Optimists, Ficeto to be feted at Salvation Army dinner

Photo courtesy Linda Kraus-D’IsaGerald Ficeto.

Photo courtesy Linda Kraus-D’Isa
Gerald Ficeto.

The Salvation Army of Greater Kearny will honor Gerald Ficeto, president of the West Hudson Arts & Theatre Co. (W.H.A.T.), and the Optimist Club of West Hudson/South Bergen at its 11th annual dinner, it was announced.

This year’s affair will be held Thursday, May 7, at the San Carlo, 620 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst.

The affair begins at 6 p.m. with a “Meet & Greet,” hors d’oeuvres, music by brass soloist Mike Hislop and a raffle sponsored by the Optimists with prizes being donated by local businesses, followed by dinner at around 7 p.m. Proceeds from the raffle will go the Salvation Army food pantry.

Tickets are $55. To buy tickets in advance, call Rebeca Escobar at 201-991-1115. Only a limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

The Salvation Army of Greater Kearny and 2015 Advisory Board Chairperson Ellie Nakrosis also invite individuals to become sponsors by purchasing ads in the souvenir dinner journal. For more information on ad prices, call Escobar.

Salvation Army Capt. Sherry Moukouangala said that both Ficeto and the Optimists are being honored “for their tireless contributions to our community.

“The Salvation Army supports the arts and Mr. Ficeto has been an advocate for the arts in our local schools and communities [North Arlington, Lyndhurst, Harrison, East Newark and Kearny],” Moukouangala said.

And, she added, the Optimists “work directly and indirectly to support the social services of The Salvation Army and the youth of these communities. They have been an ongoing supporter of our food pantry and youth programs over the years.”

While attending Montclair State College, Ficeto was an instructor for the Kearny Music and Art Summer School during the 1970s when he also helped revive the Pioneer Boys of America’s Drum and Bugle Corps and was its director for two years.

‘The Salvation Army supports the arts and Mr. Ficeto has been an advocate for the arts in our local schools and communities.’  — Capt. Sherry Moukouangala, Salvation Army 

After performing as a professional percussionist for decades, Ficeto began teaching in the Kearny school system in 1993 and served as Kearny High School’s assistant band director and instrumental music director/ conductor/stage director of the annual high school musical for many years.

He also taught in the Kearny Extended Enrichment Program.

Currently, Ficeto is director of bands at Kearny’s Franklin School and director of bands and small ensembles at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.

He taught in the Mt. Tabor Summer Band School for 15 years.

Ficeto is a founding member of West Hudson Arts & Theatre Co. which brings the arts and arts education to the West Hudson community. As an active professional musician, he continues to a clinician, adjudicator and educator for jazz ensembles, marching bands and wind ensembles for local, state and regional festivals.

The Salvation Army of Greater Kearny provides aid to more than 150 families – about 300 adults and 200 children – in its service area every month, provides computer training to senior citizens, offers three levels of English as a Second Language/ citizenship programs to about 55 adults and donates more than 6,500 grocery orders annually to people in its service area.

During last year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons, the Salvation Army distributed about 1,500 toys, 2,500 clothing items and 1,200 grocery bags to 600 families.

– Ron Leir 

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.