August 2, 2017

Meet the Nominees for the 2017 Welcome Home Contest & VOTE! [update: votes close Aug 31!]

Table of Contents

Each year, we’re honored to be part of making someone’s life a little brighter with a new outdoor space. This year, the winner will receive a new Unilock patio and healing garden.

Thank you to the Long Island community for your nominations! Now that the nominations are closed, voting is in full swing! The top 5 nominees with the most votes will then go to a panel of 6 judges in September. The panel will select the final winner based on: their story, their current landscape situation, and Above All Masonry’s ability to help make a difference. We’ll then work with the winning family to create the design and then plan to complete the installation this fall!

Every nominee has a heart-felt story to be told and their own reasons of how a new outdoor living space will transform their life. We are thrilled to be able to make one family’s outdoor living dreams come true again this year! Stay tuned for notifications from us (follow us on Facebook and sign up to our email list).

Please note that the nominees are not listed in any specific order.

Submit your vote at the bottom of this page (must be logged into Facebook, one vote, max., per person).

Nominee 1: Parents of Jessy Bomford

Jessy Bomford, nominated her parents, both of whom were diagnosed with cancer. In Jessy’s words: “My father was diagnosed with cancer 6 years ago. He went through surgery chemo and radiation. The cancer was gone. Well, 5 years later, the cancer came back with a vengeance. They tried chemo, but decided surgery was the best option. July 27, 2016, he was operated on. They sent him home with a wound vac. Well, due to all the trauma to the area, the vac caused his artery to rupture. He said he sat up in bed, and heard area pop, and blood started pouring out. I held my dying father in my arms begging him to hold on, that I could hear the sirens coming. By some miracle the Miller Place fire and rescue were able to get Pops to the hospital in time to save him. But when they brought him to the ICU, the artery ruptured again. The nurse reached into the open surgical site and held the artery closed. The Dr put in a stint, but said it was only a ‘band-aid’. Before the end it for the month, August 2016, he underwent 3 more surgeries. Jump ahead to 2017, he was in a lot of pain, the wound wasn’t healing, and the infection was getting worse. He went to the hospital where the team of doctors felt the best course of action would be to remove his left arm (due to the cancer, chemo, radiation, it left his arm useless, and swollen to the point where his skin started to break). In the meantime my mother at 74, started ‘staining’ she thought it was from stress. She went to the Dr and it turned out to be uterine cancer. She had a full hysterectomy on June 13, 3017. June 22,2017 my father underwent what would be a 10-12 hour surgery. We wet to the hospital to see him off. In the meantime I took mother to her follow up Dr visit. The pathology reports came back that she has cervical cancer. She will begin radiation on July 13th. My father survived the operation, it was like 60/40 chance that he would not survive. From the hospital he will go to rehab then come home. His dream was to move to Florida, but now that won’t happen. I would love to create a backyard paradise for my parents to be able to relax and heal. They have lived in the same house in Miller Place for 43 years, but because of my father’s illness, the house/yard has been neglected. I moved up here about year ago to help them. But I am only one person.” You can view Jessy’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 2: William Weidt

Michele A O’Hagan Turner, nominated William “Billy” Weidt, who in the span of 3 years, was divorced, lost his dog, father, brother, and mother. In Michele’s words: “I met William Weidt a little over 2 years ago. He had just gone through a divorce, then he lost his beloved dog, Bruno. Billy was very close to his Mom and Dad, would stop to visit them in his childhood home everyday on his way home from work. Without notice Billy’s Dad got sick and after a short stay in the hospital, his Dad passed away. Billy was devastated to say the least. He made the decision to move home to help his Mom, who’s health was also not too good. Billy also had a younger brother that was a juvenile diabetic and wheelchair bound that lived at home as well. The home had lost its love and sparkle. Everyone lost their zest for living. Billy’s brother EJ’s health deteriorated rapidly after his Dad passed away and sadly EJ passed away from complications from diabetes at only 37. Mom gave up… She ran to Florida to try to start over but her health was too far gone. She sold her home here in NY to Billy and bought a home in Florida hoping to escape her sadness. Unfortunately that stayed with her. Mom didn’t even get to sleep in her new home. She landed in Fla and was so sick that she went right into the hospital. She was discharged after a lengthy stay to a hospital up here in NY, then to a rehab facility where she had to learn how to walk all over again. We thought she was getting stronger. Unfortunately Easter Sunday 2016 Mom had a massive heart attack. Paramedics got her hear beating again but the damage was done. Mom passed away 3 days later. So in under 3 years, he lost everything he’s ever loved. Billy is now the proud owner of his childhood home but is stuck between keeping everything the same to hold onto the memories or making changes and making new memories with me and my children. I know that a new backyard would be just what he’d need. His Dad was an avid gardener and loved to have the greenest lawn on the block. Billy strives to continue that in Dad’s memory.” You can view Michele’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 3: Melissa Smith Jensen

Erin Gardiner Sharon, nominated her friend Melissa Smith Jensen, who has recently endured the sudden loss of a loved one and additional trauma that the family is recovering from. In Erin’s words: “I nominate my amazing, dear friend Melissa Smith Jensen for the healing garden and patio. Her family has been through so much devastation this past year. It would be beautiful for her and her family to have a place to reflect on their deeply missed parents in the place that her family calls home. She is so deserving of this and I really hope she wins the patio and healing garden.” You can view Erin’s Facebook nomination by clicking here. 2017 has been a trying year for Melissa and her family. Her 60-year-old mother passed away unexpectedly in January, which compounded the loss from her father’s passing a few years earlier. This placed Melissa in the role of a primary caretaker for her entire immediate family. One of her brothers has been struggling with a major medical condition and Melissa oversees his care-helping him to get to appointments out of state and additional needs to help him feel more comfortable. The family had been working through the sudden loss of their mother when there was a devastating house fire that completely destroyed her family’s home, resulting in the loss of her mother’s personal items, mementos, and family heirlooms. Melissa’s two brothers were displaced from their childhood family home as a result of the fire and Melissa immediately took on the additional role to make alternative, safe accommodations for everyone, including her mother’s two beloved dogs, Callie and Pebbles. Melissa and her husband willingly took on the responsibility of adopting her mom’s dogs in their family home so that they would not need to be fostered with a new family. Despite all of the sudden setbacks, Melissa has continued to manage her full-time job as a speech therapist treating children and adults with traumatic brain injuries, continuing to take care of her brothers needs, dealing with the aftermath of the house fire, and continuing to be a loving mother to her 4-year-old son, keeping his world as consistent as possible through the sudden changes and transitions the family has had to manage through. Melissa is the type of person that is always there to help others. She has always been a constant pillar of strength, but she has come out of these past 6 months an even stronger person. With the chaos of this year so far, winning this incredible backyard renovation would provide Melissa, her husband, Joe, their 4 year old son, Greyson, and their 3 dogs with a calming and refreshing sanctuary to heal from all the trauma and shock and enjoy their time outside together as a family. A place where they can retreat to and focus on the loving memories of her parents, as well as a place they can start to make new memories together.”  You can view Erin’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 4: Kimberly & Rob

Kimberly Ann and Rob’s young son and daughter both suffer from serious health conditions and Kimberly was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2014. In Kimberly’s own words: “In 2002, I married my best friend Rob. We vowed to be there for each other in sickness and in health but neither of us imagined how many hiccups we would endure in the last 15 years of marriage. We got married at the height of the housing market. So needless to say, as a newly married couple we bought what we could afford – a condominium in Coram. While our condominium was beautiful, there were not many families and we had no backyard for the kids to run around and play in. We had two children, Kevin who is now 12 and Katie who is now 10. We had always hoped and dreamed of being in a house someday, where we could live in a neighborhood full of children for our children but unfortunately sometimes life gets in the way. When Kevin was born, we found out in the hospital that he had a heart condition called Aortic Stenosis. This meant that he would have to be monitored closely by a cardiologist and when he was 13 months old he needed to have a heart procedure to open up his valve. It also meant no contact sports of any kind which eliminated many of the sports that boys love to play. He continues to see his cardiologist every six months who continues to monitor the severity of the stenosis. Our second hiccup came in 2009, when our daughter Katie was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had to undergo almost a year of chemotherapy at NYU’s Hassenfeld Center and because of that I had to take an unexpected leave of absence which ended up lasting for three years. By my side was my husband Rob, who came to every appointment he could go to. Katie was incredibly tough through the whole thing, but as parents our hearts broke for her. She missed out on years of her childhood and playdates because she was always feeling sick and her immune system was compromised from the chemo. Thank God years later her tumor is stable and although she is now completely blind in one eye, she’s a happy 10-year-old. I returned to my teaching job in 2011 and finally felt like things were getting back to normal. We put the house on the market for the second time, only to find out in 2014, that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. With the help of Katie’s oncologists, we were able to get to see the top doctors in NYU again. After a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, I also went through chemotherapy myself. Once again I found myself taking an unexpected leave of absence from work. By my side once again was my husband Rob, to wipe my tears, clean my drains, help me raise my hands over my head and most importantly to tell me every day how beautiful I am even though I was sick everyday and was bald. Times were really tough, every day off was used to take me to and from the city for a doctor’s appointment. He had to reschedule his 2 vacation weeks because my surgery required a week in the hospital and six weeks of recuperation. He also had to be there to take care of our two children. He was a rock for all of us and never complained – not once. I finally returned to work again and last year, we were finally able to buy a house in Stony Brook in the neighborhood we always dreamed of. It’s full of children and families – our dream come true! My husband has always dreamed of having a big backyard to spend time with our family and now we finally have one. We currently have a small concrete patio and It would mean so much to me and the kids to give Rob Hanson (my hubby and their daddy) a new patio to thank him for all he’s done for us over the last several years. Thank you so much for considering him – Kim, Kevin and Katie Hanson” You can view Kimberly’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 5: Linda M.

Sue Morano-Lombardo, nominated her sister-in-law, Linda M. who lost her significant other. In Sue’s words: “I nominate my sister-in-law, Linda M. for your fourth annual patio and healing garden contest. A healing garden is exactly what Linda needs after suddenly losing the love of her life, Marty, in 2010. She has not been able to navigate through life without Marty and finds it difficult to keep up with the home they shared together. Her yard is one of the things she has had to let go due to extreme depression which drains her ambition and energy. Sadly, she has since lost her job too! A backyard healing garden is exactly what she needs on these beautiful sunny summer days to lift her spirits and to clear her head. It would be an enormous gift to someone who splits her time between her daughter and grandchildren while trying to maintain her home with a broken heart.” You can view Sue’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 6: Mary Steadman Lewis

Sally Grego Speciale, nominated her friend Mary Steadman Lewis, who recently lost her son. In Sally’s words: “I’d like to nominate Mary Steadman Lewis who’s wonderful son Matt passed away at 17 from cystic fibrosis. She’s very deserving of this healing garden.” You can view Sally’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 7: Daniel Kennelly

Kim Kennelly and Jill Reith Ontario both nominated Kim’s husband, Daniel Kennelly, who donated a portion of his liver to his young son in 2016, and recently lost his brother. In Kim’s words: “I nominate my husband Daniel Kennelly for the Welcome Home Project. 4 years ago, our youngest son Philip was born with a rare liver disease called Biliary Atresia, that affects the bile ducts. No one knows exactly what causes it and there is no full cure. Most kids end up needing a liver transplant at some point in their life. Philip had a surgery at 8 weeks old which is a temporary “fix” to hopefully hold off having a transplant. His first almost three years were spent in and out of the hospital. He was listed for a transplant in 2015 but remained fairly healthy, then In February 2016, after his 2nd GI bleed, it became clear he needed a transplant sooner than later. With so few donors in New York, he would most likely be waiting several years for an offer and become more sick so we started to look into living donation. Without hesitation, my husband Dan, volunteered to be the first one to be tested. And he was a MATCH! They both went into surgery in May 2016 and despite a few bumps, both are doing wonderfully!! My husband has given to his family selflessly the last few years, by pushing his hobby of car racing to the side and Working extra to cover my lost wages and extra expenses which also means work on and around the house has taken a back seat as well. Then last month he lost his brother, who was his absolute best friend and racing partner to a long battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma. He LOVES to hang out in the backyard and BBQ with family and friends. I could never thank him enough for what he has done for his family. It would be an amazing gift to him for giving our son the gift of life!” You can view Kim’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 8: Kathleen Williams Lewis

AnnMarie Lewis, nominated her sister-in-law, Kathleen Williams Lewis, who is raising her son with the help of her family and friends after the lost her husband in 2013 and being recently diagnosed with Cancer. In AnnMarie’s words: “This little Family has been through so much in the past four years. When David’s mother and father adopted him they envisioned a wonderful long life together, but fate had something else in store for them. Six years ago (approx.) David’s father (my brother) became ill and was in and out of hospitals for almost two years before he passed away on May 24th 2013. Kathy has been holding it together, being both mother and father for this little man. Family and friends have assisted and been as supportive as possible, however, it is very difficult to convince a little boy Daddy is never coming home. Recently, Kathy went for a routine Dr.s appt. where they discovered she had cancer. They had to do a resection of her bowel and in the process her kidneys were damaged. She now has naphostomy tubes as well as a urine bag. Within a week they had to replace the tubes because of infection. Kathy cannot work, so income is extremely limited. As we all know, bills need to be paid no matter how sick you are. Please help us relieve some of the stress while they heal and wait for corrective surgery. Help this little boy who has already had enough in his little life, bring him joy and put a smile on his Mothers face. Help with whatever you can, Kathy and David need you. It takes a village and this garden would most definitely be a blessing” You can view AnnMarie’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 9: Lydia Rodriguez

Leanna Maria, nominated her cousin, Lydia Rodriguez who recently lost both of her parents. In Leanna’s words: “After losing both of her parents tragically and being an only child, she still vowed to make them proud by working 6 days a week long hours to become a homeowner. When dying of pancreatic cancer, all her mother wanted was to know her daughter would own a beautiful home. She worked tirelessly to get that home and less than a year after her mother’s death she closed on her very first home. She deserves this more than anyone I know.” You can view Leanna’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 10: Vidal Family

Lauren Michels, nominated her friend, Denise Gresalfi Vidal and her children, who recently lost her husband, sister, mother, nephew, and brother-in-law. In Lauren’s words: “I nominate one of my dearest friends, Denise Gresalfi Vidal and her children for a new patio and healing garden in memory of her husband, sister, mother, nephew and brother in law. All which they lost in the last three years. Thank you for doing this Above All Masonry Design, Inc.” You can view Lauren’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 11: Signore Family

Karen Sullivan, Kelly Anne, and Charles Butruch all nominated Kim Butruch Signore and her family, who recently lost her son. In Karen’s words: “I nominate Kim Butruch Signore and her family in memory of her beautiful boy Nico. A memory and healing garden would be beautiful.” You can view Karen’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

In Kelly’s words: “I nominate the Signore Family (Kim Signore Butruch) of Miller Place in memory of their beautiful son, Nico, who was tragically killed this past February while riding his bike. Nico was a 14 year old boy with a big heart and a beautiful soul. His sudden loss has left his family and community devastated and in a complete state of shock. This healing garden would help the Signore Family and members of the Miller Place Community heal.” You can view Kelly’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

In Charles’ words: “I nominate the Signore family. On February 24, 2017 – Nico Signore’s life was taken tragically while he was riding his bike on Miller Place Road and Route 25A. He was a 14 year old boy with his whole life ahead of him. He loved everyone and everything. His sudden and tragic death has left his entire family completely devastated and the entire Miller Place Community completely stunned. This patio and healing garden would be a cherished place for the Signore family and members of the Miller Place Community. Thank you, this is a wonderful thing that you are doing.” You can view Charles’ Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 12: Ashley Ventimiglia

Joann Riccardelli, A Manda Mac, Renee Vodopija, and Jen Leigh all nominated their friend Ashley Ventimiglia, who suffers from TSS. In Joann’s words: “Ashley is a wonderful mother of two beautiful children, and a loving wife to a NYC firefighter. She was diagnosed with TSS four years ago. Since that time, Ashley, who is now at the age of 30, has had to endure countless difficult surgeries. Due to very many extended periods of hospital stays, she has had to miss out on many important events, holidays and quality time with her children, family, and friends. By meeting Ashley, you would never know all she has had and continues to endure. She is a beautiful person, with a positive outlook and a great mother, daughter, wife, and friend to all of us. This is just few of the many reasons why Ashley is truly well deserving of this nomination. Ashley is a strong fighter, and I’m so proud of her, but her fight is not over.” You can view Joann’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

In A Manda’s words: “I would like to nominate my friend, Ashley Ventimiglia, she is a devoted wife and mother of 2 beautiful children for the Above All Masonry Design, Inc. #welcomehome2017 contest. In August 2013, she was rushed to the ER where she found out she had TSS. Where she spent the next 6 months straight in the hospital and rehab. Due to the medications they had to amputate some of her toes. Even after her 6 month stay, the past 4 years have been spent in hospital stays and countless surgeries. She has lost so much precious time, birthdays, celebrations and holidays with her family. Ashley herself is only thirty years old and can never work again because of all this. Every day is a struggle, but you would never know it. She remains strong and positive and still tries to help and be there for everyone. She is the bravest woman I know! Ashley doesn’t ask anyone for anything and that is why she truly is the most deserving candidate for patio escape and healing garden.” You can view A Manda’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

In Renee’s words: “I would like to nominate my friend Ashley Ventimiglia a devoted wife to a NYC firefighter and mother of 2 beautiful children for Above All Masonry Design, Inc. #welcomehome2017 contest. Four years ago, she was rushed to the ER where she found out she had TSS. Since then she has had countless surgeries and stays at the hospital. Every day is a struggle but you would never know it. She remains strong and positive and still tries to help and be there for everyone.” You can view Renee’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

In Jen’s words: “Ashley was diagnosed with TSS in 2013, and nearly died as a result. She has been in and out of the hospital regularly since (more often than not), and as a result, has missed out on so much of her two small children’s lives. As hard as she fights to bounce back from this, every setback she encounters along the way is understandably discouraging. Ashley is not out of the woods yet as far as the complications from TSS go. She has a very long road ahead of her, as do her little children, husband, and the rest of her family. What a welcomed (and deserved) escape it would be for all of them to win this contest and brighten so many of their days ahead!” You can view Jen’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 13: Arezo & Husband

Arezo, nominated her family, who recently lost their mother. In Arezo’s own words: “My husband and I been through a lot this past year after losing mom to pancreatic cancer. We need a healing spot in the backyard. Love the outdoors.” You can view Arezo’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Nominee 14: “Tony Citizen”

Marc Nightingale, nominated his friend, “Tony Citizen,” who was affected by Hurricane Sandy and suffers from Chronic Illness daily. In Marc’s words: “I’m writing to nominate my best friend “Tony Citizen” for your healing garden. Tony Citizen is not my friend’s real name but the “nickname” my friend is known by on social media. Many people watch Tony C’s funny YouTube videos, helping them get through tough times after Hurricane Sandy.
I have known “Tony Citizen” for over 20 years. And in that time, I can honestly say Tony has always been THERE for me! When going through things I believe it’s true you find out who your real friends are. Being a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear- including being a huge support while going through a nasty divorce and losing my job. I am most thankful for Tony’s on-point, funny and brutally honest observations that help me gain perspective. It takes a special person to put their needs aside for others.
I met Tony at work when I was fresh out of college. Tony was a super star at my office, funny, well liked and always helping everyone. Tony was also working two jobs, so when the clan at work was going out at 5 and begging Tony to come with, Tony could never go. Tony worked two jobs for over ten years to be able save and afford a house on Long Island, where I am from. Growing up in the city, Tony was used to being burglarized and vandalized and mugged, and just wanted to live somewhere quiet, safe and peaceful. It was a great day when Tony was finally able to buy the home, a dream Tony worked so hard for, for so long. The best part of the house was the backyard, I’m not just saying that because of this contest, it was a real oasis, and a big celebration took place there. Tony had a special relative, a holocaust survivor, they were very close. This relative gave a speech I’ll never forget, “This house is special, this is what I survived for,” he told Tony. “I’ve never seen such a special house, how hard we all struggled for this moment, what an accomplishment for our whole family.” There was not a dry eye in the place. Can you imagine someone having their home taken away by Nazis and having to wait 2 generations to feel that their family has recovered? OK, now I understand why Tony worked so hard and couldn’t make time for a beer.
The list of hardships I have witnessed in Tony’s life is long. Tony is always smiling, yet I have never known Tony not to be exhausted or stressed out. Tony could never relax.
Tony was always a rock to family and friends, running around taking care of every sick relative (even over long distances), running to hospitals, helping to pay for all kinds of things for them while going without, assisted livings, funerals, whatever hardship came to them, and still finding time to help friends like me. Tony has been a guardian angel to a lot of people—to everyone but Tony’s own self.
Nice, generous people often get taken advantage of, and Tony ended up in a bad marriage. You don’t have to take my word for how despicable Tony’s spouse was, the news reported on it, several times. One day, Tony found a dozen reporters with cameras on the lawn looking for the spouse. Tony couldn’t go outside for a week as reporters banged on the door and only learned in the paper that the spouse was involved in despicable activities. The spouse was no where to be found with no explanation. This was the last straw, Tony demanded a divorce and was met with death threats and a fight to keep the house, the spouse arguing that Tony didn’t deserve that house. Anyone who knows how hard Tony worked knows that’s not true. Tony gave up everything in the divorce just to keep the house.
Tony is always smiling but these aren’t light problems. The stresses of a ten year long divorce triggered a chronic illness Tony now struggles with on a daily basis. Tony has had to cut back on many activities, due to physical pain and spends most of the time managing health problems. And despite this, Tony is still always taking care of everyone else and keeping that sense of humor!
As I mentioned, Tony has had to deal with several drastic illnesses and deaths in the family, including the death of the relative Tony was closest to, the holocaust survivor I mentioned earlier who took such great pride in the home. Tony had prepared a room for this relative to move into, but the relative passed too soon. Tony was heartbroken.
Tony’s favorite place in the home was the backyard. Even when feeling lousy, Tony could sit out and feed wild birds and enjoy the memories made back there when everyone in the family, including Tony’s own self, was healthy and well. That gave Tony comfort.
After all that work to buy the home, and the fight to keep the home, on October 29, 2012 Hurricane Sandy happened. Flooding came out of nowhere and this dream home was severely damaged, all contents and car destroyed. Tony had purchased flood insurance when those health issues began, even though this 60 year old land locked house never flooded before. Tony never anticipated needing it. However, when Tony did need it, instead Tony became one of the victims of the notorious FEMA Sandy insurance fraud scandal. This meant no money would be coming to restore the house Tony had worked so hard for, responsibly insured, and just wanted to enjoy in peace and quiet. It was left in unlivable condition and Tony was displaced.
A week later, another close relative was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Tony dropped everything to help this relative get treatment.
Next, ill fate betrayed Tony once more–the house gave Tony a mold cough that lasted almost a year.
While coughing around town in FEMA tents and on NY Rising lines, Tony met countless neighbors who had the same peculiar experience with insurance not paying to fix their homes. Tony did not take this injustice lightly and was determined to get to the bottom of it. That’s when my friend Tony turned into a cartoon. (I will explain what that means soon, I promise).
After three years of repeatedly applying for a repair grant, the NY Rising kept citing loop holes and leaving my friend hopeless—but not without that sense of humor.
The ongoing stress of trying to save the house continued to affect Tony’s physical health. This resulted in numerous flare ups and frequent trips to the ER. Feeling sick about everything that had happened to much of the South Shore of Long Island, Tony began writing an animated satire series about the life of Hurricane Sandy victims. Tony did this anonymously and published it to Youtube. This was met with great fanfare by Hurricane Sandy victims, and flood victims all over the country, on social media. “The Flooded Adventures of Tony Citizen” chronicles the non-fictional red tape that Sandy Victims go through. The cartoon calls awareness to the major failures of the federal and state disaster recovery programs. It weaves real issues Sandy victims face daily with cartoon fantasy, sarcasm, musical parodies and is brutally honest about what it’s like to be a flood victim, which Tony calls a “Floodie.” Characters include Tony Citizen (the fictitious main character people think is my friend), “the FEMA guy,” Jules Jerkoff the insurance adjuster, Satan who lives in the gateway to hell that opened in Tony’s damaged foundation, and a lost lobster….among dozens of others. The parody song in the show that best describes Tony is “I’ve got 99 Problems and FEMA’s #1.”
Tony has leveraged the popularity of the cartoon to help flood victims all over the nation. Tony can often be found keeled over in pain over a keyboard, explaining complex FEMA rules to recently flooded communities, alerting them of red tape pitfalls and mold related safety hazards, while also entertaining them with outrageously funny cartoons.
Tony has also done a few outstanding things, like pairing desperate flood victims with local resources (always anonymously). In my opinion, the most outstanding thing Tony has done was use the undercover cartoon persona to connect some dots. Tony helped uncover and preserve evidence that was needed to help thousands of Sandy victims win a fight against the insurance companies.
Most people would relish an opportunity to take credit for something like this. Tony preferred to remain anonymous. As I mentioned, Tony just wants peace and quiet!
While there’s nothing funny about being a federal disaster victim, Floodies can’t help but laugh at the cartoons. There is a saying, “It’s funny ‘cos it’s true.” Nowhere else is the complex story of Sandy victims told so simply and humorously. It takes talent to make someone who has been terribly traumatized laugh at their own disastrous circumstances. Tony is now followed in at least 6 states by flood victims who have faced similar recovery problems, it turns out these are widespread issues, not just Sandy issues. In tough times, a person’s real character comes out. In Tony’s case, there’s an entire cast of hilarious animated characters that came out that rivals “South Park” or “The Simpsons” and spreads awareness.
Floodies write to my friend Tony all the time, thanking my creative friend for making them smile. I am attaching a PDF file of various comments so you can see that everyone from NY Times reporters to bloggers to traumatized flood victims love my friend Tony and all that Tony does for the flood community.
Now I’d like to ask them all to vote for Tony to get a new back yard. Tony needs your help. Let me tell you what has been going on lately in Tony’s life.
While undergoing tests for complications due to a flare up of chronic illness, doctors stumbled upon cancerous cells, two types, in two different places in Tony’s body.
This year, Tony has spent most of the time in doctors offices and hospitals. Tony underwent two surgeries for two different cancer issues. One was in March and one was at the end of May. The repeated stress on the body caused Tony’s chronic illness to flare up and Tony had to be admitted to the hospital 2 more times. Tony spent a lot of time in the hospital in isolation with ivs in both arms, running antibiotics at the same time, in a very dangerous scare. Tony now has, on top of the Sandy recovery, a major health recovery going on.
Still, Tony is selfless and light to everyone who knows Tony. I think it’s about time for something to go right for the beloved Tony Citizen.
Further, there is a joke in the cartoon. Sandy victims know PSSSPSD, or“Post Superstorm Sandy Stupid People Stress Disorder,” is the cartoon form of PTSD, and Tony suffers from it badly. A new yard would be one less thing to worry about!
Tony’s yard is currently horrendous. Between medical bills and home repairs still needed, there’s no budget to address the yard. All the landscaping died from the salt water flooding and had to be removed by an order from the town. Parts of the fence are missing. The decking is popping up, splintering, and it’s extremely dangerous to go back there. It’s not just bad for Tony, it’s bad for all of us- friends and family. It was our place to congregate.
I’m sure Tony would tell you all flood victims deserve a new backyard. However, you can’t give a new backyard to everyone, only to one person. If you have to choose someone, choose Tony. It will make so many people, fans who love all that Tony does for Sandy victims, feel good.
Tony is still recovering and a backyard, a new sanctuary would be a place to heal. Above All Masonry, please help!
This is a unique situation because there are so many people who are itching to know who writes the Tony Citizen cartoons. When asked who are you? Tony C replies “I am all of you and all of you are me.” To respect Tony’s privacy, I will not be able to reveal Tony’s identity here. I guarantee you, many folks will be happy to see photos revealing Tony’s real life backyard transformed. It will be a win for all Sandy victims and their sense of community. Don’t take my word for it. Just take a look at their comments about Tony and I think you will agree.
I know if Tony wins, Tony will be inspired to come forward, and Tony’s fans will get to see the face of the person who writes the cartoons. This might not be as dramatic as Watergate’s “Deepthroat,” but dramatic nonetheless. You can view Marc’s Facebook nomination by clicking here.

Ready to vote? Submit your vote here: after choosing a nominee below, you’ll be taken to a Facebook login screen if you’re not already logged in. One vote per person.



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