From the Chairman’s Desk

From The Chairman’s Desk

I sincerely hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and wishing you all a Happy Healthy 2019. In this fast paced world we are living in today, we sometimes forget all the wonderful things we have to be thankful for. I hope we all took time to step back to look at the overall picture, and be thankful for the family, friends, gifts, talents, and opportunities we have been blessed with. I am certainly thankful for all the wonderful people I have met while working within our mission at The Josephine Foundation. Please do always keep in mind our extended families and all who are dealing with various struggles and also those who are dealing with illness, bereavement and other issues.  Remember to reach out to all of our brothers and sisters, keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.  Please remember we are all one family.

We, as an organization, have been blessed and have much to be thankful for. Our programs and mission work has been very successful since our official beginnings in 2002. You should all be very proud of this. The difference our programs make in today’s difficult and divided world, is very important. When I look at these last few months and the 2018 year, a very serious message is there for all of us to take time to think about and reflect on.

We are surrounded by poor leadership in both government and sadly even in areas that we have traditionally used to draw strength from…our religious. We are sadly divided as a country, not on the issues, but ideology, as if one way of thinking will solve all the issues of the world. There is little respect for different opinions and even less desire to work together. The family structure, roles, values and traditions have little value in this world that has no structure or reasoning. For those few who still maintain the strong values and beliefs, who are leaders, and who dedicate their time to causes that are in need…I am starting to see a feeling of frustration and overall exhaustion, as the leaders we deal with at every level of our lives continue to make faulty choices and act in ways unbecoming of their title or responsibilities. Because of this, it is essential that we remember how important it is to be passionate about our beliefs, and why we are so. We will always meet leaders who will disappoint us in life. Politicians will always find ways to disappoint us, but never will they be our excuse for not respecting what our country stands for. The same goes for our religious. Scandal by a human is not an excuse to abandon the teachings and beliefs of our creators. Moments when we feel unappreciated for all our hard work, or feel like we are taken for granted…must be resolved with a picture frozen in our minds of that one person who our work with, might have helped. Never allow those who are doing things for the wrong reasons to influence your decision to lead and dedicate to those causes you believe in.

We are, always have been, and always will be, the strength of our country, of our world and of our religious communities…and we must never forget it.

My wish for you all this  New Year, is Peace in life, Strength to maintain and believe in your core convictions, and the blessings of Laughter and Love in your life.


Andrew J Koslosky

Chairman of the Board

The Josephine Foundation

Board Member Highlight

Board Member Highlight John Schnakenberg

by Giovanni Vittozzi


One of our distinguished board members of the Josephine Foundation is Mr. John Schnakenberg.

John was born and raised in Queens, NY and as a young man he joined the carpenter’s union and was an active member for over 55 years. He also worked 4 years as an apprentice carpenter, at the end of which he became a journeyman carpenter.  From there he worked his way up the ladder and went from a shop steward to general foreman and then superintendent.  John also held multiple officer positions within the union.

He was involved in many high profile construction projects during his years with the carpenter’s union, some examples are: The renovation of the original Yankee Stadium, The NYC Police Academy, Our Famed Nassau Coliseum, The Olympic Tower in NYC, and many JFK Airport Renovation projects.

John’s family includes a mother and father, sister, son, daughter, and wife, all of whom have passed on. He has a grandson, a granddaughter and two great grandsons that are all very special to him who he loves very very much. John’s mother, Dorothy Schnakenberg (Grandma) was a very special advocate of the arts and a dedicated supporter of the Josephine Foundation. She never missed a Josephine Foundation event, even up until her passing at 99 ½ years of age.

Upon his retirement from the union, John formed his and his wife’s construction companies. John and his wife, Barbara Principe, were big supporters of the Josephine Foundation from its inception in 2002 and John eventually became a board member. Barbara was recognized as a Chairman’s Honoree at the Josephine Foundation’s 2008 Follow Your Dreams Gala.

After the passing of his beloved wife, he formed Barbara’s Team of Hope, a nonprofit organization supporting many good causes including The Josephine Foundation’s mission. Their annual golf outing raises funds and awareness of many debilitating and life threatening diseases such as Cancer, Parkinson’s and Heart Disease. The Josephine Foundation also honored Barbara’s passing by naming an award for children in the arts after her. It is given to a child who shows excellence in the arts and conducts themselves as a pro both on and off the stage.

In addition to leading such a successful career in the construction industry, John has nothing short of a heart of gold. He never hesitates to support organized fundraiser events or anyone in need. His one line that always comes to mind is, “Anything to help the kids.”

John has become a strong advocate for the arts by spreading the message of the significant impact that sports and performing arts programs have on the lives of every participant, not just the students.

Most recently, John has retired from all of his companies and currently dedicates his time to both Barbara’s Team of Hope and The Josephine Foundation to further the betterment of the community.  He greatly appreciates all the support everyone gives to these two organizations.

JOFO Performs at Lord and Taylor Manhasset

JOFO Performs at Lord and Taylor Manhasset

Performers from the Josephine Foundation were invited to the Lord and Taylor Manhasset store on November 10th, 2018 and took part in the celebration marking the conclusion of their recent remodeling. Staff and shoppers alike were treated to a medley of musical standards in the new lofty glass entrance atrium. Sophy Rodriguez, Ariana Barlas, Alessandra Barlas, Giovanni Vittozzi, Marco Vittozzi, Melanie Henderson, Jacqueline Doody, Kent Williams, Rosario Amico, and Paul Inglese were joined and accompanied by Patrick White on keyboards and Brian Woodruff on Drums. The audience remarked on how beautifully the music highlighted the grand new space which opened just in time for the start of the holiday shopping season.

A View from Backstage by Peter Carrozzo

A View from Backstage by Peter Carrozzo

The staging of a theatrical production requires an extraordinary number of small, medium and large things to happen over a ridiculously short time. So many of these things seem to occur effortlessly, as if while everyone sleeps, enchanted theatre elves work to ensure each aspect of the show comes together. Sadly, that is not the case. In truth, there are moments when the theatre elves have helped me. Usually this occurs at midnight with opening night less that twenty four hours away while I’m trying to fix a piece of scenery and I need a piece of one by two that is 21.5 inches long but I’m pretty sure there is absolutely no material left. Miraculously, in those moments I find backstage that exact size piece of wood. I am confident the theatre elves feel sympathy for my plight and decide to help me at my lowest moments of despair. (They’re not to be confused with the theatre gremlins who work against me but I’ll save their tales for another issue.) Today I would like to write about one of the things that must occur in order to stage a show: the Home Depot run.

No one has ever gone to see a show and said after the applause and accolades “the material that the scenery was made out of was great, who bought it?” Really, who cares how many two by fours were used to make the sets? Who cares whether the flats were made from luan (light and easy to use) or quarter inch plywood (heavier but sturdier) or half inch plywood (warning may cause hernias). But these decisions and these purchases are vital to a production. Perhaps you readers remember the Broadway Blockbusters’ legendary production of Les Miserables? Well the construction of the scenery for that show began one hot Saturday morning in June with an uncelebrated Home Depot run and several iced coffees.

How do we decide what to purchase? It’s an exact scientific process honed over the course of numerous productions. Sketches are drawn on the backs of half torn envelopes, crumpled Con Edison bills and partially used fast food napkins. On each sketch is a list of material needed for each set piece. When the sketches are complete, we total up all the material needed and write up a list on the back of a CVS receipt (the length of the receipt works well for big productions). Then we overestimate. If the total comes to ten sheets of luan we get 15. If we need 40 two by fours we get 50. Yet we always run out of material or forget something and go back to Home Depot for the inevitable and even less celebrated “Follow Up Home Depot Run for the Material I Forgot to Buy or Underestimated the Amount I Needed.”

With the list complete, the next step is borrowing my father-in-law’s pickup truck, and sometimes my father-in-law. Then we run through Home Depot grabbing stuff, like in a supermarket shopping game show contest to see how much stuff you can fill up in your cart in 60 seconds while fighting to roll a cart with an obligatory broken wheel. The process continues: the pickup truck is loaded, we drive away, we stop because we forgot to tie down the material, we retrieve the items that fell out, we tie down the material, drive to the theatre, and unload the material in a space too small to fit the material. Usually, Advil and a heating pad come into play at some point. With the material in place, construction begins (sprinkle in some injuries, lost hair, stress, and a few requests from Mr. Koslosky for when it will be done) and soon the set is complete. Almost as if choreographed, as the sets come together, the songs, dances and blocking are mastered—and opening night arrives. Just as quickly as the process begins, it ends and it is time for the theatrical production’s final and least heralded step: the “throwing most of the scenery in the dumpster” stage. Maybe it all seems like a sick torturous circle of life when you see the process go from new lumber to scenery to the dumpster in a few weeks. The same can be said for every aspect of a show—months of work for a couple of weekends of shows—but the journey sure is fun.








Scenes from a since forgotten Home Depot run. Circa 2018

Reconnecting through the JOFO… David Barlas

Reconnecting through the JOFO… David Barlas

The Josephine Foundation’s mission is to bring together people with a common interest so they can work together and achieve great things. Sometimes, though, something happens that goes beyond that – like what happened at the JOFO Gala a few years back.

At the annual Gala at the Crest Hollow Country Club, the Queens Starlight Orchestra was playing their sublime medley of hits and the gathered crowd was loving it. I used to play “big band” trumpet in high school myself, so I was checking out the band up close. A sax player up front looked vaguely familiar to me, but I couldn’t place him at first. Then, during a set break I figured it out. I said, “Dean, is that you?”


Right then, we went back 24 years to 1992. I first met Dean Saghafi when we were newly minted doctors starting our internship year at SUNY Stony Brook University Hospital. He was doing internal medicine and I was in emergency medicine, and we shared a lot of experiences treating patients young and old, sick and sicker, and remembered many days that didn’t seem to end. Dean was memorable to all of us back then because he was so outgoing, he always came over to help you, and he clearly exuded a love of music. We got through that first year in one piece, and was surprised and saddened to find out that Dean had chosen to leave and pursue other interests. I completed the remainder of my training and we unfortunately fell out of touch.

As fate would have it, we met and reconnected on that night like it was 1992 again, and I was glad to learn that Dean had followed his dream to do the two things he loves most – teaching (honors biology) and living his dream (leading a jazz band – a really good jazz band). More importantly, Dean had remained just as outgoing and high-spirited as when we had last worked together.

The story comes full circle when Dean invited me to visit his honors biology club at Lincoln High School in Yonkers. Many of his students are aiming for a career in medicine, and I was privileged to give them a firsthand account about the ups and downs of life as a physician. They had a lot of questions about the process, the education, and the career that really impressed me and I hope I inspired them to keep following their dreams. Dean was mentoring a truly bright group students and could tell that many of them were headed towards a bright future.

If that doesn’t embody the spirit of the Josephine Foundation, I don’t know what does!

Editor’s Message

Happy 2019 everyone and welcome to another edition of our newsletter!

It’s time to wave a goodbye to the old & embrace the new, full of hope, dreams and ambitions.  As we reflect on 2018 and think about our 2019 goals, it’s important to remind ourselves of some of the skills (The Three C’s) promoted by the arts which are important not only in academic success but life success!

  • Creativity – Giving children an opportunity to practice creative thinking, will prepare them to think naturally in their future career.
  • Confidence – Training in the arts gives children the required practice and experience to step out of their comfort zone.  It offers the opportunity for them to make mistakes and learn from them and ultimately to perform in front of large amounts of people.
  • Collaboration – Through the arts children practice working together learning the importance of their contribution towards a common goal.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope you enjoy our content and most importantly share it with your friends and families.

Hope to see you at our next event.


Al Amico

JOFO Board Member


Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery Events

Spirits Alive

Our annual Spirits Alive Event at Maple Grove Cemetery took place on Saturday September 29, 2018 from 2:30 to 4:30. The weather was beautiful, and we were blessed with large crowds including many children. The theme of the event commemorated the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War 1 and many of the historical portraits had a connection to World War I. We also had a special unveiling of the Alfio Manninici Plaque with Judge Coco who flew in from Chicago to portray herself and helped unveil the monument to her uncle.

Other important guests included Captain Chris Kraft who spoke about the 23 victims of 9/11 and Maple Grove Senior Vice President Helen Day portrayed Susan Monroe Stowe, the daughter-in-law of Harriet Beecher Stowe who was recently found buried at Maple Grove. The rest of the wonderful cast came courtesy of the Josephine Foundation. All were dressed in period costumes and gave wonderful presentations. Here are the rooster of all the performers.

ALFRED ST LEON a noted acrobat and circus performer was portrayed by Branch Worsham.

IDA ST LEON, the daughter of Alfred and a noted equestrian and acrobat was portrayed by Ariana Barlas. KATE HOLLADAY CLAGHORN a noted statistician and author was portrayed by Danielle Fleming. MARIE CORELLI a famed Victorian novelist whose brother is buried at Maple Grove was portrayed by Gianna Varrassi. WILLIAM CARTER who was once known as the King of the Banjo was portrayed by Giovanni Vittozzi. CHARLES OTIS who is a direct descendant of the inventor of passenger elevators and a bugler in World War I was portrayed by Henry Van Nunes. SAMUEL CISCO who fought with the Jamaica Board of Education in the late 1800s to end segregation of public schools was portrayed by Kent Williams. WILFRED ANDREW SURBER a famed World War I flying ace was portrayed by Marco Vitozzi. FULLER MELLISH an early silent film star and soldier from World War I was portrayed by Paul Inglese. WILLIAM TRIST BAILEY a real estate tycoon was portrayed by Richard Masin. MARTIN BRANNER, the famed cartoonist for the Winnie Winkle comic strip was portrayed by Rosario Amico. CAPTAIN HENRY C. BUTLER who participated in the Civil War and World War I was portrayed by Roy Mangione. KATE MATSON POST, author of the first book on the history of Richmond Hill and a writer was portrayed by Hailey Potash.

JOAN CUNEO, one of America’s greatest female racing car drivers whose mechanic is buried at Maple Grove was portrayed by Barbara Disclafini. CLARISSA LOCKER MITCHELL whose parents were escaped slaves from the deep South was portrayed by Sophy Rodiguez. The PFALZER FAMILY was represented by Russell Pfalzer.


At a special designated time, everyone gathered at Manninici grave and Judge Coco led the ceremony for the unveiling of the grave marker for her Uncle Alfio. He died at the hospital at Ellis Island in 1925 at the age of 4. The location of his grave had become lost for many decades until Judge Coco found him at Maple Grove Cemetery and a marker was placed over his unmarked grave.

Trunk or Treat

Trunk or Treat, due to a pending storm, was rescheduled for Sunday, October 28, 2018. The number of cars went down to twenty, but the attendance was still very high. A huge number of families and many children came. Many of the cars came from the Josephine Foundation members.

A Cake Sale was organized by Aneil & Savina raising $260 that was donated to the Monument Fund! NCO Scott Adelman and NCO Samantha Edelstein came with their decorated police car and gave out over 250 police coloring books. The Thanksgiving Canned Food was also part of this event and the donation table was soon overflowing with food and was manned by student volunteers from SJU and Archbishop Molloy High School. Alex Samaroo and Stevie Christie helped with the coordination and clean up. Aida Vernon and Jo Anne Raskin, members of the Friends of Maple Grove Board of Directors were judges and selected a 1st and 2nd place winners.








Murder Mystery Dinner Theater

Our first Double Header! The event has proven so popular that we were forced to have it on a Friday and Saturday night. The amount of work to set this up was back breaking but we were lucky to have volunteers from St John University and Archbishop Molloy High School. Savina and her family stayed Saturday night and helped with the clean up as did the Vitozzi family, Alex Samaroo and Stevie Christie, and Susan Horwich. Jo-Anne Raskin was there and took some amazing photos. Aida Vernon, a member of the Friends of Maple Grove Board or Directors and a lawyer was responsible for writing the script for both evenings and everyone loved both mysteries! There were two endings! Aida reported that the actors liked doing it on two consecutive nights to allow them to get more fully into their roles. Many of the roles were filled by Josephine Foundation actors. Here is the list of the character and the actors and actors who portrayed them: Philip Benson by PAT WHITE, Lorenzo Brieba by GIOVANNI VITTOZZI, Jan Fryling by HENRY VAN NUNES, Max Gerson by ROY MANGIONE, Charles Green by PAUL INGLESE, Jerry Handley by ROSARIO AMICO, Rosina Lhevinne by GIANNA VARRASSI, Theresa Merritt by SOPHY RODRIGUEZ, Harry Ogawa by MARCO VITTOZZI, Helen Serger by MELANIE HENDERSON, and the Countess Elizabeth van der Recke by KIERA LIANTONIO. The reaction by the crowds for both night offered high praise for the actors and the sharp script!

Editors Message

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Hi All,

First and foremost thank you for taking the time to read our very first quarterly newsletter.  It has been a fantastic journey and experience working closely with our Chairman Andrew and my fellow board members to gather and contribute content to make this a reality.  We truly hope you enjoy it but most of all get a good sense of our mission and help us raise awareness by forwarding it on.   It is extremely gratifying to be part of this wonderful organization and to be sharing in it’s success.  As the popular quote states “To make a difference in someone’s life you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect, you just have to care”.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the great pleasure of meeting Mrs. Josephine Koslosky however I do feel as though I have as we all work together to carry on her legacy.  Please take the opportunity to visit our site and hopefully we see you at our next event.

Thank you

Al Amico

Board Member

A note from the Chairman

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A note from the Chairman

Welcome to The Josephine Foundation’s very First Quarterly Newsletter. I am very proud of our organization, and as Chairman since its inception, I have seen some wonderful things happen over the years by the people who are energized by this organization. I hope in the months and years to come, this newsletter will serve as a forum for discussion on the performing arts, which makes such a huge difference in how we live our lives. In my first article I would like to take the angle of how the arts in education changes the lives of many.

A recent study performed by The National Endowment for the Arts shows some amazing findings regarding young people who include the arts in their education studies as opposed to those who don’t. Among the key findings were as follows:

Better academic outcomes — Teenagers and young adults who have a history of in-depth arts involvement (“high arts”) show better academic outcomes than those with less arts involvement (“low arts”). They earn better grades and have higher rates of college enrollment and attainment.

Students from the inner cities who had arts-rich experiences in high school were ten percent more likely to complete a high school calculus course than inner city students with low arts exposure (33 percent versus 23 percent).

High-arts, in the eighth grade were more likely to have planned to earn a bachelor’s degree (74 percent) than all students or low-arts students (43 percent).

High-arts, inner city students were 15 percent more likely to enroll in a highly or moderately selective four-year college than low-arts, inner city students (41 percent versus 26 percent).

Students with access to the arts in high school were three times more likely than students who lacked those experiences to earn a bachelor’s degree (17 percent versus five percent).

When it comes to participating in extracurricular activities in high school, high-arts, are much more likely also to take part in intramural and interscholastic sports, as well as academic honor societies, and school yearbook or newspaper — often at nearly twice or three times the rate of low-arts students.

Higher career goals — There is a marked difference between the career aspirations of young adults with and without arts backgrounds.

High-arts, inner city College students had the highest rates of choosing a major that aligns with a professional career, such as accounting, education, nursing, or social sciences (30 percent), compared to low-arts, inner city students (14 percent) and the overall student sample (22 percent).

Half of all adults with arts-rich backgrounds expected to work in a professional career (such as law, medicine, education, or management), compared to only 21 percent of low-arts, young adults.

More civically engaged – Young adults who had intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults who did not, with comparatively high levels of volunteering, voting, and engagement with local or school politics.

High-arts, eighth graders were more likely to read a newspaper at least once a week (73 percent) compared to low-arts, inner city students (44 percent) and the overall student sample (66 percent).

High-arts, inner city young adults reported higher volunteer rates (47 percent) than the low-arts, overall student sample and inner city young adults (43 and 26 percent respectively).

High-arts, inner city young adults voted in the last national election at a rate of 45 percent, compared to 31 percent of low-arts, inner city young adults.

Despite these and many other studies, the Performing Arts has gotten the short end of the stick in our schools when it comes to funding, commitment and the absolute must of making it part of required curriculum. It is why we at The Josephine Foundation continue to support and promote these programs. We have seen firsthand what an education that includes “high arts” does for young people. We will continue to be a voice, fighting for the commitment to the arts to be honored. In an age where information comes pouring over the media outlets, phones, iPad, etc. etc. in what seems like seconds, our young people get an overflow of information that use to take us days to receive. Too much information without the ability or skill to process it, is extremely dangerous. Performing Arts Programs and disciplined Sports programs give our young people the skills to better handle information. These skills are essential in today’s society. The facts are there for all to see. Use your voice to stand up for
balance in education.


Andrew Joseph Koslosky

Chairman of the Board

The Josephine Foundation


Board Member Highlight

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Enzo Bifulco “A Renaissance Man”

Enzo Bifulco, from San Giuseppe Vesuviano in the province of Naples, Italy, came to America in 1967, eager to realize the American dream. Armed with exceptional skills in tailoring, a strong work ethic and a lot of enthusiasm, within fifteen days of his arrival, he was working for a prestigious american company.

Enzo is a multifaceted artist who’s abilities go well beyond his work. His remarkable talents transcend his chosen profession and his distinguished accomplishments in the Fashion Industry. His passion and innate ability to express life’s meaning through his poetry and lyrics – written in his native Neapolitan language – has given him a form of creative expression that has resonated with an appreciative audience. “Enzo sees music as medicine capable of healing and lifting people’s spirits!” say his friends.

Enzo has composed and recorded numerous songs and delighted  listeners both in the United States and Italy. He has been a frequent guest on the Italian radio program “Sabato Italiano” of Hofstra University

Christmas is a magical time for Enzo for that is when he meticulously

 and artistically arranges the Neapolitan Nativity Creche in his home for his friends and family to visit. If you are one of the many lucky ones to visit, you will enjoy his homemade desserts or maybe his culinary specialties and his home made wine, if you stay for lunch or dinner.


Enzo is admired and respected by many prominent organizations, and he is a Board Member of The Josephine Foundation.