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“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”

- Maya Angelou



In 2014, the SCF decided that we needed to recognize the tireless efforts of our friends & neighbors who assist us in our mission simply because they want to with no regard to praise and recognition.  They have all seen firsthand who/how we help the community & want to be a part of it, now though, we can tell them thank you through our newly launched Unsung Hero Award.  

(from left to right):Helena Yanke, Debra Dimino, Maria Lanzillotta, Denise Malandruccolo, Denise King, Kim DiStefano, Linda Rose



These seven ladies are the first to receive our Unsung Hero Award.  They generously give us their time and talents with no need for accolades or praise.   They are our right hands, our last minute "we forgot something can you get it for me", they are our idea people, they are our "can you pick up my kids because I forgot to", they are our face painters, costumed characters, and part of what keeps this little engine chugging along and we couldn't do what we do without them.  On behalf of the foundation & a grateful community, we have awarded the following our First Unsung Hero Awards


Honoring Pastor Bernard is long overdue!  As a Nesconset dad & the family patriarch, Jamaal & his family have supported our mission since our inception, attending our events, sponsoring our events & most importantly he always keeps us in mind & remains connected to us.  He understands our mission, possibly due to his strong faith, his love of family & community!  Whatever the reason, we appreciate Jamaal & his wonderful loving family!




Mema's owner, Jono Aronson has been involved in various culinary ventures, including Don Jonos, Buono Sera, Millie Grazie, and Mema's Little Italian Kitchen.  Jono is not only successful in the restaurant industry but also an active contributor to his community. During the pandemic, Jono hosted drive-in movie nights, showing his creativity and commitment to serving the community. He also supports the SCF & the community by providing food, adopting families during the holidays, and hosting a toy drive each year.   Furthermore, Jono's involvement in the Smithtown Industry Association Board and his dedication to helping the community make him an integral part of Smithtown's fabric.


We were introduced to Mary Pat at the foundation’s infancy when one of her students wanted to become emancipated, Mary Pat shepherded her throughout the process.  She reached out to us for help getting this young lady driving lessons.  Mary Pat helped her find housing & apply to college to follow her dreams!

As the Work Experience & Internship Coordinator & the Executive Director of the Smithtown Industry Association Board for 17 years, Mary Pat connected students with businesses in a program that mutually benefits businesses find talent & students find their passion.  Each year, the DECA hosts the Business Olympics & the foundation was thrilled to be the topic one year.  This decision provided the SCF with student awareness videos which are still sprinkled on our website!  She has helped the foundation nurture & grow its’ relationship with the school district exponentially.

As a Smithtown resident of 40 years, Mary Pat has been invaluable to our community.  Her leadership skills, her humility & compassion & her tireless networking efforts have not gone unnoticed, so tonight we honor this amazing force of a woman!

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We are delighted to honor Sandra Scanni as our 2022 Unsung Hero for being a constant force in our community.  Someone who is more energized than anyone we know - who gives with her heart             unconditionally, whole heartedly, generously.   Someone who deserves to be recognized, (but prefers to be low key) admired, celebrated, and is so very much appreciated on so many levels.  No words or awards could touch her     unwavering drive to help so many.  She has always been & continues to be a major supporter & sponsor for not just local families & foundations such as ours but anyone she can, whenever she can, even when she couldn’t, she finds a way!  From our days on the soccer field, to her exhilarating spin classes, to her business acumen, Sandra is exceptional, important & unique!   


From her start in the 1980s across the street from its current location, Maureen Dernbach taught her children what it meant to be a part of the community.  Her vision was to design the business to resemble a bed and breakfast and it has always been important to her to make her diners feel welcome.  From our first holiday breakfast when her son, Kevin, cooked for the family and friends of Kaylee Rivers, to providing comfort food to families in crisis, Maureen and her children have been helping us show love and care to our community. 
The SCF values their friendship and are extremely grateful that they have lent us their brand to attract donors.  We cannot express how much we appreciate their trust in us and our mission.  In an effort to show Maureen and her family how much we appreciate them, we created the Maureen’s Kitchen Hospitality Scholarship to give back to students in the community as they embark on a college career in an industry near and dear to Maureen Dernbach. 


The Smithtown Kickers Soccer Club continues to help expand the minds and bodies of our children as they work together on a team, they learn skill building, achieving confidence in themselves, learning about a healthy lifestyle, and gaining lifelong friendships.  In addition, the Kickers wanted to help their local community and took on the running of an annual Turkey Trot, providing the SCF with needed funds as a beneficiary of this annual run.  We are so proud of their efforts, as it is no small task to host an event with 600-1200 runners in November on a Holiday Morning!  But the Kickers also realized that they could help others, and we are proud to share this events’ proceeds with two other worthy local charities, Angelas House and the Food Pantry! 


Some of our most memorable event moments can be attributed to the culinary talents of Macayla Michaels, from the $500 Cake for Joe Valentino, to the Mike's Hike Mad Scientist Cake, Tom's Old Man Birthday Cake, to last year's Santa Claus cake.  In addition, during the very busy holiday season, Mike makes the SCF 250-300 gingerbread cookies that are used by girl scout volunteers at our Holiday Breakfast, lovingly frosted & decorated by the little ones attending!  Thank you for helping make our events so memorable!

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When we were planning our first Holiday Breakfast, we knew that there was no better Santa to do the job than Rivers family neighbor, Blaise Ingrisano.  With his jolly laugh, we knew right away that we had to ask him to be our Santa.  He did a great job that first year, but little did we know at the time that we would still be hosting this event 9 yrs later and that Blaise would fill that role for 8 of those 9 years! 

Now there were some challenges, such as when his two younger children started to figure things out, and for a few years, Blaise showed up as Santa with white face paint so as to throw his kids off the scent that he was Santa!  The only problem with that was he looked like a scary santa in the photos. His very supportive wife, Christine, asked him to leave it off & told their kids that Santa can't be everywhere, and daddy was one of his helpers!  Mrs. Claus wrote a poem for him: "Twas the night of the Children’s Foundation dinner, when all through The Watermill….  
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As a loyal supporter of our work, Dave MacMillan attends our dinner/dance every year since he first learned of the foundation.  At one event, I challenged the attendees to each bring someone new to our next event so that more people will possibly get involved.  Dave took that to heart & has challenged himself each year to bring more guests to our events.  At the 2016 Kisses for Kaylee Dinner/Dance, he was singlehandedly responsible for bringing 48 guests to the event, little did he know we were awarding him an Unsung Hero Award to show how much we appreciate his enthusiasm & support!


Our first 2016 Unsung Hero Award was given to Stephen & Christine Mazelis, who are valuable, active community members, helping the SCF as well as the Smithtown Historical Society & the Chamber of Commerce.  Through their Mazelis Landscaping company, they maintain the vegetable garden for the Smithtown Historical Society, they host an annual networking event for the chamber at their home, and for the SCF, they donate the maintenance of properties for local families who need it.  Most recently, they assisted us in building a reflective area, complete with a waterfall in the commons area at Smithtown High School East in honor of Liam Armstrong.  As if that was not enough, Stephen is also a Smithtown Volunteer Fire Fighter.   Stephen's good friend, Mike Landrigan is also a Smithtown Volunteer Fire Fighter & former Chief.  Mike too is a valuable member of the community & SCF supporter, enthusiastically attending the golf outing & dinner/dance year after year.  He has also helped promote our mission & he has graciously donated the services of his company, In the Mood DJ Productions at our events.  We are thankful to have him & we are proud to be able to show him as one of our Unsung Heroes!


Margaret Hart, Susan Hart Grandillo’s mom & Tristin’s grandma is carrying on Tristin’s sweet innocent joy for life by raising funds for the Tristin’s Wish chapter of the foundation by recycling bottles/cans.  The mission is to make a child happy, whether it be giving a child in need a toy or sending a sick child somewhere to grant a wish for them.  Margaret is always there to lend a hand! 


At our 2015 Kisses for Kaylee Dinner/Dance, the SCF was proud to be able to give 2 more Unsung Heros Awards!

The first, Sherry Holtje, (whose sister, Krissy Lonetto runs Mike's Hike) is Krissy's right hand & has become an invaluable asset to the SCF as a result.  But not to be outdone, Sherry spearheads her own projects in the community, as she is heavily involved with Relay For Life & she has created a wonderful tradition at her elementary school hosting an annual New Year's Day Celebration!  It is no wonder her children are involved in community service throughout the district.  

Our second Unsung Hero is Renae Valeri.  Renae, like Lana gives generously of her time & photographic talents! She is the photographer at both our Holiday Breakfast & Dinner/Dance.  Many of the photos you see on our site were taken by Renae!



Lana continues to give generously of her time & talents at many SCF events.  The photos in our event gallery can attest to the quality of her craft.  Many Foundation functions have been captured on film by her discerning eye!  We would like to thank Lana for her generous nature & most especially for sharing with us the talent behind the lens that allow us to capture those meaningful moments in the lives of our community!  

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