Meet Our Honorees for Our Gala 2019!

National Award for Community Service in the Arts

Billy Ayers

Billy Ayres is a multi-award winning teacher/artist/director, who specializes in improvisational integrated music and drama with special needs children and adults. The therapeutic and safe environment that is attained during his sessions enables multiple avenues of expression. The environment encompasses musical theater and all its elements using such disciplines as writing original plays and songs, improvisational acting and performances, movement, comedy, mime and many more of the extensive techniques and forms of expression, theater and stage have to offer. Billy has created directed and performed more than 100 original musicals with special needs children and adults. Some of the organizations where the work was done include; the Northern Westchester Center for the Arts, Greenwich Youth Stage, Northern Westchester Boces, Norwest, Hidden Treasures, Abilis, the Hawthorne Foundation, Cerebral Palsy of Westchester and Ability

Beyond. Ability Beyond is a rehab facility where Billy’s work with traumatic brain injury survivors was written up in the New York Times (“Opening New Doors for the Disabled”).

After receiving a Master’s degree in education, he joined Arts for Healing in New Canaan. For over 15 years, he has worked with one of the most renowned music therapists and mentors. Karen Nisenson, who is a Nordoff-Robbins /N.Y.U. professor and protégé’ of Clive Robbins.

As an artist and soloist, for more than twenty years, Billy has sung many national commercials for TV and radio, such as: Coors Light, At&t, Downey, Dow, Hot Wheels, and many more. He worked with such talented artists as Ben Vereen, Michael Bolton, Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Ascher, Chris Botti, The late Vicki Sue Robinson, Allen Gordon (Happy Together) and many others.

Billy is a published songwriter, and has been writing songs for more than thirty years. He is a trained percussionist, and singer, self-taught pianist and guitarist. He has performed multiple cartoon voices for a Fox 5 children’s television show “Vanpires,” which airs internationally. He has also been a staff writer for The Songs of Love foundation. Songs of Love writers donated thousands of original songs for children with terminal illness.

Billy was the 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 host and Emcee of ”Very Special Arts,” a showcase of special needs talent held at the Northern Westchester Center for the Arts where he performed with such celebrities as, Stone Phillips, Vanessa Williams and Alan Menken. “VSA” is an event supported by the Kennedy Center, the United Way and more than forty other organizations. He received the “Inspirational Arts award” in 2004 from the Northern Westchester center for the arts. In 2007, Billy was an “Honor our Heroes” award recipient for his work with special needs children and traumatic brain injury survivors. In 2010, Billy was the subject of an article in Cerebral Palsy magazine entitled, “Why do we have to be anything but beautiful.” He has received the Mary Louise Weiner Award for his work with children with autism, was named “Citizen of the Year” for 2017, and is a Grammy nominated Music educator!

As artist for the Westchester Arts Council, he has worked with hundreds of children in the classroom and onstage, in more than twenty schools. He also worked in community settings and in homeless shelters for more than 62 weeks. An amazing article was written in the

Bedford press called, “Getting Vocal about Lending a Hand,” illuminating one of the extraordinary experiences that occurred during his time working at one of the shelters.

Over the years, Billy has created his own technique called improvisational integrated music and drama “IIMD”. His music workshops using the “IIMD” technique have been very successful and received great press from the Journal News. The National Endowment for the Arts has funded these projects. In addition to creating workshops, he has been a panelist for the Arts Council and published, “How to conduct a Residency” for the Westchester Arts Council. In 2013, Billy published an article in the Arts for Healing newsletter entitled “Profound Purpose.” His work, human interest, and passion have inspired him to write a series of children’s books, the first of which is entitled, “The Tiger and the Butterfly,” specially targeted for special needs children and adults. Billy Ayres is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA, and is currently writing and producing a documentary called “Walking with Angels.

We are honored to recognize the work of Billy Ayers at this years “Follow Your Dreams Gala”.



Monsignor David L. Cassato

Monsignor David L. Cassato was born in Brooklyn on the second day of September, 1947. He attended Holy Family Elementary School and Saint John’s Preparatory in Brooklyn. At a very young age he became convinced that he would devote his life to “God and God’s people.” After high school he attended Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He then went on to Our Lady of the Angels Seminary and earned the Master of Divinity degree. On May 27, 1972 he was ordained a priest. His first mass was

celebrated at Holy Family, the place where it all began. He was then appointed to Saint Rita’s in Long Island City where, as assistant pastor, he had an active part in the development of many parish programs. He served for thirteen years in this capacity, which proved to be a valuable training ground for the responsibilities he was to assume in coming years.


In January 1985, Bishop Francis J. Mugavero chose Fr. Cassato to become Administrator of Our Lady of Mount Carmel located in Williamsburg/Greenpoint. Less than a year later, Bishop Mugavero asked Father to become the next Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Father accepted and thereby became the seventh pastor of the church. The installation Mass took place on December 1, 1985.


The cumulated experience acquired during the thirteen years at St. Rita’s soon was put to good use. The years he spent developing a diversified youth program, a drop-in center for teenagers, a summer camp program for youngsters, a retreat program for young adults, activities for senior citizens and regular visits to shut ins in the parish, together with active participation in community affairs were to be implemented wherever possible in his new assignment. As the new pastor, he soon took into account what his priorities were to be and immediately began to revitalize the good will and enthusiasm of the parishioners. His aptitude for remembering names of each parishioner became a topic of conversation and was most pleasing to them.


The most difficult task set before him was to close Our Lady of Mount Carmel School. A process that had begun before his arrival at Mount Carmel. He vowed to the parishioners that he would do all in his power to one day have the school reopened. Preparation for the celebration of the Centennial Year 1987, together with the normal routine of running a parish, kept Father running just enough “to stand still.” The Brooklyn Tablet commented that the parish was blessed with a Pastor having the necessary qualities of vim, vigor and vitality to keep up with the rapid pace of activities. Father Cassato has succeeded in his original challenge, namely “to put an upward tone to the parish, to restore a sense of happiness, joy and enthusiasm for the church and the faith.”


On Monday April 25, 1988 Bishop Mugavero notified Father Cassato that our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has made him a Domestic

Prelate of Honor, “Monsignor.” On June 18, 1992 Bishop Daily wrote to Monsignor Cassato describing him as a dedicated and committed Shepherd. He also expressed his gratitude for the spiritual leadership and administrative strength he has exhibited as Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In view of this, the Bishop was pleased to renew his appointment as Pastor for an extended period of six years.


On September 8, 1992 Msgr. Cassato was able to perfect the promise to the parishioners by opening the school of Mount Carmel Academy, a Middle School serving the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, with a full academic schedule including Italian. In January 1998 a dialogue between St. Vincent DePaul School and Mount Carmel Academy began. The discussion was about the future of Catholic Education on the Northside of Williamsburg. It was decided that a merge of the two schools would be in the best interest of all. In September of 1998 Msgr. Cassato assumed responsibility of St. Vincent DePaul School and in September of 199 Northside Catholic Academy was born with grades pre-K to 5 at the St. Vincent site and grades 6 to 8 at the Mount Carmel site. Both locations were under the direction of one principal, with Msgr. Cassato actively involved much of the school life.


On September 14, 1998 Bishop Daily appointed Msgr. Cassato Administrator of the parish of Annunciation, believing it would bring new life to the parish. A Spanish Mass was begun at Annunciation, and after about a year, the Spanish speaking community of Mount Carmel joined the newly forming community of Annunciation. A religious education program, providing catechesis in English and Spanish was begun at Annunciation and both parishes worked more closely, worshipping together at Corpus Christi and Pentecost.


On June 16, 2001, Msgr. Cassato was appointed New York City Police Chaplain by Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.


On November 1, 2001, Msgr. Cassato was assigned as Pastor to the parish of St. Athanasius in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He was also named Executive Director of the St. Athanasius Golden Age Club, The Rosary Society, The Holy Name Society and G.I.S.A. In May 2002, Msgr.

Cassato earned a Master of Science degree in Education with a focus on Administration and Supervision from Mercy College. (M.S.Ed.)


In 2002, Msgr. Cassato became a memeber of the Board of Trustees at Maimonides Medical Center, in 2003, Msgr. Cassato was appointed as Chaplain of Bishop Kearney High School, and on June 30, 2015, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio appointed Msgr. Cassato Administrator of the parish of St. Dominic. On Januray 31, 2016, Msgr. Cassato, was appointed to diocesan coordinator of ministry to the Italian Immigrants.


On June 9, 2017, Msgr. Cassato was promoted to Deputy Chief Chaplain of the Police Department of the City of New York by Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. Today The Josephine Foundation celebrates the life and service of New York’s Pastor, Msgr, David Cassato.




Kathy DeRosa

Kathy DeRosa, is the President/Founder of The De Rosa Foundation for Colon Cancer Research and Prevention. At only 38 years of age, married with two children, Paul, 8, and Julia, 5, Kathy De Rosa was diagnosed with hyperplastic polyposis syndrome, a familial polyp syndrome, characterized by the presence of multiple large hyperplastic polyps within the colon. Left untreated, these polyps develop into cancer. In October 2006, she underwent a colonoscopy. Shortly after, her younger brother Gary, 35, was also screened. Their screening revealed over 100 polyps in each of the siblings. They then underwent extensive medical evaluations and were both diagnosed with this life threatening medical condition.

Despite having this syndrome, Gary and Kathy were asymptomatic and in fact, felt great and otherwise healthy. They were completely unaware of the predisposition to this precancerous condition. However, uncertainty and fear of this otherwise unfamiliar condition was overwhelming.

This fear transformed to hope following a vast search for a qualified colorectal surgeon, which led Kathy to Dr. Jose G. Guillem, a physician with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. In January 2007, Dr. Guillem successfully performed a total colectomy, removing the colon with the precancerous polyps. Without the early diagnosis and treatment Kathy and her brother Gary received, their conditions could have become cancerous. They were the fortunate ones.

Kathy’s own personal experience was the underpinning to establishing “The De Rosa Foundation for Colon Cancer Research and

Prevention”. This life transforming event inspired her, as she developed the overwhelming need to raise awareness on colon cancer and perhaps help others. This foundation was created to help promote education and raise much needed funds for colon cancer research. Only through education and research will we be able to continue to advance prevention and treatment in hopes of one day finding a cure of this dreaded disease. Kathy DeRosa continues to lead the way in her mission to raise awareness and find a cure for Colon Cancer.



Timothy Jaccard

Timothy Jaccard is the Founder and President of the AMT Children of Hope Foundation. Tim is a retired paramedic for the Nassau County Police Department, Long Island, NY. His life’s mission now is to work endlessly and passionately to educate and prevent the abandonment of infants.

More than 3,000 infants saved nationwide since Jaccard founded AMT Children of Hope in 1998. All have been adopted. Since he began his mission, the organization has opened crisis center hotlines in Ohio, Massachusetts, Florida, California, Indiana and Bellmore to field calls across the country. Last year, the Bellmore, NY office received more than 2,000 calls.

Children of Hope was started 17 years ago after Jaccard responded to an emergency call in Hempstead Long Island, where a newborn was found dead, face down in a toilet. “I was crying in the courthouse,” Jaccard recalled. “It was very emotional to find a child had been lost and murdered.” Within the next few weeks, there were three more infanticides.


At first, Jaccard’s goal was to give a proper burial to each infant in Nassau who had met the same fate. He became their legal guardian and named them before they were buried in a large plot he purchased at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury. When emergency workers in nearby jurisdictions — Suffolk, Manhattan and the Bronx, among others — heard about Jaccard’s work, they began calling and asking him to bury the abandoned newborns found dead in their communities.


The burials are a kindness he continues today. For each child, there is a church service and a baptism. “It’s sad, but yes, at the same time in my heart I know that this child is now part of our family and will stay in our family,” Jaccard said. All of the grave markers carry the same last name — Hope. To date, more than 120 infants have been buried at Holy Rood.


In the spring of 1999, Jaccard established a crisis center at Nassau County police headquarters and a year later opened the Long Island Crisis Center and hotline in Bellmore. That same year, Jaccard crafted the first safe haven law that was passed in Texas, allowing a woman to go to a hospital or other designated safe haven and give up her baby anonymously. The following year, the Infant Abandonment Protection Act was enacted by the New York State Legislature, allowing mothers to surrender newborns without prosecution. Jaccard’s persistent lobbying efforts resulted in getting a safe haven law passed in all 50 states.


Over the years, Children of Hope ( has broadened its goals, educating students and coaxing hospitals and fire departments to help women who don’t intend to keep their newborns, to have safe births anonymously. The nonprofit organization has fundraising events to help support its work.


Tim is married with three children and has five grandchildren. But his family reaches out much further as he has formed lasting relationships with many of the mothers and children who have been in his program. Today we acknowledge the work of Timothy Jaccard, who with his life’s work and mission has and continues to make the world a better place.



Richard Krams

Richard Krams was born in Woodside, Queens and attended St. Sebastian Elementary School, Mater Christi HS, Iona College BA, and Manhattan College MA. His amazing teaching career began at Mater Christi/St. John’s Prep., in 1970.

In 1984, Richard began teaching at St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, NY.

In January of 1993, he was made Dean of students by Bro. Roy. The rest is history. This educator and administrator became the face of St. Mary’s High School for 35 years.


Richard has been married to his wife Gloria since 1972, making it 47 years.

They have two Children, Caren and James. James has two daughters Amelia 9 and Ellie 2, giving Richie four grandchildren.


Richard has touched the lives of thousands of young students who he has worked with over the years.

He also was able to reach out to students through another passion of his, athletics, as he has had a distinguished career in sports. He served as a NCAA Official for Division 1, 2, 3, men and women basketball from 1971 to 2016, totaling 45 years as a member of IAABO, Inc. He is an Honorary Member of the Long Island District Board 41 IAABO, the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, Inc.


Richard also used his passion for Golf, to encourage students through his coaching stints at St, Mary’s High School. He was elected to the Catholic High School Athletic Association of Brooklyn/Queens & NYC.


Richard is an Honorary Member of the Knights of Columbus.


All in all, Richard Krams served for almost 5 decades, as a leader, teacher, educator, administrator and someone who our youth could look up to. Tonight, The Josephine Foundation honors his commitment and service.




 Robert M. Reid Sr.

Robert M. Reid Sr. is married to his High School Sweetheart, Angela, for 50 years. He has 4 children and 8 grandchildren. He grew up in Elmhurst, Queens and attended St. Bartholomew’s Elementary school, and Newtown High School. Bob has been a Bayside residence since 1978.


Bob joined the NYPD on February 2, 1974. He rose through the ranks to Detective serving in the 109 Precinct, 114 Precinct, 94 Detective Squad, 84 Detective Squad, Queens Special Victims Unit, and 114 Detective Squad. He went on to complete 34 years of service, retiring as Detective Investigator of the NYPD.


During those many years, Bob also found the time to volunteer in The Bayside Little League. In fact, he started in 1986 and now serves as the President of The Bayside Little League, a post he has held since 1991. He is responsible for the overall operation and governing of the BLL program. Each year, the program has over 500 children with 23 Board members and over 75 managers and coaches.  That is quite a number of young people who are touched by Bob’s service. Bob’s service didn’t just start with the Bayside Little League, as previously, (from 1975-1982), he served as The Director of Youth Programs at St. Bartholomew’s.


Presently, Bob is on the Board of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Academy, and sits as the chair of their Marketing Committee. He is a volunteer at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church’s St. Matthews Guild and ushers at the Family Mass. Bob is also a member of the Northeast Bayside Civic Association Board, and is a 4th Degree Trustee of the Knights of Columbus Council #430.


In keeping with his love for children, each Christmas Season, Bob is responsible for having Santa and presents at numerous Children’s Christmas Parties.


Bob serves as a Facilitator for the Virtus Training Program, for the Brooklyn Diocese. VIRTUS is the brand name that identifies best practices programs designed to help prevent wrongdoing and promote “right doing” within religious organizations. The VIRTUS programs empower organizations and people to better control risk and improve the lives of all those who interact with the Church. The program does this by teaching how to be on the lookout for abuse within programs and then how to respond. Who better than Bob to teach a class on this mission? After all,

this is a man who had served and worked within children’s athletic programs for many years while being an active member of his Parish community.


Bob Reid is the recipient of the following prestigious awards; The Holy Cross High School Anchor Award,

The New York State Liberty Award (Highest Award given to a New York State Civilian) and The Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow Award. Tonight he receives The Chairman’s Honoree Award for his years of service to the community as a leader, activist and strong role model for today’s youth.

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