Update 6-10-10: If you would like to make a donation to the RJS Foundation, you may do so by writing a check out to the Ralph J. Sansone Foundation and sending to 5816 13th Avenue, Brooklyn NY, 11219.
The RJS Foundation was formed 23 years ago in memory of Ralph Sansone, who died tragically in a plane crash at an early age. To honor his life, my aunt and uncle, Mary and Zack Sansone, decided to do something meaningful for the children of their community, who might follow the path of life that Ralph was on: he was a successful lawyer and labor arbitrator, husband and father, and community activist. They began to collect money and set up a $500 scholarship at Ralph’s alma mater, Bishop Ford High School. The Foundation grew with each passing year and since its inception, has given out over $200,000 in scholarship money. Five years ago, they began an endowment scholarship program which awards one student each year with a partial scholarship to Brooklyn Law School, where Ralph received his law degree.
So, long before I started volunteering in New York City, I began my involvement with the Ralph J. Sansone Foundation. This organization is one of a few (others include CIAO and C.U.R.E) that are the creation of my aunt, Mary Sansone, who is largely responsible for the exposure I’ve had throughout my life to the world of non-profit work and community service, and consequently, the passion I have for such things. (But that’s a post for another day.) What began as my attending honoree dinners and luncheons with my mom, has in recent years evolved into my playing a more integral part in these organizations.
Another scholarship program they have is the annual Art Show, which started six years ago. For the past two years I have had the pleasure of being one of four judges for this contest. It is open to high school students across the boroughs; the winners are given monetary awards (first place gets $500, second place $250, third place $150, and four honorable mentions get $50). Also, the art department of first place winner receives $250. The level of work submitted is always impressive, and sometimes downright unbelievable. If these kids didn’t come back to get their work, I would gladly take their paintings and hang them in my own apartment. I posted some pictures below so you can see the level of work the kids of New York City are capable of. All of the judges, including myself, are employed in the field of graphic design or art education. Deciding who wins is not easy, and heated discussions were had regarding the quality, composition, and technique of the entries. Their work will be on display for the next month or so at the CIAO office in Borough Park, Brooklyn. For more information on when and where you can see these paintings and many others, email me : firstname.lastname@example.org