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Now they’ll really be able to reach the STARS.

On Tuesday, March 16, Frances Orietta Scarantino, director of Reach for the STARS in Howard Beach, her staff and parents got the good news – the multi-purpose children’s center has been chosen to star in Discovery Channel’s new series “Construction Intervention.”

“We’re really excited to be doing it,” said Discovery Channel executive producer Chris Rantamaki, who explained that the building, at 8 Coleman Square, would be gutted and redone.

“Short of tearing the place down and starting from zero, we’re gutting it,” said Rantamaki. “We will fix the leaking roof, install a second staircase for code requirements, make the building handicap accessible, and fix the floors. On top of that, we will reface the existing fac?ade. We will make sure that the youth center is not only redesigned, but that it is brought up to code, the structural integrity is intact, so the building will be around for another 100 years.”

“I am overcome with emotion,” said Scarantino. “The kids deserve it.”

Work began on Tuesday with Charlie “The Bulldog” Frattini – with 20 years’ construction experience – his crew, and between 60 and 100 people helping on set, many of whom are volunteers.

According to the Discovery Channel, “This season, Charlie and his crew renovate everything from local bars, to family-owned restaurants in desperate need of renovation, some on the verge of having to shut down.”

Scarantino said that she applied to the show in December of last year. The production company then went to the site and shot video.

Reach for the STARS is a youth center that offers homework help and recreation for over 200 area families. It stands for “Striving to Achieve and Reach Success.”

The facility has survived flooding and the effects of a fire next door.

“We had holes in the walls, two holes in the ceiling,” Scarantino told The Courier. “The walls and ceiling were crumbling.”

In addition, Scarantino lost her husband, Robert Foerderer, 45, earlier this year.

“It’s been a really tough time,” said Rantamaki.

“I had a very emotional morning,” Scarantino said of finding out they had been selected. “I was thinking a lot about Rob a lot today. It’s bitter-sweet. Back in December Rob was there with me through the process. I wish he were here with me to share it with me . . . I know it’s what he would have wanted.”

The retail value of the construction, according to Rantamaki, is between $200,000 and $300,000 – all of which is paid for by the network. Companies from all over the state also pitch in to help, he said.

“There’s a lot of pre-production as to what the design is going to look like, what they are going to do,” said Rantamaki, who noted that the work will be done in a few days’ time.

“We will return to an improved, newly-renovated building,” said Scarantino.

The episode is set to air on May 25 at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.

To learn more about Reach for the STARS, visit


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