On Tuesday, November 24, Captain Bruce Ceparano, commanding officer of Pct. 121 located in the Graniteville section of Staten Island, opened his precinct once again to the annual Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations (COJO) pre-Thanksgiving turkey distribution. “This year’s dire situation saw COJO, a great community partner, take a lead and open its heart and soul to help uplift the spirit of the residents of Staten Island who depend on COJO not just for a Thanksgiving turkey and needed PPE, but for a strong dose of love and optimism for a better and brighter day. COJO once again met the challenge beyond expectations. Mendy Mirocznik, Scott Maurer, and Ari Weiss personify and demonstrate what exemplary community leadership and partnership do best, and that is bridge-building and instilling in others the confidence that we will get through these hard times together as one and that better days lie ahead,” said Captain Bruce Ceparano.
Mendy Mirocznik, president of COJO, thanked Captain Ceparano “for inviting COJO to hold the Turkey Giveaway for the seventh consecutive year at Pct. 121. From a civic perspective, Pct. 121 bridges the diverse communities of Staten Island. COJO has been privileged to gather at this precinct in good times as well as in times of great difficulty since the precinct opened its doors in 2013. We are fortunate that Captain Ceparano, like his predecessors who served at the helm of the precinct, values community engagement and involvement. When Captain Ceparano called upon COJO to once again assist our fellow Staten Islanders in need with the annual Turkey Giveaway, we were delighted to partner with the NYPD to help make a difference in our friends’, neighbors’, and community members’ lives. This positive interaction helps build trust and confidence with the NYPD that helps make Staten Island a better place for its residents.
“In getting the job done it takes a great team of like-minded civic individuals who understand what it means to contribute to the community. To this end, I thank Assemblyman Michael Cusick, a stalwart Staten Island advocate, for once again arranging and sponsoring the turkeys and PPE that he secured from the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Mike takes his post as an elected official seriously. Besides being a passionate advocate fighting to see that Staten Island receives its fair share, Mike gets deep in the trenches to help others. He truly leads by example and demonstrates that getting the turkeys and PPE is not enough; an advocate must also help to pack and distribute. This dedication and devotion to the public he serves is truly remarkable.”
Mirocznik thanked Scott Maurer, CEO and executive vice-president of COJO; Ari Weiss, security chairman and coordinator of Staten Island Shomrim; Rev. Terry Troia, president, Project Hospitality; Thomas Scarangello, Staten Island Regional Representative Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo; Lt. Rafet Awad, commanding officer, Community Affairs Patrol Borough Staten Island; Officer Lawrence DeSilva, youth coordinating officer; Officer Angeline Marra and Officer Sean Mondello, community affairs officers, Pct. 120; Robert Orlando, president, Community Council, Pct. 121; Lloyd Lerner; Sarah and Zvi Spiler; the COJO family team; and all the police officers and volunteers who made the turkey distribution a success.
Mirocznik continued, “The secret to a great event is community buy-in. We at COJO are blessed to have so many good people who collaborate with us. I especially want to thank Rev. Terry Troia for your personal friendship and friendship to the residents of Staten Island. Your love and warmth are positively contagious and most appreciated. Thank you for being such a personal inspiration to not just me, but to the larger COJO family and to the diverse communities who call Staten Island home.”
Assemblyman Cusick praised COJO and the NYPD “for once again pulling off and getting the job done in a most dignified and respectful way. I am always happy and humbled to help Staten Island, the NYPD, and COJO in any way I can in their important, crucial mission of making life easier for our fellow Staten Islanders who have fallen on tough times. This year’s turkey distribution is super-special, because it brought out the best in Staten Island’s civic leadership in demonstrating that by uniting and standing strong, we are prepared to work together as one to overcome all obstacles and unprecedented difficulties that we are facing. Thank you, Scott Maurer, Mendy Mirocznik, Ari Weiss, and COJO for being from those who take the lead and say that no matter what the obstacles are we will not allow that to stop us. Rather, we will persevere and accomplish and will never take no for an answer.”
Scott Maurer commented, “Besides this wonderful Turkey Giveaway, COJO has been fortunate, thanks to Borough President James Oddo, in receiving additional turkeys from Kevin Mannix and Shoprite that we have distributed once again to our pantry clients. Thanks to Assemblyman Cusick, Borough President Oddo, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office, and the Mannix family, COJO once again is able to help so many fellow Staten Islanders enjoy a festive Thanksgiving dinner. It is this partnership that truly makes me feel proud to be a Staten Islander. However, my prayer is that we should hopefully one day win the war on poverty and be able to close our pantry doors due to a loss of clients. Until that day comes, we at COJO rely upon our coalition of friends for help, and thanks to those friends we are winning one battle at a time.”