Good tunes for a great cause
by Ed Wendell
Jul 25, 2017 | 1663 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thomas Kuchma, a retired NYPD Police Officer who will be one of the band members jamming on stage as part of JigSaw Jam East.
Thomas Kuchma, a retired NYPD Police Officer who will be one of the band members jamming on stage as part of JigSaw Jam East.
A full day of great music in the park in support of a worthy cause is on the agenda Saturday, August 12th from 1-5 p.m.

The JigSaw Jam East is a musical event at the Forest Park Bandshell that will also educate people about autism.

Organized by Autism Community Trust, the event will feature groups and organizations that serve those afflicted with autism and their families.

This is a great opportunity for those with a vested interest in autism to meet and greet others. It’s also a great opportunity for everyone to enjoy good music in a beautiful setting.

“This is not a fundraiser,” said Richard Femenella, president of Autism Community Trust. “This event is purely about awareness.”

Femenella is a native of Glendale and as a young man he and his friends spent untold hours in Forest Park. He was also in a band as a young man and many of his friends that he played with years ago are reuniting on stage for this event.

“Everyone that will be performing I either went to school with or is family,” he said. “This is a real family oriented event.”

Femenella has a very successful career in the hotel and restaurant business in Nevada, but it was when his son, now 16 years old, was diagnosed with autism that his life changed.

“At first, I was in denial,” he recalls. “But once I accepted what had happened, I discovered that there was very little support in my community. Pretty soon, I was helping to train young people in my home how to work with people with autism. Today, there are over 200 service providers in my community.”

Promoting Autism Awareness through concerts has not only allowed Femenella to network with other service providers (and helped them network with each other), it has brought him into contact with many people and families who are coming to grips with how this condition is going to impact their lives.

“We’ve been doing this for six years, first in Nevada and then last year on Long Island,” he said. “But my friends and family, particularly my brother Vincent, saw a need for this right here in Queens. So to bring it home, to Queens, right here to Forest Park, is very special.”

“Our hope is to attract many types of service organization to come and address the crowd on what they have to offer,” he added, “Again, this event is purely about awareness and not fundraising. The event is free to all who come and my group will cover all expenses of this event.”

Femenella points out that this event is not limited to large organizations that deal with autism.

“Sometimes it is easy to overlook the smaller services that are available and are every bit as important,” he said

He gives dentists or barbers that specialize in work with children with autism as an example of some people they’d also like to attract.

“Taking an autistic child to the dentist or to get their hair cut is a real challenge,” he said. “The amount of services required for a child, adult or family on the autism spectrum can be overwhelming. We hope that by putting families in touch with local service providers, we can help make their lives a bit easier.”

If you (or your organization) have an interest in participating in this event, you can contact Richard Femenella at (702) 845-3230. You can also learn more about Autism Community Trust at

To learn more about autism and meet others dealing with the same condition (and network with service providers), stop by the Forest Park Bandshell Saturday, August 12.

Not only will you enjoy an afternoon of great music in a beautiful setting, you could help change someone’s life.

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