Community

Photos from United Way of Long Island Across, Steve Kostoff, Deena Menendez, Kathy Wagner and Erick Rosales will compete with five other members of Team Mission United, to raise money for veterans. Photos from United Way of Long Island

By Desirée Keegan

Four North Shore runners have joined Team Mission United, competing for the charity United Way of Long Island during the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon.

Steve Kostoff, Erick Rosales, Kathy Wagner and Deena Menendez will team up with five other athletes for the 26.2-mile race, which will take place on Nov. 6 and benefit 135,000 veterans and military families on Long Island.

Kostoff, who lives in Mount Sinai, said as soon as he found out Mission United was the program he would be running for, he went to the organization’s website to learn about its works, which focus on employment services, education, financial services, health and housing support.

“Many of these men and women went overseas to fight for us, now they have to come back and in many cases fight for themselves to receive care,” he said. “Any way I can help to raise funds or get the word out is important.”

“It’s a great opportunity to give back and do my part for veterans — they have sacrificed so much to give us our freedom.”

— Erick Rosales

Kostoff works for Suffolk Bus Corp. as an ADA bus driver. Through his job he’s supported United Way of Long Island over the years, and has come to hear many stories of veterans and their special needs, as he often transports disabled veterans to Northport VA Medical Center for appointments.

John Corrado, president of Suffolk Transportation Service and past president of United Way of Long Island’s board of directors, is pleased to support Kostoff in his efforts as he runs his first full marathon.

“To have the chance to see an exemplary employee like Steve compete is truly inspiring,” he said. “Not only will be have our organization’s support, but I am certain that his colleagues will rally around him on his journey to the finish line.”

Rosales, of Coram, a UPS driver, is also eager to compete. He said he’s been training for the marathon for a long time and has previously competed in 10 others, including the NYC Marathon which he’s raced in three times.

“It’s a great opportunity to give back and do my part for veterans — they have sacrificed so much to give us our freedom,” he said. “We should honor all veterans whenever we have the chance. Compared to what they have done for us the effort by me is just a drop in the bucket. I’m in 100 percent.”

Rosales will be joined in the race by his good friend, fellow colleague and training partner, Bill Ude.

Wagner, of Huntington, is meeting the challenge with great enthusiasm.

“It was a no-brainer for me,” she said of choosing to be a part of the race. “I never thought I’d run in the NYC Marathon because it’s really difficult to get in to, but when the opportunity presented itself I couldn’t say no.”

Wagner, generalist manager for the Long Island Region of Enterprise Holdings, is the leader of the Enterprise United Way of Long Island campaign which she’s been running since 2008, so she’s a big cheerleader and supporter for the cause. She said she feels Mission United is a vital program to assist veterans.

“Training is a part-time job and it’s nothing compared to what these men and women have done for our country. This will help with the needs of our veterans returning home.”

—Deena Menendez

“This is a huge race supporting a huge cause … I’m really excited for it,” she said, adding that she has a lot of family members who are veterans, including her grandfather, three uncles and a couple of cousins whom she’s close with. “I know the struggles they’ve had returning after they’ve served, and I think that any organization that’s there to help that process and help them acclimate back into society is totally worthwhile and totally worth raising money for.”

Wagner has competed in both 5K and 10K events, half marathons, mud runs and warrior dashes. Her boss, Eric Schonhoff, Enterprise’s regional vice president who has also been supportive of United Way of Long Island and serves on the board of directors, is inspired by Wagner’s efforts.

“Not only is it great to back a seasoned runner like Kathy, but she also deserves accolades for putting her heart and soul behind Mission United and the entire campaign,” he said.

Menendez, of Hauppauge, who is a claims adjuster for Geico in Woodbury, is running for Team Mission United as a labor for love, as she too is surrounded by family members in the military. Her husband is an Air Force veteran; her eldest son Sean is in the Coast Guard serving in Astoria, Oregon; her middle son Scott served in the Army; and her youngest son, Shane, is a Marine in San Diego, California.

She began intense training for the marathon and was approached by a past supervisor about volunteering to become a participant for the team, and was delighted to accept.

“It’s an honor for me just to be in the run,” Menendez said. “I keep my family in my thoughts to motivate me. Training is a part-time job and it’s nothing compared to what these men and women have done for our country. This will help with the needs of our veterans returning home. They face so many challenges acclimating to civilian life after military life, so Team Mission United helps them get homes and jobs, and raising money will help benefit so many more veterans.”

Participants have set a goal of raising $20,000 for United Way of Long Island’s veterans programs, and are looking for support. To learn more about the team and its efforts, visit www.unitedwayli.org/team-mission-united-supports-long-island-veterans.

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The Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum will be open to the public during Heritage Weekend. Photo by Jill Russell

By Rebecca Anzel

Port Jefferson Village’s second annual Heritage Weekend is this weekend. The event features more than 15 cultural and historical locations for residents and visitors to explore on Saturday, Aug. 20 and Sunday, Aug. 21. Each stop is set to include presentations with interesting information, historical photos of the village that used to be known as Drowned Meadow, and fun, interactive activities.

A Heritage Weekend kickoff event will be held on Friday, Aug. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. aboard the Lettie G. Howard historic fishing schooner. Tickets are $45 per person or $80 per couple. Money raised will support the cultural events featured during Heritage Weekend, as will funds donated by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

This week, check out attractions that will take place at the Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum, Port Jefferson Masonic Temple and Christ Church Episcopal. Check out parts one, two and three of our Heritage Weekend preview series.

Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum

Fire department equipment on display at the Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum, which will be open to the public Heritage Weekend. Photo by Jill Russell
Fire department equipment on display at the Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum, which will be open to the public Heritage Weekend. Photo by Jill Russell

On the second floor of Port Jefferson’s fire department on Maple Place is a museum housing 130 years of history. The collection of equipment, helmets, uniforms and pictures dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s and tells the story of how fighting fires in the village’s four square miles has evolved. The exhibit will be open to the public during Heritage Weekend.

“It’s a small museum — just one room — but it’s got a lot of history in it,” Third Assistant Chief Jim Sarubbi said. “It represents what this department is all about — tradition and dedication.”

Some of the department’s nearly 100 members will be on hand over the weekend to escort event attendees to the museum and around the firehouse to check out the historical artifacts. The museum will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Port Jefferson Masonic Lodge

The freemasons’ purchased their current building, which was constructed in 1854, from the Presbyterian Society in 1912. Photo courtesy of Suffolk Lodge Number 60
The freemasons’ purchased their current building, which was constructed in 1854, from the Presbyterian Society in 1912. Photo courtesy of Suffolk Lodge Number 60

On Main Street, a two minute walk away from the fire department, is the Masonic temple. Also known as Suffolk Lodge No. 60, it was organized in 1796 and chartered in 1797.

The group is hosting an open house and Q-and-A session from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Visitors will be able to learn more about Freemasons and the fraternal organization’s history, and view historic photos and other artifacts while there, former Master of the lodge Gary D. Gudzik said.

Christ Church Episcopal

Christ Church Episcopal’s first service was June 3, 1888; a fire uniform at the museum. Photo from Christ Church Episcopal's
Christ Church Episcopal’s first service was June 3, 1888; a fire uniform at the museum. Photo from Christ Church Episcopal’s

Locals know Christ Church Episcopal as the little white church up on the hill. Built in the 1880s on land purchased from P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus, the members of the yellow pine church on Barnum Avenue will be hosting a yard sale during Heritage Weekend.

Irene Choate, the event’s organizer and head of the church’s women’s group, said housewares and small appliances will be on sale in Christ Church Episcopal’s air conditioned recreation room, where refreshments will be served. Senior Warden Gene Seiler will be answering questions about the church’s history and giving tours to interested visitors.

“We look forward to seeing potential new parishioners,” Joyce Bock, the church’s communications officer, said. “We’re a tiny church, but we have a big heart. All are welcomed and we mean it.”

The yard sale will be on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The church’s services are at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

Some of the food choices now available for Smithtown residents through OurHarvest. Photos from Scott Reich

By Victoria Espinoza

Finding fresh food has never been simpler, as OurHarvest, an online farmers market has made its way to Smithtown.

OurHarvest works to bring local, fresh grocery products, including fruits and vegetables, to residents without them having to go out to a store.

“For people tired of the grocery store, who want better quality, better freshness, and better pricing for great products, we’re their answer,” OurHarvest co-founder Michael Winik said in a statement, “Our products come right from the farm, and we carry lots of great items that you can’t get at traditional supermarkets.”

Customers place orders through the company’s website, selecting the date and time of their desired pickup, and then go to a predetermined pickup location to grab their order. OurHarvest’s website describes pickup locations as “pop-up farmer’s markets.”

The Smithtown pickup site is at Deana Godek’s home on Hickory Lane. Orders need to be placed by 9 a.m. on Mondays, and orders are available for pickup between 4 and 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.

“Having organic, fresh, affordable local produce and grass-fed meats is very important to me,” Godek said in a statement. “I am a mom of four and my children’s health is paramount in my life. Food shopping can be so scary when you don’t know where the food is coming from, how long it traveled or how long it sat on a shelf. With OurHarvest, you know the farm it came from and their practices, and have the assurance of knowing it was picked for you. To have that kind of peace is priceless.”

Above, OurHarvest co-founders Scott Reich and Michael Winik. Photos from Scott Reich
Above, OurHarvest co-founders Scott Reich and Michael Winik. Photos from Scott Reich

The online farmers market partners with farmers, fishermen, and food artisans from the area to maximize freshness, ensure quality and traceability, and keep costs down.

“We formed this business to bring the food system into the 21st century,” company co-founder Scott Reich said in a statement. “Our model is smart, sustainable, and community-oriented, and we’re the only local farm-to-table business that gives customers tangible rewards for shopping with us through our loyalty program.”

For any purchase of more than $25, OurHarvest donates a meal to a local food pantry; in Smithtown’s case, meals will be donated to Lighthouse Mission, an organization based out of Bellport that feeds the poor and raises funds to give supplies to the homeless.

Acting students perform a scene at Take 2 Actor’s Studio in Huntington. Photo by Wenhao Ma

By Wenhao Ma

Huntington residents should get ready to break a leg, with the opening of a new acting studio in town.

Regina Schneider, 46, an actress and acting teacher, is set to open Take 2 Actor’s Studio in Huntington this September. Her studio offers eight different classes, including intro to acting, acting on camera, television crime drama intensive, college auditions, kids character builders and private coaching. Classes meet weekly or by appointment.

But these classes are not just for the seasoned actors in town. The owner said she encourages everyone to take an acting class, regardless of their experience.

“I welcome anyone to come in because I feel like as humans, we need to connect,” Schneider said in an interview. “We all have a voice. And we all deserve to have our voice heard and our stories told.”

The studio is located in a rented space from LaunchPad, a company that provides resources for startup businesses to grow.

Two classes are set to start in September: actor’s gym, a course designed for adults with basic acting knowledge, and teen scene, where teenagers get to learn about acting.

“My plan is to have everybody working every night,” Schneider said, explaining why she wants to keep no more than 12 students in each of her classes. “Every time they come to class they have an exercise.”

At the University of California, Los Angeles, Schneider taught acting, but after she graduated she stopped and focused on her own acting career.

“I love [teaching],” she said after getting back to it. “I love connecting with people. I love sharing what I know… I feel like everyone has an obligation and if you have a gift, you are robbing the world if you are not sharing it with others.”

Karen Lico, 57, a student at the studio, said that she loves Schneider’s way of teaching.

“She has a way of pulling us in and getting us to feel things that you don’t even realize you are feeling and can feel,” Lico said. “She just makes you feel good.”

John Battaglia, 57, another student, never had any acting experience until this January when he took a class with Schneider at Bare Bones Theater in Northport.

“I like the idea of being somebody else and using the feelings and emotion inside me in another character,” Battaglia said.

Schneider was born on Long Island and moved to California as a teen. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in theatre from UCLA. After meeting her husband, Steve Schneider, she moved back to Long Island and got married.

She has more than 20 years of acting experience, and yet she said she still goes to acting classes occasionally, as many famous actors do, Schneider said, because acting, just like sports, relies on muscle memories. Attending classes would help actors “flex their acting muscles,” she said.

However, most of the classes at Take 2 Actor’s Studio are made for students with little to zero acting experience.

“If you come in with acting experience, in some ways you may have habits that I need to break,” Schneider said. She said she is more inspired by students who come in uncomfortable acting in front of other people and leave her class motivated and excited by the progress they have made.

Schneider said that there are not many adult acting schools on Long Island and she welcomes people who are interested in acting but never got the chance to try it.

“No matter your age, if it’s something that you’ve always been curious about or wanted to try, then [you should],” she said. “It’s never too late. You will gain more than the skills needed to act. You will gain new friends and a deeper understanding of yourself.”

Comsewogue Public Library, 170 Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station will host a Job Fair by the Suffolk County One-Stop Employment Center on Tuesday, Aug. 23, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The Suffolk County Department of Labor, Licensing & Consumer Affairs continues to offer a variety of services and programs, such as the One-Stop Employment Center, that provide valuable guidance to those who are looking for employment,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). “We hope that our residents in the Port Jefferson area and along the North Shore will take advantage of this opportunity to explore potential career paths or job opportunities.”

The following employers are scheduled to attend: ACLD, Access Home Care, American Pool, Association for Mental Health and Wellness, Attentive Care, Comfort Keepers, DDI, East End Disability, East West Industries, EPIC LI, FREE, HEAP, Home Depot, LI Cares, Maxim Homecare, NBTY, New York Life Insurance, Teachers Federal Credit Union, The Odyssey Group, UCP of Suffolk, United Healthcare, Urban League Mature Workers Program, US Postal Service, Utopia, Verizon Wireless and more. All residents in need of a job are encouraged to attend and no registration is required.

Job candidates in need of proper attire for an interview should contact Career Couture at 631-853-6769.

For further information, please call the library at 631-928-1212.

By Colm Ashe

This Saturday, Aug. 20, the Smithtown Animal Shelter will host an event to commemorate Homeless Animals Day, an international day dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of domestic animals that suffer from neglect and abuse every year. The day of awareness was introduced by the International Society of Animal Rights in 1992 and, according to Smithtown Animal Shelter volunteer Michele DeSanti, was officially recognized in Smithtown “over 10 years ago.” This is the first year that Smithtown Animal Shelter has organized an event centered around the day. DeSanti and the dedicated team at the shelter plan to celebrate this day in a “big way from this year on forward.”

The goal of the event is simple: find loving homes for the pets who were rescued from the darkest corners of Smithtown and given a second chance at life. Considering the conditions some of these animals were put through, the shelter might even be considered their first chance at life.

For animals like Sammi, the nervous Cane Corso, Smithtown’s homey facility is paradise compared to the cage she was locked in for the first 5 years of her tortured life. Sammi was saved from a hoarding situation where 46 other dogs suffered under the ownership of neglectful breeders. When the volunteers rescued her last February, she was skin and bones and frightened even by a garbage can. Though her fur has regained its luster and her body has gained some healthy weight, the trauma lingers on inside her heavy eyes.

Beside Sammi, the shelter is home to 10 more dogs such as Dinah, the energetic bull terrier blend who would be perfect for an athletic family, and the lovable Tank, a beautiful, stocky pit bull whose playful personality would be a great fit for a family with kids. There is also a cat sanctuary, full of approximately 30 rescued cats, and about 30 kittens roaming free and playing all day. The list of wonderful animals is extensive, and the shelter hopes to shorten that list at its event on Saturday.

The festivities kick off at 11 a.m., when Pastor Kathleen Kufs, a modern interfaith minister, will open the ceremony with a blessing for the animals in the shelter, as well as other companion animals in the community.

“We encourage all Smithtown residents and beyond to bring your companion animals to the shelter to be blessed. We think it is a fitting way to kick off Homeless Animals Day,” DeSanti said.

At 1:30 p.m. Peter Borchelt, a certified applies animal behavior consultant based in Brooklyn, will give a talk about dog aggression, teaching pet owners how to predict and prevent it. Borchelt will also present an interactive learning experience by answering questions and engaging the audience. From 3 to 4 p.m., Charlene Sorrentino, dog trainer, canine behaviorist and founder of The Dog Chick, will provide the audience with some essential knowledge regarding how to give a shelter dog the life it needs. Sorrentino works with several other rescues on Long Island and has built a reputation as a mentor for trainers in the area.

Finally, from 4 to 6 p.m., renowned psychic Jim Fargiano will offer group readings for up to 20 pet owners. Fargiano is a medium and a healer famous for his ability to communicate with both dogs and humans that have passed. In addition, the day will feature live music, kids activities, vendors, food and a visit by a wildlife rescue organization, the STAR Foundation.

Though the event is jam-packed with exciting features, International Homeless Animals Day is not successful if it doesn’t end with adopted animals. People like Jim McCourt, the proud guardian of a rescue dog, are urging others to answer the call for compassion. McCourt said people will “never know the gratitude of a rescued animal until [they] rescue [one themselves].”

The Smithtown Animal Shelter is located at 410 East Main St. in Smithtown. For more information, please call 631-360-7575.

Bohack Grand Opening. Photo courtesy of The WMHO

Blast from the Past

Bohack’s Grocery Store, headquartered in Maspeth, Queens, was in business for 90 years before filing for bankruptcy in 1977. The chain opened many supermarkets across Long Island during that time. Do you know where and when this ribbon cutting photo was taken? Do you recognize anyone? Email your answers to info@wmho.org. To see more wonderful vintage photographs like these, visit The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s ongoing exhibit, It Takes a Team to Build a Village, at The WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main Street, Stony Brook. For more information, call 631-751-2244.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Jane Bonner were on-site in Rocky Point for the knocking down of a zombie home on Monroe Street earlier this year. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

By Wenhao Ma

Brookhaven Town is doing everything it can to clean up neighborhoods in their area.

The town board unanimously passed a resolution to submit a grant application to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to request funding for the Town Fire Marshals’ Anti-Blight Housing Code Enforcement Project July 21.

The town hopes to receive $25,000 from the state government to help with the cost of assessing neglected homes.

The Anti-Blight Housing Code Enforcement Project, according to town spokesman Kevin Molloy, has been going on for three-and-a-half years. It was designed to assess the abandoned properties that have harmful conditions and come up with resolutions to either repair or remove them. All the grant money, if approved, will be spent on the assessments of the homes. A mobile app is being developed for residents to report blighted buildings.

Molloy said the town’s law department and the fire marshal are responsible for the assessments. If the town attorney or fire marshal determines a house to be a threat to the neighborhood, the town may contact the owner, or when necessary, demolish the house, according to Brookhaven Town Code. The owner will be charged with the cost of tearing down the building.

“With every demolition, every property cleanup and every court case we pursue, we are turning communities around and giving people the quality of life that they deserve.”

— Dan Panico

Molloy said blighted properties can be a real danger to residents. People who enter a house that is unsafe may hurt themselves and, if the condition of the property constitutes a fire hazard, it could endanger the surrounding buildings and residents.

Safety is not the only reason for the town to establish such a project. Property values of homes suffer when an unkempt house is nearby.

One abandoned house in the neighborhood, Molloy said, could decrease the value of all the houses in the vicinity. By demolishing it, the project helps boost the value of other properties.

Eliminating “zombie homes” has long been a battle taken up by current board members.

“With every demolition, every property cleanup and every court case we pursue,” said Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) July 15 in a statement after the demolition of an abandoned house in Mastic, “we are turning communities around and giving people the quality of life that they deserve.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) was on site for a demolition on Monroe Street in Rocky Point in June.

“Nearly every community in Brookhaven Town has been hit by the increase of vacant, neglected houses,” Romaine said. “Unfortunately, many of them are run-down and not secure from animals and squatters. We will continue to clean up properties.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) also attended the Rocky Point demolition.

“I am very happy for the residents that live on the street,” she said following the demolition. “Some stopped by during the demolition just to say how very thankful they were that it was coming down.”

With the help of the grant money, more homes could be demolished in an effort to clean up the neighborhoods of the North Shore.

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