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The ninth annual fashion show put on by the North Haven Sons and Daughters of Italy Lodge 2805 raised $1,000 for Camp Disocvery. Chairperson Regina Najarian hopes this year’s show will be as successful. (Photo by Nathan Hughart/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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For Regina Najarian, raising money with the North Haven branch of the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America is personal.
She got involved with the Sons and Daughters of Italy Lodge 2805 (SDIL) in 2007 and has since become the lodge’s financial secretary.
“I wasn’t planning on being on the board, but the previous financial secretary decided to retire from it so I was asked to fill in,” Regina says. “That was two elections ago.”
Working with the lodge has kept Regina busy since her retirement from the accounting department at Honeywell. Throughout the year, SDIL hosts golf tournaments, comedy nights, distinguished citizens banquets, and more to raise money.
After the lodge’s expenses, all money raised from these events go toward funding various charities and scholarships in North Haven and surrounding towns.
Though the lodge votes together on which charities it will support with the proceeds, Regina and her husband John prefer to raise money for the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Camp Discovery, hosted in Connecticut by the Channel 3 Kids Camp.
Regina is also the chairperson for the lodge’s annual fashion show, which last year brought in $1,000 for the camp. She says Camp Discovery is an important service for kids with a wide variety of severe skin conditions. For one week in August, they can have a camp experience tailored to their needs. She says that children with these problems struggle to find a traditional summer camp experience because of the difficulties of their condition.
“You have to remember, camps aren’t made for a sterile environment. [At Camp Discovery,] they have to be extra careful with these kids and they are,” Regina says.
John and Regina’s daughter Marissa died of epidermolysis bullosa, a genetic condition that causes fragile and blistering skin. When she was alive, she didn’t have the chance to attend a camp like this one.
“Our daughter went to camp only because we hired an aide to go with her,” Regina says. “The Girl Scouts…graciously agreed to have [the aide] come along because [Marissa] was at risk going to camp. It worked.”
Camp Discovery provides the traditional summer camp experience that didn’t exist for kids like their daughter at the time. This is why Camp Discovery is important to them.
“The kids are happy,” she says. “They have a good time, they make friends.”
The camp, which is free to kids upon a recommendation from their dermatologist, is staffed with nurses and doctors who have volunteered their time to make the experience possible.
“They have swimming, they put on plays, they do a lot of things,” Regina says. “Most of these kids would not have a camp experience…if it wasn’t for the AAD.”
This year’s fashion show will be held at Il Monticello in Meriden on Oct. 27 with clothes and modeling provided by North Haven’s own Carol’s Creations.
“People really enjoy it. They have a good time and they go shopping at Carol’s later,” Regina says. “She provides the clothing, we have a runway, and people get to see the clothes. It’s just a fun afternoon.”
All the preparations for the day are set. Regina is now preparing to sell tickets for the event beginning in July, though advertising will begin in earnest as the SDIL September golf tournament nears. Both charitable causes can be advertised at once.
“You get two different kinds of people going to each one…The guys can go play golf while the girls” come to the fashion show, Regina says, “though we get a lot of guys at the fashion show, too.”
Though in the past, the fashion show has gone to benefit Camp Discovery, the lodge always votes on where the money from each fundraiser should go. That decision is made following the event.
“So far, we’ve given money to the camp from proceeds. If someone suggests something else, that’s okay, too. As long as it goes to charity, I’m okay,” Regina says.
Though the lodge may plan to do something else important with the proceeds from October’s fashion show, Regina and her husband will continue to donate to Camp Discovery.
“We give because no matter what they do, whatever improvements they do, the kids are going to benefit from it,” Regina says.
For information on the Oct. 27 fashion show, email Regina Najarian at email@example.com.
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