The All Stars Project


five people posing at rewards ceremony

Tocci participates in The All Stars Project

Tocci first learned about The All Stars Project through our client, Hartz Mountain Industries whose President and COO, Gus Milano, sought our participation. In a few years Tocci’s involvement with the All Stars grew from making donations to sponsoring an intern on the jobsite. Recently, Lila Tocci, spoke about sponsorship at their fall fundraising dinner in Newark, and more recently, participated on a panel at an All Stars breakfast to increase awareness among companies conducting business in the Newark area.

Why all the excitement about the All Stars? Because it’s a new approach to alleviating inner city poverty. Gloria Strickland, City Leader of the All Stars Project of NJ, shares the message, “If you want a community to change, start with the neighborhood; if you want a neighborhood to change, start with individuals.” The All Stars works with youth one on one, believing each person is full of potential and can have a bright future. What a great mission!

The All Stars Project is a youth development program operating in several cities including its newest site in Jersey City. Its Development School for Youth takes a hands-on approach to helping inner city young people build confidence and learn social skills essential to success. Partnering with companies who sponsor youth is essential to DSY. Glynda Wehring, Mike Anderson and Lila Tocci joined business people in the Newark area who’ve conducted workshops and provided training in resume writing, interviewing, networking, public speaking and dressing professionally.

Participants in the All Stars program accepting their award

Now a word about our famous intern, Leslie Odonkor, who continues to provide document support at The Residences at 3 Journal Square while attending classes in his Fire Science program at New Jersey City University. Paulina Martinez, Tocci’s NJ Project Coordinator, organized a pot-luck for Leslie and invited other trades on the job to donate. With matching funds from Tocci, we paid two months of Leslie’s tuition. This past summer Leslie was on site wearing his safety glasses, vest and hard hat, filling the role of field engineer intern.

Newark’s Development School for Youth set an ambitious goal to sponsor 120 young people in 2017. To achieve that goal ASP held a sponsor breakfast on Feb. 2 where Lila Tocci joined a panel of business people who shared some unexpected benefits of sponsorship—with their youth comes vitality, curiosity, and lots of energy. While they are learning about the constraints of the business world, they bring a lightness to the work that has become heavy or burdensome to us.

Lila hopes to leverage Tocci’s experience and find other companies willing to sponsor young people participating in the DSY.

Leslie Odonkor wrote about his time with All Stars:

I would describe my experience with All Stars as a life changing experience. I first got introduced to all stars when they came to my school to give a presentation. I got to the presentation right when they were leaving, so I didn’t really get many details about what the program was, but I decided to still fill an application.

I wanted to become part of All stars because I wanted to try something new. I stayed with all stars because All stars saw potential in me. They turned the littlest things in me to the best and it felt like I was held to a high standard I had to maintain.

My experience with All Stars has helped me become more clear with what I want to do in life. All Stars has placed me in different work fields and I have gotten a taste everything. It has also enhanced my public speaking skills and dealing with people in the business world.

From working here with Tocci, I learned that everything I do, no matter big or little helps: from changing blue prints to labeling doors, filling out compliance reports, inspecting fire extinguishers, inspecting buildings. I realized how much I can learn just from listening, looking and asking questions. I have also learned to balance myself better because there are times where I am working on one thing and I am given something else more urgent to do.

For someone considering sponsoring or getting involved with the program, I would definitely recommend it. Not only would you enjoy working with the intern, but you would provide a chance for them to learn something new, to try something they never tried before or even thought about doing.