With its annual dinner/dance approaching this Friday, Partners Advancing West Islip Schools (PAWS) continues working to raise funds for programs and equipment for use by local students in schools across the district.
At this year’s event at the Venetian Yacht Club in Babylon, PAWS will honor Mary Anderson, principal of , with its Outstanding Educator Award; and brothers Richard DiStefano and Robert DiStefano, owners of , with its Outstanding Community Member Award.
As in past years, the dinner/dance serves as the main fundraiser for PAWS. But the organization is also working to bring in monies from other sources as well, and the need from the school community continues to grow in the face of cuts in state aid, PAWS officials said.
“This year we had about 23 grant applications submitted by local teachers to PAWS,” said Barbara McAteer, president of PAWS. “Last year, we had about 13.”
Since its inception in 2004, PAWS had donated funding to West Islip schools to cover the cost of a long list of items. Among them are a Yamaha C6 grand piano, a recording studio at the high school, a rock-climbing wall, a book nook reading center and smart boards.
In addition to the dinner/dance, PAWS continues to seek donors for its brick campaign, whereby local residents and business owners can purchase a brick along the pathway that leads to the high school’s football field. Family names or business names can be engraved on the bricks. Depending on brick size, the costs are $100, $250 and $500.
“We’re hoping to attract more local residents and business with these new prices,” McAteer said.
2011 PAWS Honorees
• Mary Anderson, Outstanding Educator Award
Currently serving as principal at Manetuck Elementary School, Mary Anderson’s career in education has spanned 40 years. She spent 18 years as a classroom teacher at Westbrook Elementary School and one year as a science mentor.
Over the next 21 years, Anderson has held the title of principal, the first three of those years at Paul J. Bellew and the past 18 years in her current role at Manetuck, the school district’s largest elementary school by student population.
• Richard DiStefano and Robert DiStefano, Outstanding Community Member Award.
Richard DiStefano was born in Middle Village, Queens, and moved with his family to West Islip in 1971. Upon graduating from West Islip High School in 1984, DiStefano attended St. Johns University, where he graduated with a degree in Management. Over the years Richard has been active in many organizations throughout West Islip. He and his wife, Maureen, have two children: Matthew and Lauren.
Robert DiStefano was born in Brooklyn and moved to West Islip at the age of two. Robert attended Alfred State College and earned a degree in Electrical Construction. In 1993, he joined forces with his brother, Richard, to open West Islip Wines and Liquors. Robert and his wife, Claire, have three children: Owen, Olivia and Andrew.