Interview with Director of Advancement: Mr. Heppes

Diego Javier ’22

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Diego Javier: As a former student here at Salesian, what were some fond memories that you had while learning here?

Kevin Heppes: Some fond memories that I had was the brotherhood that took place back then and still takes place here today. I probably have ten to twelve lifelong friends from the seventies that I stay in contact with, have dinner with and still go away with. 

DJ: On A.M Salesian, you said that after leaving Salesian, you spent forty years working for companies such as Pepsi and the health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield. What was that experience like, working for those big companies?

KH: Well, Salesian prepared me a lot for corporate life. In corporate life, you have to work very well with other departments. You’re not on your own and you rely on other people and departments to get your job done on time and get it done successfully. Salesian prepared me for that because of the brotherhood here. It’s fun to work with other guys and sports also played a big part of it. I played four years of baseball and basketball here and it taught me teamwork. Teamwork had a lot to correlate with corporate work.

DJ: So what caused you to come back and work here at the school?

KH: I had just retired from corporate life and I was wondering what my next steps were going to be in life. I wasn’t done working. Then, I got a call from Coach Miressi to come coach the JV basketball team. So, I coached the JV basketball team and got back involved with the kids. I also got involved with Father John, who is a terrific man, and the Director of Advancement position became available. I said to myself that “This is an opportunity that I would like to take on and try to make the school a better place to be”.

DJ: On the topic of Director of Advancement, you said as Director of Advancement, you’re supposed to raise money for the school. Can you elaborate on how you plan to do that?

KH: There are several events that happen behind the scenes. First, we have a golf outing every year. I’m accountable for the golf outing, from planning it, executing it and making sure that it is profitable. I’m also accountable for the President’s Dinner and I am also accountable for the same things as the Golf Outing. Over the last four years, Nick Sedia, John Flaherty and I have doubled what the schools had brought in prior for those events.

DJ: It’s been a hundred years since Salesian High School founding in 1920. Are there any upcoming plans for the hundred-year anniversary?

KH: There is going to be a lot of information coming out on this. There are already four events planned for 2020 that reside around the hundredth year celebration. It’s the hundredth year birthday party for Salesian High School. There will be our President’s Dinner in March of 2020. This will kick off a set of events for us to celebrate the birthday. The second event will be our golf outing in September of 2020. The third event will be our Hundredth Year Gala. This Gala will take place in New York City at Cipriani’s on October 24th. This Gala will be a production or show to celebrate a hundred years of Salesian High School and the work that we do for the young men for the last one hundred years. The next day, October 25th, we have scheduled a Hundredth Year Centennial Mass with Cardinal Dolan at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. The mass will be held at 2 P.M. All the events that I have mentioned, parents, students, alumni and friends of Salesian are all invited and we hope you will join us at all these events.

DJ: Out of all of the events, which one do you think is going to bring in the most people?

KH: The Gala in New York City on October 24th will be our finest hour. The mass the next day will also be really cool. The mass the next day, I don’t know what Father John’s plan is, but I think all the students, family and alumni are invited and pack St. Patrick’s. It should be a really good weekend in October.

DJ: Is prayer an important part of your life? 

KH: Prayer has always been an important part of my life Especially since 9/11. I am a 9/11 survivor and I was at the World Trade Center the day they went down. I have always tried to keep Christ in my heart. No matter what you do, you’re going to be okay.

DJ: Are the events that happened at 9/11 ingrained in your mind?

KH: Images are ingrained in my mind. Images that I saw that day and I’m very lucky to be sitting here with you. And I thank Christ everyday for having me sit here with you and having this conversation with you.

DJ: How do you keep moving forward after such a traumatic experience?

KH: Like I said, you put your trust in Christ to a certain degree. It’s a struggle getting through. I personally haven’t been down to that site once. I had to go down there for a memorial, but I don’t plan on going back there anytime soon. I was just at the right place, at the right time and not on the wrong place, at the wrong time that day on 9/11.

DJ: Do you think that Salesian is going in a positive direction?

KH: No question that Salesian is going in a positive direction. I see it with the young men that come here and in the freshmen class. They’re a terrific bunch of kids. They come here as boys but leave here as young men. We continue to hold integrity, character and high standards. That’s very important because it prepares our young men for life after high school. The character and integrity that you gain here will stay with you for the rest of your life. Salesian gives you all the tools that you need to succeed after you leave.