Barbara Walter's Wish
Barbara Walters mentored me , Dr. Christine Grimaldi, for over 25 years. Her strong but compassionate words will remain in my heart forever , "If you are persistent and stay true to your vision and fall forward if you have any obstacles along the way, your truth will prevail and your dreams will turn into realities and you will touch so many people" , those words stay in my head and now I am here to share her gifts and lessons with all of you..
Neuroscientist, Exercise Physiologist and Positive Psychologist, Dr. Christine Grimaldi, wishes to bridge the gap in the mental health services system by creating a nonprofit organization that will focus on teaching teens and young adults how to use their gifts as tools to create a successful life for themselves, while also making a difference in the lives of others. The nonprofit organization will be named the The COPE house (Center of Personal Empowerment) formerly the "Gift Room Foundation'' that supported Dr. Grimaldi's "movement and wellness program" at Columbia University Medical Center, Pediatric Oncology floor. Dr, Grimaldi's program was supported annually for 17 years by Barbara Walters. She was Christine's dear friend and mentor, who empowered her to be her best self . Barbara would give Christine money every year to feed the patients in the hospital during holidays, as well as gifts for all the children. Christine then sold her million dollar apartment in NYC that Barbara Walters bought for her, to fund her vision of the new COPE home so that she can continue her charity work and not have to worry about her living residence when she was done with a hard day of serving others. Barbara used to say to her, " I just want you to be able to come home to a nice place at night, with a nice bathtub to soak in , so that you can be restored for the next day of god's work." This COPE house is in honor of Christine's dear friend and mentor, Barbara Walters. Without her support, Christine would have not been able to create this beautiful vision.
The COPE house has now been expanded and is pleased to announce the addition of Karisa Johnston, MS, PSY, Special Needs Yoga Therapist(K-12) and founder of Unum Heart
Elevation Station & Elevation Tool Box Method.
as collaborating partner of COPE and coproducer of their new social media channel KK Motivational Mondays show. Their channel will make you laugh and cry all while inspiring you and people of all ages to be their best selves.
They have named Gina Mercogliano as the president of The COPE foundation. She is the head of missing persons and is a detective in a local police department for 24 years. She also works as Peer Support for the police department. Gina is also a Health and Wellness Coach and works with Pediatric Lifestyle Management for youth at risk. She is an advocate of helping kids find their way. She is an advocate of helping transform obstacles into positive challenges, while inspiring them to be the best they can be.
Christine, Karisa and Gina share the same vision and have now partnered to help kids manage stress, anxiety, and the feelings of depression. We want our youth to thrive and have bright futures.
Christine, Karisa and Gina work in the schools on Long Island and NYC, to help kids manage anxiety, stress and to eliminate this mass epidemic of suicide.
Center of Personal Empowerment is a 501C3 chapter of The Smithtown Children's Foundation.
The mission of COPE is to provide scholarships for all, by using the funds raised from fitness memberships and donations.
We are here to use this COPE house as a case study project to be blueprinted all over the
The Gift Room Foundation Story
Barbara served as a mother and mentor to Christine for over 25 years. Christine was originally hired as Barbara's yoga and exercise instructor, but immediately became so much more. Motivated by Barbara's daily teachings, Dr. Christine Grimaldi worked diligently helping people of various walks of life: from celebrities to cancer patients, from CEO's to the homeless, from professional athletes to the impoverished handicapped.
Christine developed the concept of the Gift Room by going through Barbara's gift closet. She discovered that celebrities often receive expensive gifts from friends, family, and fans out of respect. She found dresses, purses, watches, and other items that could be sold up to $50,000. She took these findings and said to Barbara, "How about we take these gifts and share them with the world?" And so, the Gift Room Foundation was created. Christine began using the gifts of various celebrities to pay the bills of struggling families with children in the community. Soon, the celebrities began to feel happy and fulfilled knowing that their items were making a difference in the community, and as a neuroscientist, Christine says there is a science behind this feeling.
Christine has researched the link between giving back to the community and these feelings of fulfillment. She found that partaking in purposeful work and giving back to the community creates a feeling of happiness in the brain through the secretion of the hormone, Oxytocin.
The concept of the Gift Room Foundation was to teach teens, children, and young adults how to use their gifts to empower the world and to empower themselves, like Barbara Walter's Gift Room.
The Gift Room Foundation (now incorporated into the COPE House)
Team & Projects
The Gift Room Foundation will be incorporated into the COPE House and led by neuroscientist and exercise physiologist, Christine Grimaldi as well as Kundalini Yoga expert, Karisa Johnston. The duo holds the perfect combination of skills and qualifications. They both continually work with people of various struggles: from PTSD to addiction victims, from athletes with sports anxiety to cancer patients, from those handicapped to those with behavioral issues, and anything in between.
Both Christine and Karisa work tirelessly in the New York Schools system initiating positive change, but it has become increasingly difficult for them to keep up with their work. More and more people are contacting them in need of help, and often times these people cannot afford a stereotypical therapist. Due to the severity of the situation, both Christine and Karisa end up helping their client for free, which has led them to this dream of creating a nonprofit.
The team has filed for a 501C3, but now they need the funds to make their dream a reality. Their goal is to instill the tools to lead a successful and happy life through purposeful work in children and young adults as early as they can in order to prevent the suicide and depression rate from rising. They have a compiled a list of empowering projects and goals in mind that will be initiated when their goal is reached.
It is a dream moving forward to organize their team and purchase a house outside of the city in Long Island with a salt water pool and horse barn that will be used as salt and equine therapy to relax the muscles of the nervous system. Other projects include:
-Dog rescuing and training- rescuing dogs from the community and giving them a home and place as emotional support dogs.
-Organic gardening and sustainable living to boost morale and encourage healthy, lifestyle habits.
- Outdoor activities such as running, sports, and hiking to move muscles and change thoughts.
-Art therapy to channel fears and anxiety into creative art-putting their negative energy out of their head, and instead onto paper.
- Volunteer opportunities at local soup kitchens and the Stony Brook hospital to release the chemical of oxytocin in the brain, increasing happiness.
All the funds will be used to initiate and begin these programs as the next chapter of the Gift Room Foundation.
By donating to this cause you will be making Barbara's Wish was to always have Christine's programs fully funded so that the underprivileged and struggling members of the community could be supported and cared for.
Barbara Walters impact in the community continually went unnoticed by the press, and Christine made a promise to Barbara that she will one day make their story known. Today is that day.
Barbara was the main supporter of Christine's Integrative Therapy Programs at Columbia Hospital for children with cancer for many years. Barbara continually supported Christine, so she could continue doing purposeful work in the community. Christine's rental apartment even got robbed, and Barbara went as far as purchasing a 1 million dollar apartment for Christine. She said, "I am buying you an apartment in a safe place in the city, so we can continue doing great, impactful work together." Barbara always understood the difficulties Christine faced from giving from a glass half empty, and so she continually funded her programs by giving her gifts from various celebrities gifts room. Christine has now sold that apartment to fund her dream of beginning this nonprofit. innovative change in the mental health services system and saving those who are silently struggling.
Barbara was always that person to show compassion for Christine. As Christine used to tell Barbara all the time, "If just one person shows compassion, then just maybe it will cause a chain reaction."
We are seeking compassionate people, generous donors, and potential philanthropist to follow in Barbara's footsteps.