To honor the former longtime mayor of Cedarhurst Andrew Parise, a lifelong Five Towns resident, Rock and Wrap it Up! named its Veterans Toolkit app for the World War II veteran, who was part of the U.S. forces that liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Syd Mandelbaum, the founder and chief executive officer of RWU, explained why the toolkit was named after Parise. “Andy (Parise) was a local boy who understood what life was about,” Mandelbaum said. “He honorably served in World War II, he participated in his church and local politics. The qualities that he exuded were that of an American hero.”
Rock and Wrap it Up!, a Cedarhurst-based nonprofit food-recovery organization and poverty think tank, unveiled its new app at a dinner at the Lawrence Yacht and Country Club on March 7. The app’s primary function is to help veterans and their families find veteran-friendly colleges, employers and places to live. It features a database of pantries, kitchens and shelters that offer veterans food and housing. It is a web-based app that can be used on a computer or any smartphone.
Mandelbaum is also the commander of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst American Legion Post 339. Parise, who died in 2015, was a post member. Mandelbaum explained why the tooklit is important. “This toolkit is a matter of fact app for veterans that outlines information on food, shelters and schools that are located wherever they live,” he said.
Jim Spellos is the director of technology for RWU, and he became involved in the app’s development in 2016. He noted an instructional feature that he helped add. “Not only are we providing important information to veterans with this app, but we are also looking to educate the younger generation on World War II,” Spellos said. “We plan on doing this by using augmented reality. Storytelling is different now since its more digital”
Spellos demonstrated the augmented reality with the app by scanning a photo of Buchenwald with his phone. The pictured had a blue diamond next to it which signified that the photo has an augmented reality component to it. When he scanned the photo, a video about Buchenwald emerged on his phone.
Former Lawrence High School social studies teacher Dr. Stephen Sullivan, now a professor at Sacred Heart University, noted that technology is changing how teaching is done. “The ways kids learn is changing,” he said. “It’s not about giving them readings, they’re more visual and digital learners now.” Sullivan noted that there are less living World War II veterans and the augmented reality component should help fill that educational gap. “We can help students learn about the war better by letting them see the events visually through augmented reality.”
Born in Inwood in 1925, Parise graduated from Lawrence High School in 1942 and enlisted in the army in 1943. “Being the child of Holocaust survivors, Andy resonated with me immediately,” Mandelbaum said. Parise became a Cedarhurst village trustee in 1971. He was the mayor from 1995 until his death.
The toolkit can be downloaded at https://veteranstoolkit.glideapp.io/.