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Volunteer Spotlight: Sandy Romano

Volunteer Sandy Romano, with the volunteer group Splashes

Volunteer Sandy Romano, with the volunteer group Splashes of Hope, works on a mural for the Children's Center of UCP-Suffolk (United Cerebral Palsy) in Commack. (July 2011) Credit: Handout

Sandy Romano has long been an artist at heart.

"I've always been very artistic, but I never went to art school," said the retired educator, who lives in Wading River and taught elementary school for 34 years in the Middle Country School District. "I had discovered painting in the last few years of my teaching."

Once the principal got wind of her newfound talent, she asked Romano to paint a mural on one of the school corridors. "I painted a mural, probably 15 feet by 8 feet high," Romano said. "It was my first outing. I was hooked from there; I started painting all over the school!"

When Romano, 62, retired seven years ago, she wanted to find an outlet for her artistry, and someone pointed her to Splashes of Hope, which is always seeking creative volunteers. "I met them, liked them and believe 100 percent in their mission. Luckily, they welcomed me."

Since then, while she is often painting mural canvases at Coindre Hall in Huntington, she also has set up an art studio in her basement, where she can work on ceiling tiles and other projects for Splashes. One of her recent works: a detailed mural of Yankee Stadium depicting the last game of this past season against the Boston Red Sox, for the bedroom of superfan Nate Serna, who's 10 and is recovering from a serious illness. The project took about three months to complete, said Romano, who presented the mural to the Bellmore family last month.

But there's more to her artwork than murals. Once a week, Romano travels to the pediatric oncology clinic at Stony Brook Long Island Children's Hospital to paint the hands of patients and their siblings.

"I wanted to be involved with children and do some good," she said. "It's an honor for me to be associated with this organization. It's become a very important part of my life."


Sign me up

There’s a lengthy waiting list of hospitals and social service facilities asking for murals from Splashes of Hope, said founder Heather Buggée, especially since the organization — whose mission is to paint custom-designed, colorful, uplifting murals — has been expanding its reach.
“My daughter Sarah is heading up the West Coast chapter,” Buggée said.
With the growth, there’s an ongoing need for volunteers who enjoy children, can paint, are able to work independently and have flexible schedules. There is also a need for volunteers who can organize and work at events, write news releases and have experience with social media and photography.

To volunteer, call 631-424-8230 or email Applications can also be found on the website,

CONTACT: Diana Fogarty, muralist and
volunteer coordinator,


You might consider....

ART WITHOUT WALLS, based in Sayville, was established in 1985 and is dedicated to innovative fine-art programs and to creating original art therapy and cultural programs for the terminally ill and disabled to enhance wellness. The group also works with professional artists for public arts programs.
Contact: Executive director Sharon Lippman,

ART THERAPY, in Bay Shore, is affiliated with Long Island Cancer Help and Wellness Center and offers creative self-expression for adult cancer survivors. Each Thursday session includes relaxation music and begins with deep breathing exercises.
Contact: Barbara Foster,; 631-675-9003

For more volunteer information and opportunities, contact the LONG ISLAND VOLUNTEER CENTER at 516-564-5482;;


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