The judges had a very tough job in making their decision. In the end they picked a top three winners and two honorable mentions!
FIRST PLACE: Lorraine Sangemino, who was nominated by her daughter-in-law, Michelle.
I have had the privilege of knowing my mother-in-law, Lorraine Sangemino for 22 years. She is an amazing woman with a wonderful heart. Lorraine, has taken in about (20) Foster Children, (6) Adopted children, and has given birth to (3) children over the past 68 years of her life. She is a woman with a true compassion for children so much so that she watches over her (4) Grand children daily while the parents are off to work. Some might view Lorraine as a person who took on more than she could handle, and others might even think the adopted children may have been better off in a home with less children, however I would beg to differ. Lorraine has sacrificed everything for all of her children equally. Lorraine is an incredible human being that should be admired for her unconditional love and selflessness, for her children. I would have to believe that after reading about Lorraine, you would find her more than deserving of this honor.
Please keep in mind she has done this on her own, she had lost her husband over 15 years ago. Today Lorraine continues to live with (4) of the (6) adopted children the youngest being 18 years old, and watches her Grandchildren who she adores with every breath she takes. One could only hope that there are more Mother’s like Lorraine in this world.
Lorraine pictured here with just a small portion of her vast family.
SECOND PLACE: Mary Anne Russo, who was nominated by her friend, Mary Buoneto
Through each one of her children, Mary Anne Russo, exhibits a different "mothering" quality. In conversations she always talks about one of her children and if the conversation should change direction toward her, she always steers it back to her child.
Mary Anne is the supportive mother-in-law to Joanna and her son, Guy.
Stephen died twenty years ago, at age eight, and a bereaved mom, she has ministered to parents on their loses.
Her son Matthew blessed her with three grandchildren, gracing her with the title "grandma" and she teaches each grandchild about the baby Jesus.
David served our country in the Army and while he was deployed she kept family members updated and knew God was watching over him.
When St. Christopher Ottile Agency needed a special family for baby Daniel, they contacted Mary Anne and husband. She said "yes" twice again when NY Foundling Hopsital called -- John Francis and Maria Grace became members of the Russo family. You see Daniel, John Francis and Maria Grace all have special needs and Mary became an advocate for their concerns.
Each child has brought joy and hapiness and it is witnessed in the glow of her eyes in conversation!
Mary Anne is pictured here receiving her award with Pat Shea, Director of MOMMAS House,
her daughter Maria Grace, and two of the contest judges, Linda Mangano, editor of the
Bethpage Tribune and Jay Fund, president of Hunter Business School.
THIRD PLACE: Maura Mitchell, who was nominated by her friend, Patty Knap
My good friend Maura has not had an easy life, yet she always makes sure she does the best for her three children. A single mom for over ten years, her children range from 16 - 21. Maura works seven days a week, as a dental assistant and home health aide, in order to provide Catholic education for her kids and to continue to stay in her Franklin Square house. Constantly exhausted, Maura never complains, but always asks how everyone else is and what she can do to help. Her house is over 100 years old and there's constantly work or repairs that need to be done; it's not always easy having tenants; her car seems to always be in the shop....it's all additional stress on Maura but her main way of handling the stress is through prayer and Mass. After working a long day, Maura always makes a full dinner for her kids and often one of her many friends or neighbors who stop by. She often has relatives or friends from Ireland visiting the U.S. and staying with her and somehow Maura finds the room for them in her two bedroom place. She never seems to get a break, never a vacation, a financial break, or a break from the constant stress of not-always-cooperative or easy teenagers (!), yet she withstands all the struggling with always a smile and a kind word for everyone.
HONORABLE MENTION: Christine Miserandino, who was nominated by her mother, Janet
My daughter Christine has had Lupus for more than half her life. Diagnosed at 15, she is now 33 and has suffered through the ups and mostly downs of this disease. While in college she began writing about her journey, navigating the frightening world of pills, doctors, tests and hospitalizations. She was plagued with life altering fatigue and joint painbut decided to reach out and help others through her website www.butyoudontlooksick.com She has been an inspiration to so many people with "invisible" illnesses
Despite being advised NOT to have children, Christine became pregnant and gave birth to Olivia Emma on July 16,2007. Chris literally risked her health in order to bring this blessing into the world. She gambled with a roll of the dice that her health would not adversely be affected, but unfortunately she lost the gamble and it was. Since having Olivia, Chris' health declined and last year she ended up in a wheelchair for 3 months as the Lupus attacked her central Nervous System and she could not feel her legs. That was a low point for Chris but through it all, Chris was the best mother she could be. Instead of running after her daughter, they sat on the couch and read stories together. Instead of lifting her up and swinging her around, Olivia knew that Mommy's joints hurt and she couldn't do that, so snuggling together was the next best thing.
Chris' health fluctuates daily. Most people's worst day might actually be a good day for Chris, in terms of everyday symptoms, but despite it all Chris loves her daughter with an unbelievable amount of love. She gives her every little bit of energy she has. She knows that she sacrificed alot to have this little angel and she also knows that she was worth it.
So many people admire the work that Chris does for lupus advocacy and admire her for her strentgh and perseverance and someday I am sure Olivia Emma will admire her Mom too. For today loving each other is enough to amke it all worthwhile.
Christine Miserandino with her mother and nominator Janet and daughter Olivia.
HONORABLE MENTION: Patricia Shea, who was nominated by her five children, Dillon, Keara, Meaghan, Siobhan and Deirdre as well as her friend and secretary Sarah Zeitler.
We would like to nominate our mother, Patricia Shea, for Mother of the Year.
She has faced many obstacles throughout her life as a mother and she has persevered through them with strength, dignity and grace.
Her first child was born a genetic disorder resulting in Williams Syndrome. However at the time this syndrome was so rare and the medical community had no knowledge of it. She spent years searching desperately for a diagnosis that would explain all of these problems her son had. It was no doubt a very stressful and trying time for her, but she continued until she got the answer, and ever since she has made sure that Dillon received all the services and care he needed, as well as networking with other families with this syndrome and building a community for Dillon to be a part of. Dillon is 43 years old now and she still cares for him every day of her life.
Her second child seemed to be a healthy beautiful baby, but unfortunately illness struck again, and when Keara was just a toddler she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a type of Cancer that typically occurs in young adulthood. Our mom had to go through another grueling experience of watching her child be constantly sick and in pain, both from her illness and the chemotherapy required to treat it. But again, our mom never gave up and she took excellent care of Keara, which is probably why she recovered fully and has been in remission ever since.
In the meantime our mom had three more children, her last one at the age of 42, when doctors told her she was too old to have children and she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
Then she faced another tremendously difficult time which resulted in the dissolution of her marriage, leaving her to care for all five children primarily on her own ever since.
She has spent her life devoted to caring for us and making sure we have always had everything we needed, and frequently much of what we wanted as well. Most importantly she instilled in us values and ethics that help us lead more fulfilling lives. To this day our family remains close, despite all being grown and moving on with our own lives, we still gather every week for Sunday dinners at Mom’s house. She continues to pass on her parenting skills with her three sons-in-law, and growing brood of grandchildren who love and adore their grandma.
In addition, in her founding and directing of the MOMMAS House organization she has taken her natural role as a mother and extended it to complete strangers. She welcomes young women into her heart and homes to give them the love and nurturing that they were unable to get from their own mothers. Her mission in this is to help these young women become the best mothers that they can be. As such, she has been a mother to hundreds of young women over the years.
Special Thanks to the Judges who took on this difficult task:
Hilary Becker - Real Estate agent of Becker Real Estate Services, Inc. and President of the MOMMAS House Board of Directors.
Jay Fund - President of Hunter Business School and longtime supporter of MOMMAS House.
Linda Mangano - editor of the Bethpage Tribune, and friend and supporter of MOMMAS House.
The winning moms were given a small reception in their honor to celebrate, in addition to some great prizes, including:
Jewelry (Including Tiffany's bracelet), Gift Certificates to Steve Madden, Hemingways, AMEX, A Charmed Life Boutique,
Gift Baskets of beautiful household and personal items, including a vase, wallet, scarves, toiletries and more!!