By Reginald Tucker
New York—Six high school seniors—along with a veteran member of the New York flooring contractor market—were recognized here recently during the 33rd Annual Francis J.P. McHale Scholarship and Greater New York Floor Coverers Industry Promotional Fund Scholarship Awards ceremony. This year’s event was historic in that it marked the first time that seven awards were presented at the event—the most awards doled out at one time since the program was created in 1985.
This year’s scholarship awards were presented to three students whose parents are affiliated with the NYCDC/Local 2287, and to three seniors whose parents are non-union employees of contractor members. The recipients of the Greater New York Floor Coverers Scholarship are: Amy Kappel, Sonja Meberg and Casey Morrow. The recipients of the 2017 Francis J.P. McHale Scholarship awards are: Megan Dicosta, Ailish Durcan and Hope Ortiz.
“The J.P. McHale Scholarship award was truly a labor-management partnership in how it began, and that’s how it perpetuates itself year after year,” said David Meberg, master of ceremonies, who also serves as both trustee-chairman of the Greater New York Floor Coverers Industry Promotional Fund and as president of Consolidated Carpet, a prominent commercial flooring contractor. “Each year we give out two to three scholarships; this year we are presenting the most awards we’ve ever given.”
Kappel, the first called to accept the Greater New York Scholarship Award this year, is a senior at Bethpage High School. After graduation, she will attend Adelphi University with a specialty in law and paralegal studies. Sonja Meberg, a senior at Pleasantville High School in New Jersey, plans to attend Cornell University in the fall. She will study animal science on a pre-veterinary track. And Casey Morrow, a senior at Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, N.Y., has been accepted to Franklin and Marshall College, where she looks forward to bringing her athletic skills to the school’s volleyball team. Morrow has received awards for excellence in achievement of forensic science and marine science, and she has also participated in many Habitat for Humanity and Project Hope events around the country.
Meberg with Amy Kappel.
Hope Ortiz, the first called up to receive the Francis J.P. McHale Scholarship award this year, is the daughter of Victor Ortiz (Tully Construction). Honored in absentia, Ortiz plans to attend Montclair State University, where she will pursue her ambitions to become an editor. Next up was Ailish Durcan, the daughter of Owen Durcan (member of Local 2287). She plans to attend Ramapo College, where she will major in nursing studies. A member of the Varsity Athletes Against Substance Abuse Club, Durcan ultimately wants to work with patients suffering from mental health issues. Lastly, Megan Dicosta (daughter of Steve Dicosta, Local 2287), plans to attend St. John’s University, where she will study speech therapy. Dicosta has participated in varsity soccer and track programs, performed in several theater productions at school—including the choir—and she has also volunteered at local charities.
“With the help of the Francis J.P. McHale Scholarship and Greater New York Floor Coverers Scholarship programs, the recipients of the first through 29-year scholarships have completed their courses,” said Meberg, who noted the association has allocated more than $1.1 million to help students fund their college education. “That’s a great accomplishment.”
Honoring commitment and excellence
In addition to the student scholarships, the Greater New York Floor Coverers Industry Promotional Fund also named the 2017 Honoree of the Francis J.P. McHale Scholarship Award. Established in 1985 and named after McHale—who rose through the ranks to become secretary treasurer of the New York District Council—the award recognizes a co-honoree from the management side and a member of the Greater New York Floor Coverers association who has exhibited dedication and service to the floor covering industry.
This year’s honor goes to John Mucciarone, a career master carpenter specializing in millwork. Over the course of his career, Mucciarone established himself as a proven leader with more than two decades of experience out in the field. After graduating Chelsea Vocational High School, Mucciarone joined Local Union 32B, working in the maintenance department before moving into cabinet making.
Sonja and David Meberg.
After five years of working as an apprentice with several renown master mechanics, he landed a job at a woodworking shop. There he learned drafting, millwork fabrication and installation. He went on to join Carpenter Union 608 and began working for one of the biggest construction firms in New York at the time (Anastasia White, which employed 1,200 people). Always seeking to learn more, Mucciarone decided to take classes at the Mechanics Institute.
Mucciarone moved on to become foreman of a prominent shop, National Interiors, in 1982. He was elevated to the position of field superintendent of National Interiors, overseeing over 85 carpenters in all aspects of the company’s contracts. He was also influential in the firm’s expansion into millwork from a primarily flooring-specialized company. While there, according to Meberg, the firm’s expertise expanded dramatically.
“When Frank McHale and the association wanted to have a co-honoree as part of this award, John was exactly the type of person they had in mind—people who started in the trade, worked their way up the ladder and seized the opportunities that were given to them and took in to another level. We’re proud to have John as our honoree this year.”
Meberg with Casey Morrow.
In his acceptance speech, Mucciarone graciously thanked the members in attendance, adding, “It has been an honor to be a part of this Greater New York Floor Coverers Association.” He recalled how this father moved the family from Italy to New York City in 1966, and how his parents taught him the importance of a strong work ethic. “My father, who is no longer with us, was a man who showed me that with hard work, education and dedication—anything is possible. My mother, who became the bread winner when my father suffered an injury, showed me the true meaning of hard work. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunities they have given me.”
Mucciarone also attributed his success to several key people he met over the course of his education and career, citing several individuals such as Steve Richardson, Steve Kerakis and Debbie DeLuca. Using his own example, he encouraged the scholarship-award-winning students to work hard and take advantage of the opportunities in front of them.
“To this year’s scholarship winners, I say ‘Success is opportunity.’ Seek every opportunity and seize it. Remember: What you put in is what you get back. No one person paved their own way alone. The future is based on moments, people you meet and, most important, the support you get along the way. That’s from your family, friends, associates and yourself—you always have to be your own supporter. Take it from a guy who started from the bottom.”