About 140 people turned out for a fundraiser at Connolly Station restaurant on Sept. 25, donating about $10,000 to the renovation of the Solinto family home in Malverne, which will help the Solintos care for their son, who has cerebral palsy.
In 2016, Vincent Centauro, and his wife, Gina, of Franklin Square, founded Rescuing Families Inc., the group responsible for renovating homes for those with disabilities. The Centauros have 15 years of experience in contracting and construction and have helped care for members of their own family with disabilities.
“We have disabled family members that we’re helping,” Gina Centauro said. “So we saw a need in the community that wasn’t being met, and although we didn’t have a lot of money, we had time and we had skill. So we decided to start the charity to help families on Long Island.”
The Centauros have helped five families through Rescuing Families Inc., renovating houses in Elmont, Hemstead, Port Jefferson Station and Wyandanch.
While Rescuing Families collects funds to carry out renovations on its own, the organization hosts at least one fundraiser for each family it assists if the work goes over-budget.
Most recently, the group has been raising funds in support of the Solinto family, which has called Malverne home for about 50 years, since Antonio Solinto and his wife, Joan, first moved there and raised daughters Gabrielle and Emilia and their now 46-year-old son, Phillip.
Now in their mid-70s, the couple has encountered more difficulties in caring for their son, who was born with cerebral palsy.
“My parents were very rooted here within this community,” Gabrielle Solinto-Lozowsky said. “It’s a very supportive community. I was born and raised here, and my parents really want to stay a family unit.
“In order for them to stay in the community that they love, we needed to do some major renovations on the house, because it’s just not safe (for Phillip),” she added. “We came across Gina’s organization, Rescuing Families. We explained our situation, what was going on, and we were one of the families chosen. We are so grateful to them for giving us this opportunity to keep our family together in the community that they love.”
Gabrielle’s sister, Emilia Solinto-Lawler, said, “They’re an amazing charity. They do great work for the disabled community.”
Rescuing Families Inc., and the Solinto family made the connection to Connolly Station through Lori Hunt Lang, a Malverne-based real estate agent and family friend of the Solintos.
Lang worked at Connolly Station as a youth, and so have her children. She reached out to the restaurant, which offered a special rate to host the charity fundraiser.
In addition to the $40 admission tickets to the happy hour event, Lang also organized a raffle for which those who attended could buy tickets. Various local businesses put together baskets, which were given out as raffle prizes.
“I tried to keep it Malverne business-focused,” Lang said. “We have Cauffey Realty, we have Antonio’s, we have Malverne Bakery, we have End of the Vine wine shop.”
Local families who wanted to support the Solintos also donated some items to the raffle.
With the admission fee and raffle tickets sold, about $10,000 was raised for renovations, doubling the goal of $5,000.
“Everybody’s chipping in to help us,” Solinto-Lozowsky said. “I have my girlfriends from college who came from upstate. I have people who came from Virginia. I have people who came from New Jersey. You name it -- they’ve come from all over in support. They all know my brother. He’s the nucleus of the family.”