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Geraldo at his book signing Party hosted by Sean Hannity
Geraldo at his book signing Party hosted by Sean Hannity

It was a mob scene of notable people at the book party given by Sean Hannity for Geraldo Rivera’s launch of his new book “The Geraldo Show.”

My memory took flight back to when I first met Geraldo.

It began in 1971 when my daughter Lara was a resident in the baby building at a place called Willowbrook on Staten Island. She had suffered brain damage at birth and they had offered hope with therapy to help her gain skills that was offered nowhere else.

The organization I founded, WORC, had sent volunteers every weekend to Willowbrook but soon after our founding in 1971, the budget there was slashed. The people who lived there suffered from severe staffing cutbacks. It had become so bad that some of the people living there had died because of lack of care.

My WORC members became marchers and picketers demanding the budget cuts be restored. Geraldo, who was then a cub reporter for Eyewitness News, snuck into the wards with his cameras and dramatically told the story of what was going on behind those red brick walls.

Geraldo incessantly and passionately covered the conditions the people were being forced to live in. He came back and came back and came back. His powerful coverage encouraged the parents association to file a federal class-action lawsuit which was successful and ultimately forced the closing of Willowbrook. In its place came group homes in all the neighborhoods of our city. It all started with Geraldo’s coverage that made the difference. He made a difference.

It was 42 years ago that the Geraldo Rivera Group Home opened on a quiet hilltop in Little Neck, Queens. We named the house in Geraldo’s honor in gratitude of his award-winning, investigative reporting about the scandalous conditions at Willowbrook.

It’s powerful to read Geraldo’s story about where he came from, where he went and how he got there. It’s inspiring because it’s a lesson that anything is possible! Geraldo admits his life is like a cyclone with its ups and downs. But what a ride he’s had!

But isn’t that true for many of us? It’s how you survive the downs that is the true test of life.

I can report that through the 45 years I’ve known Geraldo, he’s stayed true to Life’s WORC, raising millions of dollars, and impacting tens of thousands of lives, to this day.

His life has made a difference and I’m proud to say I’m his and his beautiful wife Erica’s friend and wish them well in the next chapter of their lives.

Pick up “The Geraldo Show.” It’s a great read.

Journey on a Train

“Life is like a journey on a train with its stations, with changes of routes and with accidents!

At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone. As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of our life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize that they vacated their seats! This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all the passengers…requiring that we give the best of ourselves.

The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way – Love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty, we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life without us.

I wish you a joyful journey for the coming years on your train of life. Reap success, give lots of love and be happy.

More importantly, be thankful for the journey!

Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train!”

Reprinted from Morning Juice courtesy of Investors Bank. Submitted by Fareeza Shah-Sayroo, assistant branch manager, Richmond Hill office

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