Story by Sara Paul
Season Angelina Ciriello has adored animals her whole life. The now 13-year-old Warwick native has also always felt a particular fondness for senior citizens. Coupling her two loves and turning passion into action, this “to be” eighth grader is the founder of “Cuddle a Kitten,” a program that brings shelter cats and kittens to senior centers for some furry friendship.
“It’s so beautiful to see eyes light up when we arrive and they all treat the cats like babies, wrapping them up in blankets and rocking them,” smiles Season, who admits she also benefits with, “A new bunch of friends that I get to see every week!”
Season, her Mom, Lisa, and a few volunteers visit Mount Alverno, an assisted living facility in the Village of Warwick, usually once a week. The small group is able to transport about five to 10 felines from the Warwick Valley Humane Society for a couple of hours of senior cuddling and conversation. Season has received requests to expand her services to similar facilities.
While all the residents enjoy the cat company, there are a few who stand out as Season’s “cat whisperers.”
“There are a couple of people who are just perfect for this program. There isn’t a cat they can’t tame!,” she said, explaining that some animals have severe anxiety and anti-social behavior, which makes them more difficult to adopt.
“It’s a win-win because it’s great for the seniors and also great for the cats who are being loved and socialized,” remarked the proud humanitarian, noting that the majority of the cats they have brought for visits have now been adopted from the shelter by various families, even some of the not-so-nice cats.
“Once these kitties are in loving laps, it’s like they are being cleansed by the power of love,” Season poetically pondered.
Her own power of love lends this teen regularly to other organizations such as Meals on Wheels, the Warwick Valley Humane Society, the Warwick Valley Historical Society, the Greenwood Lake Theater, and the Albert Wisner Public Library, where she reads and records the Warwick Valley Dispatch for the sight impaired.
“Season amazes and inspires me with her affection, love, fierce bravery, and sense of purpose. Since the day she was born, she has had a kind, beautiful, and free-spirited soul,” commented her mom, who explained the heartfelt meaning behind her only child’s name.
Lisa was just about Season’s age when she attended a holistic healing arts camp in Freedom, ME. A shy young person, Lisa was able to express herself through creative activities and self-reflection at the camp, with even the freedom to choose her own name.
“On the first day, we were given name tags, and the name Season just came to me. That week was one of the most fun and free times of my life and I vowed if I ever had a daughter, I would give her that name,” noted Lisa, who was raised in Oklahoma but now calls Warwick home.
Season is also an aspiring actress, performing with the Warwick Reformed Church Theater Company. She spends time hanging out with theater friends, camping in the backyard, or going to see movies at the Warwick Drive-In. She enjoys traveling to Long Beach Island, NJ with her family, and always and every day, hugging her own sweet pup, Scruffy. The young Yorkie is a true rescue from the South Bronx who was found by Season’s uncle while on duty as a lieutenant in the New York City Police Department. Season’s hobbies also include singing, playing her ukulele, writing, reading, and painting.
Sitting on her serene porch, the bright and beautiful young heroine urges, “Maybe you cannot change the world yourself, but if you can affect just one person and inspire them with kindness, then you are creating a chain of kindness!”
To learn more about “Cuddle a Kitten,” check out Season’s page on Instagram: Cuddleakitten.
To learn more about the Warwick Reformed Church Theatre Company, visit their web site at www.wrctheatrecompany.org
The Warwick Valley Dispatch would like to feature young people of Warwick who are doing meaningful things. Whether in school, athletics, in the community or at home, we know there are many moving stories that need to be told. These “hero” stories can be from the incredible to the mundane, from the kid who saved his dog from drowning to the teen who takes care of a sibling with special needs. We ask that if you know of any young individuals who would be appropriate for these human interest pieces, that you contact Sara Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.