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Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958

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James Raymond Scholarship Award

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James Raymond Scholarship Award for 2007

Jane Cozzi Introduced Kristine McInerney,
FOLA's James Raymond Scholarship Award Winner for 2007,
at the January 27, 2007 FOLA Dinner

This is a special year. We are very honored to have with us tonight two wonderful men – Rich Pinskey and Ken Soo. Dan, Matt and I first met with these two special men about a month or two ago. They are the founders of an organization called Ignite the Spirit. And their fire is a good one! It is to motivate people much like ourselves to help one another, to help those less fortunate than we, to carry our brothers when life becomes too heavy to bear it alone. These guys do this on a daily basis, holding various types of fundraisers, creating and selling calendars and t-shirts and making contacts seeking out those who need our help.

When we first met with Rich and Ken, I was really surprised to see that these men who do so much and are really our heroes from long ago -- these men think of us as heroes too!!! Heroes who survived one of the worst disasters of its kind! Heroes who have moved on to live out our lives as best we know how, raising our own families, instilling good values and providing the love and nurturing care that brought us to where we are today. We are the heroes who have not and will not forget what occurred almost 50 years ago. This is how they view all of us.

But we know that it is truly we who are indebted to Rich and Ken and all who have gone before them and all who will come after them, risking their lives on a daily basis to save others.

This got me to thinking of our lives so long ago and how we lived: our old neighborhood where we all knew each other and everyone took care of everyone, particularly the “kids” on the block; all the grown-ups watched out for all of the kids; the world was indeed a very different place than it is today.

It also got me to thinking of who the real heroes were and still are – our Moms and Dads. Most of us have raised a family and some of us are fortunate enough to have “grandchildren”. Can you just imagine what our parents and our grandparents went through on that day, and all of the days after???

James Raymond, Mr. Raymond, was one of those parents. His family, his children were in school that day; but then again, we were all “his children” for that is how he took care of us and our school – like we were his kids and the school was our home away from home. He guarded us and watched over us as much as the nuns and priests did. He was the man with the cap that you liked to see around – that you some how felt a little bit better knowing he was there. And he was there that day and he saved many lives that day and he is truly one of our heroes!

And so once again it is our privilege to honor Mr. Raymond by presenting a scholarship in his name to someone just like us; to someone who comes from a family very similar to our own, someone whose Mom and Dad are working hard to provide a good life for her and her two brothers, working hard to give them the best education possible and we all know that in today’s world that is not any easy task.

Kristine McInerney is a freshman at Mother Guerin Academy, her brother Tom attends St. Patrick High School, and her brother William goes to St. Francis Borgia grade school: three children – each attending catholic schools. That is quite an endeavor for Kristine’s Mom and Dad. You see, Mr. McInerney is not a stock broker, not into real estate, not an attorney or a doctor. Kristine’s Dad is a fireman. Kristen’s parents are much like our own parents, common everyday people who just want the best life can offer to their children.

But we know better -- they are in no way common. Just like our Moms and Dads were not, are not, common, they are the real heroes, the real celebrities.

And so we honor Mr. And Mrs. McInerney today and we look at them as mirrors of our own Moms and Dads, as a mirror surely of our beloved Mr. Raymond.

So it is with great pleasure we present the James Raymond scholarship to Kristine McInerney from the Friends of OLA. And it gives us even greater pleasure to announce that our good friends from Ignite the Spirit, Ken and Rich, are going to match the scholarship funds being awarded to Kristine today which will enable us to pay for a substantial portion of her sophomore year tuition.

Thank you so very much, Rich and Ken, for helping us in our quest to return the loving care shown to us so many years ago by our heroes: the firemen who were there; the many policemen and others who helped out; our Moms and our Dads; and of course, Jim Raymond -- Mr. Raymond. We will not forget.

Enjoy your evening, my friends -- enjoy each day, for remembering yesterday can only help us to appreciate what we have today, and motivate us to make each day, each moment count.