Tags Posts tagged with "Island Harvest"

Island Harvest

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Photo from Epoch 5


The elder law and estate planning firm Genser Cona recently participated in two initiatives to help combat hunger on Long Island, donating a total of $3,000 to Island Harvest, the largest hunger relief organization on Long Island. The firm conducted a series of in-house fundraisers and sent a team to the 18th annual Ellen Gordon CPA 4(a) Cause 5K Run/Walk to End Hunger at Eisenhower Park to benefit Island Harvest. A check was presented on July 16.

The dual effort was a part of the Melville firm’s ongoing commitment to community involvement and charitable giving. 

“We’re fortunate to be in a position to give back to the community and we are proud to support Island Harvest in its mission,” said Jennifer Cona, managing partner of the firm. “Island Harvest makes a commitment to helping anyone in need on Long Island, including low income seniors and veterans through specialized programs such as Operation: HOPE and the Senior Mobile Food Pantry. ” 

Pictured from left, firm Managing Partner Jennifer Cona, Chief Operating Officer Julie Wyetzner, Joan Flynn of Island Harvest and firm paralegal Christa Duerr.

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Jorde Milback of Miller Place (L) was one of more than 20 volunteers helping Island Harvest in its attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest line of hunger relief packages. Photo from PSEG

A group of Miller Place residents and PSEG employees aimed at breaking a Guinness World Record for a good cause earlier this month. 

Jorde Milback of Miller Place and a group of PSEG Long Island workers helped Island Harvest Food Bank in its attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest line of hunger-relief packages March 8.

Milback, alongside PSEG workers and a group from Island Harvest, placed 1,805 packages end-to-end on pallets throughout Island Harvest’s Hauppauge collection and distribution center. When all the packages were placed, they measured 1,164 feet in length. 

“It feels great to help my neighbors in need by volunteering at Island Harvest,” said Jorde Milback, the distribution supervisor of substation maintenance at PSEG Long Island. “It was my pleasure to help Island Harvest attempt a Guinness world record and I thank PSEG Long Island for giving me and my coworkers opportunities like this to give back to our communities.”

To be eligible for the world record, individuals had to ensure the packages touched each other, and once placed, they could not be touched or picked up. The attempt had to be videotaped, and a judge was on hand to oversee the three-hour attempt. Next month, a representative from Guinness will announce whether the attempt successfully beat the existing record of 1,000 packs.

“I am so proud of our partnership with Island Harvest, and our employee volunteers who help this organization pack food in its warehouses throughout the year,” said Daniel Eichhorn, the president and COO of PSEG Long Island and Island Harvest board member. “We are hopeful that this attempt to break the record will be deemed a success. Either way, the people of Long Island win because of the vital services Island Harvest provides to Long Islanders every day.” 

The food packages used in the attempt were distributed through Island Harvest Food Bank’s Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program, which provides supplemental food support for schoolchildren who rely on their school’s breakfast and lunch programs, but often don’t have enough to eat over the weekend. 

“Thanks to our friends at PSEG Long Island, we not only likely broke a world record, but we were able to highlight the issue of childhood hunger on Long Island,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest Food Bank in a press release. “Nassau and Suffolk counties are home to some of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the country, and there is simply no reason for any child here on Long Island, or across the U.S., to be without something as basic as food.”

During the 2017-18 school year, Island Harvest’s Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program distributed 64,000 food packs, supplementing 256,000 meals, to 1,800 kids in 29 schools across 12 school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties.   

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Isabella Gordon, 15, organizes the nearly 300 pounds of hygiene products she collected for donation. Photo from Ali Gordon

Inspired by a leadership camp she attended over the summer, Comsewogue High School sophomore Isabella Gordon identified a problem in her community and took it upon herself to fix it. Before she knew it, her bedroom was piled high with feminine hygiene products set for donation.

Isabella, 15, said she had been interested in attending the Eleanor Roosevelt Girls Leadership Worldwide camp, a program offered by the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill in Hyde Park New York aimed at helping attendees gain confidence, develop a voice and unlock one’s leadership potential, ever since her older sister attended more than a decade ago. She went this past summer and met young women from around the world, and upon returning home, she was struck with an idea.

The teenager said she came across a video on YouTube that detailed the difficulty homeless women on their menstrual cycle have in obtaining hygiene products and wasted little time springing to action.

“I was interested and talked to my mom that night and was like, ‘Hey, I want to work on this,’” she said following a Comsewogue board of education meeting Nov. 5, where her mom Ali Gordon has served on the board for three terms. “So for the next week or so me and my sister were kind of just thinking up names for it and we ended up with ‘Hygiene for All,’ came up with a mission statement, because I felt so passionate about it.”

Isabella said she set up a Facebook page for her newly formed initiative and asked people to donate products for her cause by sending them to her home. Eventually her bedroom was piled with items in bins waiting to be distributed to those who needed them. Mineola-based nonprofit food bank Island Harvest organized a “stuff-a-bus” event Oct. 6 at Comsewogue’s homecoming football game, during which attendees of the game were encouraged to bring food items to be donated to those in need. Isabella and Hygiene for All provided the food bank with more than 100 boxes of feminine hygiene products, dozens of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, and deodorants. In all the haul amassed nearly 300 pounds, according to Gordon.

“It was incredibly inspiring to have my 15-year-old come up with the idea,” the BOE member said. “Inspiring and very exciting. She didn’t need much assistance at all. She had a vision for this and really wanted to be able to help people and she’s done that and plans to continue to do that.”

Isabella said she hopes to one day turn the project into a charitable venture and is already interested in expanding it to more communities and school districts. She said she hopes to pursue a degree in medicine, at this point with her eye on one day becoming a midwife. Feminine hygiene products are among the most requested items for all food pantries, as many homeless and disadvantaged women are forced to choose between spending money on items like these and food, according to Food Bank for New York City, which holds an annual campaign calling for products for women.

“I feel very proud, especially of my community, so I’d say it went pretty well,” Isabella said.

To donate visit Hygiene for All’s Facebook page and send a private message to get the address.

Shoreham-Wading River high school students and Long Island business owners connect during the school’s first School-to-Community meeting in April. Photo from Shoreham-Wading River school district

High school students within Shoreham-Wading River are getting a head start on real-world job opportunities, thanks to a new community networking initiative rolled out by the district.

The School-to-Community Program, which held its first meeting April 3 and a second May 16 at the high school, helps students of all grade levels and interests prepare for postschool jobs by providing access to business leaders from local community organizations who discuss job tours and shadowing opportunities.

Participating students include those in the school’s science research program; AP Capstone program; science, technology, engineering and math program; and special education population, all of whom are in search of mentorships and internships.

They’ve connected with business leaders representing a wide range of companies like ASRC Federal, a service provider that resolves challenges within federal civilian, intelligence and defense agencies; the Tesla Science Center, a not-for-profit working to develop a regional science and technology center in Wardenclyffe; and Island Harvest, a hunger-relief organization that serves both counties. Representatives from Brookhaven National Lab and the North Shore Youth Council have also been involved.

The two meetings held so far will be the first of many in a continued development between the school and community, according to Amy Meyer, director of STEM for grades K-12 at the district.

“We want all of our students to have access so they have a little bit more real-world experience that will go on to help them choose what they’re going to do.”

— Amy Meyer

“We’re preparing students for jobs in industries and areas where it’s changing so much because of technology and everything else … it’s really important to stay current with what’s happening in those industries in order for students to know what they should expect and what areas they should target,” Meyer said. “We want all of our students to have access so they have a little bit more real-world experience that will go on to help them choose what they’re going to do.”

During the April meeting, 26 business representatives, 17 educators and nine students met to brainstorm programs and events that would accomplish the district’s goal for authentic learning experiences, according to the school.

The May event was an annual STEM symposium — a fair-style gathering that brought awareness to 21st century careers. Students showed off their STEM-related projects, which included robotics, while community leaders spoke from exhibit booths about how their industries are involved with STEM and what educational measures students can take to break into specific industries.

John Searing, an ASRC Federal employee and engineer by degree and trade, got involved in the program through a presentation he made in his daughter’s AP Science class at the school. The teacher of the class recommended he get involved as someone adept at dealing with the students in regards to career and STEM opportunities.

“I think it’s an absolute opportunity to work with the kids as they head into college or some other field, especially technical, and teach them some of the soft skills and nuances about the workplace that can help them along,” Searing said. “I’ve suggested working with them an hour or two every week in a classroom setting to bring some real-world problems we find in the workplace and let them try and solve them.”

A career plan is already in place for next year, Meyer said, which will focus on specific growth industries on Long Island.

“One of the thoughts is that if students know what is available here on Long Island, they may be more apt to stay on Long Island and focus their career on those things,” she said.

The School-to-Community initiative, which has the full support of the school board, curriculum and instruction team, was first proposed in March of this year, and approved right away to lay the groundwork for it to be firmly established next year.

“The school and district want to work together to provide learning and growth opportunities for our students,” Shoreham-Wading River High School Principal Dan Holtzman said in an email. “It is an important step in bridging the community and district together to educate students on career paths and exploration.”

From left, Randi Shubin Dressner, CEO and president of Island Harvest; John Rooney, co-director, St. Edward’s Ministry Food Pantry; Donna Zaino, co-director, St. Edward’s Ministry Food Pantry; Russel Kendell, St. Edward’s volunteer; and Greg George, vice president of operations for quick casual and specialty concepts, Doherty Enterprises. Photo from Panera Bread

Panera Bread presented a check for $61,607 to Island Harvest, Long Island’s largest hunger relief organization, on April 5. The funds were collected from generous guests at register donation boxes throughout 2016 at all 33 Panera Bread locations on Long Island. In addition to the money raised from the coin collection, nearly 71,000 pounds of nonperishable food was donated in 2016.

Participating Panera Bread locations owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises included Bay Shore, Bellmore, Bohemia, Bridgehampton, Carle Place, East Meadow, East Northport, Farmingdale, Garden City, Glen Cove, Hauppauge, Hampton Bays, Hicksville, Huntington Station, Huntington Village, Island Park, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma, Lawrence, Little Neck, Massapequa, Mineola, New Hyde Park, North Babylon, Patchogue, Plainview, Port Jefferson, Riverhead, Rockville Centre, Selden, Syosset, Valley Stream and West Babylon.

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Charity shouldn’t be seasonal. Donate money or food during the summer, when some children who rely on school lunch programs need it the most. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Every fall and winter, good-hearted Long Islanders far and wide reach into their pockets to donate goods and food in the spirit of the holidays.

It’s so easy to imagine life without a jacket or a warm Thanksgiving dinner when it’s November or December. You won’t have to look hard to find numerous coat drives and food drives around that time of the year. And that’s a great thing. But it’s not enough.

Summer hunger pangs exist right in our own backyard. And they are growing Island-wide — particularly among children who rely on school lunch programs but don’t have access to that food during the summer.

Island Harvest food bank, a hunger relief organization based in Mineola, reported earlier this month that it expanded its summer-food service program. Last summer, they served 103,000 meals to 3,500 kids at 49 sites throughout the Island. This year, they anticipate dishing out more than 175,000 meals to about 4,000 children at 55 sites.

Those are some eye-opening statistics, especially when you consider what we already know about hunger on Long Island. A 2010 national study prepared for Island Harvest and another nonprofit, Long Island Cares, claims 283,700 people on Long Island receive emergency food each year. Of that group, 39 percent are under 18 years old.

For many of us who are fortunate, summer is our kick-back-and-relax season — a chance for us to embark on those sun-soaked vacations and long weekend trips or just leave work early on Fridays. But there are some who can’t afford to get away, and constantly struggle to make ends meet.

We urge our fellow Long Islanders to channel the holiday spirit this summer. Pitch in by donating money, your time or food. Grab a cardboard box your local deli may not need and bring it to the office — get your co-workers in on it — and collect some food. Donate the box to your local food pantry.

Charity shouldn’t be seasonal. It’s time we step up to the plate all year long.