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Painting a calendar of hope

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A Middle Village high school teacher is hoping a calendar of his paintings will raise enough money to provide relief to a hospital he visited during a trip to Ecuador with his son two years ago that treats leprosy.

Paul Franzetti, who has taught 11th- and 12th-grade English at Middle Village's Christ the King High School for 24 years, recently completed a calendar of his paintings of the Galapagos Islands that will go on sale on Amazon.com next year.

The teacher, who has painted as a hobby for most of his life, said the proceeds of the calendar will be used to assist the Damien House, a small hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador, that treats lepers.

"I hope it makes a substantial amount of money because this hospital does not get much help from the [Ecuadorian] government," he said. "It's a nasty disease, but with modern medicines they can contain it."

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease that typically results in disfiguring skin lesions, but can also cause permanent damage to the skin, eyes, nerves and limbs.

Franzetti's oldest son, James, 33, first visited the leper colony in 1997 when he worked as a missionary for one year. In 2006, Franzetti and his younger son, Joe, 30, paid a visit to the hospital as they made their way to the Galapagos Islands off mainland Ecuador.

The teacher snapped numerous photos during his visit and replicated them in paintings upon his return to the United States after he came up with the idea for the calendar. The paintings include a number of animal species native to the islands, including blue-footed boobies, iguanas, seals, albatrosses and frigates.

Franzetti said he intends to produce a new calendar each year for the hospital and that he hopes each one will raise at least $10,000 for leprosy patients.

"I'd like to support the hospital for the rest of my life," he said.

The calendar will be available on Amazon.com for $14.99 in 2009 and Franzetti said he also would try to get it placed in gift shops, on cruise ships and in national book retailer chain stores. He said he has already begun work on his 2010 calendar.

In the meantime, he said he has not discussed the calendar with his students in the various English, religion, music and art classes he teaches.

"I don't want it to seem like I'm selling it to them," he said. "But I've made all my colleagues promise to buy one."

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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