well-being checks and delivers nutritionally balanced, high-quality meals to any person, regardless of age or income, in the Boulder City area who might not otherwise have access to healthy food or a friendly face. 

As an intern at Meals on Wheels, Ally worked in the marketing and communications department where she was able to use her ingenuity as a graphic designer. 

“Ally is creative, dependable, and highly motivated,” Ally’s supervisor, Kate Laubacher, said. “She takes initiative and jumps into new projects with enthusiasm.” Those initiatives included designing a newsletter for the organization’s mailing list and refreshing its photo bank with pictures of meals. 

Ally calls her internship a transformative experience. “When I first started I was thinking about people in need as an abstract,” she said. Seeing how much empathy the volunteers feel for clients, and how much care goes into every meal made Ally realize how her job changes the lives of the people who use the non-profit’s services.

Graduating amid a pandemic, Ally said she is incredibly grateful for the Casey Feldman Memorial PIIE scholarship, which provides students a stipend to work with a non-profit or government agency for the summer.

“I, like many other students, can’t work a summer job for free, and it’s really hard to work for a nonprofit and get paid, especially as an intern,” she said. “Having this scholarship permitted me to take that internship and then in turn, that internship got me a full time job in a very difficult job market right after graduating.”

Despite her own experience working with a non-profit, Ally says working with a philanthropic organization isn’t the only way to make a difference.

“There are a lot of ways to improve the world, and a lot of that is making people feel seen,” she said. “Starting to help in any capacity starts with the simplest things like making eye contact with people on public transportation or smiling at people you pass on the street, and then moving from on from there.

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*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

 

 

Marketing Executive Brooke Burdge Joins the Board of Directors at The Casey Feldman Foundation

Friday, February 19th, 2021

By Samantha Matthews*

The Casey Feldman Foundation is pleased to announce the newest member of its board of directors, Brooke Burdge. Her exceptional professional background and experience in digital marketing will help further the mission of the foundation to assist individuals, groups, and institutions who align themselves with causes close to Casey’s heart.

Brooke Burdge

Brooke currently works as the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Attentive, a company she helped found in 2016 that began with fewer than ten employees and now has over 500. Attentive is a personalized mobile messaging platform for well-known brands such as Urban Outfitters, Sephora, and many others. Before her time at Attentive, Brooke served as the Head of Marketing at TapCommerce, and fulfilled marketing roles at companies like Movable Ink and Deloitte. As a volunteer, she has also mentored nonprofits on their marketing strategy.

Having a special interest and expertise in the interconnectivity between digital technology and communications, Brooke will  help the foundation with “all things digital,” focusing on the website, social media strategy, and helping to increase brand awareness and the mission of The Casey Feldman Foundation. According to Joel Feldman, the co-founder,   “Brooke brings to the Casey Feldman Foundation a wealth of experience and expertise in online marketing and communications, and will ramp our efforts up to a higher level. We are incredibly fortunate to have her,” he said. Brooke has been involved with the foundation since its inception, assisting with the initial build of its website. 

In 2010, Brooke, who was a close friend and classmate of Casey’s,  was recognized as one of the first recipients of The Casey A. Feldman Memorial Scholarship at Fordham University. “I’ve always been drawn to the ‘because of Casey’ message the foundation has created. Casey affected everyone’s lives in different ways—during her time on earth and after—so that’s why I like to be close to her memory and the foundation,” she revealed.

Brooke Burdge & Casey Feldman, circa 2006.

The two met at an Accepted Students Day before their freshman year, and further bonded during their time working on The Observer. As they became closer, they discovered they shared a love of animals and began volunteering together at Animal Haven shelter in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. Brooke said of Casey, “She really lived every day with a positive attitude. She was always the one to encourage me to stop studying and to go do something fun. She helped me see that life wasn’t all about working hard and it was important to make time for your friends and your family.” 

Brooke’s work assisting brands in communicating with their subscriber audiences at Attentive and the skill set she developed during her time spent with nonprofits have given her the background to create specific goals for the foundation. For example, she also hopes to connect members of the foundation’s community by creating a digital network for those who the foundation has helped, and strengthen the foundation’s email communications program. 

Dianne Anderson, co-founder of The Casey Feldman Foundation, believes Brooke will be a valuable addition to the board. “Brooke is smart, hardworking, and gets things done. She has wasted no time in already jumping right in to help us create a new website and improve our branding and reach on social media. Her digital prowess, coupled with her close friendship with Casey and passion for our foundation work, makes her a tremendous asset and an exciting addition to our board,” she said. 

Almost 11 years after Casey’s passing, Brooke continues to live with the lessons Casey taught her. When she is not working hard at Attentive, she likes to spend her time with her rescue dogs, Penny and Amigo, whom she refers to as her “little crew.”

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*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

 

Dedicated Thespian and CFF Cappies Scholarship Recipient, Cassidy Lennick, Believes in the Power of Performance

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

By Samantha Matthews*

Cassidy Lennick

From a young age, Cassidy Lennick has held performing and writing about theatre close to her heart. “Something I love about theatre is that you can make someone happy or smile just by doing what you love,” Cassidy said of her experience onstage.  As the recipient of the 2020 Casey Feldman Foundation Greater Philadelphia Cappies* Scholarship, Cassidy is determined to continue to spread happiness through the power of theatre despite the cancellation of in-person performances —for the show must always go on. 

The Casey Feldman Foundation has been awarding one graduating Cappies participant a scholarship to help further their education since 2011, two years after Casey was killed by a distracted driver. The scholarship was created in honor of Casey’s love for theatre, journalism and the Cappies. The Cappies are an international awards program, much like that of the Tony’s, that recognizes high school theatre and journalism students who possess strong writing, critical thinking, and leadership skills. Like Casey, Cassidy joined the Cappies as an actor and critic where she was able to review different high school performances around Pennsylvania, as well as compete in performances of her own. Her freshman year, Cassidy was granted the award (a Cappie) as Best Ensemble member in Sweeney Todd. 

Cassidy Lennick at the 2019 Cappies Gala wearing her Cappie

According to Dianne Anderson, co-founder of the Casey Feldman Foundation, “Cassidy is clearly passionate about the performing arts and has a stellar academic record. What made her really stand out for us, though, was that despite a clearly hectic schedule, Cassidy took the time to be of service to others. Helping to coordinate a fundraiser for the California Hurricane Foundation, volunteering to teach dance to 3- and 4- year-old children and participating in the performance of a thank you video for frontline workers during this pandemic validated her nominating teacher’s comment that he had never met a more caring, respectful, hard-working, and kind student.”

Now a freshman working towards a BFA in Musical Theatre at Long Island University, Cassidy likes the connection theatre gives her to others during this time of worldwide separation.

During her senior year at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School Center for the Performing and Fine Arts, Cassidy served as Vice President of the International Thespian Honor Society. Her final semester in high school was online due to the pandemic, nevertheless giving her the opportunity to be a part of a virtual performance of “Lean on Me” that was sent out to quarantined residents of old age homes and front-line workers in hospitals. She also initiated  similar virtual projects for the same audience in other organizations.

An avid dancer, Cassidy spends almost 12 hours a week at the dance studio

This passion Cassidy has for making people smile grew during her time on stage in high school. Cassidy became devoted to theatre and dance, acting in a total of nine performances and spending twelve hours a week at the Longwood Performing Arts dance studio. Her favorite role was Ariel in The Tempest. She said, “I really loved getting to delve into Shakespeare while singing and dancing.” 

Whilst spending her time on stage and maintaining a 4.2 GPA, Cassidy held many different leadership positions throughout school organizations, such as Vice President of National Honors Society, Treasurer of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, and Co-President of the National Dance Arts Honor Society. She joked, “a lot of my lunches were spent in meetings.” However, her ability to accomplish so much in a twenty-four hour day was what kept her going. “I like to keep myself busy and am so lucky I can spend time doing what I love,” she said.  Cassidy’s grit, passion, and incredible work ethic are the tools she hopes will one day allow her to live out her dream of being center-stage on Broadway.

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*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

Casey’s 32nd Birthday, Her Best Friend and a Joyous Pandemic Birthday

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

Casey would have turned 32 years old on April 6th. Her best friend, Amber Staska, posted the following letter to Casey on Facebook reflecting on what would have been a joyous and positive pandemic birthday:

Dear Casey,

Today, best friend, you would have been 32 years old. You would have been one of those people celebrating a “pandemic birthday” complete with a homemade cake slapped together with whatever was left in the pantry, a virtual happy hour (I’m thinking cosmos as an ode to your affinity with the show Sex & the City) and even a “social distance” drive-by parade in your honor. OR maybe you would be on the front-line as a news anchor (your dream which I have no doubt you would have made true by now) reporting all of these events in real-time.

Regardless of who you would have been or where you would be at in the world today, just knowing you, it would have been the most epic pandemic birthday ever simply because you knew how to turn the most scary and uncertain moments into the most unforgettable and joyous moments. And because of that amazing attribute, no one would be thinking of the thousands dying or unemployed today.

If it isn’t obvious, I miss your light in this world. I know you’ve been watching from above and you can see how life has gotten a little crazy over the last 2 months. For example, I know you were giggling when my 3 year old screamed at me this morning “You’re not my mother, you’re BULLS*IT!” – her way of expressing her angst of not being able to play with friends or go about normal routines outside of this pandemic. If you were here, I would have proceeded to explain to you how she sternly calls me “mother” when she’s mad at me (you can thank the movie, Tangled, for that).

But despite the last day/week/month I have been having due to fear and frustration during this weird time in society; I am going to channel your positive attitude and spread it like wildfire. I think that’s the best birthday present I can give to you this year…and always.

I love you,

Amber

#BecauseofCasey #EndDD #caseyfeldmanfoundation

Casey and Amber, 2007

 

Ten Years Later, Casey Feldman’s Values Still Resonate

Sunday, November 24th, 2019

Casey Feldman was the News Editor of The Observer, Fordham University’s student newspaper. In the feature article reprinted below, The Observer remembers Casey and highlights the work of The Casey Feldman Foundation in the ten years since Casey’s death.

By SAMANTHA MATTHEWS, Staff Writer

Dianne Anderson holds up her daughter’s image to fight for a new pedestrian safety law in New Jersey. The law was passed on April 1, 2010.

It has been ten years since Casey Feldman was struck and killed by a distracted driver in Ocean City, New Jersey. Casey, who served as the 2008-2009 News Editor of The Observer, was about to enter her senior year at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) and pursuing a career as a journalist. While that all came to an end on July 17, 2009, her parents continue to make sure Casey still has an impact on the Fordham community today. “She was so kind-hearted, so loving and always found time in her busy, busy schedule to help those less fortunate,” said Dianne Anderson, Casey’s mother. “That included volunteering at a soup kitchen, a women’s shelter and a no kill animal shelter.”

Helping those in need was a huge part of Casey’s life. Her best friend and roommate at Fordham, Kelsey Butler, FCLC ’10, said, “For example, when she saw someone who was homeless and she was walking home from dinner, she would always give her leftovers to that person.” Butler now serves on the board of CFMF.

Casey was also a passionate journalist. In her time at The Observer, she had written over 20 articles tackling topics ranging from HIV and AIDS to the mental health of college students. Her suitemate, Janine Repka, FCLC ’10, said, “I think she was always looking for something that was a little bit more meaty than your average college campus story.”

Her father, Joel Feldman, said that in the weeks after Casey’s death her colleagues at The Observer expressed their condolences. One colleague revealed to him that, “Casey taught them that each and every person has a unique and beautiful story, and we need to tell stories because telling stories changes lives.”

After Casey passed, Feldman and Anderson began working with legislators in New Jersey to revise their Pedestrian Safety Law. The law previously stated that motorists are required to yield for pedestrians. The new law, which her parents refer to as “Casey’s Law,” now requires motorists to stop and remain stopped for pedestrians in marked crosswalks or at intersections where there are no marked crosswalks. This was the beginning of their path into advocacy because of Casey.

Anderson, along with Feldman, tries to preserve and project Casey’s character and values into the world today through their foundation, The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation (CFMF).

Casey’s vigor to find those “meaty” stories translates to the work her parents do at the foundation. What she stood for is championed by her parents through their unending support of volunteer work, scholarships and grants, and their fight to end distracted driving.

The mission of their foundation “is to carry on things that were important to Casey,” according to Butler. Every year on the date of Casey’s death, which those that were close to her refer to as her “angelversary,” the foundation sponsors a day of service. In 2018, Anderson organized it with their local animal shelter, Providence Animal Center, inspired by Casey’s love for animals.

Matthew Thornton, who was Casey’s boyfriend, attended and said, “it’s an opportunity for people to go and kind of live the experience that (Casey) would have. (Dianne and Joel) put forth that kind of selflessness into the world by cleaning up and rearranging in the shelters and cages, dating the food that gets donated to these shelters.”

The foundation is also focused on financially helping current students who exhibit qualities like Casey. At Casey’s high school, Springfield High School in Pennsylvania, they offer a yearly scholarship. Thornton assists the Feldmans in choosing the recipient, in which they look at student’s essays and activities for qualities that align with Casey’s. Casey’s mom said that they do not solely focus on the students with the best grades but those who give back to the community and show a commitment to volunteerism.

The foundation also offers a scholarship here at Fordham University for communications students to perform an unpaid internship for those who would not be able to afford it. However, since New York State is changing its laws on unpaid interns, Joel Feldman said, ”We’re going to be redirecting the focus of that entirely to supporting The Observer in different ways.” Since Casey’s passing, the foundation has financially supported The Observer.

“The Feldmans wanted to do something to keep Casey’s memory alive,” said Elizabeth Stone, Ph.D., professor of English at FCLC and advisor to The Observer at the time of Casey’s death, “So together we talked through what would be useful and most help The Observer.”

Stone and the Feldmans devised three ideas that were then implemented. The first was the internship scholarship for communications students mentioned above. The second was underwriting funds for educational purposes, such as sending more students to journalism conferences and hosting speakers. The third was providing funds for hardware and software The Observer otherwise wouldn’t be able to have.

Additionally, the foundation takes on interns from The Observer. This semester, it is Copy Editor Melanie Riehl, FCLC ’22. She writes articles for CFMF and has recently spoken with a mother and father who had lost their son to distracted driving. “They turned that grief into advocacy, and they decided to fight for the Minnesota Hands-Free Law,” Riehl said. Riehl put together an article that will be published. Writing these articles gives aspiring journalists like Casey opportunities to practice and hone their craft, as well as increasing awareness for distracted driving.

A large project of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation is End Distracted Driving (EndDD). EndDD is spearheaded by Casey’s father. About three months after Casey’s death, he had a realization, “I could have been that driver because I drove distracted all the time.” Her parents wanted to do something to raise awareness against distracted driving.

EndDD has a network of over 500 volunteers who give speeches to schools nationwide on how to not become a distracted driver, all without cost to the school. Feldman himself has given over 700 presentations, and EndDD has reached over 450,000 students.

EndDD partners with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to develop methods to deliver an effective presentation. They center their presentation on respect. By establishing the fact that most students would consider themselves respectful people, Feldman said, “There’s really not a whole lot that’s respectful about driving and looking at your phone instead of the road. Respect for others, to me, is a full time value. It’s not something we just do when it’s convenient.”

EndDD is always working on how to make their presentations as effective as possible by providing free educational materials, driving agreements, quizzes, surveys and public service announcements. Every year they also sponsor a teen distracted driving video and meme contest. EndDD found that through creating a video on distracted driving, students are learning about safe driving practices. Through this knowledge, it is affirming the fact that the students do not want to be a distracted driver themselves.

Riehl said that the mission of EndDD has impacted her personally. “If you’re someone who’s lost someone else or a family member and you tell a distracted driving story, it hits home differently for people who hear it,” she said.

EndDD focuses their mission on the people who really need to hear it — the next generation of drivers. In December, they are launching a new program directed at elementary schools — the first of its kind in the country. It’s going to teach children to recognize when their parents are distracted and the communication skills to articulate that they feel unsafe. This will create fewer drivers on the road now and in the future.

Repka got a chance to speak at her own high school with EndDD. She said it was one of the most impactful moments because she got to see Casey’s story impact the next generation. “I got to be able to say to them — you’re going to go on to the rest of your life and you’re going to meet people who are going to become your best friends. Hold them close and cherish them,” said Repka. By telling stories that hit so close to home, it resonates with students. No one wants to be the driver that killed someone’s best friend, partner or child because they had to check their phone.

Here at Fordham, not many students get behind the wheel of a car daily because of subways, buses, taxis and Ubers, but even as a pedestrian or passenger, there are still ways to help end distracted driving. Butler said, “As a passenger you have an ability to make an impact. If you’re perhaps driving around with friends and they are driving distracted, you can always speak up and say something.” Butler said it can even be as easy as saying, “Why don’t I change the music for you so you can focus on the road.”

In the past 10 years, CFMF and EndDD have both grown, but their mission stays the same — projecting Casey’s generous spirit and ending the act that took it all away.

The Feldmans took what is the worst tragedy a parent can face and turned it into a mission for good. In spite of his daughter’s passing, Feldman said, “I think I’m about about the luckiest person in the world because I get people, mostly students coming up to me and talking to me and saying how it’s changed their lives. They’re being saved.”

Casey wrote articles because every story she told had the capacity to make the world a better place, even if it was just slightly. The work done through the foundation and EndDD does the same.

Matt Thornton lauded about the Feldman’s approach of grief and even adopted it himself. He said, “You either move forward and find the best out of what you can or otherwise it leaves people kind of paralyzed and empty. I don’t think that people want to live their lives in that vein.”

The Feldmans’ career of volunteering and advocacy helps others in need, but in doing that they are also spreading a little bit of Casey’s heart wherever they go. Because of that, Casey’s memory and her values will live on in all who are touched by her story.

[Reprinted from the The Observer]

 

A Summer at the Chef Ann Foundation: What One Intern Learned

Friday, September 6th, 2019

For the second year in a row, the Casey Feldman Foundation has sponsored a summer intern at the Chef Ann Foundation. Learn why Ally Roberts chose to be a School Food Reform Intern and what she learned during her stay this summer.

By Allison Roberts, School Food Reform Intern, Summer 2019

Growing up, I remember food made me feel lethargic, bloated, and anything but energized. Following the summer of my sophomore year of high school, I discovered a slew of food allergies and sensitivities that, once I took into account (in conjunction with eating healthier, whole foods), transformed both my physical and mental health. This realization of the stark correlation between physical and mental health fueled my decision to study Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. When I learned about the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) through CU’s Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) program, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to explore the nonprofit world, learn the intricacies of school food, and gain a deeper understanding of the undeniable impact food can have on the minds and bodies of children.

I quickly learned that the school food world is complex, multifaceted, and also a really exciting place for innovation and positive change. Through programs like Get Schools CookingSalad Bars to Schools, and the School Food Institute, CAF sits in a unique niche area of school food reform, with a focus on working with food service directors and staff to implement sustainable changes to their procurement practices, finances, marketing, and more—all to provide kids with access to healthier, scratch-cooked food.

Throughout my role as the School Food Reform Intern, I hoped to challenge myself and learn as much as possible about the nonprofit sector and more specifically the Chef Ann Foundation. With a group of passionate, unyielding, caring, and driven co-workers, it was easy to dive in to projects and help out in any way I could. To highlight a few specific experiences: it was incredibly rewarding to help integrate Spanish subtitles into our current School Food Institute online courses, as this will be a huge step in increasing accessibility for school food workers who speak Spanish. Additionally, my work with the development team on our Real School Food Challenge event not only taught me valuable skills in outreach and event logistics, but showed me the power of generosity and how communal support is integral to deep-seated change. Outside the office, I had the privilege of sitting in on our board meeting at the Google campus, attending a conference on Youth Health Policy and Wellness, learning more about Slow Food, and spreading the word about CAF at the Colorado School Nutrition Association conference.

Without the support of the Casey Feldman Foundation through the CU PIIE program, and the incredible people working at CAF, such a transformative, growth-filled and unique experience would not have been possible. After 12 weeks at the Chef Ann Foundation, the correlation I see between child nutrition, child health, and performance in school has been further solidified. When children eat calorie-dense, yet nutrient-deficient meals, their concentration, grades, and mood are all compromised. It is imperative to have organizations like the Chef Ann Foundation to lay the foundational groundwork for better school food practices. This summer allowed me to see the complexities of school food and both how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Here’s to healthier minds and bodies for children!

Ally Roberts with Casey Feldman Foundation founders Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson at the PIIE recognition dinner in August

Casey Will Not Be Forgotten

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Casey (center) and Melissa Zirolli (L) and Amber Staska – Senior Week 2006

July 17, 2019 marked the tenth anniversary of Casey’s death. In conjunction with Casey’s “angelversary”, so many people have reached out to us privately and on social media to share their memories of Casey and how important she was to them.  Many people, including those who who never even met Casey, expressed how she had inspired them. Accordingly, we found the following article written nine years ago by Casey’s father, Joel Feldman to be relevant today.

By Joel Feldman

Originally published JANUARY 31, 2010  in Recovering From a Tragic Loss

In the days after Casey died and leading up to her funeral I started to realize what a positive impact she had on so many people. Some of her colleagues at the Fordham Observer wrote me and told me how Casey had influenced them. One told me how Casey had shown her that everyone has a story and if you just take the time to listen, you will hear that story and can communicate that you value what the other has to say. Another told me that Casey was dogged in her reporting, fearless when it came to getting the story, but also honest and fair. Another admired how Casey was able to work so hard but also have a good time. Another that Casey took the extra effort to welcome others and try to make them feel comfortable. Many of these “Casey stories” were told at the funeral. Following the funeral there were more and more letters and e-mails which touched me profoundly and gave me hope that Casey would be remembered and that many people would carry a little bit of Casey with them. One of the associates at my law firm, after attending the funeral, wrote the following:

I feel compelled to write to you and your family as I was never so touched by anything like I was yesterday. While I did not know Casey personally, and felt like an intruder at first at the service, I left with an overwhelming feeling of her spirit and love and I now believe that one person can make a difference toward making a kinder more gentle world. The words from you, your family and Casey’s friends were beautiful and made me feel like I should work toward becoming the best that I can be, as it was clear that Casey did herself.

I pray that her wonderful spirit and the celebration of her life, and how it has touched even the remote of persons, can assist your family in this difficult time. My best to you all …

Another dear friend recalled how Casey, then age 10 or 11 had comforted her 5 year old son at our firm’s Bring Your Child To Work Day and stated that she had not been aware of Casey’s accomplishments in her short life but wondered whether many of the older folks in attendance at the funeral had done as much for others as Casey. She felt that Casey had “lived big, enjoying life fully, but had also given big to others.” She questioned what she was waiting for and said that she believed that not a day would go by where she would not think of Casey and, as a result, would try to do better in her life.

I recall feeling that it was so unfair to Casey and to all that loved her that she had been taken from us at such a young age. I had always looked into the future and thought about Casey and my son Brett growing up and how lucky I was to have them and was looking forward to a changing relationship with them. Casey was gone and what would would be left? All the cards and kind words kept saying memories – that’s what you will have – wonderful memories – but it really was not much solace for me then. I wanted Casey to be alive for Casey and for me and she was dead. Slowly it came to me that through Casey’s influence on others, her love for others and their love for her, Casey would live on. She would not be forgotten – my biggest fear. Every time someone told me how Casey had influenced and changed them for the better, or every “because of Casey I will…” gave me the hope that she would live on.

Foundation Cappies Scholarship Recipient Lionel McCulloch is a Star in Theater and his Community

Monday, July 1st, 2019
 

By Dianne Anderson

WOW! Who could have imagined a more outstanding student to receive the 2019 Casey Feldman Foundation Greater Philadelphia Cappies* Scholarship than Lionel McCulloch of the PA Leadership Charter School’s Center for Performing and Fine Arts (CPFA). The Cappies, an international awards program that trains and recognizes high school theatre and journalism students, has 38 participating high schools in the Philadelphia region. Among the multitude of students recommended for the scholarship, Lionel stood out this year as clearly, the most deserving. 

Lionel with Rachel Wilkin in the Teen Challenge production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown ” at the SRP

Involved in all aspects of theater since the age of four, Lionel has also worked to make theater participation accessible to those less fortunate. He has worked as a summer theater camp counselor at the Steel River Playhouse (SRP) in Pottstown, PA for the past four years and took the lead last summer when he learned that the theater did did not have enough money to provide scholarships for students who could not afford to attend summer camp. He spearheaded the Five Day Teen Challenge Project with the help of his theater friends and produced You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. He publicized, costumed, designed, acted in and directed the show all within a one week period, raising over $2,000 in scholarship money.

Lionel is currently engaged in an effort to involve students in theater who have unique learning abilities. He has been working to help organize a new free community theater in Morgantown, PA at a church near his home. His goal is to accept all students regardless of ability and is looking forward to opening the company with productions this summer.

In the last year alone, Lionel has been involved in a dozen productions at his high school, The Baldwin School and the SRP. He has been an actor, director, assistant director, lighting designer and choreographer. He has worked in tech support and sound design and has been a videographer, photographer and playwright. In addition, Lionel has also been an extremely busy Cappies critic, reviewing a multitude of shows and has been published several times.

Lionel performing as Jimmy Powers in the CPFA’s production of “City of Angels”

His two largest roles this past year were as Henry Higgins in Pygmalian and as Sweeney Todd in the musical, Sweeney Todd at the SRP. Other shows just in the last year at the SRP were Annie Jr. (Asst. Director), The Tempest (Ferdinand), You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown Kids (Asst. Director), The Phantom Tollbooth (Tech Support) and Seussical (Camp Counselor/Lighting Design).

He played the role of Frog in A Year with Frog and Toad with the Theater For Young Audiences Touring (TYA) production at the SRP as well, in which 1,000 students were able to see the production for free.

In The Baldwin School’s production of Hairspray, he played the role of Edna, was Sound Design Assistant and involved in the choreography of that show as well, with the choreography team receiving the Philadelphia Independence Award for Creative Leadership. The year before at Baldwin, he played the role of Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing and was nominated for a Cappies award for Outstanding Comedic Actor.  

He performed as Alonzo in The Tempest and Jimmy Powers in City of Angels at CPFA, again receiving a Cappies nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.

Lionel (L) as Sweeney Todd and his brother, Tiernan McCulloch, as Judge in “Sweeney Todd” at the SRP

Also a distinguished playwright,  Lionel’s original musical, Making Bacon (a retelling of The Three Little Pigs featuring a vegan wolf who didn’t want to eat the pigs), was produced by The Vagabond Acting Troupe a few seasons ago. Lionel has collaborated as a playwright on several other produced works including Dracula: A Cautionary Tale for Children, and a musical version of the 12 Dancing Princesses. Lionel’s play Quantum Suicide was 2nd place winner in the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Festival in 2018. 

WOW is right! Lionel is headed to West Chester University this fall. Do we even need to guess at what he will choose to study?

 

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*The Foundation began awarding a Cappies in 2011, two years after Casey was tragically killed by a distracted driver. Casey was heavily involved in high school theater and became Springfield High School’s (SHS) first lead critic in 2005.  She was nominated for a Cappie herself for best actress at the 2006 Gala for her role as Gwendolyn Pigeon in SHS’s production of “The Odd Couple. Casey accepted the Cappie that year on behalf of the entire Odd Couple cast, which won the Cappie for best play.  In 2010, Casey was awarded an honorary Cappie that was accepted by her parents on her behalf. [Read about our former Cappies scholarship recipients]. 

Lionel in the Teen Challenge production of “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” at the SRP

Casey Feldman Foundation Volunteer Day of Service 2018

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

It was another beautiful, annual Day of Service to honor Casey’s memory on the 9th anniversary (July 17th) of her death. A group of about 45 friends, family and supporters gathered at Providence Animal Center in Media, PA where so many of the Feldman family pets have been adopted throughout the years. Service projects included laying wood chips on the dog trail, deep cleaning the crates in the temporary dog space, emptying the donation trailer, reorganizing the food shed and breaking down and reassembling shelving. We know that Casey was with us in spirit and grateful for all who showed up to benefit the many dogs and cats at the Center who are waiting for their forever homes. The Feldman family is deeply grateful for all of the love and support received!

Click here to view all of the photos from the day. 

Click here to view the annual photo galleries from our Day of Service since 2010.