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Fundraiser

Dating back to the 18th century, The Setauket Neighborhood House has served as a private home, an inn, a post office, a bank and a general store, among others. Today it functions as a community meeting house. File photo

By Irene Ruddock

Now that spring is here, every homeowner wonders how everything in their home is ever going to get repaired. Just multiply that concern many times to imagine the projects needed for the improvement and upkeep of a beloved community treasure — the Setauket Neighborhood House (SNH). In helping to provide funds for projects that are needed to keep this historic building for all the community to enjoy, the SNH will host its 5th annual Taste of the Neighborhood fundraiser on Friday, May 12 from 7 to 10 p.m.

In past years, funds raised from this annual event have helped with the upkeep of the house, parts of which are over 200 years old — rebuilding a beautiful front and back porch, replacing the roof, building chair storage units, purchasing a new furnace and paying bills! This year, the house, which is located at 95 Main Street in Setauket, is in need of a new ballroom floor, a grand undertaking that will enhance the house immeasurably and ensure continued enjoyment and participation by the community. What an exciting adventure that will be! Here is your chance to be a part of it!

‘Shadow Play’ by Irwin Traugot will be raffled off at the event.

On May 12 you will also be given the opportunity to join your neighbors to come together for wonderful food provided by the generosity of 16 of our local restaurants. Taste the signature dishes of Amici Restaurant, Bagel Express, Bliss, Chick-fil-A, Country House, Curry Club, Fifth Season, Fratelli’s, Mario’s, Old Field Club, O Sole Mio, Pumpernickel’s Deli and Market, Setauket Gourmet Deli, Setauket Pastaria, Three Village Inn and Villa Sorrento. Wine and beer will be served along with other refreshments, compliments of the SNH.

Of course, a fundraiser wouldn’t be the same without raffle baskets, so plan on taking a chance on over 15 beautiful baskets donated by community and board members. There will also be plenty of gift certificates from local business owners. A special thanks to Debbie Bryant, who for years has dedicated her time and talent by wrapping and organizing our baskets. Drawings will be conducted that evening, but you don’t have to be present to win.

To add to the elegance of the evening, an art retrospective will feature the paintings of Irwin Traugot. Traugot, a beloved Setauket Artists’ member, has been exhibiting annually at the house for 35 years. The artist will also donate a beautiful painting for the raffle; his other paintings are for sale with a portion of the proceeds going to the SNH. They will be on view for several weeks after the event for all to enjoy. Finally, live music will be provided by music students from Ward Melville High School.

Tickets for this event may be purchased for $30 online at www.setauketnh.org or at the door for $35. Checks are payable to Setauket Neighborhood House and may be mailed to P.O. Box 2192, Setauket, NY 11733. For more information, please call 631-751-6208.

Olivia Gregorius, right, and Emma Lutz, left, are hoping to raise awarness for female empowerment on their bike journey across the country. Photo from Gregorius

A Northport native is biking across the United States to raise money and awareness for an organization that builds schools in Africa.

Olivia Gregorius, a 2011 Northport High School graduate, kicked off her cross-country adventure in Vancouver about three weeks ago and said she is determined to finish at the Mexican border by July.

“I feel good so far,” she said in a phone interview. ”My body hurts horribly, but I feel good.”

Gregorius is a volunteer with the organization Africa Schoolhouse, a nonprofit that brings education, medical care, job training and clean water to rural villages in northern Tanzania. Her journey was designed to raise money for the newest ASH project: an all-female boarding school. Gregorius said she hopes to promote female youth empowerment while on the journey.

“This mission to help females so far away who deserve an equal and safe education space is something we believe is very important,” she said. “I truly believe that the way we teach and treat young females is key to shaping a more progressive and healthy society both locally and abroad.”

She also said it is important to acknowledge the privileges she’s been afforded that other women aren’t as lucky to receive.

“We, as young women who have had the distinct privilege of a college education, want to give back to the many girls around the world who struggle to access basic education,” she said. “We want to empower ourselves as young women going on a self-supported trip of 2,000 miles with the ultimate goal of supporting as many other young women as possible to believe themselves capable and worthy of any achievement.”

Africa Schoolhouse began in Ntulya, Tanzania, in 2006, when village elders approached founder Aimée Bessire with the idea of building a school and medical clinic. ASH successfully built the school and medical clinic, and now the organization is shifting its focus on getting women a safe and efficient education.

Gregorius said only 1 percent of Tanzanian girls complete secondary school for reasons including families who privilege the education of sons over daughters, girls being married off at young ages and unsafe journeys to school due to incomplete or unfinished roads, or the risk of assault while traveling long spans of distance on their own.

This wasn’t the first time Gregorius worked on projects associated with female empowerment. During her first year at Bates College in Maine, she helped develop a college-access mentoring program for Lewiston, Maine, middle school females. She also worked at an overnight teen empowerment camp in 2013, where she developed classes pertaining to girls’ youth empowerment, outdoor education, wellness and the arts.

Gregorius is traveling with Emma Lutz, a fellow Bates graduate, and so far the team has already raise more than $3,000. To make a contribution or learn more, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/emma-and-livs-bike-tour-from-canada-to-mexico.

Sample tiles were on display at the Community Art Center on June 4. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

A community art event, Make Your Mark, has come to Gallery North. The gallery invites the community — adults, children, families, both professional artists and even those with no artistic background — to come and paint their own six-inch ceramic tile. The tiles may be taken home or used at the gallery in the planned tile wall of the new Community Art Center.

Ceramic tiles have a long history. Once ceramics are fired, they do not deteriorate like wood or cloth. The result is that the art world has tiles created and fired not only hundreds but thousands of years ago. The decorative tile work on the Dome of the Rock (begun in the seventh century) in Jerusalem dates back to the 16th century while Egyptian tile goes back to 4000 B.C. These examples attest to the beauty and longevity of this art form.

Tiles continued to be important in the art world. The Tile Club consisted of over two dozen American artists in the late 19th century, including Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, Stanford White, John J. Twachtman and Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who met periodically to paint ceramic tiles. Even today, decorative ceramic tiles are popular tourist souvenirs.

Judith Levy, executive director of the gallery noted that people shouldn’t be afraid to tackle painting a tile. “I’ve had people say ‘I have an idea, but…’ they aren’t artists. Well, we have helpers, students from the art department at Stony Brook University.” In addition, designs can be traced onto the tiles or stencils can be used. It’s up to the individual.

“We want to create stakeholders in the gallery, new ways of exciting people,” added Levy. Since some of the tiles will be a permanent part of the wall next to the new building, people can come back with their families, year after year to see their tile — basically being a part of the artistic heritage of Gallery North.

On June 4, the first in the series of workshops was held at the gallery. Handmade tile production was demonstrated by sculptor and Long Island artisan Tina Folks. Folks, a ceramic artist for over 25 years, is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design. “I knew my medium would be clay from summer camp,” when she was a child. “I fell in love with the medium.”

Folks showed how a rolled out slab of moist red clay is cut into squares, dried and coated with bisque before its first firing. This preparation, getting them ready for the community artists to paint, will be done by Folks. “I have about 200 tiles now in my studio to decorate,” she noted.

“What I love about this [a community art project] is the collaboration. It takes me out of the solitude of my studio. It’s a nice exchange working with other people. It helps me grow as an artist,” said Folks.

Make Your Mark starts with those attending the workshops drawing their designs on a six-inch square of paper. In the weeks to come, they and others who join them will transfer their designs to the tiles to then be fired a second time by Folks. Future workshop dates include June 18, June 26 and July 7. Times will vary to accommodate painters’ schedules. For example, the July 7 workshop will be held in the evening from 6 to 8 p.m. When all the tiles are completed and fired, those intended for the gallery will be installed in the garden wall.

Levy added that the patio next to the art center will be expanded. There will be seating and plantings. The planned wall, referred to as a knee wall, will be about 2½ to 3 feet tall. The community’s tiles will be affixed to the inside of the wall, where those on the patio, as well as those inside the art center, can enjoy them.

The event is a fundraiser for the gallery, to help develop the gallery’s new ceramics program as well as other arts programs. The cost to decorate a tile and have it fired, to be taken home by the artist is $50. To decorate a tile and contribute it to the gallery’s garden wall is $100. Naturally, people are encouraged to do both. The goal is for 300 to 600 tiles to be completed for the wall.

Another option is to sponsor a local, professional artist who would do four tiles (12-inch square) for the garden wall. The contribution for sponsorship is $750. Sponsorship can be shared by more than one individual.

So, to “make your mark” and work on one or more tiles, contact Gallery North. A nonprofit, the gallery is located at 90 North Country Road in Setauket. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For further information, call 631-751-2676 or go to www.gallerynorth.org.

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Rob Marianetti is raising money to help fund his daughter Kayla’s care. Photo by Elana Glowatz

A local church is hosting a fundraising event to benefit a little girl who is seriously impaired after almost drowning in a bathtub at 17 months old.

Rob Marianetti is raising money to help fund his daughter Kayla’s care. Above, Kayla before her bathtime accident. Photo from Rob Marianetti
Rob Marianetti is raising money to help fund his daughter Kayla’s care. Above, Kayla before her bathtime accident. Photo from Rob Marianetti

Although Kayla Marianetti was found floating and unresponsive, doctors revived her. However, the Port Jefferson Station toddler was left with a brain injury. She needs multiple therapy appointments each day, including hyperbaric therapy, which involves putting her in an oxygen-rich environment; physical therapy, to move her toward sitting up, standing and walking; vision therapy, as neurological issues have made her legally blind, even though her eyes themselves are fine; and speech therapy, which is used both to teach her to communicate and to eat on her own.

Her father Rob, who works for Setauket-based Hurricane Tree Experts, has seen improvement in her function but needs help to fund the girl’s expensive treatments.

The theatrical fundraiser, for ages 15 and older, at the St. James R.C. Church in Setauket will be held on June 10. In addition to the performance “The Class of Life,” which starts at 7 p.m., there will be refreshments, a Chinese auction and a raffle. The father and daughter will be present. Contact Tabitha Chabalik for reservations, at 631-671-8206 or kaylamarianetti@gmail.com. Tickets are $40. People can also contribute to Kayla’s recovery on her fundraising page.

Rob Marianetti has previously said his goal is to have Kayla at least be able to walk, talk, eat and see on her own.

“I’m not leaving her like this,” Marianetti said last year. “I’m going until either she gets better or I die.”

Kids relax at a previous fun run for the Royal Educational Foundation. Photo from Jill Russell

The Royal Educational Foundation is hosting its third annual Power of One Family Fun Run on Saturday, April 16, to benefit the Port Jefferson school district.

According to the event flyer, the 2-mile run is meant to “encourage physical activity and is intended to celebrate the positive influence we can have on one another within our families and community.” The course starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Port Jefferson Village Center on East Broadway and goes through the streets of the village, ending at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School on Old Post Road.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the foundation’s efforts to improve the school district. Each runner or walker is $15, while families cost $50.

People of all ages are welcome to participate, and can register between 7:30 and 8 a.m. at the Village Center. Participants should check in no later than 8:15 a.m. Everyone will get a fun run T-shirt before the start of the race.

Two young boys sit at the Memorial Wall during last year’s Memorial Day services in Sound Beach. Photo by Bea Ruberto

By Ernestine Franco

Eating lasagna is a good thing. Eating lasagna to benefit the Sound Beach Veterans Memorial is even better.

The Sound Beach Civic Association will host its third Lasagna Dinner for the Vets Memorial fundraiser on Friday, April 1 (no fooling!), from 5 to 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Sound Beach Firehouse located at 152 Sound Beach Blvd.

Mamma’s Lasagna — yields 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients: 2 eggs; 2 pounds whole or low-fat ricotta; 1 pound shredded mozzarella; ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese; 1 tablespoon dried oregano; 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper; Nonstick cooking spray; 6-7 cups of your favorite tomato sauce; 1 box (9 ounces) no-boil lasagna pasta (or use regular lasagna pasta); 1 cup shredded mozzarella for topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 F. In large bowl, beat eggs. Add ricotta, 1 pound of mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well. Spray bottom and sides of pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread 1 cup of sauce on bottom of pan. Layer 4 uncooked lasagna sheets, 1/3 of cheese mixture and 1 cup of the sauce. Repeat step 4 two more times. Top with 4 sheets of lasagna. Spread 1 cup of sauce and sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella on top layer. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until bubbly, about 50-60 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Let stand about 15 minutes before cutting. Top with more sauce if desired.

The menu will include homemade lasagna, meatballs, salad, bread, dessert, coffee, tea and nonalcoholic beverages. There will also be a 50/50 raffle. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, with children under 10 free. Take-out will be available for $10.

For some background on the site, starting in 2007, the Sound Beach Civic Association coordinated the Veterans Memorial Project, now located on New York Avenue across from the post office. In cooperation with the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County and New York State, they secured grants. Pavers in the form of a rondel, six flag poles and a granite wall were installed on which were to be placed bronze plaques honoring the seven fallen of Sound Beach. However, the funding dried up and for a time the granite wall remained empty.

Then in 2012, the Civic scaled down the project and donations from the community allowed them to purchase the bronze plaques and engrave the granite wall. On Memorial Day 2012, the Memorial was finally dedicated. Memorial services for the community are held each year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Ann Moran, treasurer of the Civic and the co-chair of the lasagna dinner, donated the funds for the plaques in honor of her late husband, Matt Moran. Her commitment to ensuring that the Memorial is well maintained is what drives her to this day. “Every time I drive by the Memorial I’m reminded of the sacrifices made by many to ensure our quality of life, but most of all I remember Matt,” Moran said.

Several years ago Moran came up with the idea of hosting a lasagna dinner to raise the funds needed to maintain the Memorial.

During last year’s Memorial Day services in Sound Beach, veterans raise the flags. Photo by Bea Ruberto
During last year’s Memorial Day services in Sound Beach, veterans raise the flags. Photo by Bea Ruberto

“I’d like to invite everyone to join us, not just because it’s a worthy cause or because my sister is the one cooking the lasagna or because it’s my mother’s recipe,” Bea Ruberto, president of the Civic, said, “but because it’s a great community event.”

Nancy Ford, a Sound Beach resident and Civic member who attended the last lasagna dinner, remembers the event fondly. “I very much enjoyed attending the last lasagna dinner for the Vets Memorial. We were treated to good homemade lasagna, enjoyed the time with good friends, and were glad to be able to support the Vets Memorial,” she said.

If you would like more information on the other activities of the Sound Beach Civic Association, visit www.soundbeachcivic.org.

Although tickets may be purchased at the door, because of limited seating, advance reservations are suggested by calling 631-821-9650 for tickets.

For those of you who can’t make it on April Fool’s Day or would like to make lasagna on Easter Sunday, here is the recipe. Mangia!

Harborfields students Kaylee Perkowski, Alissa Barber, Allison Walkley, Ariella Walker and Emma Riley pose with donations they collected for local animal shelters. Photo from Daniel Barrett

Students at Harborfields High School believe ’tis the season to show your furry friends some extra love.

Pascal is a Pointer mix that the students of Harborfields are sponsoring. Photo from Little Shelter
Pascal is a Pointer mix that the students of Harborfields are sponsoring. Photo from Little Shelter

Members of the Global Justice Club and the Forensics Club are working together to raise money and collect donations for Little Shelter, Huntington Animal Shelter and Grateful Paw Cat Shelter, as well as spread the word on why adopting is better than shopping for a new pet.

Students collected pet supplies including food, treats, toys, litter, blankets and more. They have also raised about $200 by selling “opt to adopt” bracelets and pens, and plan to use the money to sponsor animals at the shelters, including Pascal from Little Shelter, a 12-year-old Pointer mix who needs a home.

“There are so many pets bought this time of year for the holidays, and while it’s true that a dog or cat make a great gift and provide so much joy to a family, there are lots of homeless pets waiting in our local shelters that would love to become part of a forever home,” Daniel Barrett, advisor of the Forensics Club, said in an email.

Pascal is a Pointer mix that the students of Harborfields are sponsoring. Photo from Little Shelter
Pascal is a Pointer mix that the students of Harborfields are sponsoring. Photo from Little Shelter

Students Allison Walkley and Ariella Walker said it’s necessary for kids within the community to educate themselves about the importance of supporting their local shelters.

“Animals play a huge part in so many of our lives,” the girls said in a shared email statement on Monday morning. “They’re our companions and our family, but some animals out there don’t have a loving home. They’ve been thrown out on streets or they’ve been abused and neglected. The shelters are the orphanages for these animals, but so many don’t have enough funding or supplies to take in all the helpless dogs and cats.”

The Harborfields students will be collecting donations until Saturday, Dec. 19, when they will bring all the donations and money collected to the shelters.

Little Shelter is a no-kill, nonprofit animal shelter located on Warner Road in Huntington. It was established in 1927.

According to its website, it is Long Island’s oldest humane organization.

Huntington Animal Shelter and Grateful Paw Cat Shelter share a location on Deposit Road in East Northport, and both work with the Town of Huntington and the League for Animal Protection, Inc. LAP is a nonprofit organization established in 1973. Grateful Paw focuses on cat and kitten adoptions and has a spaying/neutering program.

Residents were “freezin’ for a reason” at Cedar Beach on Saturday, for the Town of Brookhaven’s sixth annual Polar Plunge event.

Some of the countless residents in attendance took the plunge into the chilly waters of the Long Island Sound to help raise money for the athletes of the Special Olympics New York. Plungers who raised at least $125 received a sweatshirt for their efforts.

Members of the Suffolk County Police Department, Nestle Nesquik, Long Island’s My Country 96.1 FM and local government officials, including Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) and Councilman Neil Foley (R-Blue Point), were there to show their support or join the plungers and take a dip in the water.

Despite the breezy weather and cold currents, some residents left the water saying the water wasn’t as chilly as last year.

By Giselle Barkley

Independence — that’s what veteran Glen Moody is fighting for.

Glen Moody and Indy stand on the stage at the Help Glen Bring Indy Home fundraiser. Photo from the Help Glen Bring Indy Home fundraiser
Glen Moody and Indy stand on the stage at the Help Glen Bring Indy Home fundraiser. Photo from the Help Glen Bring Indy Home fundraiser

As veterans still struggle with adjusting to life beyond the war, post-traumatic stress disorder is a reality for men and women like Moody, with 22 PTSD-stricken veterans committing suicide daily. Although Moody said he wasn’t suicidal, the California-based Patriotic Service Dog Foundation and a one-year-old red fox Labrador named Independence — Indy for short — are helping make his life a little less stressful.

On Saturday, at Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub in Miller Place, the 35-year-old Afghanistan and Iraqi vet led the Help Glen Bring Indy Home fundraiser, which aims to raise PTSD awareness and raise money to help veterans afford and obtain a PTSD service dog. These service dogs help veterans snap out of flashbacks, anxiety attacks and address other PTSD-related issues. Moody, who was born and raised in Miller Place, mentioned the dogs will also keep an eye on their war heroes — they are trained to guard or protect their vet by sitting in front, beside or behind them.

According to Moody, around 300 people attended the event. He said they raised $20,000 Saturday night, which is double what he hoped to raise. Typically, veterans will get their service dog from the foundation after the dog is 18 months old. But in light of the overwhelming community support on Saturday, Indy will live with Moody until January. This allows Indy to adjust to Moody’s lifestyle in New York.

“Tom was proud to tell me that … no one’s killed themselves [after getting a Tackett dog],” Moody said about the veterans who’ve obtained dogs from Tom Tackett’s foundation — Tackett is a trainer and the president of Patriotic Service Dog Foundation.

The absence of suicide attempts is an accomplishment for the foundation, whose goal is to reduce the statistic from 22 veterans committing suicide down to zero. Tackett could not be reached prior to publication due to technological difficulties, but Moody said he met Tackett after a fellow marine advised Moody’s family to get one of Tackett’s service dogs. The suggestion lead Moody to California in August, where he met Indy.

Charlie Kapp, Joseph Sguera and Glen Moody pose for a photo with a steel sculpture made by Kapp. Photo from the Help Glen Bring Indy Home fundraiser
Charlie Kapp, Joseph Sguera and Glen Moody pose for a photo with a steel sculpture made by Kapp. Photo from the Help Glen Bring Indy Home fundraiser

Moody served as a Fleet Marine Force corpsman with the U.S. Marines from 1999 to 2005. While Moody fought in the front lines, he was also the doctor on the field.

“If anything bad happens, they’ll cry on my shoulder, or if they get shot or blown up, they all come to me,” Moody said. “I’m the one that’s got to treat them first hand.”

The experience left Moody with anxiety attacks and issues with his personal life when he returned to Long Island. He said his PTSD was to a point where it affected his everyday life and those around him. According to Moody’s aunt LynnAnne Daly, Moody didn’t have anyone to turn to during his time of service. She added that there should be more support for causes and providing service dogs for veterans.

“We need to get government funding for this,” Daly said about providing service dogs to veterans. “These men and women are fighting for us.”

According to the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation, around 460,000 veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars suffer from PTSD or brain injuries after or during their time of service. The training period for dogs like Indy starts at eight weeks old until they are 18 months old. With the large portion of veterans suffering from PTSD, Daly added that the fundraiser and the cause “is not just about Glen. It’s about spreading awareness.”

Moody agreed and said he is trying to make a difference, starting with the foundation, the fundraiser and his four-legged companion.

“I’m not the only guy [suffering] — I know I’m not,” Moody said about his PTSD. “When I talk to veterans they say the same thing. We need more awareness and that’s what I’m doing.”

A scene from last year’s art sale at the St. James R.C. Church in E. Setauket. Photo from Andrew Meade

By Melissa Arnold

For many people in Haiti, financial stability has always been out of reach. The country ranks among the poorest in the world, and the economy there only suffered further following a major earthquake in 2010, which killed hundreds and left even more without homes.

Despite all the setbacks, Haitians are still known for their joy and perseverance. They’ll do whatever they can to make a living.

This weekend, St. James Catholic Church in Setauket will host a sale of handmade artwork and craft jewelry created by talented Haitians. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will be poured into bettering a Haitian community.

The church is partnering with The Vassar Haiti Project, a not-for-profit, nonsectarian grass-roots organization based at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. The program’s founders, Andrew and Lila Meade, both have personal connections to the country — Lila’s mother grew up there, and Andrew graduated from high school in the country while his father was involved with the international diplomatic service.

The couple met in 1985 and quickly bonded over their shared background. They married not long after. The Meades were frequent participants in Haitian fundraisers, but it wasn’t until 9/11 that they felt prompted to take a more active role. “I think it was a time when we really wanted to think about what our purpose was,” Lila Meade recalls. “Haiti was always on our radar, so it seemed a natural choice to help them. We started to buy pieces of Haitian art here and there and then began to wonder what it would be like if we held an art show to benefit villages there.”

Andrew Meade is the director of the Office of International Studies at Vassar and thought the college would make a great host site for the sale. Using their own savings to purchase artwork and family and friends as volunteers, the Meades held their first art sale at Vassar in February of 2012. They raised $14,000 that year.

The Meades felt strongly about putting the money toward education and developing personal relationships with the people they assisted. With the help of existing Haitian relief programs, they connected with the mountain village of Chermaitre to provide hot meals for students and salaries for teachers.

“In the developing world, it’s typical for children to help the family make additional money by staying home and working. Families usually won’t send their children to school without incentives,” Andrew explains. “Offering a hot meal at school was a huge draw. For many of these kids, it’s the only hot meal they’ll have for the day.”

The Vassar Haiti Project continued to grow each year following their first sale. In the past 15 years they’ve completed a seven-room school for kindergarten through sixth grade; built a medical clinic with a doctor and nurse on staff; and developed a system for easier water access and purification, among other projects. So far, they’ve raised more than $500,000 for the artists and villagers of Chermaitre.

The project is currently working on a reforestation effort, which includes planting 100,000 trees, and building a women’s cooperative. “A lot of the women in the village do not have husbands and are raising five to 12 children in a very rural area,” Lila says. At the women’s cooperative, “they learn to make things like jewelry or napkins, or use other skills they’ve learned previously to work. Right now they are growing incredible coffee. We’re then able to sell those goods and pour the profits back into the community.”

The project is also supported by a passionate group of Vassar student volunteers who facilitate art sales and brainstorm new ideas. They also travel to Haiti each year to meet face to face with village leaders to discuss their needs and next steps.

“The program is about more than helping the Haitian communities. It’s also about mentoring the students — encouraging them to develop and implement their own ideas,” Lila says. “We encourage global citizenship — not just considering the world from an American perspective but from other cultures as well.”

The art sales have expanded beyond Vassar, too, with individuals and groups hosting their own sales in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut, among other places.

Setauket’s Jeanine Morelli, coordinator of the upcoming sale, fell in love with the project while attending her 30th class reunion at Vassar two years ago. Morelli says she admired the artwork and purchased a few pieces that weekend, but meeting Andrew and Lila encouraged her to bring a sale to Long Island.

“With this project, you’re supporting the livelihood of the Haitians rather than just supplying handouts, and the leadership education for the students is wonderful,” she says.

The first Setauket art sale was held last February at St. James Catholic Church, where Morelli is a member. It was a huge success, raising more than $25,000. While Morelli admits she had to get out of her comfort zone to plan the sale, supporting Haiti was worth it.

The upcoming sale will feature more than 250 paintings and crafts at a variety of price points, with crafts beginning at $5 and most paintings starting around $50. Sixty percent of the proceeds will go toward paying the Haitian artists and purchasing supplies for the sales, while the other 40 percent directly benefits the initiatives in Haiti. All purchases are 50 percent tax-deductible.

The Long Island Vassar Haiti Project art sale will be held from Nov. 20 to 22 at St. James Catholic Church, 429 Route 25A, E. Setauket. The sale will begin with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, and will continue Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about the sale, contact Andrew Meade at 845-797-2123. To learn more about the Vassar Haiti Project, visit www.thehaitiproject.org.

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