SOMERS, N.Y. -- Lin Crispinelli devotes significant time to charity work in Westchester County. The Somers resident and Houlihan Lawrence Realtor finds the work rewarding, but there are also times of profound sadness and heartache.
- Who : Lin Crispinelli, Houlihan Lawrence Realtor
- What : Hudson Gateway Realtors Foundation, President of Board of Trustees
- Also : With her husband, established the Stephanie Crispinelli Humanitarian Fund , which is named after her daughter
Crispinelli’s philanthropic work derives from two very distinct organizations. She serves as the President of the Board of Trustees for the Hudson Gateway Realtors Foundation, which supports community-based charities in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties.
She and her husband, Lenny, also started the Stephanie Crispinelli Humanitarian Fund in 2010. The fund is named after their daughter who died during an earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. Stephanie, 19 and a student at Lynn University in Florida, traveled to the country on a humanitarian mission with 10 classmates and two professors.
The tragedy hits Lin hard every January, but particularly so this year. Another earthquake rocked Haiti in October, killing more than 200,000 people.
“It brought back a lot of emotions,’’ Lin said. “You just don’t ever want to get that phone call. Their infrastructure, their whole life in Haiti, is so fragile. Those poor people just can’t seem to get away from tragedies.”
Crispinelli begins the second year of a two-year term as President of the Board of Trustees of the Realtors’ foundation that awarded more than $38,000 to charities in 2016. The foundation donated to 16 local charities in the Hudson Valley, all of which service the housing, hunger, health, happiness and human needs of local residents.
“Even though we live in this beautiful area, there is so much need,’’ Crispinelli said. “So many people are not aware how much these charities need us. We’re even creating awareness among Realtors. Everybody loves to give back, especially at this time of year.”
The foundation reviews grant applications from nonprofit organizations that are submitted through its website. A committee determines which organizations will receive grants each year. “We can’t give to every organization every time,’’ Crispinelli said. “It’s hard because there are so many good organizations out there. We vote on where we think we hit those target points we’re looking to satisfy. We try to spread the generosity around and provide the greatest impact for the most amount of people.”
Money raised for the charities comes through events for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors. For instance, the group held a “Monte Carlo” night in September, and the proceeds went to the foundation. “It is the hard work of the many members and trustees of the Realtor Foundation that make the fundraising events so successful,'' Crispinelli said. "I am proud to be a part of such a great team."
Crispinelli’s work with the realtors’ foundation is an extension of her philanthropy with the Humanitarian Fund, which she and her husband established after Stephanie died
“We tried to think of a way to continue Stephanie’s passion,’’ Lin said. “That was her thing. She was so passionate about helping children who were less fortunate. Her goal was to make sure each child was given an education.”
The fund constructs the schools in Jamaica since that was Stephanie’s first trip with the “Journey of Hope” trip sponsored by Lynn. “She truly felt a strong connection with the country and the Jamaicans themselves,’’ Lin said. “Something about them and their energy captured her heart and that’s when she felt more motivated than ever to help them and make a difference in their lives.” In a journal Stephanie kept, she wrote: “I went to Jamaica to help the poor, and the poor ended up helping me.”
She was ready to do the same in Haiti before the earthquake. Four Lynn students and two professors were killed in the earthquake. They arrived in Haiti the day before the earthquake hit.
The Crispinelli family found creative avenues to raise money for the foundation, including the construction of gingerbread houses during the holidays, a softball tournament in summer and an ice cream benefit.
The fund also sponsors “Stephanie’s Caring Bears,’’ which are distributed to children who are suffering from injury or trauma traveling via ambulance or staying in a hospital. It has also partnered with The Red Cross to create “Steph’s Comfort Kits," which are distributed via The Red Cross to children who have been displaced from their homes or families for different reasons. Each kit includes a stuffed animal, books, a pillow, and a fleece blanket.The kits are packaged by students of Primrose Elementary School in Somers.
While Lin appreciates the work of the fund, her daughter’s death has left a lasting and sad imprint on her soul.
“The hurt just doesn’t go away,’’ she said. “Our family gives a lot of thanks to our community for all the support we’ve had from the beginning. I get a lot of comfort in knowing we’re trying to make the world a better place. Sometimes you learn by tragedy, and that’s what makes me get up every morning. You learn that you can’t take people for granted. You have to cherish every day. Your life can be rocked in a matter of seconds.”
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