I am incredibly honored to be able to tell you that i have been selected to receive, along with several others, the 2009 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The Award is meant to celebrate the cultural diversity of our nation, and to salute Ellis Island in particular, for its contributions to our rich history. Being of Finnish and Italian descent, I, like so many others, can tell stories of relatives who came to the United States through Ellis Island. It’s a mecca for those seeking a new and better way of life. Not only am I receiving the award, but I was also asked to paint the official artwork for this year’s ceremony, which takes place in May. I’d like to share the finished piece with you. I’m very proud of it. I’ve donated the original painting to NECO and they will auction it off to raise funds for their many incredible programs. There will also be a 3-D limited edition based on the artwork that will be sold to the public to raise more funds. The Award is given out by an organization called NECO (National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation), a group dedicated to supporting and fostering philanthropic projects, and celebrating diversity throughout the country. For example, NECO has partnered with Gift of Life, Inc. to bring children from all over the world to the United States for life-saving surgery. They have also sponsored projects like Victor Hobson’s (NY Jets) Harlem hospital holiday toy drive, Boys Hope Girls Hope of New Orleans, and the Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation World Leadership Congress in Washington DC.
I have to thank my new friend Rosemarie Taglione for getting me involved with NECO and for asking me to do this piece of artwork. I’m looking forward to the ceremony in May and I hope the artwork raises lots of money for NECO’s good works. You can contact NECO directly at 212-755-1492 if you’re interested in purchasing the limited editions.