Karaoke Kare: An SELP Project

karaoke.jpgSophia Niarchos created a project to use Karoke to lift the spirits of people in a rehab center. Here is a story that was published in Greek News, a Greek American newspaper.

 

Glen Cove, N.Y. — They couldn't go out for New Year's Eve revelry or even stay in their comfortable homes just to relax and watch the ball drop at Times Square, but patients in the First Floor Rehab Unit of North Shore Hospital at Glen Cove enjoyed Broadway show and film tunes, Italian songs, and the music of many popular singers, including Frank Sinatra and Bette Midler, when Karaoke Kare presented its debut karaoke show there on New Year's Eve. "We love to sing karaoke all year long and want to bring the same joy it gives us to people who might need their spirits lifted," said Karaoke Kare Executive Director Sophia Niarchos. "We debuted on New Year's Eve but plan to sing and give others the chance to sing throughout the year at such locales as hospitals, nursing homes, foster care homes, orphanages and homeless shelters." Ms. Niarchos founded Karaoke Kare out of her participation in Landmark Education's Self-Expression and Leadership Program (SELP), which calls for participants to work on a community project with the idea of contributing something meaningful to the community, extending invitations to others to take on leadership roles as well so that the project can live on in the community even if the founder is no longer active with it. "It was important to me not only to entertain patients at holiday time but to give them the opportunity to sing from their hearts as well and to build an ongoing community effort that had people from many different walks of life (administrators, volunteers, patients, visitors and singers) working together for the common good. "The organization was created and the event organized in less than ten days, after Linda Gendell, my project coach, suggested I think of another project when the first one I initiated wasn't going anywhere. When she asked me what I was passionate about, the answer was easy: music and singing. From that moment on, everything fell into place miraculously. "Ellen Fasulo, a friend of mine who was in the hospital the last two and a half weeks for knee replacement surgery and rehabilitation, took on a leadership role. Despite her physical condition, she persisted on the phones, asking the hospital's administration to approve the show to get it off the ground. She then linked with the hospital's auxiliary and the head nurse on the floor and received their support as well as the help of nurses' aides and others who helped transport patients to the unit dining area for the show. She also used every opportunity in physical and recreational therapy to invite fellow patients. I was so impressed with her determination to make this happen. After all, she had suffered a mild stroke a few years ago, had just had knee replacement surgery on her "good" leg and was in unbearable pain whenever her medication wore off."

The night of the performance, Vincent Franco, a resident of Seaford who also is passionate about karaoke and loves to sing the songs of such great talents as Frank Sinatra, Englebert Humperdinck, The Platters and David Lee Roth, served as the karaoke jockey and emcee, provided the karaoke equipment, and sang a few songs, including "Summer Wind" and "I'm Just a Gigolo." He was joined by his wife Beverly for a lively rendition of "All I Have to do is Dream," which brought Mrs. Franco into the audience for some up-close and personal serenading.

Leo Lozito, a resident of Glen Head and long-time member of the Long Island Opera Company, which is no longer performing, also sang with the group. He offered "O Sole Mio" and "Mama" in Italian, "Some Enchanted Evening," and joined Mrs. Niarchos in a Phantom of the Opera duet, "All I Ask of You." On her own, Mrs. Niarchos, a resident of

Upper Brookville, sang "The Rose" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." The event became even more exciting when three young karaoke fans, who were visiting their grandmother in the hospital, participated with a few of their own favorite songs ("Doo Wa Diddy Diddy" and "These Boots are Made for Walkin" among them!).

"It was such a joy to see young people singing old favorites, laughing and having a good time. It was contagious to the patients, and many of them were smiling from ear to ear!" said Mrs. Niarchos. "I know that music can be uplifting and healing; I only wish we could sing to patients all day long!"

Greenvale resident and Glen Cove Hospital patient Olimpia Derasmo, the grandmother of karaoke singers Dominick Campagno of Mineola and his cousins Olivia Dominique and Antonio Brudente of Greenvale was grateful for the show. "It was beautiful that these singers donated their time on New Year's Eve to make us all smile. I don't think there would be many people who would do something like that," she said. "God bless them."

Mrs. Niarchos said singers in

Suffolk County and New York City, as well as a KJ as far away as New Jersey, have already expressed interest in participating in Karaoke Kare, and she expects the organization to continue to grow nationally and internationally. "We would love to hear from anyone who would like to join the growing Karaoke Kare network as a KJ or singer, or who wants singers from Karaoke Kare to perform at their institution," she said. "They should contact Leo Lozito via e-mail at [email protected] or, if e-mail isn't available, at 516-671-7432 and leave their name, phone number, whether they're a KJ, singer or institution representative, their availability (days, nights, weekdays, weekends) and the geographical area in which they would like to participate."

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