Applebee's owner donates $33K to Project Hospitality Staten Island Hurricane Relief Fund

by Kiawana Rich/Staten Island Advance on December 20, 2012 at 8:17 AM, updated

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Zane Tankel considers Staten Island his second home.

The Brooklyn-born Tankel, CEO of Apple Metro Inc., opened his first Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, in the Staten Island Mall in New Springville, 18 years ago. When Hurricane Sandy hit in October and devastated the borough, Tankel did not hesitate to help out.

There were financial donations, the feeding of over 20,000 hurricane victims with hearty black bean soup and tasty sandwiches, and more.

The latest project resulted in a $33,608 check presented by Tankel, accompanied by several of his company representatives, to the Project Hospitality Staten Island Hurricane Relief Fund. The funds were raised during Dining to Donate, which ran Dec. 3-9 and saw the borough's four Applebee's restaurants donate 10 percent of all receipts to the fund.

The fund is run jointly by the St. George Theatre, the Staten Island Advance and Project Hospitality, in cooperation with the borough president's office.
Advance Editor Brian J. Laline and Doreen Cugno, St. George Theatre's chief financial officer, were on hand to accept the largess at the Applebee's in New Dorp.

"The difference between Zane Tankel and a lot of other businesspeople I've met over the years is Zane is also in the business of making the community strong and his company is here to help," said Laline.

Tankel said that for him, being in business is about more than making money. "It's also about being a good corporate citizen, and I like to think we continuously demonstrate that," he said.

"Applebee's is a such a nationally known name and the leader of the organization is here in our community helping us out, and you can't get any better help than that," said Ms. Cugno.

Tankel also got a chance to meet with the students of New Dorp High School's Rotary Interact group, who have been donating their time and energy to help victims. The students made their way along local streets offering assistance and teaming with Guyon Rescue to distribute clothing and other articles to victims.

For German Pustov, 17, a senior and president of Interact, the experience was life-changing.

"It was very shocking to me," said Pustov. "I got a sense of reality. I have never been through anything like that before. It made me think about how gifted I am and to have such a life where I have food and I have clothing."

Senior Denis Bozek, 17, president of the student government, made an early-morning promise to a hurricane victim and his wife for hot cups of coffee, and at the end of the day, he made sure he kept that promise.

"I got them those hot cups of coffee and they had a smiles on their faces and it made me feel so much better," said Bozek.

After hearing of their efforts, Tankel pledged to New Dorp Principal Deirdre DeAngelis $5,000 worth of gift cards for students.


High-school service club on Staten Island has big plans

by Diane Lore / Chalk Talk Thursday October 09, 2008, 10:47 AM


Staten Island Rotary Club photo Board members of the Susan Wagner High School Rotary Interact Club show off their official banner at a Rotary Club of Staten Island meeting. From left to right are students Teresa Ciaramella;, Samantha Scott, secretary; Daniel Victorio, president, and Pamela Steinbruck, holding the banner.

STATEN ISLAND, NY - SEA VIEW -- Aiding children in a Third World village, refugees from war-torn Sudan, and closer to home, raising funds for autistic children and their families on Staten Island, are the ambitious aims of student members of the newly-chartered Susan Wagner High School Rotary Interact Club. The Susan Wagner club, which received its charter in June and is kicking off its first academic year, is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Staten Island. The Interact Club is the high school version of Rotary International.Students involved in the club promote the Rotary ideals of "service above self" by sponsoring service projects in the community, as well as raising awareness of national and international issues. Susan Wagner and New Dorp are the only Staten Island high schools with Interact Clubs. The club, which has about 45 members so far, is led by Susan Wagner Scholars student and senior, Daniel Victorio, as its president. Architect Ronald Victorio (his dad), a past president of Rotary and a member of the Rotary club's board of directors, has been assisting the group. Interact Club students joined members of the Staten Island Rotary at a recent meeting to meet members and to be installed and officially presented with their charter, banner, gavel and certificates. Elizabeth Maddaluno, who teaches history, is the faculty moderator. "We're very excited to have the opportunity to represent our school and serve the community," said Victorio. "We're also grateful for the opportunity to work with professional Rotary Club members in the community." Already, students have been able to raise money for the Heifer Fund, which provides villages in developing countries with cows that will provide fresh milk. The club also hopes to raise funds to sponsor a "Lost Boy of Sudan", one of the victims of the embattled African nation. The club's hometown project is to raise awareness and funds for non-profits that aid the borough's autistic children and families. "We've done some research and we've been able to see that autism affects a lot of families on Staten Island. We'd like to help those families, as well as organizations like the G.R.A.C.E Foundation and Eden II, that serve those children and families," Victorio said. The students planto sponsor an ice- skating outing for autistic children and families. They will raise funds for the project through bake sales and by working with the school's Student Organization, which Victorio is also involved with. Interact student members also help out the Rotary Club with projects. The teens volunteered to help with cooking and serving food at the Rotary booth at the Richmond County Fair. They helped out at the Light the Night walk in Midland Beach, which raised funds for lymphoma and leukemia. "We're really off to a good start," Victorio said, "and we hope to spread the word and keep things moving along."

Diane Lore writes about schools and education for the Advance. Contact her at Look for her Chalk Talk column Thursdays during the school year in the Advance Shores editions and on-line at