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For Ozone Park’s Barbara Bocklage, taking on a puppy from Canine Companions for Independence was a no-brainer.

Bockage worked with handicapped children before retirement. Searching for a sense of purpose, she stumbled upon Canine Companions for Independence, a national nonprofit that trains assistance dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities at no cost to the recipient, after a conversation with her sister.

“My sister is a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House. There’s a dog there that came from Canine Companions named Rico,” said Bocklage. “I’ve been wanting a dog, and after my sister spoke with Rico’s owner, she helped me get in contact with her to learn more about the program.”

Canine Companions for Independence places 8-week-old puppies into the homes of puppy raisers where they learn basic commands and socialization skills. Once the dogs are about 1 1/2 years old, they are returned to the Canine Companions for Independence regional headquarters in Medford, NY, where they begin six months of professional training with the organization’s nationally renowned instructors.

After they undergo training, the pups are then matched with a child, adult or veteran with disabilities, and spend two weeks at the facility with their recipients. The pups then attend a graduation ceremony where the volunteer puppy raiser is invited to ceremoniously pass the leash off to the new recipient.

“You can give money to any charity, but do you really know where it goes?” Bocklage said. “That’s the best part of Canine Companions. We carry the load and then we get to give the dog to the person who was matched with the dog.”

Bocklage started the application process to receive her puppy, a golden retriever named Kimber, back in September 2017. Once she brought Kimber home, Bocklage was ecstatic and knew that this was meant for her.

“Ever since I retired I was looking for a sense of purpose,” Bocklage said. “I’ve always had dogs and after not having one for 10 years, it was time. After finding Canine Companions, I knew it was right for me.”

“My husband didn’t want a dog, but he’s the one who gives her treats for her potty training,” Bocklage said, laughing. “My 23-year-old niece is ecstatic about Kimber. Even my sister, who is highly asthmatic, wants to come over all the time to see the dog.”

Kimber has become quite popular in the neighborhood as well.

“She’s the star of the block,” Bocklage said. “She’s also a man-magnet. I was walking her through the neighborhood once with her little yellow vest on and a man who was working on cement came running over and said, ‘I have to pet this dog!’ She’s the best little girl.”

In the next year or so, Kimber will return to the Canine Companions for Independence headquarters for additional training. Bocklage knows that returning Kimber will be hard, but acknowledges that she will light up the lives of the people she comes in contact with.

“She was the happiest hello and will be the hardest goodbye,” Bocklage said. “Everyone falls in love with her, and I think that has something to do with what her purpose is. It makes everyone light up.”

For more information about becoming a puppy raiser, visit cci.org


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A longtime Ozone Park pizzeria and restaurant has new owners, a new look and a new menu — but its identity remains the same.

Aldo’s Pizza & Restaurant held its grand re-opening on Feb. 19 under the leadership of Anthony and Joe Livreri, brothers raised in Glendale who also own Mr. Bruno’s Pizzeria in East Elmhurst. They brought with them a revamped menu with traditional Sicilian fare and more than 30 varieties of pizza, but upholding the Aldo’s name was also a priority.


“It’s been here for so long and it’s got such a good name,” Anthony Livreri said. “I just wanted to bring the place back up to what it was. It was in the wrong hands for a short period of time.”

When the pizzeria’s namesake owner, Aldo Calore, retired from the business in 2014, the new management made a mess of the place, he said. When he went to see what the Livreri brothers had done to renovate the space, Calore said that he knew it was in good hands once again.

“It’s beautiful. These guys know what they’re doing,” Calore said. “They do everything excellent and they go out of their way to buy good stuff, not cheap.”

Although the Livreri brothers have been running Aldo’s since Jan. 2, the dining room was under renovation and was opened for the first time at the re-opening party on Monday, Feb. 19. The room was filled with Italian cheer as friends and family members came to congratulate the brothers on their latest venture, eat from a buffet of fresh entrees and drinks from the updated bar.

The brothers describe their new menu as simple and traditional, with meals such as lamb chops, skirt steaks, rib-eye steaks, a variety of fish, pasta and a large selection of appetizers and salads. The pizza menu is anything but simple, however, with a brand-new, 26-foot showcase in the restaurant that is stocked with everything from buffalo chicken, Thai chicken, grandma, upside down, cheese steak and rigatoni vodka pies, to rice balls, paninis and potato croquettes.

Above all, with many years of experience and multiple successful restaurants, the Livreri brothers know that the people are the most important thing. They used to own a few places in New Jersey, but coming back home made Joe Levriri realize the biggest difference with their latest location.

“The people are different in New York,” said Joe Livreri. “New York is New York; you can’t change it no matter where you go. You could talk to one person and talk to another person and you feel like you’re at home, where you’re supposed to be.”

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My Epiphany


According to the dictionary, an epiphany is a moment when you suddenly and unexpectedly become aware of a reality that can change your life forever.
At the age of 87, I had an epiphany. As I thought about the turning points in my life, I realized then they weren’t due to good luck or being in the right place at the right time. I understood and fully accepted for the first time that all the events I’d attributed to good luck were actually the results of divine intervention.
Part 1
I grew up in Ozone Park, New York, during the worst of the Great Depression. On December 7, 1941, I was listening to a radio broadcast of a crucial football game between my favorite team, the New York Giants, versus the Brooklyn Dodgers. The game coverage was suddenly interrupted by an announcement: Japanese planes had bombed the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. The next day, President Roosevelt declared war against Japan.
I had just graduated from high school and turned eighteen in June, 1943, when my neighborhood friends and I took the subway to the army recruitment center in downtown Manhattan. We filled out lots of paperwork with hundreds of other eager volunteers, stripped down to our underwear, and stood in a long line to be weighed and measured and poked. My friends and I were determined to join the army and fight for our country.
The universe had other plans for me.
The doctor who examined me spent a long time listening to my lungs through his stethoscope. He wanted to know if I’d had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning and if I’d ever coughed up blood or suffered from a fever. I nodded yes. I’d been going to school fulltime, plus working afternoons and evenings at a grocery store where I had to haul heavy boxes up and down the stairs. I figured that was why I always felt exhausted and weak.
I was devastated by the doctor’s diagnosis. I had active tuberculosis.
While my friends were shipped overseas, I was sent upstate to a publicly funded sanatorium. The young men I’d grown up with endured experiences I couldn’t imagine. Many of them never made it back home. Meanwhile, I was fighting for my life under very different circumstances. In 1948, I was finally declared free of infection. America had won the war. I had won my own private battle against TB.
Back home in Ozone Park, I felt like an outcast. Old friends, who believed I was still contagious, crossed the street rather than stop and say hello to me. Nobody would hire me, not even for the most menial job or low pay.
One hot afternoon, I stopped by Henry’s Ice Cream Parlor for a glass of cold seltzer, which everyone referred to as a two cents plain.
Although the owners--Henry, his wife Gerda, and her brother Fritz--were from Germany, their ice cream parlor was such a neighborhood landmark that nobody had bothered them during the war. Henry and Fritz hadn’t seen me in years. They wanted to know all about my time in the army. Where had I been stationed? Had I seen a lot of action? Was I one of the soldiers who’d participated in D-Day, the Normandy invasion? When I told them the truth, that I’d spent six years in a TB sanatorium, they were sympathetic. They didn’t shun me, as so many other people had. They were sympathetic.
The next time I dropped by, almost every table was filled. I drank my two cents plain from a seat at the counter and watched Henry and Fritz rushing from table to table, taking orders and clearing tables. Gerda seemed to have an extra pair of hands as she rushed to put out the plates of food. When the place finally quieted down, the three of them joined me at the counter and asked whether I wanted to work with them. I didn’t have to think twice about my answer. Gerda handed me an apron. I finally had a job!
I’d been working at Henry’s for a couple of years when one afternoon, just as the late afternoon crowd had finally cleared out, the door swung open. Tony, whose family had always lived on our block, walked in with a wave and a big smile. Tony and I weren’t close friends, because he was a few years ahead of me in school. But I’d always heard he was a smart kid, a hard worker, and the kind of person who’d make something of himself. He sat down next to me, ordered a chocolate soda, and asked what I was up to, and what I was planning to do next?
He had asked me the exact question that I spent all my time thinking about. Though I was grateful to be earning money, I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life flipping burgers. But I felt stuck because I couldn’t figure out an answer that felt right. Tony sipped his soda as I said I was still trying to figure out my future. Where was he working, I asked. He’d become an accountant, he said.
He was doing pretty well, well enough in fact that he’d recently gone into business for himself.
An accountant! That was more than a job— it was a profession. A career; I couldn’t hide how impressed I was.
Tony reminded me that when we were in school, I was the kid with the reputation for being smart at math. He’d heard of a place in downtown Manhattan called Pace Institute, which offered both day and evening classes. I could work during the day, go to school at night. And their fees were a lot less than the price of a four-year college. Pace’s graduates received a certificate in accounting and business law. A lot of companies considered the certificate just as good as a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level position in accounting.
As much as the idea appealed to me, I knew that on my salary, I couldn’t afford even Pace’s tuition. But how could I admit that to Tony in front of my employers, who taken me in and been so generous?
Henry had been listening to our conversation. After quickly conferring with Fritz and Gerda, he announced that the three of them had decided to pool their tips, including what they received when I wasn’t in the shop, to help me pay for my tuition at Pace. They waved away my protests and gave me no choice but to accept their offer.
I’ve never forgotten Henry, Gerda, and Fritz’s examples of altruism and selflessness. My job at their ice cream parlor led to my becoming an accountant, which expanded into a career that allowed me to meet people, travel all over the world, and develop entrepreneurial opportunities beyond anything I could have imagined.
As I got older, I began to connect the dots. I came to see that nothing I’d accomplished was due to coincidence, chance, or a lucky break. My former employees had been blessed with the knowledge that we are part of a sacred plan much greater than ourselves.
As I grew older, I continued to discover how a guiding hand was leading me along my own path.
End Part 1
Part 2
One day in 1987, I was driving north on one of Long Island’s many highways. I stopped to get gas and suddenly heard a voice that belonged to my old friend, Al Busching. We had worked together at Sperry, shared an office, a secretary, and a lot of good times. Al had pulled up to the pumps on the southbound side.
We threw our arms around each other like long-lost brothers. Thirty years had passed, and we both looked a bit older, but otherwise nothing had changed. We chatted for a few minutes about our families, and what we were currently involved with. Al was the chief executive officer of Veeco Lambda, a major worldwide technology company headquartered on Long Island. I was looking for new business opportunities.
Al knew I’d had a lot of experience buying and selling companies. He happened to need someone to perform due diligence for a company Veeco Lambda was interested in buying. UPA Technology manufactured x-ray machines with a wide range of military and industrial uses. He was convinced that I was the perfect person for the task. Five months later, I told Al and the rest of the Veeco board that in my opinion, UPA was an excellent match for Veeco.
I was 62, and a lot of my friends were happily planning for their retirement. But when Al asked me to become head of UPA, I accepted without reservation. I welcomed the challenge of running a new company, especially one that was part of Veeco Lambda. During the nineteen wonderful years I spent there, we got involved with exploring the newly emerging field of high tech devices. We had more than our fair share of fascinating experiences—and no matter how serious the situation, we could always lighten the mood with a joke and a lot of laughter.
When I was younger, I would have been convinced that that bumping into Al Busching was a very lucky coincidence. But now that I’ve been fortunate to have time to reflect on my life, I have accepted that a guiding force brought us together at that particular gas station. Following my instincts and saying yes to Al’s proposition ultimately enabled me to discover the greater purpose I was meant to fulfill.
End Part 2

Part 3
The insight I gained through writing Walter’s Way is that we live in a universe where all of us possess an innate and complete intelligence. It’s incumbent upon us to discover this power and develop it, not only for our own benefit, but also to benefit others.
You don’t need to write a book in order to identify your life’s purpose. But you do need time and space for self-reflection in order to access this guidance. You need some way to focus, whether it’s through meditation or prayer or journaling. When we allow ourselves that privilege, we are able to discover that the guidance we yearn for exists within ourselves. I finally learned to grab hold of it and reflect on it every day of my life. That’s the gift I wish for all of you, as well. When we sit quietly and think about everything that’s happened to us, everyone who has come into our lives, we begin to understand that accidents don’t occur in a universe where a higher being exists.
I spent many years reflecting on my life, until I had that moment of epiphany and understood my true mission. I urge all of you to open your minds and reflect on your own lives. Remember the strangers who “randomly” appeared those who “randomly” gave you ideas or opportunities. Connect the dots! Each one of those people or events was part of a larger plan to enable you to fulfill your life’s mission.
The more birthdays I celebrate, the more grateful I am for the invisible light that has guided me along my path of self-discovery.
Now, in my ninth decade, I truly appreciate the gift I received: the knowledge that our life stories are directed by a guardian spirit—an invisible spirit that becomes apparent when we understand that we need to recognize a pattern in order to realize our mission. It’s there...grab it, hold it, and reflect on it every single day of your life.
People will forget what you said, what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel.
I hope that everyone who reads Walter’s Way will feel that it has changed their lives forever.
End Part 3

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Walter's Way won the Literary Classics and Children's Literary Classics (CLC) 
Lumen Award for Literary Excellence

Gold Award for College Audience Inspirational/Visionary

          Gold Award for High School Audience - Nonfiction


Literary Classics and Children's Literary Classics (CLC) Book Awards and Reviews were created by Taj Mahal Publishing Inc., a division of Wildflower Press and publishers of Mud Pie Parenting Magazine, a Midwestern publication. When the editors of Taj Mahal Publishing first set out to help promote excellence in children's literature, they discovered the challenges in sorting through all the children's books on the market. With the insurgence of books being released through the self-publishing market, it became increasingly apparent that now, more than ever, parents were in need of resources to help filter through all the books available to children and young adults. Literary Classics Book Awards and Reviews were created for two reasons . . . to help authors gain recognition for their work and to help parents find the best in literature for children and young adults.

Literary Classics continues to honor excellence in literature for children and young adults with their annual awards program. All books submitted for consideration are first submitted to the Literary Classics Review Department where reviewers score each book based upon a 100 point judging rubric. Books that score 80 points or higher are forwarded on to the judges for consideration in the annual book awards.

The Literary Classics Mission:

At Literary Classics, it is our mission to honor excellence in children's and young adult literature, thereby encouraging a passion for reading while promoting education, imagination and character in young readers.

The Latin text on the Literary Classics awards seal affirms the Literary Classics Mission Statement. Loosely translated, it states that classic literature is: The key to knowledge and creativity while promoting strong core values.


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Literary Classics is pleased to announce that the book Walter’s Way, by Walter Scherr, has been selected to receive the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.  The CLC Seal of Approval is a designation reserved for those books which uphold the rigorous criteria set forth by the Literary Classics review committee, a team comprised of individuals with backgrounds in publishing, editing, writing, illustration and graphic design.

Walter Scherr grew up in Queens, New York during the depression.  He, along with the buddies he'd known since childhood, couldn't wait to enlist in the army as part of their patriotic duty.  But after taking the required physical Walter was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, a life-threatening and highly contagious illness.  He spent the next seven years in quarantine fighting the dreaded disease while his friends were off fighting in the war.  After finally being released with a clean bill of health he went on to become a successful and highly influential business man.  His road to success was riddled with speed bumps and detours.  But with a strong sense of purpose, high ideals, and a willingness to learn, he had a tremendous impact in the U.S. and abroad, making positive changes that are still causing ripples in how businesses operate today.  This a compelling story that will encourage and inspire readers of all ages.  Walter's Way is highly recommended and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature for young readers, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic literature which appeals to youth while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable young minds of future generations.   To learn more about Literary Classics, you may visit their website at or

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We are pleased to share with you a wonderful article that appeared in the Greenwich Post about Walter’s book and efforts to honor Pvt. Francis Bowen timed for Memorial Day observances: 

Walter J. Scherr’s life and legacy has been propelled by the inspiration of those who served and sacrificed during World War II, a time when Scherr himself desperately wanted to fight for his country but could not.

Born in Queens in 1924, Scherr was not quite old enough to join the Army when the U.S. entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Six months later, Scherr went straight from his high school graduation to the local enlistment office, expecting to make his heroic mark on the war. Instead, he was stopped in his tracks with a diagnosis of active tuberculosis, a disease that was incurable at the time. Young Scherr was quarantined in a sanatorium for the next seven years, while all of his peers selflessly served their country—some making the ultimate sacrifice.

Though he got a late start, Scherr had a successful career as a corporate executive and entrepreneur, helping introduce the fax machine worldwide and making groundbreaking advancements in data storage. Scherr met Mother Teresa, traveled the world, gained, lost, and regained a fortune.

When Scherr began to write his autobiography, Walter’s Way: How a Relief Kid Survived TB, Corporate Betrayal, Bankruptcy, Made Millions, and Touched the Lives of Billions, he was compelled to honor the caretakers of the world, like those who cared for him during his years in a sanatorium, and the World War II service members who have so inspired him. Scherr began to look for someone from his childhood neighborhood of Ozone Park who gave his life during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. It was important to Scherr to form a personal connection to tragedy of the war.

Scherr found Pvt. Francis Nelson Bowen, who was living in Ozone Park, just like Scherr, when he enlisted in the Army. Bowen was engaged to Ada Murphy when he went overseas to fight with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He never came home. Serving as a medic, Bowen died trying to save the life of another paratrooper. He left behind his parents, older brother Harold, “Harry,” and sister, Gertrude, “Sissy.”

At age 90, Scherr traveled to the beaches of Normandy and the American cemetery there, to pay his respects at Bowen’s grave. In Walter’s Way, Scherr honored Bowen by prominently featuring his story.

This spring, through the connections of social media, Scherr was able to meet Ginger Rica, the daughter of Bowen’s sister and niece he never got to meet. The two met at Scherr’s residence in Naples, Florida.

This Memorial Day, Scherr joins the nation in honoring all the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect American freedoms. He is proud to continue honoring Pvt. Francis Bowen, and he hopes more people seek to learn the stories of those who died for our country.

Scherr dedicates many of his resources to the support of The Center for Discovery, an internationally-renowned treatment center and school for children and adults with complex medical conditions. The Vera and Walter J. Scherr Hurleyville Maker’s Lab in Hurleyville, N.Y., was primarily funded by the Vera and Walter Scherr Family Foundation, and supports innovation and creativity in the small Catskills town. All proceeds of Walter’s Way are donated to The Center for Discovery. This summer, Scherr is working with the 82nd Airborne Division to increase educational support for its troops.


The article was developed and submitted by Amanda Loviza 

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