By Nancy Remkus
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
There are people in our lives who seem to sparkle; Cathy Carlozzi is one of them. You may have seen her as the school crossing guard occasionally dressed as a turkey, a snowman, a whale or a leprechaun. Whether in costume or her safety vest, each morning Cathy greets parents and children alike with a cheerful good morning, high five or a pizza day announcement-as they make their way into school – starting everyone’s day with a smile.
At her post as school monitor for Sag Harbor Elementary School, Cathy spends recess time each day leading a kickball game (though most recently she’s also instituted ‘Whiffle Ball Wednesday’). Cathy has been pitching and refereeing games for a decade that not only help to keep our kids in great physical shape but also help to teach them about fairness, caring and working as a team. When she started ‘Whiffle Ball Wednesday’, Cathy noticed some of the kids were having a difficult time batting with the narrow bat so she took it upon herself to order a flat bat to help insure everyone’s success. It makes her day to hear from parents about how much their children enjoy and look forward to this special time with her.
Early each morning, when I entered the school building, Cathy would have a group of children around her desk smiling, laughing and playing ‘Uno’. Children seem to gravitate to Cathy because she is so kind and loving. She said, “I feel like I can make a difference in their lives by being positive.” Though her life has had its share of challenges, Cathy seems able to sustain a major chunk of happiness real estate. She takes the time to help make each child feel welcome and important, and in this high tech world, what could be better than a round of ‘Uno’ or a kickball game?
I had the pleasure of working with Cathy for many years when I taught at Sag Harbor Elementary. She brought a special kind of caring and joy to each day. When my students were scheduled to perform our ‘snow show’ at the daily all school assembly, “Morning Program’, Cathy would get up extra early and fill our classroom with imitation snow. When the class entered the room that morning they were overjoyed to see the sparkly, magical snow- everywhere! As class parent, Cathy made every event special with her planning and generous spirit. It was always evident that Cathy had a way to make things happen – anything was possible with her positive outlook and willingness to lend a hand. If for some reason, she found out what your favorite candy bar was; poof, one would magically turn up in your school mailbox. Cathy always goes out of her way to make people happy.
For many years Cathy was very active in the school’s PTA creating Bingo night and movie night and always working diligently to help the school family come together for fun. Each year she paints the school sidewalks with tic-tac-toe boards, hop scotch, counting games and more. And her kind and generous spirit extends to the community; whenever a person is in need, Cathy is there to help. ”I love Sag Harbor because it’s like a family. If you have a problem, a worry or a concern, it’s not just your own personal concern – it’s everyone’s – everyone looks out for everyone else.”
For career day at the elementary school, children and staff dress up as the person they hope to be in their future career. “Being a mom is always what I wanted to be when I grew up,” and Cathy is mom to Jennifer, Kimberly and Joseph; all of whom went through the Sag Harbor School system. Her youngest, Joseph will be graduating this year.
Some of us may take ‘home’ for granted, but for Cathy ‘home’ is a dream come true. You see when she was four years old she was separated from her siblings and put into ‘Little Flower Orphanage” where she spent several years. Later moving from foster home to foster home, Cathy was adopted at age thirteen, but was then returned to the foster care system at age sixteen. Through all of the tumult in her life, Cathy remembers thinking, “there has to be better in this world.” And though Cathy admits that “my background made me stronger;” it also inspired her to help create “better in this world” for others.
A few days ago when Cathy went to her desk at the elementary school, she found an anonymous note left there. It said, “If friends were flowers, I’d pick you.”
And so would I, Cathy.
So thank you for all you do to make Sag Harbor a happy and wonderful place to call “HOME”.