Monday, March 26, 2007

Mario Arbore, A Man And His Dreams

by Linda Della Donna

It's Saturday, March 24, 2007 and this writer is off to the Daly School in Red Hook, Brooklyn, for the Third Annual Lego Event.

Meet Mario Arbore, professional architect. A Man with a dream, and a passion to give.

You may remember Mario Arbore from Sandcastles in the Sun .

Back in the summer of 2006, we learned Arbore's dream was to construct buildings out of sand -- with 150 kids!

As Arbore tells it, "I didn't know 150 kids, and I wasn't sure how to find them."

Arbore made a phone call offering his talent and relaying his dream to build sandcastles in the sun with 150 kids to Good Shepherd. The woman who answered the phone gave little hope saying it was late in the summer and the kids already had plans.

Arbore hung up. But not for long.

Refusing to take no for an answer, Arbore called back. Little did he know his first phone call prompted the woman to research a date and time. To Arbore's surprise and Good Shepherd's delight a cancellation in the kids' activities calendar was discovered, freeing up needed busses and a date.

With the aid of Good Shepherds and Robin Hood, the non-profit organizations commited to working with "at-risk" neighborhood kids, Arbore's dream became reality and Sandcastles in the Sun was born giving those in the industry the opportunity to give the wonders and joys of design and construction to 150 kids.

As the story goes, the rest is history. Now each summer Arbore, his merry volunteers, and his 150 kids make the trek to Coney Island to dig and build in the sand under a hot sun.

Today Mario Arbore is dreaming, again!

Only this time Arbore's dream is designing, planning, and building a model mini-city from simple materials -- Think multi-colored plastic, thumb-sized blocks, sacks of beans, glitter sticks, and packaged pipe cleaners -- With 150 kids.

Dressed in jeans and white tee shirt, Arbore scurries about, surrounded by dozens of kids crawling on their bellies picking at mounds of Legos the colors of cherry, lime, and lemon, meeting, greeting, and directing volunteers and kids. His eyes sparkle with the sound of each snapping block. And today, Arbore's eyes sparkle a lot.

When questioned about this dream, his success at his Third Annual Legos Event, and all these kids, Arbore smiles broadly.

Arbore lovingly refers to all 150 kids as "great" kids. Then adds quickly, "I just want them to have fun. Today is a fun day."

The start of a Fun day. And, the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Brooklyn Bridge


When asked to describe his Lego Event in one word, Arbore paused, studied the parade of mini-structures lined up before him and said, "phenomenal ."

"It's phenomenal to see everyone come together like this and work so hard. I love these kids. I think they're great."

Mario Arbore and volunteers in Mini-City

To learn more about Mario Arbore, Good Shepherds, and Robin Hood non-profit organizations and the good work they do, visit and

Linda Della Donna is a freelance writer who makes her home 20 miles north from where the World Trade Center used to be. You can learn more about Della Donna by visiting her website or reading her blog Della Donna does profiles, interviews and is available for writing assignments.

The above article is posted at as well.

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