This is my speech that I gave at the Rye Town Hilton on April 20th for the Volunteer Spirit Awards given by the Volunteer Center of the United Way.  Please let me know what you think.

Your Neighbor,


I would like to thank the Volunteer Center for 62 years of service and dedication.  Thank you to Mr. Rogers of New York Life for recognizing me and “Stars for Cars.”  Thank you to the USO who partnered with “Stars for Cars.”  Thank you to Mayor Noam Bramson who has supported me from the beginning and who nominated me.   Thank you County Legislator James Maisano for your encouragement.  Receiving this award is important because it gives me an opportunity to let you know about the families of the 1% of our nation who are sacrificing for all of us.

I want to thank all of the “Blue and Gold Star” Military Families.  American soldiers protect us from threats of harm and violence so we can live a peaceful life.  It takes a lot of dedication, patriotism, and volunteerism to even enlist knowing that you might not come back.  Mothers and fathers have lost their daughters and sons.  Children lose their parents.

I was inspired to start “Stars for Cars” after watching Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, and Mrs. Teresa Arciola on the Oprah Winfrey show in January of 2011.  Our First Lady told the audience that 1% of our country is protecting the other 99% of our country.  I was moved to action to help the people I call, “Our One Percenters.”  I designed a star shaped magnetic decal and wrote a letter to a business and asked them for the start up money for the project so that all of the proceeds could go to programs for the “Blue and Gold Star” families through the USO.  Wherever the decals go, then that town or city they travel to will know about “Stars for Cars” and the people might want to learn more about the “Blue and Gold Star” Military Families.  The Military Families will also see that someone has thought about their sacrifice.  I dedicated my website,, to Michael Arciola who was killed while serving in Iraq at age 20.  His mother has now become my friend and despite her loss is able to go on and volunteer through Disabled American Veterans and other organizations.  We were strangers, but because her son gave his life, and she bravely shared her story on TV, I was compelled to volunteer.  Thank you to the Arciola family.

I would like to finish with a quote from a Friedrich Schiller poem entitled, “Ode to Joy.” His words go to the heart of brotherhood and volunteerism:  “All men become brothers under the sway of gentle wings.”  When you volunteer to help someone, you become their brother.   The gentle wings of love can change a person forever!  I have been changed because I love knowing that I am being a good brother.  I have never been a brother but when I help the “Blue and Gold Star” families, I feel that I become their brother and we become family.  “Ode to Joy” celebrates the best that men can do for other people and that is exactly what the definition of volunteerism means to me.  Please continue to volunteer.  Please acknowledge the “Blue and Gold Star” families.

Thank you.

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