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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?

 

__________________________

*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. 

Spay Day and Mr. Handsome – “Yes, Mom and Dad, It’s Me!”

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

By Dianne Anderson*

Mr. Handsome managed to find this spot right away!

I grieve the loss of Casey every day, but through our Foundation work, find some solace. We are keeping Casey’s memory alive and are carrying on her legacy through our many programs and scholarships, including those that honor Casey’s love of animals.  It’s all bittersweet, since we are doing these things because Casey is no longer with us.  What I always long for is a sign that Casey’s spirit is alive and that perhaps, she is communicating with us. That sign came Wednesday at our Foundation sponsored Spay Day at Providence Animal Center (Providence AC) in Media.

It was the third spay event which our Foundation had sponsored and the second at Providence AC. Through our Foundation subsidy, cat owners were able to get their cats spayed and neutered for just $15. The event booked up at 80 cats within a few days of when we had announced it on social media.  We knew that Casey would be pleased with the success of the event and that we were working with Providence AC (the former Delaware County SPCA),  where so many of our family pets had been adopted.

It was great to see and greet the many cat owners with their carriers in tow at 9 am when the doors opened. Joel (my husband and Casey’s dad) and I also enjoyed seeing the staff at Providence whom we have come to know and love. We were given an updated tour of the facility and were impressed with the progress of the construction since we had last been there in July 2017 for Casey’s Day of Service.  We made a brief but warm stopover with the surgery staff and then visited the kennels, stopping to see Ralphie, who was the most recent dog occupying the kennel which we had been sponsoring in Casey’s memory.  After that, we went to one of our favorite places, the cat room, just to pay a call and admire the many beautiful kitties waiting to be adopted.

There were 50 or so cats and kittens and I loved looking at them all. They had a dozen or more adorable kittens, one more beautiful than the next. I asked to hold one kitten in particular that had lovely gray and black markings. He purred when I picked him up and I asked the staff his name. The response caused Joel and I to drop our jaws in disbelief. His name was “Mr. Handsome”!  Mr. Handsome was the name of Casey’s horse!  My instantaneous thought was that we were receiving a communication from Casey and that clearly, this 2 pound Mr. Handsome was destined to be ours. Casey was in fact with us and shouting, “Yes, Mom and Dad, it’s me!”

Was this all simply a coincidence? Was I grasping at straws trying to believe that I had evidence that Casey’s spirit was alive? I choose not to attempt to weigh the evidence one way or the other. In fact, there is no rational answer as we know it.  Neither I nor anyone will know what happens to the soul upon the death of the body until we too, leave this earth.

In the meantime, I will find solace in our experience in the cat room and adoption of Mr. Handsome, feeling that it was meant to be. I’ll enjoy our rambunctious, little kitty and know that Casey too, would have found great joy in this new addition to our family.

Casey (age 13) with Mr. Handsome

Joel and I in the cat room with Mr. Handsome

 

View the photos from our Spay Day.

Join us when we return to Providence AC on July 15 for a Day of Service to honor Casey’s memory.

_______________________________

Dianne and Casey, Christmas 2006

*Dianne Anderson  is the mother of the late Casey Feldman and co-founder of The Casey Feldman Foundation.

Foundation Sponsored Cat Spay Day

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

It was another successful Casey Feldman Foundation Cat Spay Day at Providence Animal Center (Providence AC)  in Media, Pa on June 20th! Through our Foundation subsidy, eighty cats were spayed and neutered at a cost to the owners of just $15. This was the third Spay Day that our Foundation has sponsored and the second at Providence AC. The event booked up so quickly after it was announced on social media that Providence AC added a second Cat Spay Day for July 18th!

Casey’s parents saw it as a sign from Casey when they visited the cat room and picked up a kitten to  hold.  His name was Mr. Handsome – the same name as Casey’s horse! Read Dianne’s post here.

Please join us when we return to Providence AC for our Day of Service on July 15th to honor Casey’s memory! View the details here.


Casey’s parents adopted a kitty on the spot. His name was Mr. Handsome – the same name as Casey’s horse!

Ralphie, who currently occupies the Foundation sponsored kennel

 

 

 

Foundation Awards Greater Philadelphia Cappies Scholarship

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Xandra Coleman (right) performing in Phoenixville High School’s production of Radium Girls

The Casey Feldman Foundation is proud to have awarded its annual  Cappies Scholarship* to Xandra Coleman from Phoenixville High School! The announcement was made at the annual Greater Philadelphia Cappies Gala, which is a Tonys-like awards show celebrating the end of another successful season of high school theater in the Greater Philadelphia region. In addition to her involvement in theater, writing and a multitude of activities, it was Xandra’s passion for service work that caught the eye of the Foundation in awarding the scholarship that bears Casey’s name.

Xandra was nominated for the Foundation scholarship by Christine Tavani, German and Theatre Arts Teacher at Phoenixville High School in a recommendation which follows:

Xandra is a senior at Phoenixville Area High School. Throughout the last four years, she was completely involved in what the High School had to offer:  Theater Guild, theater productions, marching band, jazz band, National Honors Society, Academic Team, and, of course, Cappies. In the community at large, she worked with the Camphill Community involving adults with mental disabilities and has picked up marathon running.  She has cataloged over 4,000 hours in extracurricular activities and 1,500 hours of volunteer work in addition to holding down a job and maintaining a high academic standard. The plethora of activities certainly permits for a sturdy college resume, but her involvement is not at all about strengthening her biography, but strikes closer to her desire to grow through experience, show compassion for her community, and be committed to bolstering the people around her.

Due to her passion for service work, she has taken advantage of the opportunities to tutor local kids, help run school events, fundraise for charities, and – her personal favorite – develop relationships with the people in the Camphill Community in Kimberton.  The villagers of Camphill can have a wide range of developmental delays from autism to Down’s Syndrome, but each of them has a unique range of skills and a delightful personality. The enriching atmosphere causes Xandra to look forward to volunteering in their sustainable community each summer. However, the service project she is most proud of comes in the form of Suicide Prevention Trainings for youth. In her high school career, she has unfortunately recognized the desperate need for proper suicide prevention training for students. Therefore, in her senior year she made the effort to develop and present trainings to local youth ages twelve to eighteen as part of her senior service project for school.

After three years of dedicated involvement with her school activities, in her senior year she was also chosen for numerous leadership positions including Theater Guild Leader, Band President, National Honors Society Parliamentarian, Marching Band Section Leader, along with Lead Cappie. Xandra strived for these positions not for the status, but for the opportunity to grow and support the organizations she has come love. Many of her classmates have witnessed her tireless work ethic which includes reading textbooks on the bus rides to events, finishing homework in those five minute intervals before a rehearsal starts, and racing back and forth to club meetings. As a result of her efforts, she has been honored in being awarded the National School Marching Award and Student of the Month, winning the Martin Luther King Jr Expressions Contest for her essay, and having her Cappie reviews published.  There is no doubt that she has given her all to the Phoenixville community.

She will be spending this following year living with a host family in Senegal, learning a new language and culture, doing service work in the form of an apprenticeship with a local organization, and earning college credit. She hopes this will foster a matured world view as she pursues a major in international affairs and environmental studies with the hope of a future career with the United Nations. She credits her experiences with the Cappies program for developing her voice as a writer, a voice which will continue to speak as she blogs about her experiences abroad, writes essays for colleges, and, one day, as she represents our country in the global community.

Congratulations Xandra and thank you Christine Tavani for nominating such an outstanding student!

Xandra Coleman working with area youth

Casey’s parents, Dianne Anderson and Joel Feldman, announcing Xandra Coleman as the Casey Feldman Foundation Cappies Scholarship recipient

Casey (red) and the entire cast of Springfield High School’s Odd Couple were among the many memorial photos displayed as the Foundation scholarship was being announced

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*Casey was involved in every high school theater production at Springfield High School (SHS) from her sophomore year through graduation. She was the lead critic from SHS for the Cappies, with reviews published in The Philadelphia Inquirer and as well as in local papers. In 2006 Casey accepted the Cappie award for the entire SHS cast of the Odd Couple which won best play. Casey was also nominated for a Cappie herself for her role in that production as Gwendolyn Pigeon.

View all of the prior Foundation articles on the Cappies and its scholarship recipients.

 

Join Us On July 15th for our Annual Day of Service in Honor of Casey

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Casey and her beloved Nikki

This July 17th will mark nine years since Casey Feldman was killed by a distracted driver. Every year around the time of Casey’s “Angelversary”, we honor her memory by inviting family, friends and supporters to gather for a day of volunteer service. This year’s Day of Service has been scheduled for the second year in a row at Providence Animal Center, 555 Sandy Bank Road in Media, PA and will take place on Sunday, July 15th from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm. Snacks, drinks and lunch will be provided. Service activities will include ground maintenance and volunteers are asked to bring gardening gloves, hand tools and any power tools such as weed whackers, blowers and hedge trimmers. All are welcome to join us as we honor Casey’s memory and her love of animals on this special day of community service.

As an animal lover, Casey was a huge supporter of shelters and adoption of pets. Providence Animal Center is a no-kill shelter and was the former Delaware County SPCA. Many of the Feldman family pets were adopted there. In 2017, Providence AC adopted a record 4,002 cats and dogs into forever homes. They also prevent future pet overpopulation through community programs including low-cost public veterinary and behavioral services, humane law enforcement and education and pet food pantries.

In addition to the Day of Service, the Casey Feldman Foundation has supported the Center through its sponsorship of a cat Spay Day for the second year in a row as well as its sponsorship of a kennel.

Note: Parking is limited so volunteers are encouraged to carpool. 

RSVP by Wednesday, July 11th by email to [email protected] or text or call Dianne Anderson at 610-659-6995. We need a headcount in advance for food and for scheduling projects!

If you cannot attend, consider donating to the Casey Feldman Foundation.

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View all of the photos from our 2017 Day of Service at Providence AC

Read the July 2017 Providence AC blog article, The Casey Feldman Foundation’s Day of Service

Matt Thornton and his mother, Betty, washing tables at the 2017 Day of Service at Providence AC

Springfield High School alumni including Ericha Mary Grace, Emilee Rose Grace, Stephanie Eklund and Bridget Clawson with Casey’s parents, Joel Feldman & Dianne Anderson at the 2017 Day of Service

Rachael and Samantha Kemmey working on trail maintenance at last year’s Day of Service