Calling the completion of the Malone-Mulhall Recreation Center at Camp ANCHOR, “A dream come true for children with special needs,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray cut the ceremonial ribbon on the township’s “new home” for its heralded program that serves children who are physically and mentally challenged. A bittersweet Saturday morning ceremony paid tribute to three “ANCHOR Angels”—counselors for whom the facility is named—Jamie L. Malone, Paige K. Malone and Michael P. Mulhall. The three young people died in a tragic car accident on July 15, 2010 while traveling to work at the camp.
At the dedication ceremony, Murray was joined by her colleagues on the Town Board, including Senior Councilman Anthony Santino, Councilwomen Angie Cullin and Dorothy Goosby, Councilmen Gary Hudes, James Darcy and Ed Ambrosino, Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin and Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad. In addition, the families of the counselors for whom the recreation center was named were in attendance as was a priest from Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church in Floral Park, the church which the young counselors attended. Finally, over 500 ANCHOR participants, family members, supporters and friends turned out for the grand opening.
“I am proud that Hempstead Town has built a permanent home for the 1,600 young people with special needs who are served by ANCHOR,” said Murray. “And, it is fitting that this new home bears the names of ‘three angels’ who inspired ANCHOR participants and town officials alike.”
The $6 million recreation center spans 16,196 square feet, and features a wave-curved roof and porthole windows, which reflect the seaside ambiance of the shorefront setting of the building. The blue and white color scheme also invokes a nautical theme in tribute to the ANCHOR Program’s trademark nautical anchor.
Murray explained that a guiding motivation behind the ANCHOR construction project was to give a permanent home to a program that has lived a nomadic existence. Indeed, participants have traveled to various school facilities and other locations across the town to take part in a variety of activities. The facility will also offer shelter to those attending the beachside ANCHOR Summer Camp, which is housed in carnival-themed tents.
“Nobody deserves a permanent home more than the children who are part of Hempstead Town’s ANCHOR Program,” said Murray.
The recreation center features a Gymnasium/Auditorium, replete with a theatre-grade stage, state-of-the-art audio visual equipment, stunning stage lighting and curtains, low-rise bleachers, an electronic scoreboard and basketball hoops. The Auditorium will host ANCHOR’s heralded theatre program, dances, social gatherings, parties, sports events, movie presentations, as well as meetings. A very large Multi-Purpose Room can be divided in half to host a variety of activities at once. These rooms will provide for cafeteria service, video presentations, Arts and Crafts classes, educational presentations, movies, dances and more. A modern Computer Room will house a Smart Board, a laptop station, I-pads and Wi-Fi service. A fully equipped Nurses Office includes specialized treatment equipment and a wheelchair-accessible shower. A modern Kitchen will accommodate food preparation and Home Economics classes. Administrative offices, a reception area, storage closets, an Audio-Visual room and a patio complete the features of the stunning structure.
“This ANCHOR building sets a new standard for facilities that serve people with special needs,” said Santino. “This project represents the very best that government has to offer,” added Hudes.
At the grand opening and dedication ceremony, the parents of Michael Mulhall offered moving remarks, along with Supervisor Murray. Two ANCHOR participants also gave inspiring and uplifting comments. Murray made a special presentation to ANCHOR Program Director Joe Lentini, calling him “her anchor”. A dedication wreath was placed by the steps of the building, and the Town Board presented two Crape Myrtle shrubs to the Mulhall and Malone families. The hearty shrubs were planted as a living tribute to the legacy of the three fallen counselors.
“This was a moving ceremony for a meaningful program,” said Cullin. “You can’t help but be inspired by the children of the ANCHOR Program,” Goosby added.
“The ANCHOR Program reflects government’s commitment to life-enhancing service,” said Darcy. “This dedication ceremony is a proud and defining moment for the town,” said Ambrosino.
The day’s program concluded with a festive ribbon cutting, a tour of the facilities and a luncheon hosted by the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association.
“The ANCHOR Program is the heart and soul of Hempstead Town,” concluded Murray. “The three young people for whom this building is named will live on through the legacy of love and hope that is written across the faces of the children of ANCHOR. Welcome to our new ANCHOR home.”
The Town of Hempstead wishes to acknowledge and thank the following underwriters of the ANCHOR building dedication:
· James Carver, President, and the entire Nassau County Police Benevolent Association for today’s luncheon;
· Frank Mistero, Distinguished Past President and ANCHOR Chair, and the entire Kiwanis Club of the Peninsula for supplies for today’s luncheon;
· Butch Yamali and Dover Catering for decorations and supplies; and
· John Power, Con-Kel Landscaping Inc. for the Crape Myrtles.