January, 2006 - Cassano 10:
Back row: Me and my son, Joseph.
Middle row: Erin (age 6), Anastasia (age 4), Mauro and Joseph's wife Tara.
Front row: Andrew's wife Lisa, Michael (age 16 months), my son Andrew and Ronan (age 4).
Erin and Michael belong to Joseph & Tara.
Anastasia (Ana) and Ronan are twins and belong to Andrew and Lisa.
Louise DeNardo (Cassano)
If I have one bias in my life its about the community in which I live.
During my Junior year at Levittown Memorial, Miss (Claire) Sullivan recommended me for a job with a local insurance broker who was looking to hire a high school student on a part-time basis to do typing, steno and general office work. I worked three days a week after school, on Saturdays and all summer.
That job, which became a full time position after graduation and which I grew to love, was the axis on which my life rotated for a few years after high school. Under the patronage of my employer, who paid my tuition for insurance brokers school, the job evolved into my first career as an insurance broker. While commuting home by bus from that job one day, I ran into a high school acquaintance (Margaret Cassano), who introduced me to her brother, Mauro, who I married in 1964. (Were still happily together!) When we started looking for an apartment, it was that same employer who convinced us we could buy a home instead of rent. We purchased our first home (were still in that abode) in August of 1964, spent a month before our wedding cleaning, repairing, painting and landscaping and moved in September 20, the day of our wedding.
I continued at my insurance job until our first son Joseph was born in 1967, when I became a full-time Mom and part-time student at Nassau Community College where, on Saturdays, I slowly (one course a semester at the beginning) pursued my Associates Degree in Fine Arts.
Scouts, Little League, PTA, swimming lessons, block parties, childrens birthday parties, and other family matters intervened and it was 1980 and my eldest son turned teenager. I returned to the workforce part time in another insurance office in Hicksville for two years, and, then, returned to school at SUNY College at Old Westbury as a full-time student in pursuit of a Bachelors degree. Joseph graduated high school on the same day I graduated college in 1985 with a degree in American Studies and a concentration in Journalism.
I went to work as a beat reporter for a community newspaper a publication that was reinventing itself from a shopper newspaper to a local news medium publishing 14 editions each week. I covered four school districts, all Levittown community organizations and the police beat as a part time reporter writing about a dozen stories a week while, at the same time, back in school at New York Institute of Technology seeking my Masters degree and juggling trips back and forth to SUNY at Purchase on weekends and parent contributions at Chaminade High School where my youngest son, Andrew, like his brother, attended high school.
Andrew graduated high school and I received my MA in Communication Arts in 1988; thankfully, not on the same day. By now, I had covered the Nassau County seat and the Town of Hempstead seat, become Town of Hempstead Editor, then Town of Huntington Editor, then Regional Editor for Nassau and was on my way to becoming Executive Editor managing a staff of 90 stringers and reporters and publishing 90 editions of the paper each week.
During this time on the job I was becoming the face of the paper handling its community affairs in addition to my role as Executive Editor. I was meeting lots of people and becoming very involved in professional associations and in the Long Island community. Without knowing it, I was setting the stage for my entrepreneurial endeavors which came about in 1994 after the newspaper was sold to a national publisher, then repurchased by the original owner, who eliminated the news content and the entire news staff.
I started LuCas Communications in April of 1994 working out of a space in our bedroom until our sons married and moved out of their bedroom, which remains my home office. LuCas Communications is a public relations firm handling publicity, marketing and collateral materials for a variety of corporate and small businesses.
Currently, I sit on the boards of a number of organizations including Levittown Chamber of Commerce, of which Im Immediate Past President; Levittown Community Council of which I was Charter President and am now a Director and Membership Chair; Yours Ours Mine Community Center (Past President) and now Trustee and Fundraising Chair; and, Catholic Health Services. Im also a past President of Public Relations Professionals of Long Island, on which board I still serve as a Director and incoming Treasurer and a past President of the Long Island Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.
In 1997, I chaired the Levittown 50th Anniversary Committee, a huge celebration that encompassed more than 40 events throughout the year. In 2004, I received the Pathfinder Award for Business from the Town of Hempstead and have recently been named the Chairperson for Levittowns 60th Anniversary celebration.
Through all of my career and community involvements, family has always been first and continues to be so. Mauro and I are very proud of our relationship, of our sons and their wives and of our four beautiful grandchildren (ages 16 months to 6 years) with whom we spend as much time as possible without wearing out our welcome. In January, we belatedly celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary by taking the whole family (The Cassano 10) on a week-long vacation to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
We have traveled quite a bit in the U. S., Canada, Mexico and abroad and always come back to Levittown with a renewed love for our home and our hometown. There are still a few original homeowners living in Levittown. There are four on our block who bought their homes in 1948 the first year Levitt homes were sold. But, Mauro and I are moving into the category of the senior residents of the community. Having grown up here (I arrived in 1951; Mauro moved into Wantagh in 1954) were considered kids by the older folk who are shocked when I tell them Ive lived here for 55 years.
Sometimes, its nice to be known as a kid.