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

 

Freda Fosu: Working Towards a Homeless Free America

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

By Adriana Gallina and Amber Staska *

Freda Fosu

Freda Fosu

Freda Odei Fosu is one of those rare individuals who genuinely inspires others to remain optimistic despite life’s hardship. Through her own moments of adversity, she never once turned down an opportunity to give back to her community–even in times where she could have used the help herself.

“Since I can relate to people in unfortunate circumstances so well, I’m empathetic to their situations and have the compassion and dedication to offer help,” Freda said. Her empathy and dedication to others is what made her stand out as a recipient of the 2015 Alternative Spring Break scholarship made possible by the Casey Feldman Foundation.

Freda moved to New York City in 2009 from Ghana, where she then resided in a homeless shelter with her family. “I experienced lots of hardships during this time, in extreme poverty [which made] basic needs hard to afford and exposed me to lots of violence in my neighborhood,” Freda remembers. “In my neighborhood, [I] feared every living moment.”

Her own journey through hardship motivated her to reach out to those in similar situations, where she has taken multiple opportunities to volunteer in areas of education, shelter, youth and fundraising for various causes. That’s why instead of binging Netflix or heading to the beach, she chose to spend her spring break volunteering with the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, a unified social action agency that is committed to the eradication of homelessness.

Freda reflected on her project, saying, “I have learned to recognize homeless people in the streets, to treat them with kindness and respect because they value that just as much as a donation.”

She also learned about systematic means of oppression and cycles like, gentrification. Gentrification is the process by which the poor are displaced from their neighborhoods by the upper class. Typically, this pushes the poor further away from job opportunities, public transportation and moves them into food deserts.

Freda Fosu and her fellow CU students in Atlanta

Freda Fosu and her fellow CU students in Atlanta

“This was the most enlightening experience I have ever had,” Freda reflected. “This group was full of such amazing, positive people and through them I learned that I have the ability to use my strength to make a difference.”

Through GCHC, Freda also helped free food services like, The Sarah Center Soup Kitchen, Christ Church Cathedral and the St. Joseph Catholic Worker House. The latter specifically helps addicts battle addiction and lead them to career paths. Other organizations she contributed to while in Cincinnati included, the Bethany House, helping kids of homeless mothers; Tender Mercies, a shelter for people with mental illness; and the Freestore Foodbank, where people who didn’t have the means could shop limited amount of goods for free.

“I’m hopeful, that me, along with other good people, can contribute to reducing homelessness in the United States and I have this trip to thank for that confidence and strength,” Freda said.

Freda continues to volunteer for CU Boulder Community Health, where she works to promote the health and wellness of the Boulder students. The community projects include sex health, stress management, education of the risks involved with tobacco/marijuana use, prescription medication and drug overdose prevention.

“I want to take every small opportunity to help in overcoming our struggles because I know that with every little effort I put into helping my community, someone is overcoming a struggle,” Freda said. “And that is a satisfaction I want to live with for the rest of my life.”

Please donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that additional students may experience the rewards of an  Alternative Spring Break.

Related  Link:

“Alternative Spring Break Scholarships Fostering a Generation Who Wants to Give Back“,   Nov. 2014  (Casey Feldman Foundation) 

About the Alternative Spring Break Program (CU Volunteer Resource Center)

Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Blog News (scroll down for all articles)

_______________________________________

amber*Amber Staska studied business management and graduated cum laude at West Chester University. She was a best friend of Casey’s since the 4th grade; they enjoyed many adventures together, especially, summers in Sea Isle. Currently, she pursues a career with Aqua Pharmaceuticals in West Chester as a Senior Sales Operations Analyst and maintains her passion for music on the side when time permits.

 

 

Adriana Gallina updated*Adriana Gallina is currently studying Journalism at Fordham College Lincoln Center on a scholarship. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the award winning paper, The Fordham Observer, while working full time to support herself in New York City.

5K Run/Walk this Sunday Benefiting the Casey Feldman Foundation/EndDD.org – Register or Donate

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

The West Chester University Alpha Epsilon Chapter of the national honors fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi, will be hosting a 5K walk/run this Sunday, April 21, 2013 as its fourth annual fundraiser for the Casey Feldman Foundation (sponsor of EndDD.org.). Since it is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Casey was killed by a distracted driver, the fraternity hopes to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

Phi Sigma Pi has been a supporter of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, holding an annual fundraiser for the Foundation since 2010. At the time of Casey’s death in July of 2009, Casey’s best friend from high school, Amber Staska, was President elect of the fraternity for the 2009-2010 school year. Casey’s close friend, Phil Knasiak, was Vice President.

The three past benefits have been in the form of a concert at West Chester University with an on- campus pedestrian safety and and distracted driving awareness campaign in the week leading up to the concert. The effort received national recognition the first year when Phi Sigm Pi’s President was featured in Seventeen Magazine.

Casey Feldman (R) with Amber Staska, Casey's best friend from high school and President of Phi Sigma Pi in 2010

The fraternity recently inducted Casey’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson as honorary brothers and have adopted the Casey Feldman Foundation as their annual charitable cause.

This year’s 5K event will take place on the West Chester University South Campus in Lot S, West Chester, PA.  Check- in is 10:15-10:45 and the race starts at 11:00 a.m. Click here for online registration and directions or here to view the event details on Facebook

If you cannot attend, please consider making a donation to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that we may continue to make a difference in the lives of others and save lives through our distracted driving efforts.

Click here to view the articles, photos and videos from the prior three Phi Sigma Pi fundraisers.

 

Amber Staska Discusses Distracted Driving in Seventeen Magazine

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

In the September issue of Seventeen magazine, Casey’s friend Amber Staska was featured on p. 221, discussing her mission to stop distracted driving. The article reads:

“Amber, 22, lost her best friend, Casey, when she was killed in a crosswalk by a driver who glanced away from the road. That day, Amber vowed that no one else would ever die from something so preventable. So last spring, Amber and her honors fraternity organized a local benefit concert. To promote it, they stood at an intersection on campus where two other girls had been hit, and waved signs that said, “Honk for Safe Driving.” They sold T-shirts to help raise $2,600 for charities like The Partnership for Safe Driving, which educates people about all kinds of dangerous driving. To spread the word or organize your own event, go to caseyfeldmannetwork.org

To read more about the benefit concert and pedestrian safety campaign, go here.

West Chester University Honors Fraternity Holds Pedestrian Safety Campaign and Fundraiser for Foundation

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Phi Sigma Pi students encouraging safety for pedestrians in front of the Sykes Student Union on the campus at West Chester University

On Saturday, March 20, 2010 members of Phi Sigma Pi at West Chester University held a Benefit Concert which raised over $1,200 to be donated to charities on behalf of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation.  The Foundation is matching all funds raised at the concert. Amber Staska, President of Phi Sigma Pi and Casey’s best friend, took a leadership role in organizing the event, which wrapped up a week-long awareness campaign about pedestrian safety.

The ballroom at Sykes Student Union was filled with the sounds of music by The Hint, as well as Chris D’Esposito and DNA.  A slideshow of photographs of Casey played in the background. Students paid a $5 donation at the door, and were able to purchase raffle tickets; “Casey” bracelets; bumper magnets that promote pedestrian safety; and t-shirts that read “I brake for pedestrians… brake for me.”

The week leading up to the concert, members of Phi Sigma Pi educated other students and members of the community about the dangers of distracted driving. By standing outside of the Sykes Student Union at the crosswalks, with posters and signs, they were able to encourage drivers to pay closer attention to the road, as well as to make sure pedestrians make use of both the crosswalks and the sidewalks. Students signed pink hands to signify their commitment to safe driving by “raising a hand for awareness”. Strings of dozens of these pink hands adorned the wall of the concert hall Saturday night.

Pink lights wrapped the stage as the bands performed in front of a slideshow of photographs of Casey

How were the students able to connect with Casey Feldman, who attended Fordham University? As pointed out by Casey’s mother, Dianne Anderson in addressing the students, both Casey and her brother, Brett have numerous friends, in addition to Amber, who attend West Chester University.  “The accident happened on an otherwise normal summer afternoon, and it could just as easily have been any one of you whose life was  cut short by a momentary distraction on the part of a driver.”

Amber said that she hoped people would be inspired to make a difference after hearing about Casey. “We wanted to give back to the community, get our name out there and celebrate Casey’s life,” she said. “We want people to know Casey’s story and that those types of accidents are preventable.”

The efforts of the fraternity align with one of Casey’s passions: a commitment to service. The proceeds from the concert and sales will be equally divided among the Sarnelli House, which helps the needy and poor of Philadelphia, Main Line Animal Rescue, which finds loving homes for abandoned animals, and The Partnership for Safe Driving, which is dedicated to educating Americans about all forms of dangerous driving.

As a surprise to all, Amber Staska took the microphone and sang four songs dedicated to Casey, while accompanied by her father Chip, sister, Jackie, and WCU friend, Zach. During the benefit, a video created by Nathan Kutz and Phi Sigma Pi was played as a tribute to Casey. Students from West Chester were asked what they will do “because of Casey,” and explained how they were inspired by her story. The video can be viewed here.

Phi Sigma Pi students at the “Raising a Hand for Awareness” station at the concert

More:

Photos from the concert

Photos from the weeklong safety campaign

Concert videos

Read the article in The Quad, the student newspaper of West Chester University, Phi Sigma Pi Raises Awareness for Safe Driving

Read the article in Seventeen Magazine   (Sept. 2010, p. 221) about the event.

Benefit Concert Announced in Casey’s Honor

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Amber and Casey

Casey’s best friend, Amber Staska, President of the honors fraternity,  Phi Sigma Pi  at West Chester University in West Chester, Pa. is pleased to announce  a benefit concert in honor of Casey. On March 20th at 7 pm in the Sykes Ballroom at West Chester, over 300 people will be celebrating Casey’s life.

Tickets will be $5 at the door and the Casey Feldman Foundation will be raising money for the Sarnelli House (which helps the needy and abandoned in the Philadelphia area), Main Line Animal Rescue and The Partnership for Safe Driving.

Chris D’Esposito, DNA, & The Dialogue will be providing the music. The week leading up to the concert, there will be an awareness week about distracted driving.  Statistics of distracted driving will be posted across West Chester’s campus, and a few Brothers will be posted at crosswalks with signs saying “Thank you for stopping,” as they continue to walk back and forth between the crosswalk.

Phi Sigma Pi, which is sponsoring the event, invites you  to “Tune up your driving!” and come support this amazing cause!

“I want people to hear Casey’s story and hopefully be inspired to make a difference in their life.” – Amber Staska