New dream recreation center named in remembrance of three Floral Park volunteers
Under a blazing August sun, three small angel statues sat perched on the fertile ground that will soon become the dream home for Camp ANCHOR’s recreation center, named in honor of the three camp counselors who died in a tragic car accident on July 15, 2010. Hempstead officials and families of Jamie and Paige Malone and Michael Mulhall, all of Floral Park, gathered together at the site for a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 10 in Lido Beach.
Camp ANCHOR (Answering the Needs of Citizens with Handicaps through Organized Recreation), a year-round recreation program dedicated to children and adults with special needs who reside within the Town of Hempstead, is located on a 40-acre site situated on the ocean at Lido Beach Park. The new Malone-Mulhall Recreation Center will be a 15,000-square-foot structure to include a gymnasium, a stage, a nurse’s office equipped with a bath and a shower, an office, a reception area, men’s and women’s ADA bathrooms/showers, a computer room, two multi-purpose rooms and a kitchen.
At the celebration, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and town board officials addressed an excited crowd of campers, staff and families who have supported Camp ANCHOR from the beginning. “Our hearts were broken a little over a year ago, that is a fact. Three Camp ANCHOR counselors, three angels of hope, were taken from us. Michael Mulhall, Jamie and Paige Malone were young, vital and full of genuine love and goodness and compassion.
“And though their lives were short, the profound legacy of hope that they created is everlasting. 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 imprint that Jamie, Paige and Michael left upon us and future generations,” Murray said.
After a tragic year, 41-year Camp Anchor Director Joseph Lentini told the audience that the new facility has been a longtime dream. He thanked camp founder Joan Crane who championed the need for the camp in the 1960s and who was on hand to see the groundbreaking for the center 43 years later.
“It’s not only a building; it’s a dream,” Lentini said. “I know the people in this room know exactly how I feel about this building: How much we’ve needed it, how much we want it and how excited we are to get it,” he said, adding, “I must say that over the past year, I have become very close with the Mulhall family. They are an incredible, wonderful family as is the Malone Family. I cannot think of two finer family names to be on our building than the Malones and Mulhalls.”
Murray additionally thanked the town board members who voted to support the project, as well as countless individuals and organizations who helped raise funds for the $6 million project. “Joe Lentini and I have been focusing more on how we could help the ANCHOR family more over the past year and a half as ANCHOR families have raised so much money for the ANCHOR building,” Murray said, noting that fundraising efforts have amounted to more than $1.5 million.
The Malone and Mulhall families were also on hand for the unveiling of architectural design plans for the site. Michael Mulhall’s father, Neil, spoke to the importance of building a recreation center at the camp.
“The most interesting story here today is not what is going on under this tent but what’s going on under the tents over there, where hundreds of campers, volunteers and staff spend time learning and having fun,” Mulhall said. “It is a place that has helped my family to heal and it’s a story that needs to be told over and over and over again,” Mulhall said.
Peggy Mulhall said she couldn’t think of a better way for her son, Michael, and Jamie and Paige Malone to be honored. “They truly gave their hearts to ANCHOR and truly loved coming here every day. It wasn’t work for them; it was absolutely something they loved,” she said. “We miss them terribly but I always want the three of them to be remembered and this is a perfect way to remember them.”