Press Room Headlines
Star lends support to ABC Wilton
THE WILTON VILLAGER
by A.J. O'Connell
WILTON — The actor who is lending his talent to "Canvas," an upcoming movie about schizophrenia, is lending his star power to a more local cause this weekend. Joe Pantoliano and his wife Nancy are hosting a dinner at their Wilton home on Saturday, March 18, as part of a benefit for A Better Chance [ABC] Wilton, a residential program which gives urban youth the opportunity to study at some of the nation's best schools.
On Monday, the Pantolianos welcomed four of the seven young men who live in A Better Chance's Cannondale Road house into their home to chat about the program and Pantoliano's own history.
"I lived in the projects," said Pantoliano, sitting in what he calls the "red room" with four of the boys. "It was very diverse. I thought growing up in the projects was one of the best things that ever happened to me."
Pantoliano's neighborhood was a project in Hoboken, NJ, where his family landed after his father had a heart attack and was unable to work. Although he might have been grateful for the diversity of his neighborhood, Pantoliano had other problems. As an undiagnosed dyslexic in the 1960s, Pantoliano was unable to read, labeled as lazy and consigned to a class reserved for underachievers.
Although he overcame these obstacles in time and managed to achieve his dream of becoming an actor, Pantoliano wishes he had more educational opportunities.
"The one regret I have is that I never went to college," he said.
He offers his support to groups like A Better Chance because if such a program existed when he was in high school, it might have helped him, he said.
Pantoliano is proud to say his daughter Melody, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, is pursuing his dream. Melody and the other Pantoliano children are the reason the family moved from their home in Santa Monica, said Pantoliano.
"We moved here so that our kids could benefit from the Wilton school system," he said. "That's the only reason."
At the time Melody was a sophomore in high school who was having academic trouble in Santa Monica. Once she came to Wilton, said her father, her grades rose steadily.
"She said it was nice to go to school where it was cool to be smart," said Nancy Pantoliano.
She says her family has supported A Better Chance since her husband moderated a silent auction for the group about four years ago.
"Then I found out what the ABC house was about and because of my educational background [I was interested]," said Pantoliano.
According to the agency's board chair Barbara Myers, A Better Chance's entire operating budget is supplied by fundraisers like the one being held on Saturday.
©2007 Wilton Villager
A Better Chance
253 West 35th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10001
Phone (646) 346-1310, Fax (646) 346-1311