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Columbia Association New York City Fire Department

Our 84th Annual
Scholarship Dinner Dance


was held on June 20, 2018 at

Russo’s on the Bay,
162-45 Cross Bay Blvd.
Howard Beach section of Queens


2018 PERSON OF THE YEAR

DAC MICHAEL F. GALA, JR.

Chief Michael Gala Jr is a 31 year veteran of the FDNY who joined the department in July 1987 after serving 6 years with the NYPD. While he loved his time with the police department he was a lifelong fire buff and it was his childhood dream to eventually join the bravest.

Chief Gala’s father Michael Gala Sr retired in 1988 after 32 years of service as a Lieutenant in Engine 286, after serving 20 years in Engine 283 from 1956-1976. The frequent visits to the quarters of Engine 283 and Squad 4, first on Bristol Street and then on Howard Ave got Chief Gala hooked on the Fire Department.

Chief Gala’s career started as a Proby in Engine 282 before transferring to Ladder 132. After his promotion to Lieutenant he returned to Ladder 148 as an assigned officer. Following the tragic events of 9/11 he was promoted to captain and covered in Divisions 8 and 11 before returning to Ladder 148 as its Company Commander. A promotion to Battalion Chief in 2007 led him back to Division 8. In 2009 then Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano selected Chief Gala to oversee the Bureau of Uniformed Personnel. This was a tremendous learning curve for Chief Gala which broadened his administrative skills. He was also permanently assigned to Battalion 48. In 2015 he was promoted to Deputy Chief and assigned to Division 3, while continuing his role as Chief of personnel. In 2016 Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro promoted Chief Gala to Deputy Assistant Chief and designated him the Deputy Manhattan Borough Commander, again testing his skills in a new and challenging assignment.
Chief Gala could not have accomplished any of this without the steadfast support of his wonderful family. Chief Gala was born and raised in Brooklyn New York. He currently lives in the Gravesend section with his beautiful wife Vita, their three children Robert, Bianca and Junior Deputy Assistant Chief Anthony as well as their dog Blue.

 


2018 PRESIDENTS AWARD

JOANNE BARBARA

I was born on February 26, 1950 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  Although I was the only child of Ann and Emil Lento, I was never alone.  As a member of a large extended Italian family I was always surrounded by loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  My Dad was a NYC sanitation worker as were my grandfather and some uncles, but no one in my family was a member of the FDNY.

Growing up in Bay Ridge in the 50's was very different from how young people occupy their free time today.  Children played sidewalk games outside all day which was an education in itself.  Little did I know that one of my neighborhood friends would one day become my husband - Jerry Barbara.

I graduated from Ft. Hamilton H.S. in Brooklyn and then went on to Staten Island College, all along dating that fellow who lived two houses from where I grew up.  Life went by quickly in those years.  Jerry went into the Navy in 1969, joined the FDNY in 1970 and we were married in 1971.  Although Jerry was the firefighter I always felt like I was part of the FDNY as well.  Children came along and Caren and Paul were naturally a big part of our lives, but Jerry always found time to study and was on the top of each promotional exam eventually reaching the rank of Deputy Asst. Chief.

While Jerry was studying, I was the Mom.  I took care of everyone's hectic schedules and made certain that things ran smoothly at home.  In 1988, I began working at Seaview Radiology in Staten Island.  What began as a part-time job, lasted 16 years and became a home away from home until the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.  That infamous day changed all of our lives and continues to do so now.

In the days, weeks and months following Sept. 11th I felt I had more to offer the Fire Dept. than many other family members in similar situations because of Jerry's leadership positions.  I decided to get involved in the many groups, funds, and organizations that were established to aid the families of the victims.  At the same time, the active and retired members of the FDNY attempted to fill the voids that were left in the aftermath of the most horrific terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in our lifetime.  I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the members of the FDNY for their tireless efforts, time taken away from their own families and the pain they must feel knowing their FDNY brothers are gone.

Following Sept. 11th, Mayor Guiliani formed the Twin Towers Fund to benefit families of all New York City's lost first responders and asked my daughter Caren and I to represent the families of the FDNY.  That marked the beginning of many years of involvement in preserving and honoring the members of those lost.   Early on I became an active member of the FD Family Assistance Unit which among many other projects advocated for proper memorials for our lost loved ones.   Along with other groups, I also lobbied the U.S.  Congress to prompt an investigation into the faulty radio transmissions that hampered the rescue efforts and resulted in many more needless fatalities.  I am thankful to the many  FDNY family members with whom I cooperated with throughout these efforts.  Although some were new faces to me initially we quickly bonded over our common goals and grew closer.

After Jerry's 31 active years on the FDNY, I am now one of the wives left behind.  I have a new role and a different direction for myself in keeping Jerry's memory alive.

Together with my children Caren and Paul, I established scholarships for the college-bound students of Grady H.S. (Jerry's alma mater) and well as the children of the FDNY Chief's and FDNY Columbia Associations.  We also provide financial assistance for Columbia Association members who are studying for promotional exams.  My children and I have sponsored a Burn Unit in Staten Island University Hospital and Jerry is prominently honored in the Hospital's auditorium for our generosity to the educational department.  In addition, we recently donated a twelve passenger FDNY Family Transport van to help those still suffering from the aftermath and continuing ailments of Sept. 11th.

This year we will host our 17th Annual Chief Jerry Barbara Game at Richmond County Bank Ballpark in Staten Island.  Our fundraiser - although modest - is a fun time for family and friends to get together to remember a good guy, a dedicated Dad and a loving husband.  Keeping Jerry's legacy alive is our goal.

My treasured accomplishments are our children Caren and Paul.  After graduating from Cornell University and NYU and spending many years working in the financial communications industry in lower Manhattan, Caren is now a devoted mom to Thomas and Elena.  Paul and his wife Jen are the proud parents of Alexis, Luke and Kate.  Paul continues in his father's footsteps by contributing to the Staten Island community.  As an emergency medical physical at SIUH, Paul's emergency medical duties overlap with the FDNY on a daily basis.  I am overjoyed with each of their achievements and look forward to seeing their children prosper.

I now reside in Scotch Plains, N.J. with my husband of five years, John Fesken.  Together we have seven grandchildren and are loving nurturing grandparents to each of them. Life is certainly different than expected for each of us, but it is nevertheless a good life.

Although not a firefighter myself, I am honored to be part of the fire service community for the past 47 years.

May God Bless the FDNY
God Bless the USA!
and always,
"343" NEVER FORGET!

 


2018 Humanitarian Award

COLUMBUS HERITAGE COALITION

Columbus Heritage Coalition: Preserving Italian American History

The Columbus Heritage Coalition represents approximately 20,000 members and more than 50 member organizations. As proud Italian Americans, we recognize that our history and heritage is a cultural pillar in so many American cities from coast to coast. The accomplishments and achievements of the Italian-American community continue to have a profound and lasting impact on the country and our collective identity. As an organization, we strive to preserve Columbus Day as a national holiday and avail ourselves of any and all legal, political and legislative initiatives to challenge attempts to disregard the vital legacy of Christopher Columbus.

Angelo Vivolo
President
Columbus Heritage Coalition 

 


2018 Special Recognition Award

LORENZA LAIN

Lorenza Lain è attualmente Direttore dell’Hotel Ca’ Sagredo dal 2007.
Dopo una carriera in Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Baglioni Hotels e THI, ha curato personalmente l’opening del Palazzo, considerato oggi tra i più importanti in Italia, vincitore di numerosi Awards internazionali. E’ vincitrice dell’ambito premio “Excellent” come “Personalità del Turismo 2017”, con la seguente motivazione: “Con grande passione, Lorenza Lain ha riscoperto e valorizzato l’anima e la memoria storica di Palazzo Sagredo, rendendolo oggi luogo simbolo di ospitalità e creatività culturale ben oltre la sua naturale vocazione alberghiera.“

Oltre al ruolo di GM di Ca’ Sagredo riveste tra i più prestigiosi incarichi a livello istituzionale come: Presidente Skal International sezione Venezia, consigliere Categoria Hotel 5 stelle Associazione Veneziana Albergatori, ambasciatore del Principato di
Monaco per il Turismo d'Affari, Vice Presidente International Columbia Association – New York, membro del Consillium Management del turismo-Università Ca’ Foscari.

***
Lorenza Lain is currently Manager of the Hotel Ca 'Sagredo since 2007. After a brilliant career in Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Baglioni Hotels and Turin Hotels International, she personally oversaw the opening of the Palace which is now considered
one of most important hotels in Italy, winner of many international prizes and worldwide recognizements.

She is the winner of the prize “Excellent” awarded as "Personality of Tourism 2017" for the following reason: "With great passion, Lorenza Lain has discovered and developed the soul and the historical memory of Palazzo Sagredo, making it today the symbol of hospitality and cultural creativity far beyond its natural hotel vocation."

In addition to the role of GM of Ca 'Sagredo, Mrs. Lain performs some of the most prestigious instituional and international roles, as : President Skal International Venice section, Advisor for 5 stars Hotels category in Venetian Hotel Association, Ambassador of the Principality of Monaco for the Business Tourism, Vice President International Columbia Association - New York, Member of the Board of Tourism Management- University Ca 'Foscari Venice.