Lighthouse Sanctuary Youth Foundation, Inc
1426 webgin house rd lawrenceville, Ga. 30045. 770.736.6890
In addition to these articles, Rocky has been featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle June 19, 1991, Southern Jewelry News October 1990, Atlanta Metro Magazine Dec 1991. He has been filmed and featured on AtlantaCity Cable 5, The Watchman On The Wall, the 700Club Filmed Oct 16 1997, Cable Vision/GNET (Two shows on The LSYF Youth Ministry). .Rocky has appeared on numerous Radio Shows, including the Barbara Dooley Show, Wife Of Legendary Coach Vince Dooley and Georgia’s Top Awarded TalkShow and was key speaker at the 1999 Church Of God Annual Resurrection Breakfast.
The Renown Barbara Dooley Show
Quotes By National Leaders and Others
About RJ. Rocky Scarfone:
I was born in 1953 with club feet and twisted legs. All of the doctors and castes and braces did little to improve my outlook on life–or, for that matter, enable me to walk! I would not walk until I was five, and by eight, I would lose my father to a Mafia “Hit”. My family would be forced to live in a NYC housing projects (a devastating change from the serene neighborhood I had grown up in). By eleven, I had had enough and ran away on a seven year journey in quest of identity and purpose . . .
My first journey would begin in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and end in an adult psychiatric ward in Belvue hospital at eleven years of age. Three months of terrible abuse and I was once more free–free to live in white and black checkered hallways that dotted my lonely landscape like the craters of a cold and dusty moonscape.
Soon, I was running with a group of “Wiseguys” in an effort to survive and belong. But, even while I “hung out” with “the crew”, I found time to teach myself how to read and write–then read every book I could lay my hands on!
When my book and “street” knowledge congealed into a mass of opposing views, too large for my immature emotions, I dug an abyss deep in my mind and tossed the file in. Soon I would find myself teetering on its brink; my questions drowning in a storm of hectic thought–inventing answers when I could not find any. It was not long before I was returned to a reform school at twelve years of age.
It was after this experience that I would discover the truth about my father and his death; the awesome truth of my family’s history and the fact that I seemed doomed to a life of crime and death–as had four generations of manly ancestors before me! I would leave NYC and travel the width and length of this country searching; seeking; experiencing.
From then on it was a constant battle between survival and my desperate desire to be someone, to make it, to discover family and love. But I could never totally recover from those years of abuse and suffering, not until I found Jesus Christ at 40 years of age!
Throughout this journey, my battles would be fought on many fields, among the many peoples that lived and conducted their own battles in this great nation. From Native-Americans in New Mexico, to Baptists in Georgia; from an interracial family in Miami to a Cult in California—I would become a heroin addict at thirteen; a cat burglar at fourteen; a member of the Outlaw Motorcycle gang; a disciple of Ra Lum Nah; a driver for a “Bonnie and Clyde gang of the sixties—I would be rescued; kidnapped; nearly raped; I would become an Agnostic; a Moslem; a Hippy; a Buddhist I would learn Mafia skills as well as street skills . . .
Yes, I would live many lives in many lives before I would reach the point of complete freedom and understanding! Yes, I was a reptilian master of change. From personalities and names to people and places, my endeavors were my key and not my humanity!
A Self-Educated / Self-Taught individual, my accomplishments would eventualy include: Sales & Marketing (Sub-Divisional Director by nineteen!)-Master Mechanic/Shop Owner (10,000 sq. ft.) – Nursery / Landscape / Horticulture / Bonsai (18 acres) –Woodworker / Master Carver (500 custom jobs )– Jeweler / Master Goldsmith / Gemologist (over 11,500 sq ft of shops w/400 individuals, TV show, 15 major features, clients incl..: Sylvester Stallone; Bob Beamon; Bob Lee …) — Award Winning Author / Poet / Artist.
My self-taught reading skills would produce an abundance of book knowledge which straddles a wide spectrum of thought (History, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, The Arts, and Law are a few of the subjects I have studied and enjoy).
Yes, my friend, I can brag! And all with a fifth grade education, a “quickie” GED test, and a spring/summer semester at Miami Dade Community College–and JESUS CHRIST AS MY GUIDE!
Rocky has been featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle June 19, 1991,, , Atlana Journal Constitution (two major features), Gwinnett Daily Post Southern Jewelry News October 1990, Atlanta Metro Magazine Dec 1991. He has been filmed and featured on Atlanta City Cable 5, The Watchman On The Wall (a complete 3 part expose on Organized Crime In North Carolina, Strip Clubs and a police officer whom was gunned down in a hit and two shows on LSYF), the 700 Club Filmed Oct 16 1997, Cable Vision/GNET (Two shows on The LSYF Youth Ministry). Rocky has appeared on numerous Radio Shows, including the Barbara Dooley Show, Wife Of Legendary Couch Vince Dooley and
Georgia’s Top Awarded Talk Show.
Further Information/Bio Quotes By National Leaders
Quotes From The Rock
” . . . a rapid increase in violent youth crime will soon become fact due to the availability of drugs and guns in our society. And, in twenty or so years, when these youth have matured on the streets and in the prisons (which will surely be society’s answer to this phenomena), society will then have realized this fact of truth–but then it will be to late for substantial programs to alter a trend which will, by then, have become life . . .” (An article by Rocky Scarfone, @ 1986)
“. . . Yes, a poignant tale that has become anything but a tale to those whom have had their lives infected without rationalization! Imagine, we hear how much we need to alleviate the syndrome, yet wait for the magic cure–as cryptic as it is! You see, it seems only when a gruesome event occurs that the full effects of youth, drugs, violence, and crime hits home–or when it involves a family whom cares and gives and participates in the social ladder: ‘Being one not of the welfare rolls!’
Yes, sorry to say, when no one can shout: ‘I Told You So! It’s Them Folks Who Don’t Care None!’ “
“A family is hit hard each and every moment of reality–no matter the circumstances! And yes, hearts do ache for those fathers and mothers and siblings whom are caring . . . and also for those whom are not! For we care just as much–if not more–for all those youth whom have been smitten when we hear tell of the facts! That is when the “problem” (should be called epidemic!) seems greater then the cure . . .
. . .’cause, for the youth whom is effected, it makes no how how much or where their family sit at the table of humanity! “
“Yes, poverty lacks nil to non-exclusivity when drugs, violence, abuse or loneliness are concerned. When one becomes subjugate to having a loved one lost upon the streets of desire, you can recognize the desperation in their actions. Families or individuals become infected with hope, fear and joy– all at once: ‘the hope of cure; the fear of knowing it will not work; and the joy of thinking what if !’ . . .
. . . effecting, infecting and affecting any and all!
. . . entire families falling to pieces in their desperation for answers and assistance . . . even their friends and neighbors become affected!”
“We all have a tremendous gift of communication to share. Including our own desires, faults, mistakes and dreams! I have seen Youth soak up every word tell of experience. Yes, and the host of message beneath the surface! Hardship can become your Gift; tremendous, life moving/changing Gifts can only be acquired through difficult circumstance! Yes, gifts whose harsh beginnings may have been but their birth. . .
. . . are you sharing your gifts so others may not have to journey through the same hardship?
Rocky Past Turns To Gold
Atlanta Journal Constitution Feature
“O Georgia!” Award
ROCKY PAST TURNS TO GOLD:
Self-taught artisan gladly trains others
R.J. “Rocky” Scarfone spent his childhood on the rough streets of [Queens!] Benson Hurst in Brooklyn.
Fatherless since he was 6 years old, he left home, first at age 11. And, like a Charles Dickens character, Mr. Scarfone scrambled about on his own, making a living from odd jobs and his wits.
An apparent quick study, he taught himself a variety of skills, including leather work, auto repair, goldsmithing and jewelry making.
Though his schooling stopped at fifth grade, he learned to read well enough to pass the high school equivalency exam. He joined the Marines and served six years.
A wish to teach skills, in part, is the force behind his cooperative apprenticeship program that has taught goldsmithing and jewelry making to dozens of Atlantans for over four years.
A business canopy
Mr. Scarfone, 37, is proprietor of Highland Goldsmiths, which encompasses a host of activities, including jewelry making, a licensed pawn shop, a mobile jewelry repair truck, a jewelry showroom and, starting this weekend, a jewelry stall at Buford Flea Market.
Originally on North Highland Avenue, Mr. Scarfone now houses his operation in a sprawling 11,000-square-foot commercial space at 451 Bishop St., where he and his wife, Denise, also live.
Living “over the store” suits Mr. Scarfone fine, proud of the clubby feel of his quarters.
The apprentices hover about as he teaches skills such as molding and even stone-cutting.
Cooperation fills the air. Bobby Stroud, who has good skills, encourages Thea Taylor, who has been with the program six months.
Other students gather about to encourage a fellow student beaming over her creation.
While many students are artistic enough to create designs, their training equips them to employ thousands of patterns to mold rings, bracelets necklaces and other pieces.
Mr. Scarfone, a bejeweled director, shouts orders to five or six people a minute.
His students from various backgrounds, are male and female, black and white. They typically hold down a full-time job.
Barbara DeLong, a north Atlanta empty nester, learned about the program as a customer. William “Big Man” Smith is a salesman. Others, like Cathy Byers and Michael Lane, enroll as a couple.
The fee paid by the apprentices, $2,000 in lump sum or installments, covers equipment, such as a workbench and tools, which they own and take with them when they leave. Their yearlong training is free.
As members of the cooperative, the 85 or so apprentices help make custom jewelry and staff the showroom, doing much of the selling. They retain a percentage of the revenue from pieces they sell. Most pursue jewelry making part time after their apprenticeship.
Although he now cultivates the cooperative idea, Mr. Scarfone admits that he started it originally to get reliable help.
Now the operation has a life of its own.
“I love the atmosphere here,” said Mr. Stroud, 25, who has become a good appraiser, as well as a jewelry maker.
Ernest Holsendolph’s column appears every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.
Copyright 1993, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.
Myth of heroism
The Dave Kindred column “A right way to do wrong” lauded “The Bug” numbers game operator Wesley Merrit as a hero who did no real wrong. The idea that these kind of men were community leaders is a fallacy that has perpetuated much of the evil that began our society’ s demise into drugs, gambling and political bribery. Organized crime has had its hands in the till of every neighborhood racket a including the numbers rackets of Atlanta’s African-American community. Organized crime used the massive profits to finance every sort of evil degradation known to man. Men such as Merrit contributed to the continuity of organized crime.
It is articles such as this that bolster the view of many of our youth that crime pays.
Scarfone is the author of a nonfiction book about mobsters, due out in February. He lives in Lawrenceville.
GWINNETT DAILY Post SATURDAY, JANUARY 25, 1997
HOUSE OF CARDS: THE CURSE OF ALPHONSO
By Sarah Fischer
Rocky Scarfone considers himself amessenger. Sometimes, Scarfone hops on his Honda 750 to visit an Atlanta housing project. Other days, he can be found giving his testimony before metro Atlanta church members. Four years ago, Scarfone spoke to teenagers at a Duluth school about having goals. He shows off his full-arm tattoos to get their attention Wherever his destination, though, the Lawrenceville man delivers a powerful theme
“The message is that Jesus Christ is all-powerful,” he said. “God gives you the power to accomplish anything you put your mind to, when you ask him for his help.”
Scarfone should know. The road for the 43-year-old has been, well, rocky.
Yet, from his father’s murder at the hands of the Mafia when Scarfone was a child, to life on the streets, to the great leap of selling his multi-million dollar companies to start a youth foundation, the New York native has proven that faith can, indeed, move mountains.
When you have Christ in your heart, you still have the struggles, but you can recognize them and overcome them with his help,” he said.
Scarfone has experienced much, so much, in fact, that he could write a book — which is just what he did three years ago.
His biography, “House of Cards, The Curse of Alphonso.” is scheduled to be released Feb 25. The 400-page book, published by M A G I.C Publishing of Atlanta in conjunction with Books International of Norcross, chronicles Scarfone’s family, five generations of Mafia soldiers beginning with his great-great grandfather, Alphonso Dicanio.
Dicanio, who came to the United States from Naples in 1908, worked as a laborer but later joined The Black Hand, the predecessor of the Mafia Initially, 50,000 copies of “House of Cards” will be sold at area bookstores
“The curse is that Alphonso swore allegiance to an evil brigade’ Scarfone said. “The curse caused the family to be like a
House of cards, ‘where the slightest breeze could destroy it. There was no strength, no peace, no happiness.”
The writer’s spirituality comes across as much in the book as in his everyday conversation. Bouncing his new baby daughter on his knee, it is apparent Scarfone has achieved the inner peace to reflect on the world of his youth, a world where fathers died leaving their children to fend for themselves and their widows resorting to everything from menial labor to shoplifting to survive.
At the age of 5, Scarfone said, he discovered a personal relationship with God. Through prayer, he said, he was able to heal the club foot condition he was born with and learn to walk In 1961, when Scarfone was eight, his father, Joseph, was murdered in a gangland hit, “thrusting my family into a world of poverty, sorrow, grief and degradation,” he said
When he was 11, Scarfone ran away from home. Upon his return, social workers took him for three days of psychiatric evaluation. Those three days became a horrific three months in the adult ward of Belvue hospital–which he believes was orchestrated by the Mafia. From there began an odyssey, which included Scarfone’s living on the streets in abandoned apartments, running with a gang of streetwise kids, staying in juvenile detention centers, even infiltrating the 7 Mafia to learn the details of his father’s death.
See CARDS, Page GB
6B GWINNETT DAILY Post SATURDAY, JANUARY 25, 1997
Writer touts books as saga of spirituality, tale of Good and Evil~
· From Page lB
All throughout his teen years, Scarfone traveled the country, from a Navajo reservation to a Miami housing project in a quest for purpose. After a stint in the Armed Forces, he received an honorable discharged attended an honors English program at Miami-Dade Community College.
Still later, Scarfone would start some 15 companies, becoming experienced in wood work, landscaping, sales and marketing and mechanics, to name a few of his professions. But the self-made businessman still felt he had not fulfilled God’s plan for his life.
In 1986, a turning point came when his mother, Jeanette, died of cancer. “I had been used to death, but her death was an awakening,” Scarfone said. “I had blamed her and my family for my poverty and loneliness. But when she died, it was like coming back to my roots. I came face to face with the truth that she loved me and that it wasn’t her fault. At her deathbed, it was the first time I had looked in her eyes since I was 11, and we forgave each other. Her death awakened God’s anointing in me.”
The next year, Scarfone met his future wife, Denise Rogers, who encouraged him to write a book about his life. “God sent her to me, and she never gave up. She saw that spark within me,” he .said
After marrying and moving to Atlanta, the couple opened an 11000 square foot jewelry business, Highland Goldsmiths in Buckhead. Scarfone also ran a boxing gym and jewelry school. Yet, he still did not feel satisfied. “I knew I had a purpose to fulfill, and that I had an anointing. So I started talking about my story,” he said.
The breakthrough came one day in 1993, when Scarfone decided, “I had to write my book and preach the word of God:’
“As I walked through the door, I wanted to use the education that God had given me to assist other youth in need,” he said. “I gave my business away to friends and acquaintances — I took only enough to support my family. I had known the power of God, but that day I went with the full faith:’
Soon after that, Scarfone began the trek to put his testimony in print. he had never written a sentence; in fact, he had only completed school through the fifth grade. But Scarfone earned what he calls a “street degree” and is an avid reader of history and religion. “House of Cards” took him six months to write, with the words easily flowing onto the page In fact, a yet-to-be published sequel also has been completed. Prayer helped, Scarfone said,
“Prayer is a relationship I know him now:’ he said “When I wasn’t writing for six hours. I was reading the Bible (Scarfone owns seven Bibles) When I write the words fly:’
Already, the manuscript has garnered praise from people such as Jan Crouch, vice president and co-founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network, and Jay Walton of the Old Rugged Cross Press. Excerpts from the book, which includes poems written by Scarfone, have been featured in “A Sea of Treasures,” an anthology of poetry. and garnered the author the 1996 “0 Georgia’ writer’s award.
Besides being his life’s story, ‘House of Cards’ is saga of spirituality, a tale of good and evil.” Scarfone said. “The demon controls the Mafia. That is the dark side of life, where we have sorrow and degradation. Then, we have the other side, which is love. There is spiritual warfare in our world,” he said.
The rooms where Scarfone writes provide a glimpse into the author’s many interests. A pet iguana lounges in a cage alongside bonsai trees which Scarfone has grown. Framed letters from everyone from Sylvester Stallone to President Bill Clinton share wall space with his writing awards..
Sitting on a sofa near the where her husband works, Denise Scarfone, an interior designer, is obviously proud.
“I think the book has been his lifelong dream, something he has always wanted to do,” she said. Denise, who shares his religious faith, also is supporting Scarfone in his latest venture. In August he formed The Lighthouse Sanctuary For Youth Foundation. The non-profit organization plans to use part of the proceeds from the sale of his book to fund youth programs. Scarfone is offering a series of free motivational workshops, both secular and non-secular, to churches, civic groups and schools.
“I’ve always told him he should work with young people,” Denise said. “They are attracted by the way he is He has high energy. When he wants something, he goes for it. Also, he’s very good a t talking to them and deciphering what their problems are. Whether drugs or whatever, he listens to them.”
The plans for Lighthouse sanctuary include exposing youth to business/marketing operations, spiritual lessons and hands on experience and offering them encouragement and self-esteem. Scarfone wants to provide 24-hour safe space and alternative programs for young people. Clinics will cover such topics as drug abuse, physical abuse, team work versus individualism and reading and success. For more information on the Lighthouse Sanctuary For Youth Foundation, call 770-736-6890
“I want to use my story to reach young people, and the hearts of adults so they can understand the problems of children,” Scarfone said. “My ministry is for youth, which is the number one concern of Jesus Christ today. We’re not doing enough for the young people:’
Clearly, Scarfone’s life is no longer a house of cards. His travels ended two years ago, when he and Denise moved to Lawrenceville, her childhood home. Eight generations of his wife’s family have lived in the Five Forks Trickum Road area since the late 1800s. “I stepped foot on this soil, and I knew I was home,” he said of the 10-acre site.
Scarfone’s pride and joy, the couple’s 5-month-old daughter. Juliana-Ariel, was born last August –the same day the book went to press!
Mere coincidence? Scarfone thinks not.
“I had asked God to bless my marriage” he said. “it isn’t about money with me anymore, or how many big cars I have. Love has come into my house so tremendously, God has satisfied my needs!”
ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION1997
Fanning the deck: Author’s `House of Cards’ tells of troubled past
Tattoos now cover the places where Rocky Scarfone shot heroin at age 13.
Reading from his forthcoming autobiography, “House of Cards: The Curse of Alphonso,” Scarfone’s voice creeps from a slow crawl as he describes the needle slowly puncturing his skin to the rapid mumblings of an auctioneer as he tells of the drug coursing through his veins.
Out of breath at the end of describing the high, he inhales slowly and looks at his 5-month-old daughter, Juliana, before saying, “I accomplished the goals I accomplished with this background. Kids today can do the same.”
Rocky’s accomplishments are numerous. A master goldsmith, amateur botanist, mechanic and award-winning writer, he has given up his old life in hopes of saving kids from the streets. His first step: chronicling his own misadventures.
“The book was written as an expression of my life,” Scarfone said.
What a life it is.
Scarfone lives in Lawrenceville with his new baby, his wife, Denise, stepdaughter Brittney, an iguana, various bonsai trees and a pit bull named Rock Crusher, whose relentless bark is stopped abruptly by a mere “Hey, yo” from Rocky.
His modest home is surrounded by a towering chain link fence. Cameras watch guests in his office as they peruse framed letters of commendation from President Clinton, Pat Robertson, Sylvester Stallone and other famous people.
Scarfone plans to use the proceeds from his book, which he has financed himself rather than sign a restrictive contract (two he rejected are hanging on his wall) to fund The Lighthouse Sanctuary For Youth Foundation. The cornerstone of the foundation is to be a safe house downtown for troubled youth.
But the tale told in his book began long before Scarfone ever made it to the Peach State.
Scarfone was born with club feet and used braces until age 7.
A year later, he says, his father was executed by the mob — as were four generations of Scarfone fathers before him, leaving no one to support the family.
Scarfone dropped out of school in fifth grade and, at 11, decided to hit the road.
Taking $40 from his mother and leaving a note saying he’d be back when he was either rich or famous, he set out across the country. Along the way, he lived with American Indians in New Mexico and hippies in San Francisco.
He slept under bridges and ate ketchup when money was thin.
At 11, he returned to the Bronx. His welcome back came in the form of a group of social workers who had him confined to a mental hospital. Three months later, he says, he escaped.
Scarfone’s book ends at his 16th birthday. He’s already written a sequel.
Scarfone responds harshly when asked whether his book glamorizes street life, saying every story ends with a message, and what may at first glance seem like glamour ends in hard reality and cold fact.
What did he learn from the mob? “The mob means nothing but jail, ” he said. “You know what it meant for my father? It meant they put a plastic bag over his head.”
While writing the book, Scarfone said, he infiltrated an infamous crime family’s operations in Atlanta in order to understand his family’ s way of life.
He credits God with protecting him and allowing him to be the first Scarfone father to survive.
Scarfone said at every important turn in his life, someone was there to help him make choices. While he sometimes ignored their advice, Scarfonesaid, he wants to be there to do the same for kids today.
“I want to teach kids to take a goal and make it theirs,” he said. Gesturing toward his baby daughter, he exclaimed, “Because this is what this world is all about.”
Copyright 1997, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.
New book features county writers
Short stories by six Gwinnett County residents are included in a new book titled “O Georgia!”
Published by Humpus Bumpus Books, the anthology also includes essays, children’s stories and seven poems by Georgia writers. Judges, including author Don Shadburn and several North Georgia college professors….
R.J. “Rocky” Scarfone of Lawrenceville,Scarfone’s entry, “ABonding Among Oaken Men,” is an excerpt from his novel “House ofCards: Father Figure and the Oath of Alphonso.”
Copyright 1996, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.