Since losing their son Nicky just one year ago, the Vacchio family of Inwood has worked to keep his legacy alive.
Nicky Vacchio, 24, died last October after living with a range of mental illnesses including a diagnosis of schizophrenia in 2008. His mother, Patty Vacchio, said her son always had the best intentions, but poor decision making would often get in his way.
Earlier this year, the Vacchio family founded "eNVy", Embracing Noble Values for Young People, a non-profit organization that aims to provide motivational support to children and young adults. "eNVy" hosted its first annual fundraiser this past Saturday afternoon at Mulcahy's Pub & Concert Hall in Wantagh.
"Nicky struggled through life," said Vacchio, a dedicated volunteer in the Inwood community. "He always had great dreams and aspirations but he was never able to pursue them. Helping others was always a passion of Nicky's, so that's what we want to continue to do. Today, you find many children who have those same big dreams but they can't channel them in the right direction."
"Our short term goals are to form college scholarships for high school students and target even younger age groups to bring back some basics and make more conventional goals reachable," she added. "Our long term goal is to open a center where children can come after school and find a sense of belonging. There are so many single-parent homes these days, or homes where both parents work, and kids are out on the streets."
When remembering his older brother, Danny Vacchio described Nicky as a unique individual who never took the conventional route to success. He said his brother's open mind and ability to identify with other young people that struggled through life is the real foundation that "eNVy" is built upon.
"We loved each other to no end, always had each other's backs, but we didn't get along so well," said Danny. "We're both very simliar, very stubborn and we didn't always agree on much. What we wanted in life was two completely different paths and I never really appreciated what I learned from Nick until he was gone. He really made a lot of sense and he's taught me that there is no one right way in life."
As "eNVy" is still in its earliest stages, the Vacchio family hopes to earn a sense of trust from their supporters that will help the foundation grow.
"There's only so much we can do with what we raise today," Danny Vacchio said at Mulcahy's Saturday. "We want people to take us seriously and know that we are committed to this work. We plan to do more and more fundraisers like this in the future."