By Sara-Megan Walsh
A Smithtown family is hoping to honor the life of their son by providing others with an educational opportunity to follow in his footsteps.
Stacy and Stephen Martella announced the creation of the Scott Martella Memorial Scholarship Fund in partnership with The United Way of Long Island in memory of their son, who was killed a year ago.
Scott Martella, a Smithtown native and Northport resident, died in a three-car crash on the Long Island Expressway Aug. 21, 2016.
“Scott believed in the awesome power of public service,” his parents said in a statement. “We hope to keep his legacy alive by giving future leaders the same chance Scott had in pursuing a college education.”
The memorial fund aims to provide scholarships to low-income students who will be attending college and whose studies may include international or public relations.
In conjunction with the scholarship fund, Smithtown Central School District announced it will be creating a series of service learning projects for students that will run from October 2017 to May 2018. This will be done in partnership with the United Veterans Beacon House, a nonprofit partner agency of United Way, to work together on a host of activities such as painting, planting a garden, landscaping and more.
Scott Martella, who was 29 when he died, is widely remembered for his career in public service and his involvement in New York State government and politics. Martella got started when, at age 22, he became the youngest board of education member elected in Smithtown school district’s history in 2009.
From 2011 to 2015, Martella served as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) Suffolk County representative before being promoted to Long Island regional representative. In June 2015, he started working as the director of communications for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D).
“Scott believed in the awesome power of public service. We hope to keep his legacy alive by giving future leaders the same chance Scott had in pursuing a college education.”
— Stacy and Stephen Martella
“Scott was clearly one of the most engaging people that I’ve come across in government,” Bellone said in an interview. “Beyond the fact that he was smart, talented and hardworking, he had that something extra special that he was able to make that connection with people.”
In addition to the scholarship fund, Martella’s parents and Bellone hosted a Back-to-School Drive this month to provide supplies for underprivileged students. They said their goal was to prepare 5,000 backpacks for homeless or at-risk children.
“One of the last major events [Scott] did before he died was put together this Back-to-School Drive with Long Island Coalition for the Homeless,” Bellone said. “It’s obviously sad to think that he’s gone, but this was also a way to carry on his legacy of public service, a very appropriate way to carry on his legacy of public service.”
Charitable contributions to The Scott Martella Memorial Scholarship Fund can be made online at www.scottmartella.com or www.unitedwayli.org/ScottMartellaMemorialScholarshipFund.
All donations made by check should be written out to include The Scott Martella Memorial Scholarship Fund on the envelope as well as the memo section. Checks should be made payable to United Way of Long Island, 819 Grand Blvd., Deer Park, NY 11729.