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Bravo, Frank

When he learned that the City Council’s Italian-American Caucus planned to honor him for his many years of community involvement, District 27 Democratic Leader Frank Gulluscio said he was shocked.
He may have been the only one.
“He lives up to any honor he gets,” said Howie Kamph, President of the Ozone Park Civic Association. Kamph has known Gulluscio for four years. “Pretty much anything he can help you with, he’ll help you.”
Community Board 10 Chair Betty Braton agrees.
“This is a well-deserved honor for a man who has ably demonstrated the values of Italian culture in our diverse borough,” said Braton, who works closely with Gulluscio on the South Queens Democratic Club (SQDC). Gulluscio is President of SQDC, while Braton serves as Executive Member.
The honor bestowed upon Gulluscio is part of a program implemented by Councilmember Tony Avella, who began the Italian-American Caucus in 2002 when he was elected. Every October, which is Italian Culture Month, each of the caucus’ 14 members - including Queens Councilmembers Avella, Joe Addabbo, Eric Gioia, Helen Sears, James Gennaro and Pete Vallone, Jr. - have the option to nominate an Italian-American leader whose civic actions help “promote Italian culture and heritage…and fight negative stereotyping that Italians have had to endure from the media and Hollywood, for instance that we’re all connected to the Mafia,” said Avella.
The nominee is honored at a dinner at City Hall, where he or she is presented with a proclamation from the City Council.
Gulluscio was nominated by Addabbo, who cited the Democratic District Leader’s inclination toward volunteerism.
“I usually judge someone based on their volunteer work,” said Addabbo. “I look at the things they do, not because they’re paid or because they have to, but because they want to.”
In addition to his work with SQDC, Gulluscio is known throughout the community as an accessible, friendly face.
“If he’s around at all, he’ll always be there for you, and stand by you,” said Kamph.
For the last 20 years, Gulluscio has volunteered his time each spring to direct the annual play at St. Mary Gate of Heaven School, 104-06 101st Avenue in South Ozone Park, where he taught from the late 1960s until the early 1980s. In recent years, he’s directed classics like Grease and The Wizard of Oz.
“He gives a lot to the community and to the school and the kids,” said St. Mary’s Principal Patrick Scannell. “It really gets people involved. The kids look forward to this each year.”
“Sometimes, I’d be with Frank, and someone would come up to us and say ‘Hey Mr. G.’ And I realized, these were people that had Frank as a teacher many years ago,” said Addabbo. “Here’s someone who’s now a parent of their own, and 20 years ago they had Frank as a teacher, and they’re still calling him Mr. G. It makes me realize he must have made a huge impact on them.”
But despite the testimony of an entire community, Gulluscio said he was surprised to be held in such high esteem.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” he said. “But I’m very honored and very happy, and of course proud to be an Italian-American.”
In the past, figures as renowned as Robert De Niro and Matilda Cuomo have been honored, said Avella.
The honor ceremony, to be held Monday, October 15 at City Hall at 7:30 p.m. is open to the public free of charge. If you wish to attend, please RSVP by calling 212-788-5613 or send an email to events@council.nyc.ny.us.

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