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Angela’s House Summer Recap: Overcoming the Odds and Looking Forward to September

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Angela’s House, a Long Island-based charity that’s primary location resides in Hauppauge and Home Store operates out of Medford, is set to conclude a summer chock-full of events. The organization’s continuing resilience in the face of tremendous financial woes in the greater economy is nothing short of an accomplishment in its own right. 

Bob Policastro recognized as much during his latest interview with The Messenger, noting that “the pandemic has had a major impact (fundraiser wise) in a reduction in dollars that we use to support families.” The charity held its first gala in three years in July at the Watermill. The previous three attempts were thwarted by COVID-19. As a result, the gala took a less formal approach, utilizing the outdoor parts of the venue and Hawaiian attire. The gala raised $10,000, lower than normal.

In August, Angela’s House celebrated 30 years of service to the community with a social media fundraising initiative, one not yet concluded as this article was written. 

Going into September, Angela’s House will benefit from two events. The first is the Arthur and William J. Pace Memorial Golf Outing on September 22. The second is the Smithtown Running of the Bull, sponsored by the Damianos Realty Group in association with the Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, on September 24. 

The Pace family has been a longtime supporter of Angela’s House, having a medically frail child themselves. 

Angela’s House supports families of medically frail children in some of the most intimate and personal ways imaginable – providing home care. 

The Policastros started this charity in 1992, just a few short years after the death of their daughter, Angela, in 1989. This past August 30 would have marked her 33rd birthday. 

Angela, the charity’s namesake, was born medically frail, requiring round-the-clock nursing care. Her severe brain damage required specialized and expensive care that placed tremendous strain on the Policastros. 

“No parent thinks about that situation until they are in it,” said Policastro, once in the same state as many of the families that come seeking help through Angela’s House. 

Eventually, Angela was placed in a specialty hospital they connected with in Connecticut – a hospital two long hours away. She passed away just shortly after her 1st birthday. The distance placed a horrible burden on the family and their ability to be with their daughter. 

Since then, Bob and his wife, Angie, have been advocating for and providing for the medically frail, expanding their facilities to include three houses capable of providing Long Island’s medically frail children a reasonable accommodation close to home. 

The homes have 23 children residing in them, with around 700 medically frail children benefiting from the charity at any one time. 

It is not difficult to imagine the expenses, foreseen and unseen, that come along with raising a medically frail child. 

“One of the parents is usually working less or not working at all,” stated Policastro. 

The reality of increased expenses and decreased income is financial stress. 

Under COVID-19 rules, hospitals “were trying to discharge newly diagnosed kids or kids with accidents or born with serious illnesses” earlier, stated Policastro. “With the rush of getting them out, they were getting connected to us later than normal.” 

The delays create additional challenges in finding timely care between diagnosis and when Angela’s House enters the picture. 

Staffing, too, has been difficult as of late. The services provided by Angela’s House require one of the most in-demand professions in the country – medical personnel. 

Policastro spoke to the difficulty in finding medical professionals that still took Medicaid, compounded with the higher wages offered by other institutions. 

In the face of unprecedented challenges, the charity rose to the occasion. 

Angela’s House provides birthdays and other celebrations, with everything from lawn signs to balloons and specialty cakes. Moving into the fall, they expect to host another fall festival at White Post Farms, where children and their families have the day to explore.

Brian R. Monahan
Brian R. Monahan
Staff Writer for The Messenger Papers.