HILLSDALE, N.J. -- The second annual Joan's Joy Child Safety Fun Fest in memory of a 7-year-old Brownie Scout slain by a neighbor more than four decades ago is set for Sept. 17 at a sculpture and garden dedicated to her at the Hillsdale train station.
“No one can replace your hands in the circle of doing good,” said Rosemarie D'Alessandro, who made helping other parents and abused children her life’s mission after her daughter's April 1973 murder.
Scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. at the 5,670-pound monument and garden dedicated to Joan D'Alessando, the free event aims to promote child safety education amid music, dancing, a child-safety play, self-defense instruction and more.
More than two dozen resource and information tables will provide child safety presentations and fun activities.
"Joining Hands in a Circle" will take place between 1 and 2 p.m. Raffle prizes will include a TV, and there will be a silent auction and tricky tray.
Admission is free and food will be provided by ShopRite and Chicken Delight.
D’Alessandro is happy that Healing Space of the YWCA Bergen County will be there.
“Healing Space deals with people who’ve experienced sexual violence and some have been murdered,” D’Alessandro said, adding that the table will feature free shirts that people can draw and write hopeful messages on as part of the center’s Clothesline Project.
RAIN DATE: Sept. 28
Joseph McGowan, a former high school science teacher, was convicted of raping and murdering Joan on April 19, 1973 (Holy Thursday), before dumping her body in Harriman State Park, where it was found on Easter. The youngster had come to McGowan’s home, three doors down, looking to sell her last two boxes of cookies.
Her murder prompted the passage of Joan’s Law, signed by Gov. Christie Whitman in 1997 and by President Clinton in 1998. It mandates life in prison for the killing of children under 14 during a sex crime.
D'Alessandro is campaigning to expand the law to deny parole to anyone convicted of killing a child under 18 during a sexual assault.
D’Alessandro established Joan's Joy to help youngsters and raise awareness of child safety issues.
The foundation has been particularly active the past several months:
- It brought 22 children from the Holley Center in Hackensack to Radio City Music Hall for the New York Spectacular;
- It gave 64 children from the center tickets to see the movie "BFG";
- It brought eight families from Family Promise of Bergen County to Van Saun Park for rides and a barbeque;
- It gave the YAP program of Tails of Hope a donation for children to learn about careers working with dog;
- It made a donation to Hearts and Crafts, which provides grief counseling to children;
- It brought together the Girl Scouts and Mystical Gardens of Dumont to plant 300 flowers -- including geraniums and sun impatiens -- at the butterfly sculpture with donations from Galaxy Gardens, Victoria’s, Bel Fiore Greenhouses and Lupardi’s Nursery.
The Joan's Joy Foundation seeks sponsors, donations and volunteers.
GO TO: www.JoansJoy.org
OR EMAIL: Rosebd@email.com
DONATIONS: The Joan Angela D’Alessandro Foundation, 45 Florence St., Hillsdale, (201) 664-9140