Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Smoking bans continue in New York City

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spearheaded many affective smoking bans in New York City. And now, he is on the verge of undertaking another one. Mayor Bloomberg is ready to ban smoking in city parks and beaches. The mayor has proven to be a huge advocate of smoking cessation, having spent hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money into anti-smoking campaigns. He has already eradicated smoking from public buildings, subways and buses, playgrounds and recreational facilities, and bars and restaurants. Banning smoking in parks and beaches would be taking smoking cessation to the next level- the first ban to affect the outdoor environment.

Dr. Thomas A. Farley, the city health commissioner, proposed this bill to Mayor Bloomberg last September for two reasons: secondhand smoke and cigarette butt littering. Secondhand smoke, which is the mixture of smoke coming from the burning end of tobacco products, can affect your health when you breathe in the air. By being outside at a park or beach, you become more susceptible to secondhand smoke. There is also a major litter problem in our city parks and beaches. In May, I participated in Keep America Beautiful's Cigarette Litter Prevention Program where I saw first hand how the amount of cigarette butt litter was affecting Staten Island, which is known as the Borough of Parks due to its abundance of parks. Many people do not realize that cigarette butts make up one third of all litter nationwide. The city has 29,000 acres of parkland and fourteen miles of beaches. This constitutes about 14% of the city's total land area. If this ban is successful, it could be the most comprehensive health measure yet.

I can understand why this ban is necessary for the city. We need to improve the air quality by eliminating secondhand smoke. We need to clean up the environment by getting rid of cigarette butt littering. However, there is some debate about the proposed ban. There are many smokers who enjoy going to the park, sitting on a bench, and puffing away on a cigar or smoking a cigarette. They feel that the secondhand smoke outdoors does not have the same effect as the secondhand smoke in an enclosed area and that the measure may be taking smoking cessation too far. But what about the non-smokers who can still smell the smoke on that park bench? They made the decision not to smoke, so why should they have to breathe in the toxins left behind from a cigarette. Only time will tell to see if Mayor Bloomberg moves forward on this ban. From the way things look, he could be moving in the right direction.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Athena Awards Presentation

The Coalition of Staten Island Women's Organizations is a non-profit, non-partisan association made up of twenty member organizations representing two thousand members to provide a voice for women on all issues, policies, and programs affecting the community. Every August, the coalition host its annual Summer Power Lunch. The lunch includes the presentation of the Athena Awards, named for the Greek goddess of peace and wisdom. The Athena Award goes to women who personify generosity of service and courage in pursuing their ideas for the community. Four women were honored today, including my Girl Scout leader Chris Chukalas. She truly exemplifies the meaning of community service. Chris has been an active Girl Scout leader for over forty years, helping many girls like myself earn the most prestigious award in Girl Scouting- the Gold Award. She has been a mentor and friend to so many Girl Scouts on Staten Island over the years. Congratulations to her and all the honorees.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Staten Island International Dance Festival

Today I made my dance debut with Floorwork Dance Company at the fifth annual Staten Island International Dance Festival at Tappen Park. The event, sponsored by the Council of the Art and Humanities for Staten Island, gives dance troupes the opportunity to showcase different styles of dance. There was belly dancing, bollywood, contemporary, African, salsa, and hip hop. We performed a contemporary piece called Sisterhood. It is a story about trusting your sisters during hardship.

Floorwork Dance Company: Jennifer, Stephanie, Kim, and Libby

Cecilia Flores, Founder and Artistic Director

Today also was the Miss Thousand Islands Pageant. Congratulations to Kristina Ferris on a great reign and to Morgan Bocciolatt who was crowned Miss Thousand Islands 2011!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Kick-Off Breakfast

The American Cancer Society Staten Island Region celebrated its Sweet 16 at this year's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Kick-Off Breakfast at the Staaten. Before heading to work this morning, I made an appearance to show my support for this vital cause. Joining me at the breakfast was my friend and Miss Staten Island predecessor, Melissa Robson. The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk will take place at Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island on October 17, 2010. Contact me if you are interested in donating/participating in this event.
Melissa Robson (Miss Staten Island 2008)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Staten Island Yankees

Baseball happens to be one of my favorite sports. So I was super excited when I was given the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the Staten Island Yankee Game. The Staten Island Yankees are the reigning minor league champions. This was my second time throwing out the first pitch, as I had this opportunity last year as Miss Staten Island. And I'm happy to report that my pitch made it to the plate! Even the catcher was impressed that a "beauty queen could throw a ball"! The sweetest moment was when I was walking to my seat, three boys came up to me wanting my autograph because they too were impressed with my pitch. All though the Yankees lost tonight, I had a great time at the ballpark.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Miracle Treat Day

Happy Miracle Treat Day! Today marks the fifth annual Miracle Treat Day at Dairy Queen, when $1 or more from every Blizzard sold will be donated to the Children's Miracle Network. Since there aren't any Dairy Queens in the New York City area, I decided to take a road trip to Linden, New Jersey to participate in the event; it is the closest Dairy Queen to Staten Island only being twenty minutes away. I was able help the staff by handing out Oreo Blizzards, the featured Blizzard of the Day, to all the customers. And of course I couldn't leave without trying the tasty dessert, which was very good! Last year on Miracle Treat Day, Dairy Queens from across the United States and Canada raised $4.6 million for the Children's Miracle Network. If you have some time try to make it out to your local Dairy Queen and help support the Children's Miracle Network.