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Regular UserEllen Schisler
Friday, May 5, 2006 3:38 PM -0400
Ambassador News 2006 
Autism Awareness Ambassador
News and Events

Our Ambassadors are hard at work planning events and building partnerships to spread awareness.  Below are just a few of the hundreds of activities planned for April.  Check back often for updates.

COSAC is proud to announce that we have Ambassadors in 21 states and Canada and India!
Outside of New Jersey, our Ambassadors are spreading autism awareness in:
Alabama · Alaska · California · Colorado · Delaware · District of Columbia · Georgia · Iowa · Kansas
Kentucky · Louisiana · Maine · Maryland · Massachusetts · Michigan · New Hampshire
New York · Ohio · Pennsylvania · Washington

To return to Autism Awareness Month Headquarters, click here.

Last Updated 4/25/06.


April 28, 2006
Nancy Burke is organizing the First Annual Scavenger Hunt for Autism Awareness at the Senior Center in Washington Township (Gloucester County).  Event starts at 7:00pm.  Click here for more information or call Nancy at (856) 227-3739 or email [email protected].  

May 3, 2006
Jack DeWitt is coordinating a Fundraiser at Dewey’s Flatiron, 210 5th Avenue, New York, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. Tickets $40.  Click here for more event information.  Jack, a psychologist in Glen Ridge School District, is also organizing: four bake sales within his district, a Dress Down Day, a daily
e-mail/voice mail “Fact about Autism” for faculty and a daily morning announcement for students in grades 3 to 6!

Gayle Kmeiczak is organizing a Swarovski Crystal Autism Awareness Bracelet Sale during April to benefit COSAC. For more information, contact: [email protected].

Melissa Silke will be holding a Party Lite Candle Event on April 8th to benefit COSAC.


Nicoletta Sacco, of Midland School, sold COSAC’s Autism Awareness key chains, t-shirts, wristbands and magnets as a fundraiser.  As of March 22, she has already raised $650!  Midland School also had a school spirit day planned for April 21, where all of those who purchased COSAC “Solve the Autism Puzzle” t-shirts will wear them.  


Junior Ambassadors, Grace Huegel, along with Student Body president, Caitlyn Hackmann, and all of the other students at Saint Benedict School in Holmdel, NJ are promoting Autism Awareness Week from April 24 – April 29.  Throughout the week, the art classes will be coloring Autism Awareness ribbons that will be displayed in the main hallway.  Also, each class will be given a huge puzzle piece and as a class come up with one Autism fact they learned through their studies and speakers.  Speakers will include Caitlyn and her mom, as well as Kayla and Kelly Huegel, who will speak to each class about what it is like to live with and love someone affected by Autism. 

Annie Pete is creating a slide show presentation about Autism, PDD-NOS and Asperger’s Disorder and emailing it the entire Galloway Township Public School District.

Kitty Stark is putting together an Autism information packet to distribute to the staff at the Springfield Schools Special Services Department.  The Autsm Kids Fact Sheet will also be sent home with all students.

Jim Armstrong distributed puzzle piece ribbons for all the teachers at Eldridge Park Elementary School in Lawrenceville, NJ.  The school also hung a poster in the front lobby celebrating Autism Awareness Month.

Teachers at the Eldridge Park Elementary School proudly wear their puzzle ribbons.

Lauren Scnell is coordinating activities at Hamilton School in Bridgewater, including a bake sale, donation box, penny war and “Tuesday Tests” for staff with quizes on Autism.  Test winners get $5 gift certifcates to Dunkin Donuts!

Tiziana DiMauro, a teacher at the Y.A.L.E. School (located in the Hess School in Mays Landing) set up an information display outside of her classroom (see below).  Her preschool class also blew bubbles with the regular ed. preschoolers on April 3rd and took pictures and made a collage.



Nutley, NJ:  Ambassador Maria Divins has arranged for an Autism Awareness banner to be hung in Nutley, recognizing Autism Awareness Month, as well as COSAC as NJ’s leading resource and support agency.  Additionally, Nutley Commissioner Mauro Tucci will declaire April as Autism Awareness Month in a township resolution, and flyers, information cards and ribbons will be available to the public at the Nutley Town Hall and the Nutley Public Library.  The Children’s Health Fair will also highlight Autism in early May.

Maplewood, NJ:  A group of Ambassadors in Maplewood, including Therese Ojibway and Mary Beth Walsh, joined together to form “ASK: US” — Autism Spectrum Kids’ Understanding Supporters to raise awareness.  The group will be recognized local businesses who have demonstrated of exemplary service, friendliness and commitment to individuals with autism and their families in South Orange (Rite Aid, It’s a Wrap and Pirates Pizza) and Maplewood (Roman Gourmet Pizza, Town Video, St. James Gate Pub, Freeman’s Fish Market and The Village Ice Cream Parlor).   In addition to the awards, families are also posting ribbons with information cards on lamp posts. hanging posters in shop windows, talking to school groups, and hosting a film night at Memorial Library
featuring first person documentaries about individuals with autism.

Alexis Gianelos created “Recycle for Research,” collecting new and used items from households as donations.  She then auctions the items on Ebay and proceeds benefit NAAR/Autism Speaks.  

Francine Palumbo Stankiewicz, an instructor at the Atlantic Cape Community College in Cape May, is planning a library display that will feature Autism Question & Answer handouts and fact sheets.  Francine will also be promoting FACES April 3rd Blow Bubbles for Autism Day.  

(Right to Left)  Librarian Susanne Sacchetti, MLIS;  Francine Palumbo Stankiewicz; and Francine’s son, 9-year-old Dennis Township Elementary School student, KC Stankiewicz.  KC is holding the plaque by the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders proclaiming April 2006 as Autism Awareness Month.

Mary Hernandez of River Edge FOCUS (Families of Children United for Special Needs) has set up a display the River Edge Public Library featuring the COSAC Awareness Poster and informational material. In the children’s section, Autism Awareness ribbon coloring sheets are being distributed this month as well as COSAC’s “Autism Fact Sheet: Just for Kids!”

Tim Hitzel set up a display at the Lawrence Branch of the Mercer County Library. He also wrote letters to the editors of the Trenton Times and the Lawrence Ledger.

Cathy Douma set up two display cases at the Library of Morristown and Morris Township, as well as in the Morris County Library, in addition to distributing information to churches.  

Cathy Wachtel, an ambassador from Irvine, California, set up a display at her local library.


Marlene DeSavino has written an article about her life with her son and autism and has submitted it to various news sources for publication, including the AP, the Bergen Record and Pascack Valley Community Life.  

Look for PSA Campaign organized by Autism Speaks and The Ad Council on TV/Radio/Print/Cable/Radio/Internet.

Maria Teresa Canha was featured in an article published in The Montclair Times.   The article also discussed the many events she and Jenny Bar-Yaacov are helping to organize in the Montclair community.
A letter written by Adrienne Robertiello appeared in the April 16th Courier News.
Theresa Saracinello, David Hitzel’s proud godmother, had her letter to the editor published in the April 20th edition of the Hunterdon County Democrat.


Leila Farshian is planning a parent panel at Stepping Stones in Fairlawn, NJ.

Ramona Walsh of New York Life Investment Management had an article and resource information included in her HR
Department’s weekly news email to all employees.

Ashok Shah gave a presentation on “Autism Overview – A Parent’s Perspective” to an audience of about 50-60 employees at work.

Deadline for COSAC’s Sibling Essay Contest – “Autism:  Celebrating the Differences” has been extended to April 21st.

Ava Fiddle will be collecting art supplies for art therapy programs to help individuals with autism and raise awareness.~ She will also set up a library display and a bulletin board at her school, GW Middle School, Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Elizabeth Walsh will be making presentations explaining autism to all of the classes (K through 8) in her parochial

Erin O’Connor, 4th grader at Lafayette School in Chatham, wrote a letter to her mayor asking him to recognize April as Autism Awareness Month.  Erin wrote about her brother:  “John can do so many wonderful things.  I want Chatham to realize he is here and part of the community.  I want people not to be afraid to ask question about autism. If more people would understand who and what my brother is like, they would love him as much as I do. I am asking that Chatham Township and Borough to take part in making April Autism Awareness Month.   If you could sign this it would make me so proud knowing that I am making a difference for my brother!”


Borders Books & Music in Fort Lee is hosting COSAC’s Bergen/Essex Support Group on April 28th.  Borders in Wayne is putting up an Autism Awareness display during April.  Borders in Flemington hosted a reading from the book [Link]Voices from the Spectrum:  Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People with Autism, and Professionals Share their Wisdom on April 5th.  Co-editors Cinday Ariel & Robert Naseef along with contributing essayists, including COSAC member Andy Abere, read essays as well.  

Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Brick is also putting up an Autism Awareness display during April.

Thank you to the Girl Scouts for their assistance with mailing this year’s Ambassador Kits!

Girl Scouts 001.jpg


Thank you to the following “Online Ambassadors” who have set up webpages!  Click here to view what they’ve created or to set up your own.

Carin Diaz
Laura Doherty
Samantha Gandia
Tracey Gray-Walker
Eric Jager
Gail Kmieczak
Shannon Kowalski
Donna Krenc
Mark Mastroianni
Jill Nevad
Jennifer Pryor
Marco Robertiello
Sonali and Payal Sadarangani
Brian & Crystal Shook
Elizabeth Sinnerard
Barbara Strate
Yolanda Toole
Michelle Trainello
MaryTara Wurmser


Branchburg Township Public Schools — Michele Gardner and Sally Klemm **PAJAMA THEME!**
Evesham Township Schools —  Ann M. Britt
Fair Lawn Public Schools — Dianna Maranilli
Garfield School — Jennifer DeWitt
Glen Ridge Schools — Jack DeWitt
Hamilton School, Bridgewater Raritan Regional School District — Laurel Dickinson
Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ — Darlene Davis
Hillsborough Middle School — Robin Pidany
JFK Johnson Pediatric Rehab: You & Me School — Michelle Mead
Littleton Elementary School — Jessica VanDerhoef
Livingston Public Schools — Michelle Lawton
Morgan Elementary — Patricia Walter
Mount Ephraim Board of Education — Jennifer Burgoon
Nellie K. Parker Elementary School, Hackensack, NJ — Kristen Gambardella
Neptune Township Public Schools/Early Childhood Center — Holly Heron
Pequannock Township High School — Michele Crefeld
Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. — Linda Mulligan
St. Benedict’s School – Carin Hugel (for Kids)
Willowglen Academy, Sparta, NJ — Annette Falkowski


At the Lawrence Township Council Proclamation presentation, from left to right: Mayor Michael Powers, COSAC Board Member Kathy Moore, her son Kevin Petranich, Ambassadors Tim Hitzel and Alexis Gianelos.

A special thank you to Alexis Gianelos for her hard work in securing Autism Awareness Proclamations from many of the townships listed below.

Did we leave off your town?  Email [email protected] to let us know about your community’s proclamation.

The State of New Jersey, Governor Jon Corzine

Cape May County
Hunterdon County
Mercer County
Monmouth County

Absecon (Peter Elco, Mayor)
Egg Harbor Township (James McCullough, Mayor)
Folsom (Thomas Ballistreri, Mayor)
Margate City (Vaughan Reale, Mayor)

Cliffside Park, (Gerald Calabrese, Mayor)
Englewood (Michael Wildes, Mayor)
Fort Lee (Jack Alter, Mayor)
Franklin Lakes (Thomas Donch, Mayor)
Little Ferry (Thomas Quirico, Mayor)
Mahwah (Richard Martel, Mayor)
Ramsey (Richard Muti, Mayor)
Rutherford (Bernadette McPherson, Mayor)
Wood-Ridge (Paul A. Sarlo, Mayor)

Burlington City (Darlene Scocca, Mayor)
Burlington (Stephen George, Mayor)
Cinnaminson (Joseph Donnelly, Mayor)
Delanco (Kate Fitzpatrick, Mayor)

Barrington (John Rink, Mayor)
Camden City (Gwendolyn Faison, Mayor)
Cherry Hill (Bernard Platt, Mayor)
Haddonfield (Letitia Colombi, Mayor)
Haddon Heights (Susan Griffith, Mayor)
Haddon Township (William Park, Mayor)

Cape May
Dennis (Georgeann Pettit, Mayor)
Wildwood (Carl Groon, Mayor)

Bloomfield (Raymond McCarthy, Mayor)
Glen Ridge (Carl Bergmanson, Mayor)
Montclair (Edward Remsen, Mayor)
Nutley, NJ
Roseland (Michael Pacio, Mayor)

Glassboro (Leo McCabe, Mayor)
Mantua (Timothy Chell, Mayor)
Monroe (Michael Gabbianelli, Mayor)
Westville (William Packer, Mayor)

Bayonne City (Joseph Doria, Mayor)
East Newark (Joseph Smith, Mayor)
Harrison (Raymond McDonough, Mayor)

Flemington (William Martin, Mayor)

East Windsor (Janice Mironov, Mayor)
Lawrence (Michael Powers, Mayor)
Trenton (Douglas Palmer, Mayor)
West Windsor Township (Shing-Fu Hsueh, Mayor)

Jamesburg (Anothony Lamantia, Mayor)
Monroe (Richard Pucci, Mayor)
Old Bridge (James Phillips, Mayor)
Plainsboro Township (Peter Cantu, Mayor)
South River (Robert Szegeti, Mayor)
Woodbridge (Frank Pelzman, Mayor)

Hazlet (Michael Sachs, Mayor)
Keyport (John Merla, Mayor)
Manalapan (Drew Shapiro, Mayor)
Manasquan (Richard Dunne, Mayor)
Middletown (Thomas Hall, Mayor)
Millstone (Nancy Grbelja, Mayor)

Chatham (William O’Connor, Mayor)
Mount Arlington (Arthur Ondish, Mayor)
Parsippany-Troy Hills (Michael Luther, Mayor)

Berkeley (Jason Varano, Mayor)
Dover (Paul Brush, Mayor)
Jackson (Sean Giblin, Mayor)
Long Beach
Ocean Township (William Larkin, Mayor)
Pine Beach (Russell Corby, Mayor)

Hawthorne (Patrick Botbyl, Mayor)
Paterson (Jose Torres, Mayor)
Wayne (Scott Rumana, Mayor)

Bernardsville (Jay Parsons, Mayor)
Green Brook (Patricia Walsh, Mayor)
North Plainfield (Janice Allen, Mayor)

Byram (Eskil Danielson, Mayor)

Cranford (Daniel Aschenbach, Mayor)
Roselle Park (Joseph DeIovio, Mayor)
Scotch Plains (Martin Marks, Mayor)
Summit (Jordan Gatt, Mayor)

Frelinghuysen (Thomas Charles, Mayor)
To return to our “Autism Awareness Month Headquarters,” click here.