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A family carries on after tragedy

Remembering a lost loved one by providing for babies in need

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Franklin Square's Mia Clark is collecting diapers and other necessities for newborns for a charitable cause very close to her heart. She is gathering them in honor of her aunt, Susan Ambrosino, of Franklin Square, who was killed on Feb. 24, 2005, by the father of her unborn child. 

Mia, 13, an eighth-grader at H. Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square, took up the collection this year as a confirmation project at her church. The diapers will go to mothers and their newborn babies. 

Ambrosino's family has organized the collection each year since 2010. It is held to celebrate motherhood and Ambrosino's life.

Ambrosino had wanted to keep her baby, but the baby's father, Steven Schiovone, didn't, so he shot her once in the head with a .380-caliber handgun. She had planned to name the baby, a boy, Gerard. Ambrosino was 26  when she died.

Schiovone, a 35-year-old plant manager at the time, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2007. He shot her, he said, to stop her from revealing that he was the child's father. Ambrosino was formerly married to Schiovone's half-brother, Keith Ambrosino, of Elmont. 

Susan and Keith Ambrosino had one daughter together, Taylor. She was 8 years old at the time of her mother's death. The couple had divorced before Susan was murdered.

In years past, Ambrosino's family had hosted a Remembrance Baby Shower at their Franklin Square home to raise funds and clothes for new mothers. This year it's a diapers-only collection, to be done in drop-off style at the family home. 

Ambrosino's mother, Josephine Detz, who had coordinated the event in the past, died last July of cancer, according to Debra Detz Clark, her daughter, who is Mia's mother. This year the shower was too difficult to coordinate without her.

"This year it's just the drop-off, but next year we will resume the shower with the drop-off," Detz Clark said. "With my mother passing, it was just too hard to coordinate it this year. In my mom and sister's memory, next year we will continue as we'd done it in years past. We will continue to host it in February, during winter break, when the children have no school."

This is the first year that Mia will hold the collection on her own, Detz Clark said. "She's helped in the past, so she knows what to expect, and this is something close to her heart," she said. "She will be putting a box together, and wrapping it all up like a gift."

Donations will be turned over to St. Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church in Franklin Square, which will distribute them to families in need.

Mia said she hoped the donations would be as plentiful as they have been in years past. "One requirement to making confirmation is to do community service," she said. "I helped my grandmother every year. I'm looking for diapers in sizes 2 and 3, wipes, baby powder, bath wash and lotions, baby washcloths and towels, and undershirts."

Baby clothes aren't needed, however, DetzFranklin Sqaure Clark said. "Those are the type of thing that people get from family members already, whether donation or brand new," she said. "Plus, people generally share clothes back and forth. We are looking for these items like diapers because we know how expensive they are to buy."

The event was shared on social media to generate more donations. On a community Facebook page, residents such as Laura Coyne-Amster, of Franklin Square, expressed their gratitude for such an event. 

"I would love to donate something," she said on the page post. "More importantly, I think your grandmother is looking on you with such pride and admiration. What a wonderful way to honor her memory."

Mia said she would continue the tradition as long as possible. "All these items will be donated in my grandma's name," she said. "This is just a small way I can carry on my grandma's cause. I hope that by doing this, I am making her proud."