As the sun glistened above Camp ANCHOR during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Malone-Mulhall Recreation Center on Aug. 10, campers, counselors and parents gathered to witness the unveiling of plans for a multi-purpose facility that will honor Michael Mulhall and Jamie and Paige Malone — three young ANCHOR counselors who lost their lives in a car accident last summer.
“It’s not only a building, it’s a dream, a dream that’s been going on for a very, very long time,” said Camp ANCHOR director Joe Lentini. “Jamie, Paige and Mike were extraordinary staff members, extremely wonderful role models and we are determined to remember them forever.”
Sisters Paige and Jamie Malone and Michael Mulhall were killed in a single-car accident on the Meadowbrook Parkway on July 15, 2010. In the year since the tragedy, numerous fundraisers have been held to support a scholarship fund dedicated to the three counselors and to raise money for the camp’s building fund, as it is in need of a new facility to meet the growing number of campers, services and activities.
Lentini and others illustrated the lives of two outgoing, confident and amiable girls who loved life and were committed to working with children with special needs.
“Michael Mulhall and Jamie and Paige Malone were young, vital and full of genuine love and compassion. And though their lives were short, the profound legacy of hope that they created will be everlasting,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, who delivered the opening address at the ceremony. “Today, we will break ground on an ANCHOR recreation center that will bear their names. It will be one more reminder of the profound and positive impact that Jamie, Paige and Michael left upon us and future generations.”
Many who attended ceremony wiped away tears as they lauded plans for a facility that will preserve the memory of the “dedicated” counselors.
“The most interesting story is not what’s going on under this tent, but what’s going on under the tents over there, where hundreds of campers, volunteers and staff are spending six weeks learning and having fun, and often the role of teachers is played by the campers themselves,” said Michael’s father, Neil Mulhall, who spoke at the ceremony on behalf of his wife, Peggy, and his three daughters, Justine, Grace and Carrie. “It is a place that has helped my family to heal and it is a story that needs to be told over and over and over again.”
After Mulhall thanked the community for dedicating the new facility to his late son, Murray and Lentini unveiled the blueprint for the Malone-Mulhall Recreation Center.
The 15,000-square-foot structure is expected to be completed next years and will accommodate campers, staff members and various programs year round, including ANCHOR’s intramural sports program and nationally recognized drama program. The building will feature a gymnasium, a theatrical stage with storage space for props and costumes, a nurse’s office complete with a bath and a shower, a computer room, two multi-purpose rooms, a kitchen and bathrooms, among other amenities.
In attendance at the ceremony was Joan Crane — former chair of the camp’s advisory committee and a strong advocate of the program since its inception — who Lentini said has rallied support for the project from the Town of Hempstead and the local community.
“I’m almost like a mama of the program,” Crane said after the ceremony when asked about her 44 years of service to Camp ANCHOR. “We are very proud that the program is working because of our efforts.”
Through various fundraisers, ANCHOR families raised more than $1.5 million over past four years to fund the project. In addition, Murray said the Town allocated $6 million for the construction of the facility.
“The legacy of Jamie, Paige and Michael is clearly one of hope,” said Murray, adding, “We need to nourish, celebrate and keep alive that legacy for generations to come, so today’s groundbreaking is one more manifestation of the hope that lives on here at Camp ANCHOR.”
Lentini said after the ceremony that he hopes the new facility will encourage the ANCHOR staff to move forward as a tribute to the dedicated service of these young counselors. “It’s been a summer of hope,” Lentini said, adding, “People are trying to move forward and people are happy again and we just hope that the building will inspire them to continue to do the best jobs that they can and work as hard as they can for the campers.”
To close out the tearful ceremony, the Mulhall family joined Murray, Lentini, Town Clerk Mark Bonilla and a few ANCHOR administrators and campers to break ground on the site of the new facility. With three guardian angel statuettes planted in the soil to christen the Malone-Mulhall Recreation Center, spectators rejoiced in the launch of a facility that will keep the memory of Jamie, Paige and Michael alive in their hearts.
“The building is a really great honor and I hope to make sure that no one forgets Michael, Jamie and Paige,” said Mulhall after the ceremony. “What they did here and what they did in their lives everyday need to be told over and over again.”
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