Episode Five – Contributing to AOTF’s NYS OT Scholarship Fund for Gerry Balasta

Gerry Balasta,a fellow NYC Occupational Therapist died of COVID 19 90 days ago. I have known and worked with Gerry for over 20 years; he was just embarking on his latest entrepreneurial venture, Wonderful Beginnings, an EI and early childhood center that he was opening with Lea, his beloved wife, a physician. He loved life, NY and his Queens community, proud of his Filipino roots. He had many stories to tell about people and used his OT background, and innate people skills in film making. After taking courses in film production at NYU, he went on to create, direct and produce his first film in 2010,THE MOUNTAIN THIEF which told the story of the people of Patayas, one of the Philippines’ largest dumpsite towns. Gerry masterfully told the story of the people of the town who live off the mountains of trash in dumpsite towns but manage to retain their dignity and thankfulness for life,. The film had a hugely successful film festival run,won the Special Jury Prize at the San Francisco International Asian-American Film Festival, The Prix Du Public (Audience Award) at CCIFF, France and the George C. Lin Emerging Filmmaker Award in Washington DC. In 2012, he founded The Mount Hope Project Inc., a charitable organization with the mission of using films and the arts to make a direct impact on lives. He also founded The Mount Hope Initiative in the Philippines where the children and the actors of his workshop in the dump site town had medical care and are now going to school, to give them options outside of scavenging for trash. He recently sold a pediatric entity in NY to his partners, so that he could embark on another clinic. I know he had many more stories to tell, people to help and life to live and the best way we can all honor him is by contributing to this scholarship fund, set up by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation To date over 100 colleagues have contributed, and any and all contributions would be greatly appreciated. https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/gerrybalasta

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