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Islanders In The News Web Page

Previous News Page

JoAnn Vanderheite - May 2019

   Grand Island artist JoAnn Vanderheite will be in the 100 American Craftsman Craft Show at the Kenan Center in Lockport again this year. The show takes place Friday, May 31st from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., Saturday, June 1st from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 2nd from 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Her booth number is C-15.

Dana Hayes Erickson - May 2019

Dana....freaking out!

    My sister, Dana Hayes Erickson, was fishing off of Sarasota, Florida last Wednesday, May 8th. Just a half hour after setting the anchor, the boat was swarmed by "Love Bugs". A video was posted on Facebook and as of Tuesday, May 14th, it has received over 4 million views as of today, May 16th. If you would like to see what the fuss is about, see video. Disclaimer: there is swearing.

Launch NY Adds Island Native to Board -May 2019

Mel Passarelli.

    Launch NY Adds President & CEO of Aspera Mel Passarelli to Board of Directors. WNY expat, UB alum brings 30+ years’ experience in leadership building tech companies.
Buffalo, N.Y. May 2, 2019 - Launch New York (Launch NY), Upstate New York’s first and only venture development organization to provide pro bono mentoring and capital access to high-growth potential startup businesses across the 27 westernmost counties of the state, has added another national-level Director to its Board with the appointment of Mel Passarelli, Esq., President & CEO of Aspera, a Boston, Ma.-based software asset management company. Passarelli is formerly from Buffalo and a University at Buffalo graduate, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Economics and MBA in Finance and Marketing. He also holds a Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University Law School. He serves as a board member for several for profit and nonprofit organizations, including the American Heart Association, providing advice and counsel for successful growth.
   "Mel’s experience in building incredibly successful tech companies will be invaluable as we continue to enhance our mentorship and seed funding programs," said Marnie LaVigne, President and CEO of Launch NY. "And even though New England can claim him as a resident, he has stayed very engaged Western New York both professionally and personally. We are honored he has chosen Launch NY as an outlet for his entrepreneurial spirit and expertise."
   Passarelli most recently served as Executive Vice President and General Manager at Attunity, leading the successful turnaround and growth of the data integration and management software provider from an early-stage software asset management company to a NASDAQ listed corporation, which led to an announcement of a $560 million dollar acquisition by Qlik, a leader in data analytics in February 2019. He also spent over 13 years helping to build Intergraph Corporation (now known as Hexagon PPM) into a Fortune 500 company.
   "Being a Buffalo native, I am passionate about the revival of this community through entrepreneurship," said Mel Passarelli, President and CEO of Aspera. "I am eager to bring my lessons learned to bear in Western New York, and Launch NY’s work in providing business support and access to seed capital is a perfect conduit for giving back to a place that’s very special to me." In addition to Launch NY, Passarelli’s WNY ties include judging the annual Henry A. Panasci Technology Entrepreneurship Competition at UB. He also serves on the Board for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association in Boston.
    For more information about Launch NY and its programs, visit www.launchny.org, and follow Launch NY on its Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages.

Dr. Cynthia Czaperacker Receives Board Certification - April 2019

Dr. Cynthia Czaperacker.

    Dr. Cynthia Czaperacker (daughter of James and Helen Czapla of Grand Island; Grand Island High School Class of 2004) was awarded board certification by the American Board of Endodontics this year at the American Association of Endodontists annual conference in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Board certification distinguishes endodontists who have demonstrated exceptional knowledge and skill, dedication to continued professional growth, and a commitment to providing the highest quality of patient care. Currently, only approximately 35% of endodontists nationwide are board certified. In order to earn board certification, an endodontist has to pass a three-part examination including a written examination, oral examination, and case history examination. Dr. Czaperacker currently practices full-time in Chicago, IL.

Island Weavers Win Awards - April 2019

Lee Tetkowski with "Mount Diversity".

    Two active members of the Weavers’ Guild of Buffalo received awards at the recent opening reception of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of its founding. Lenore Tetkowski ’s “Mount Diversity” won best wall hung fiber art, and also the award for best handwoven clothing and yardage. Islander, Cathie Steffan, received the award for handspun skeins, called “Desert Sunset”. Heather Olson of Rochester, NY was the judge.
   The exhibit continues at Fox Run in Orchard Park through May 30th. Weekly Show Hours are Monday through Saturday, 8 am-8pm. Corner of 20A & California Road. Please enter through the Commons Building.

Nonnie Carroll Celebrates 99 Years! - March 2019

Nonnie Carroll.

Island friends, from left to right: Kathy Lechner, Beverly Kuszczak, Dorothy Lew, Mary Cooke and Ruth Landel.

   Long-time Grand Island resident Nonnie Carroll celebrated her 99th birthday with a party at her new home at the Wheatfield Commons. Family and friends were on hand to celebrate the day Nonnie shares with St. Patrick. Everyone is already looking forward to her 100th in 2020!

GI Weavers in Textile Exhibit - March 2019

    The Buffalo Weavers’ Guild is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding with a creative textile exhibit of current work by its members. It will take place at Fox Run in Orchard Park from March 3rd through May 30th. Weekly Show Hours are Monday through Saturday, 8 am-8pm. Corner of 20A & California Road. Please enter through the Commons Building. The exhibit will feature original designed hand-woven pieces, felting and hand-spun work. Grand Islanders, Cathy Steffan and Lenore Tetkowski are among the exhibitors. Poster.

Empowering Pediatric Chemo Patients - March 2019


From left: Current Sidway Principal Denise Dunbar, guest of the event and Agnes Becker, Former Principal of VCMS and active member of our chapter.

    Since 2005, the Gamma Delta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma International has been providing gently used/new books, sometimes with homemade bears, to the patients and families of our Women and Children’s Hospital, newly renamed Oshei’s Children’s Hospital. Over the years, the books have come in various forms, from a simple collection and quarterly drop-off to Women and Children’s Hospital Foundation, to more recent centering upon both the Hematology/Oncology Units as well as the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic.
    Two years ago, a donation of Turtellini the Turbo Powered Turtle, written, illustrated and signed by author/artist Doug MacGregor accompanied a hand-made Chemo Cape. Since it “takes a village” to raise a child, the sisters of the Gamma Delta Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International felt called upon to do our part to empower young patients with courage, stamina and strength.
    Inspired by a news clip of a caring pediatric nurse who dons Super Hero costumes to reduce fear and increase well-being in his patients, the Chemo Cape was born. This Turtle Powered cape reflects the character of Turtellini, the Turbo Powered Turtle, written and illustrated by Doug MacGregor; Turtellini overcomes all obstacles with determination to “soar high!” These kits were given to patients in the Oncology/Hematology Dept. at Osheis in an effort to pull kids out of the shells of fear and withdrawal, giving them the positive self-talk recommended to reduce stress and foster the healing process.” In response to our Chemo Capes, mother of Michael, a recipient, told us that he took the book to bed and slept in the cape, not wanting to take it off! Thus, when we decided to revisit the Chemo Cape project, we called upon Michael and his Mom to pass out the gifts again. Now two years old, Michael continues to need chemo to survive his rare condition, but was certain to feel weightless and turbo-charged as he visited his fellow patients with our gift of hope. The project was funded by a generous grant from the Bea Small Committee of Delta Kappa Gamma.

Mel Passarelli, New President & CEO - February 2019

   Boston, MA, February 27, 2019 - Strengthening Aspera’s leadership team, Mel Passarelli has been named President and CEO. In this role, he will expand the company’s market presence as the leading provider of Software Asset Management (SAM) solutions and services.
   Mel joins Aspera with over thirty years of experience in corporate strategy and growth. Prior to joining Aspera, he led the successful turnaround and growth of Attunity from an early-stage company to a NASDAQ listed corporation. He has a history of increasing growth and profitability in several private and public software companies.
   "Mel’s expertise in software and cloud computing makes him the perfect fit for Aspera," said Bernhard Boehler, Chairman of USU Group. "His focus on strong revenue growth will lead the company to new horizons in a highly competitive market space."
   "Aspera’s focus on enterprise SAM, strong market presence, and robust product portfolio have made them a trusted solution for the world’s biggest organizations," said Mel, Aspera Technologies’ President and CEO. "The team’s dedication and vision in solving the complexities of the ever-changing software landscape are impressive, and I am excited to help our customers gain transparency into their businesses through our solutions."
    Aspera has offices in the USA, Canada, Europe, and Japan, and operates worldwide across a growing partner sales network. The Aspera product portfolio provides insights into all major software vendors and SaaS applications. Aspera solutions support companies throughout their SAM journey, providing active control of license costs, cloud transition, and data center optimization.
    Mel’s entrepreneurial spirit has led him to serve as a board member for several associations, providing advice and counsel for successful growth. He holds a BA and MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University in Boston. Meet Mel on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/melpassarelli/ or Twitter at @melpass77.

Thomas W. Burkman, Home of the Week - February 2019

   Island resident Thomas W. Burkman, research professor of Asian Studies, emeritus, at the University of Buffalo was featured in a Buffalo News photo gallery as Home of the Week. See photos.

Allyson Nemeth, Cooking For Cancer - February 2019

Inspirational Story of Leadership, Passion and Commitment.
   It all started in the winter of 2012 when two classmates decided at a sleepover to make a difference in the world. What we as parents could not imagine was how such a simple concept would impact so many, fuel a long lasting friendship, and give hope to those in need. You always tell your children that anyone, no matter what their age can have an impact on this world. You encourage them to set goals and achieve their dreams.
    Allyson Nemeth and Jessica Flash did just that when they started the Cooking For Cancer Club at the tender age of 10. These two extraordinary girls set out to raise money for Carly’s Club of Roswell Park and pediatric cancer research by organizing bake sales and going door to door. Their goal was simple to raise $1,000 that year.
   That night at the sleepover they made and sold bake goods to the neighbors, from there they rallied their fellow classmates and friends to participate. They organized teams and developed a neighborhood rotation to sell their baked goods, realizing they could make more money if they sold to different locations. As parents we thought the novelty would die down, how wrong we were. Together with the help of their friends and their commitment and leadership, these girls baked and sold baked goods to raise money for children with cancer. No short feat since they did this throughout the winter, in the snow, dragging their wagon of baked goods door to door, with their friends by their side.
    That same year they asked a local vet if they could make dog treats for donations, participated in the school’s craft show and wellness events and created awareness at school by hosting meetings, making posters, and inspiring the students to participate in the club. They also developed a business plan to participate in KidsBiz, a local business fair where children learn how to use business skills to make and sell products.
    They did all of this when many children just wanted to go out and play, but gave up their time to help children who could not. Their drive, commitment, leadership, and passion kept this group of friends together, working for a common goal and cause. We had the pleasure of donating the check to Roswell Park and Carly’s Club of a $1,000 as they met their goal their first year. How proud we as parents were to see our children leading and inspiring so many.
    The second year the girls wanted to raise $2,000 and to accomplish this they realized they needed to do more then just sell bake goods, they needed a larger event to reach this goal. After discussing several ideas the girls settled on hosting a Pasta Sauce Off. They continued to work on the bake sales door to door and current school venues, while they prepared for the Pasta Sauce Off.
    They first secured the event as an officially sanctioned event for Roswell Park. They then received an approval from the LaSalle Yacht Club to use their facility to host the event. The club donated their time, facility and pasta to the event. Next they went to area businesses and personally asked the owners for donations. Next they asked family and friends to donate and come out to the event. The girls were working hard along with their team to make this event a success. Word spread around our community and soon the girls were featured on Channel 7 news, Facebook post were being sent round the community, as sponsors and supporters both The Grand Island Dispatch and The Niagara Gazette ran some feature stories on the girls, there teammates, and success. Along with some free ads for the girls to help increase awareness about the event. Isledegrande has also been helpful advertising the event to the community.
    At school they inspired their new principal to allow them to promote the event at school, church, and on the schools website and Facebook page. They made announcements at school weekly about the event, sent home flyers, made posters, gave speeches, and developed a brand for the event.
    When it came time to actually host the event they had over 70 baskets, several silent auction items, 50/50 raffles and 12 pasta sauces to try. There was a buzz around town and the event was a huge success well beyond what we could have imagined. They smashed their goal of raising $2,000 by raising just over $5,000 at this event alone.
    Now as we get ready to host the 6th annual Pasta Sauce Off, Allyson has taken the lead and this young lady and her friends have set high goals for this year. Their passion and drive to succeed should inspire us all to cherish what we have and give to those who need our help. Think of the impact we all could have if we just did one good dead for another person. Allyson has inspired a class, a school and a community. To date she has raised just over $28,000 and we can’t wait to see what she accomplishes as she grows up, we all can learn from her and her friends.
    Live life in a positive way, inspire dreams, reach for your goals, be good, be faithful anything is possible.
The parents of Allyson Nemeth
Pasta Sauce Off Flyer

Emily Smith Marries Steve Guttenberg - January 2019

Emily Smith with "Miss Cathy" Thomas at the wedding.

Emily with fiance Steve Guttenberg after engagement in 2016.

    Island native Emily Smith married actor Steve Guttenberg last weekend in Malibu, California. Emily is a reporter for CBS, and produces and hosts a show called "Living Large", about multimillion dollar properties. The couple have been dating since 2014 and were engaged in 2016 on the riverfront of her grandparents' former home on East River. She was quoted as saying "best memories of my life there." Emily's parents still reside on Grand Island and a large group of friends and relatives traveled to the wedding from GI. Yes, that is Miss Cathy in the photo above!

Benefit for Kyle Staub - January 2019

   Island native Kyle Staub was in a horrific motorcycle accident on October 26th, sustaining numerous traumatic injuries. He is on a long road to recovery. A fundraiser is planned for Sunday, March 31st at the Sephen Sikora Post 1322, 950 Payne Avenue, Tonawanda, NY 14120. The time is 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. and tickets are $20. There will be food, a cash bar, basket raffle and 50/50. For ticket information contact Kyle at 716-345-6926. Flyer.

Jennifer & Henry Menter - January 2019

Jennifer Menter and son Henry Robert Wudyka Menter. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News photo.)

   A story in the Buffalo News dated January 1, 2019, included Island resident Jennifer Menter and son Henry, born on December 27th at Sisters Hospital. It was titled "First baby born in 2019, and the top baby names in Buffalo for 2018." Old names are very popular again, and Henry made the top ten for Catholic Health-operated hospitals. Henry is the son of Joe Menter, Grand Island Recreation Department Supervisor and Jennifer, Golden Age Center Supervisor.