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Rita J. Egan

Students attending a school in Bizoton, Haiti will soon enjoy a visit from Tom Manuel of The Jazz Loft in Stony Book. Photo from Patty Smith

By Rita J. Egan

Local musicians plan to share the universal language of music with children in Haiti, and they’re asking for community help with their musical mission.

Tom Manuel, founder of The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, said the venue is organizing a drive to bring instruments to schoolchildren during a trip to Haiti scheduled for Nov. 9. Manuel, his wife Laura Landor and five fellow musicians plan to teach the students how to play the instruments while they are there. The group also plans to return once a year to check in on students’ progress.

Patty Smith, a registered nurse from Commack, sponsors the school in Bizoton, as well as a church in the same village in Haiti. Smith was evangelizing in a Brentwood parking lot when she met Jean Bonte, who told her about the country. She said the meeting led to a visit to the mountain village. Moved by her trip, she decided to have the school and church built to help locals. There are now more than 100 registered students studying at the school.

Patty Smith with the children who attend the school she sponsors in Bizoton, Haiti. Photo from Patty Smith

The nurse said the people in the village are so poor that their homes have no electricity or running water, and they are barely clothed. She said she’s spent many nights crying after her visits to Bizoton because she feels guilty about what she has.

“I sit up in my bed and I feel guilty because I have air conditioning,” she said. “I think [this mission] is going to give them hope. I think it’s going to give them something to strive for so they could do good in school and really work hard so they can obtain and see that this is something that will make their lives better.”

Smith said Manuel traveled to the village with Landor two years ago. When he showed the schoolchildren how to play his trumpet, cleaning off the mouthpiece to allow each child to play it, the nurse said he mesmerized them.

“Everyone was laughing and clapping, and they were so proud of themselves,” Smith said.

Manuel said the children also laughed when he took out his trumpet and showed them how to warm up by making funny duck noises with his mouth.

The trumpet player said the first step of The Jazz Loft’s mission is collecting instruments. The musicians hope to receive at least 20 instruments, hoping to receive more brass ones because they hold up well in the Caribbean heat.

“Having been a teacher for so long, I know that there are a lot of people that either they played or they have a son or daughter [who did],” he said. “You know, they played through middle school or high school, and they have this instrument that’s sitting in their closet, or in their basement or attic. My hopes are that if people hear this story they’ll say, ‘Why should that sit in my closet for another five years? Let me bring that trombone down to the Loft and send it off for a good cause.’”

Tom Manuel, trombone player and owner of The Jazz Loft, shows Haitian students how to play the instrument during a previous trip to the country. Photo from Tom Manuel

Once the group arrives in Haiti, Manuel said they will teach students how to play, and culminate the trip with the students playing together as a band. The musicians will also perform for them.

“There’s nothing more inspiring for these kids — most of them have never seen these instruments or heard them,” Manuel said. “To see a band play for them is really intense.”

The Jazz Loft has also organized back-to-school and food drives to help the school.

Landor, a flute player who is the director of fine and performing arts in the Hauppauge school district, said she is looking forward to this year’s trip.

“I loved being with all the kids,” she said. “They’re incredible in their resilience and they’re so excited to learn; they’re excited to be with people who want to be with them. I would love for them to experience the joy of making music, and just have something they can be proud of in saying I did this, I learned this, I can practice this.”

Guitarist Steve Salerno, who performs at The Jazz Loft often, was touched by Manuel’s accounts of his trips to Haiti and is looking forward to traveling with him to the country this year.

“It just sounded like an amazing opportunity to maybe share in what he’s experienced,” Salerno said. “I hope that this will be kind of a wondrous experience for them to hear different types of music performed collectively.”

Manuel believes the musicians will gain a lot from the trip.

“I’ve always felt, personally, and I know everyone going on the trip feels this way —  we have all these different languages and all these differences that separate us, but in the end, we have more in common than we realize,” Manuel said. “That’s part of why I think trips like this, outreaches like this, travel in general, whether you’re doing a specific mission or not, is so important for people. The more you travel, the more you spend time with human beings, the more you realize we’re more like each other than we’re not and music is a universal language.”

A fundraising concert is planned at the venue at 275 Christian Ave. in Stony Brook Oct. 5 to offset the cost of the trip and used instruments can be dropped off at the location. The Jazz Loft is open Thursday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and various evenings for performances. For more information call 631-751-1895.

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Three Village residents have the opportunity to vote on the proposed Emma S. Clark Memorial Library 2018 budget Sept. 27. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

By Rita J. Egan

Three Village residents voting on the proposed Emma S. Clark Memorial Library 2018 budget will be voting “yes” or “no” on a slight increase over last year’s budget.

The proposed $5,235,398 budget for the library is $36,037 more than 2017 and would increase the tax levy by 0.69 percent.

President of the library board of trustees Linda Josephs credits Director Ted Gutmann and the library staff with keeping costs down for the Sept. 27 vote.

“We are able to consistently fulfill this responsibility due to the tireless efforts of our dedicated, professional director and staff,” Josephs said in an email. “Our very small budget increases over the past several years without any decrease in services is a result of their performance.”

The library provides an educational and cultural resource for all ages in the Three Village area. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

Gutmann said the relatively low increase is due to a few factors, including the library no longer seeing an increase in their bills from the New York State & Local Retirement System as they did for several years. Approximately two-thirds of the staff is hourly or part-time, which reduces benefits costs. He said participating in the Partnership of Automated Libraries in Suffolk, a shared catalog/circulation system for Suffolk County libraries, has led to a savings of more than $20,000 a year. The library installed a new, energy-efficient boiler and HVAC units, which reduce utility costs, according to the director, and in the future lighting will be converted to LED, another cost saver.

Gutmann said contributions have also helped to offset operating budget costs. Donations in the last few years have included money left in 2014 by deceased Three Village social studies teacher and author Philip Groia to build the Global Studies collection, and late patron Helen Stein Shack’s family establishing an endowment used to fund an annual book award for teenagers.

The library recently received aid from state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), which has allowed the library to create a new technology center, also install a new carbon-monoxide detection and alarm system.

Gutmann said in addition to the library offering paper books and e-books, it provides classes, one-on-one technology training and programs, and volunteer opportunities. There are also senior bus and social programs for older residents.

The director said he believes it’s important for residents to vote and have a say in library decisions.

“The library is one of the few places left for the community to come together,” Gutmann said. “We are a place where our patrons can enhance their lives through books, programs, museum passes and online services. We are a unique educational and cultural resource that serves all ages in the Three Village community.”

The library budget vote will be held Wednesday, Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Periodicals Room in the historic section of the building. The library is located at 120 Main St. in Setauket. For detailed budget information, visit www.emmaclark.org.

The Se-Port Delicatessen, located at 301 Main St. in East Setauket, will be featured on Travel Channel's 'Food Paradise.' Photo by Rita J. Egan

When a television show narrator fondly remembers his favorite hometown delicatessen, it turns into an opportunity of a lifetime for the deli’s owner to showcase his signature sandwiches.

The Se-port Delicatessen, located at 301 Main St. in East Setauket, will be featured in the Sept. 17 episode of Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise” in an episode titled “Bun-Believable.” Owned by Wisam Dakwar, the deli is a favorite of many in the area, including former resident Jesse Blaze Snider. The oldest son of Twisted Sister front man, Dee Snider, and 2001 Ward Melville High School graduate is the narrator of “Food Paradise.” When he was younger, Jesse Snider was a frequent visitor to Se-Port.

Jason Levine, co-executive producer of the show, said the deli was a perfect choice.

“Our host Jesse Snider grew up going to Se-Port Deli with his family,” Levine said. “There’s a sandwich called ‘The Snider’ on the menu, and he’s been going there for approximately 20 years at this point. And, anytime we can incorporate that much love from our host into a childhood favorite we’re going to go for it.”

Wisam Dakwar, owner of Se-Port Delicatessen, during filming of ‘Food Paradise.’ Photo from Se-Port Delicatessen

While Dakwar and Levine couldn’t discuss the sandwiches featured on the Sept. 17 episode taped earlier this summer, Dakwar said years ago the television narrator created his namesake sandwich that includes honey mustard, bacon, chicken salad, and melted mozzarella on a toasted garlic roll.

Dakwar said it was great seeing Snider again, and he was honored he appeared on screen to eat the sandwich. According to the deli owner, Snider usually only provides the voice-over and doesn’t appear on screen.

“I’ve known Jesse since high school, and his dad,” Dakwar said. “The whole family, they grew up here.”

The deli features specialty sandwiches bearing the names of other well-known residents — especially sports figures — including Mets pitcher Steven Matz, a 2009 graduate of Ward Melville. Dakwar said recently he received a call from Matz to deliver 35 sandwiches and Se-Port’s iced tea to his teammates at Citi Field in Queens.

For many, television appearances and recognition from sports figures may equal the American Dream. Dakwar has achieved the dream through hard work and long hours. He said when he emigrated from Israel to the United States in 1991 he worked at his cousin’s deli in Islip every day and played violin at Middle Eastern clubs in New York City at night to earn additional cash in order to save up for his own deli.

“I always wanted to own my own business,” Dakwar said. “I’m a workaholic. I’m not scared of working and nothing comes easy, I know that.”

Dakwar bought the Se-Port Deli and the building it occupies in the late 1990s and renovated it. Originally the delicatessen was approximately a quarter of the size it is now until he expanded when a TrueValue hardware store next to the deli closed. The Old Field resident, who only takes off Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, still works days and nights.

Dakwar said while working with his cousin he gained the knowledge to run a deli business, and he also improved his English language skills by interacting with customers. He knew very little English before moving to the United States, because being of Palestinian descent and living in Israel, he grew up speaking Arabic and Hebrew.

The single 40-year-old, who became a U.S. citizen in the late ’90s, said his parents still live in Israel and visit him once a year for a few months at a time. Dakwar said his parents are proud of the success he has achieved while living here.

Jesse Snider, Food Paradise’s narrator, with his namesake sandwich at Se-Port Delicatessen. Photo from Jesse Snider

“I’m thankful because I do a lot of business,” the deli owner said. “A lot of people come here.”

Lately, Dakwar has been busy creating a gyro sandwich, which offers a different taste than the average one by using various meats and ranch dressing. He has plans to install an additional counter where he can offer a wider variety of foods including Mexican favorites.

Dakwar said the day of the taping the restaurant was filled with cameras and the television crew, and he appreciated the customers’ patience. Abdul Mustafa who has worked behind the counter for four and half years said it was a good day for the deli.

“The place was packed with people on the day of the taping,” Mustafa said.

Mustafa said he and the other deli employees are looking forward to seeing themselves on television. However, Dakwar said he isn’t organizing a big screening of the show, because he said he would like to view it in private.

“I’m nervous because I’m not a camera guy,” he said. 

The deli owner said he’s grateful for his regular customers, and he’s looking forward to the exposure the show will give his business.

“I’m always looking forward to seeing new people, new customers from the area,” Dakwar said.

The Travel Channel will air the “Bun-Believable” episode of “Food Paradise” Sept. 17 at 9 p.m.

He-Bird, She-Bird (from left, Terri Hall, Todd Evans and Christine Kellar) will be one of the headliners at the festival this year. Photo by Erin Pelkey
Music tradition continues at Benner’s Farm

By Rita J. Egan

The air will be filled with the sounds of bluegrass, blues and folk music in Setauket on Sept. 10 when Benner’s Farm hosts its sixth annual Fiddle & Folk Festival.

The farm’s owner Bob Benner said last year nearly 300 music lovers attended the festival where they explored the organic, solar-powered working farm and visited the animals while listening to music. “It’s an old-fashioned festival,” Benner said. “It’s pretty much held all over the farm.”

Miles to Dayton performs for a large crowd at Benner’s Farm during a previous Fiddle & Folk Festival. Photo by Bob Benner

Charlie Backfish, host of the long-running, weekly WUSB radio program “Sunday Street,” said the festival’s location sets it apart from others. “There aren’t too many [festivals] that actually take place on a working farm,” Backfish said. “The locale is terrific, and the performers we have are top-notch performers; so it’s a nice combination.”

Emceed by Long Island guitarist and singer Bob Westcott, the festival will feature headliners Daisycutter, The End of America and He-Bird, She-Bird.

Backfish said he’s familiar with the groups and looks forward to their performances. He said the group Daisycutter, from upstate New York, features fiddler Sara Milonovich. The End of America comes from Philadelphia and consists of three singers with incredible harmonies, and they’ve been compared to the early days of Crosby, Stills and Nash, according to the radio disc jockey. He-Bird, She-Bird, a trio from Long Island who sing both originals and covers, Backfish said, perform a roots music type of sound.

“I think we have three interesting acts there,” Backfish said. “They’ll all be on the main stage, and then there’s a second stage at the festival — a meet-the-performers stage. That’s the one that I’ll be hosting, where the audience has a chance to ask questions of the musicians and hear them do some songs that they’re not doing on the main stage.”

A scene from last year’s Fiddle & Folk Festival. Photo from Bob Benner

Benner said the stage to meet the performers is the solar-powered Shady Grove Stage close to the woods. There will also be a Fiddle Workshop in Jam Hollow where attendees can bring their own instruments to join in on the musical fun.

Amy Tuttle, program director of Greater Port Jefferson-North Brookhaven Arts Council, said the Stony Brook Roots Ensemble will be on hand for a special performance. The local music group is comprised of classically trained musicians who share a love of American roots music.

“They are terrific,” Tuttle said. “I’ve found that many outstanding young bluegrass musicians across the country are classically trained, and I’m delighted that we have such a talented homegrown group to present at the Fiddle & Folk Festival.”

For those who aren’t musically inclined, they can participate in contra dancing with a live band led by Rusty Ford, and children can enjoy stories and create artwork in the Kids Corner.

Children can get creative at the Kids Corner. Photo by Bob Benner

Backfish said for WUSB there is a personal connection to the festival. The station’s radio programmer Gerry Reimer, who died in 2012, was in talks with Benner to bring back the Fiddle & Folk Festival, which was formerly held on the property of The Long Island Museum. “I think she would very much like what has happened and how this festival continues,” Backfish said

Tuttle said the members of the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council enjoy a variety of musical genres and have enjoyed the performers at past festivals at Benner’s. “They are also very supportive of independent artists,” she said. “The same audience that loves the artistry, lovely surroundings and feeling of community at the Sunset Concerts in Port Jeff also enjoys those same aspects at the Fiddle & Folk Festival.”

Benner said he is looking forward to the event and music lovers coming together as they have the last few years on the farm. “It’s a day to come out and leave the world’s problems behind for a few hours and enjoy some music and community,” he said.

Presented by Homestead Arts, Benner’s Farm, the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, TBR News Media and WUSB Radio, the music festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., rain or shine. Benner’s Farm is located at 56 Gnarled Hollow Road in East Setauket. Admission to the festival is $18 for adults, and $13 for children and seniors at the door. Please bring seating. For more information, call 631-689-8172 or visit www.fiddleandfolk.com.

Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., Stony Brook University president, helps a student move into a residence hall Aug. 25. Photo from Stony Brook University

By Rita J. Egan

Stony Brook University has been doing its part to make campus life feel more like home for most students, by offering gender-inclusive housing.

For a decade, the option has allowed students to share a room with friends or siblings no matter what their gender, or choose housing based on the gender they identify with. The only requirements are that students have to be 18 or older and sign a contract stating they will respect everyone in their residence hall.

On Aug. 25, move-in day for freshmen and transfer students, resident assistant Derrick Wegner, who is transgender, was on hand to greet newcomers. The senior psychology major said he was happy to have the option when he came to Stony Brook. Wegner, who lives in Wurtsboro,  said college is a great opportunity for a fresh start, especially for young people looking to transition. 

Derrick Wegner stands in the gender-inclusive room he shares with his best friend Sydney. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Wegner said the gender-inclusive housing option at Stony Brook creates a happy and safe environment, and he feels being happy and healthy plays a big part in being a successful student.

“You’re of value, and you belong here,” he said.

This year the senior is thrilled to be sharing a dorm with his best friend Sydney Monroe Gaglio, who he met early on in college through mutual friends.

“She’s my best friend, and I’m her best friend,” he said. “Just having somebody that I know I can go home to, and [say] this happened, and she’s like ‘I’m sorry.’ She just gets it.”

Ian Rose, who majors in engineering chemistry and applied mathematics and statistics, was thrilled when he heard of the gender-inclusive option. The junior said last year he made friends with Daniel Mahoney, Brandon O’Rourke, Bianca Mugone and Brittany Voboril, and they all became great friends. They lived in the same residence hall — the males in one room on one floor and the girls in their own room on another floor. Many nights last year they would find themselves in each other’s rooms studying or talking and decided to live together.

“We’re friends just hanging out,” Rose said.

This academic year the five are living in a suite with three bedrooms and one bathroom. Rose said at first his only concern was how things would work out in the bathroom, but so far things are going smoothly.

“I just want this to show everyone that guys and girls living together isn’t weird or uncomfortable,” Rose said. “You’re living with your friends; friends are friends. It doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or girl or different skin tone. It doesn’t matter; we’re all the same.”

Ian Rose, right, and friends settle in their three-bedroom suite after a long day. Photo from Ian Rose

Catherine-Mary Rivera, director of residential programs at SBU, said the program began as a small pilot initiative at the university 10 years ago, and grew slowly through the years. In 2016, approximately 40 students took advantage of the housing option, while this year more than 200 students — out of 10,683 living on campus — chose gender-inclusive residences across the campus.

She said the university wants to ensure that all students feel safe and welcome because it’s their home, and they have received plenty of positive feedback regarding the housing.

“The fact that it has grown from 42 to 200 has shown us students feel that they have a place here, and that they don’t have to either feel not comfortable being themselves or feel that Stony Brook doesn’t have a place for them, or they have to remain quiet about who they are or how they express themselves,” Rivera said. “That freedom has come through very clearly that this is a place they can thrive and be their true selves and live with their friends.”

The housing option also allows couples to live together; however, the university does recommend romantic partners think twice before making that decision.

“We want you to branch out and build a stronger community and have healthy relationships, and it may not be best to live with your significant other at this point,” Rivera said.

In addition to gender-inclusive housing, she said SBU offers all-gender, multi-stall bathrooms throughout campus and on the main floors of residence halls, in addition to all-men and all-women restrooms. Software updates have also been made to the school’s system allowing students and faculty members to choose their preferred names and pronoun if they would prefer to be addressed by something other than their legal name. The change means that identification cards and email addresses now show the name a person uses on a regular basis instead of their legal name.

'Lures' by John Ellsworth
Three artists present a seaworthy exhibit at Huntington gallery

By Rita J. Egan

Photographers Holly Gordon, John Ellsworth and Jeff Urquhart are celebrating the end of summer with their latest exhibit, A Boating pARTy, at Huntington’s fotofoto gallery. The show, which opened yesterday, will run through Sept. 23.

Gordon met Ellsworth years ago when he purchased one of her photos, “Foggy Harbor,” and Ellsworth introduced her to Urquhart, whom he met at a photographer’s seminar. Gordon, a fotofoto gallery photographer, said the friendships flowed, and their nautical artwork perfectly complements each other.

“We’re three different sets of eyes and souls who see and respond to the water and boating so differently,” said Gordon.

‘Kayaks at Bay’ by Holly Gordon

While she is not an active boater, the photographer and former teacher said she enjoys being on the water and has seen a lot of the world from a boat. Gordon has captured many of her photographs both locally and in places such as Antarctica and the Galapagos while on various types of vessels, including in a raft while on the Amazon River.

The photographer said when she was younger she would gravitate to areas that had water, and she would look to see how the water’s reflection affected colors and shapes. “Being on the water, and looking at water, has always given me a sense of serenity, or calm,” Gordon said. “To me, it’s a very nurturing rhythm. I know water can also be very powerful and cause a lot of problems and trouble, but my connection with water has always been one that’s been very soothing as well as creative.”

Ellsworth said he sees the beauty in everyday things and looks for unique compositions. Among the photographs he submitted for the exhibit is “Recovered Assets.” The piece features two dinghies filled with lobster markers that floated to shore and were collected by residents of Asharoken who gifted them to a Northport bay man. Ellsworth said to him they looked like beautifully colored candy. “I like to look at items that people walk by and don’t see the beauty in them.”

A former Northport resident, Ellsworth now lives in Maryland and said he has owned various boats in his lifetime and always had an affinity to water. He was a Navy quartermaster petty officer on a destroyer in the early 1960s, and in the 1970s, he traveled by sailboat from Florida to Belize and Guatemala. It was during graduate school that he began taking classes that involved photography and the part aesthetics play in it.

“I was trying to understand, and I don’t know if I ever will, why people are moved by certain images, and what are the dynamics of art that speak to people,” Ellsworth said. “I thought if I could understand that it would make me a better photographer, and it has in terms of composition and understanding the dynamics of subject matter.”

Ellsworth said sometimes he can take 20 to 200 photos to get one he likes. “There’s a feeling you get when you get a good image,” he said. “Your whole body resonates with the scene when you click that shot.”

‘Chasing the Fleet’ by Jeff Urquhart

Urquhart, a former Verizon worker who is now a finish carpenter/project manager in Huntington Village, said he loves to sail and kayak. Like Ellsworth he’s owned different boats through the years and finds the water to be a great escape.

The photographer said he has taken photos from schooners, leaned over boats and been on the water during foggy weather to get that coveted shot. Even though he’s taken photos for more than 50 years, Urquhart said it’s only been the last few years that he has learned the intricacies that speak to the public. “There’s a very fine line between taking a picture and making a picture, and I stepped over that line, and I’m now creating pictures instead of just documenting family birthdays and holidays,” he said.

Urquhart said water has been a part of his life since his family moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Long Island when he was a child. “It just feels right,” Urquhart said. “It just feels where I need to be.”

Having learned the compositional aspects of photography, he said there is so much to capture on the water and look at on a boat. “An older wooden schooner lends itself to texture and mechanical aspects that people often overlook or take for granted,” he said.

Urquhart will focus on a specific piece of a vessel and said, when taken in color and taken out of context, it can become crisp and something to admire. Even anchors and lines in a boatyard capture his eye. “It just speaks to me as rough, ready to go, security in the fact that it’s a heavy anchor, heavy rope, it’s not going to suffer any damage,” he said. “It’s the implied security. It’s the implied peace of mind.”

Urquhart is hoping the exhibit will inspire art lovers to visit the places he has and photograph them. “Experience what I’ve experienced,” he said. “Or, if they’ve already done that, and if they don’t have a memory or memento of that trip they took, maybe what I have would satisfy the need.”

Ellsworth’s creative mission is for exhibitgoers to look at things differently whether walking along a shore, boatyard or town. “I [hope they] look at common things in an uncommon way whether a photographer or not, and to enhance one’s viewings when they’re walking, when they’re bicycling, when they’re driving but mostly when they’re walking,” he said.

Gordon has chosen 30 pieces of art in canvas, metal and traditional mat frame and glass for the exhibit. She said the photographs represent the Huntington area, Nova Scotia, Maine and Martha’s Vineyard. Gordon said these places as well as others in the world are connected by water.

“Sometimes I think in terms of Mother Earth, and the water is her blood flowing through all of her veins and arteries and it encircles the whole planet,” Gordon said.

A Boating pARTy exhibit will be docked at the fotofoto gallery, 14 West Carver St., Huntington, until Sept. 23. A public reception to meet the photographers will be held on Sept. 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.fotofotogallery.org or call 631-549-0448.

‘Rich Boy, Rich Girl’ starring C. Thomas Howell will be screened at the festival.

By Rita J. Egan

The Global Revolution Film Festival is coming to the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts on Aug. 25 to 27, and North Shore film lovers are in for a revolution of the creative type. The event will consist of 10 two-hour blocks of film showings — each block consisting of a combination of original shorts, documentaries and full-length films.

A scene from ‘I’m Still Here’

Ken Washington, theater director, said the Smithtown Performing Arts Council was approached by the organizers of the film festival, and the theater was fortunate to have the weekend open. “We have been trying to integrate films into our program, and this seemed like a good way to make that happen,” he said.

Filmmaker Andrew Henriques, one of the organizers of the festival along with founder Jamal Blair and Greg Pursino, said the first two years the event was held in Farmingdale, and this year they searched for a new venue.

“We’ve been looking for a while for a festival location that is close to a train station, and the Smithtown theater is just two blocks away,” Henriques said. “And it has access to places that the filmmakers can go right after their screening because a lot of times you want to keep the party going. You’re there with a bunch of friends; you saw an awesome film; you’re high on the applause and getting to see your movie on a big screen, so you want to go someplace … There are so many locations for them to go [in Smithtown] and continue the celebration.”

He continued, “For us it’s important that they have a place to go and talk, network and talk to other directors and just socialize and talk shop. That’s a big part of it.”

Henriques, who grew up in Bellport, said Pursino discovered the theater, and he was impressed when his colleague showed him the location and loved that it had a balcony — something not many theaters have anymore.

“It reminded me of a theater from New York City,” he said. “It’s beautiful inside, and it has so much character. I know other filmmakers and other creative artistic people are going to be blown away by the theater.”

A scene from ‘The Last Warriors’

Henriques said he met Pursino, a fellow filmmaker, at a film festival, and Blair, another filmmaker, through Facebook. The organizers’ motto is “Story Above Stars” a slogan they thought of after attending some film festivals and noticing the poor quality of a few movies even though they featured recognizable actors. Their theory is that many events include movies with famous stars, knowing they will show up for the movie’s screening and draw in audiences.

“We’re not star chasing,” Henriques said.

The Global Revolution organizers choose films from all over the globe with stories that they believe will make audiences think while being entertained.

“We don’t care who is in your film,” Henriques said. “If you have a great film and a great story, you’re in.” He said the organizers chose to include web series in the event, something most film festivals don’t do; and there were no restrictions when it came to submissions. They looked for “a great plethora of fantastic films with unique stories.”

“That’s what we look for mostly,” Henriques said. “Something different; something outside of the typical things you might see in Hollywood that are telling the same old stories and remakes over and over again.”

When judging submissions for the festival six judges look for aspects such as a good storyline, cinematography, production, sound quality and pacing. The filmmaker said they looked for films that made you feel as if you are not watching a movie.

“The more that you are drawn away from the story the less points you get,” Henriques said. “A lot of things can draw you away from a story — bad camera angles, bad acting, bad sound. So, anything that takes away from the story, we start deducting points.”

Henriques said there is no quota for how many films of a certain genre they include. What is presented is based on the quality of the movie. “If we get in all comedies that are better than anything else we get, we’re going to show all comedies,” he said.

However, this year’s festival includes a variety of genres from a film that explores the current worldwide issue of sex trafficking and is inspired by real events, “I Am Still Here,” to Henriques’ romantic comedy “Rich Boy, Rich Girl” that he co-directed with Judy San Roman. The filmmaker said the comedy is the only one in the festival that features a known actor in the states, C. Thomas Howell, who rose to fame with the 1983 movie “The Outsiders.”

‘Cat Planet’ will be screened on Aug. 26.

Ten two-hour blocks of movies will be shown over the three days. Friday’s films will run from 1 to 9:30 p.m. with a networking session for directors, actors and fans at noon. Saturday’s films will be screened from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., while Sunday’s screenings will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a closing awards ceremony from 7 to 8 p.m. Each block is $10 or $25 for a day pass (good for all films shown on one day) or $60 for a full festival pass (good for all days and all blocks).

Washington hopes that local film lovers will enjoy the new venture at the theater. “We’re honored to be hosting the event and hope it can be enormously successful and become an annual occurrence here in Smithtown,” he said.

Henriques said the mission of Global Revolution Film Festival is to show films that will have audience members thinking after they leave the theater. “My main hope is that they walk away and they have films they can talk about where it just doesn’t disappear five minutes afterwards,” he said. “The experience just continues on.”

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2 East Main Street in Smithtown. For more information, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Film Festival Schedule

Aug. 25

Noon to 1 p.m. : Networking for directors, actors and fans

1 to 3 p.m. {Block 1}

“Vida Muertos”

“End Unsung”

“Two Texas”

“JFK Killer and Motives Revealed”

“I Am Still Here”

4 to 6 p.m. {Block 2}

“Strange Harvest”

“Back Stabber”

“Impervia”

“Play-Time”

“Uncle Chuck”

“Pearl Rain”

“Forgive Me”

7:30 to 9:30 p.m. {Block 3}

“Rich Boy, Rich Girl”

Aug. 26

10 a.m. to noon {Block 1}

“Fuerza”

“The Last Warriors”

“Full Service”

“The Man with the Western Hat”

“Micro Bites”

“Cat Planet”

1 to 3 p.m. {Block 2}

“Fairfield Follies”

“The F-word”

“A Matter of Seconds”

4 to 6 p.m. {Block 3}

“The Torments of Love”

“The Bake Job”

“Breaking the Silence”

“Slapface”

“Numbness”

“Madam Trigger”

7 to 9 p.m. {Block 4}

“Power of Prayer”

“Pet”

“The Son, The Father”

“Disco”

Aug. 27

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. {Block 1}

“The Accompanying Dancer”

“Pechorin”

2 to 4 p.m. {Block 2}

“Jihad”

5 to 7 p.m. {Block 3}

“Dual City”

“Cup of Tea”

“Christina Wood Memorial”

“Mirror Image”

7 to 8 p.m. : Closing/Awards Ceremony

Members of Soulfarm perform for the crowd. Photo by Rita J. Egan

By Rita J. Egan

The eighth annual Jewish Summer Festival at West Meadow Beach Aug. 9 brought together members of the North Shore Jewish community for a night of family fun.

Chabad at Stony Brook hosted the event that is co-directed by Rabbi Motti and Chaya Grossbaum. The rabbi said the festival was originally organized to celebrate Jewish pride and community, and like the Chabad, is open to all members of all sects of the religion. He estimated about 500 people attended this year’s festival including local residents outside of the Jewish community.

A child walks around with a face painting from Rainbow Rosie. Photo by Seth Berman/Rapid Shutter Photograph

“We focus on what unites us not what divides us,” Rabbi Grossbaum said.

This was the second year Jennifer O’Brien from Hauppauge attended the festival with her family, she said, and it was the first time she brought her 16-month-old son Everett to a Jewish cultural event. She enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces at the festival after attending other Chabad events this past year.

She said she admired the efforts of the Grossbaums and Rabbi Cohen of the Chabad regarding the festival and the religious organization. 

“No matter what your Jewish affiliation is or how much or little you are involved, the Grossbaum and Cohen families welcome everyone with such an overwhelming warm and loving sense of acceptance and togetherness,” O’Brien said. “They go above and beyond in all of their community efforts and take pride in building relationships with each individual and family.”

Tracey Mackey of Port Jefferson Station said she was unable to attend last year but her family did. She said after hearing about it she was looking forward to seeing friends and meeting new families. She said her daughter Ava, 11, helped out at the Chabad’s camp this summer and the children were so happy to see her.

Uri from St. James enjoys some cotton candy. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“It was so wonderful because they had camp all summer, and they worked together on their crafts, and it was kind of a celebration that you get to see someone you really created a bond with,” Mackey said.

Mackey echoed O’Brien’s sentiments about the feel of the festival and the Chabad.

“That’s what Rabbi Motti likes to do — bring everyone together as a community,” Mackey said, “And when you’re there, you know you belong.”

The evening included performances by the popular Jewish rock band Soulfarm, and the high-energy group Industrial Rhythm. Children were able to get their faces painted and play in a bounce house, and kosher barbecue, cotton candy and ices were served. Mackey said the event was perfectly timed to witness the sunset at the beach. Grossbaum was grateful for the various local businesses that sponsored the festival and  “without them we would not be able to produce such a beautiful event.”

The rabbi said he hoped attendees left the festival feeling inspired and empowered about the future of the Jewish community on the North Shore of Suffolk County.

“We’re a minority but when we all come together it gives everyone a sense of pride and a sense of positivity that we could be a more active community while living here,” Grossbaum said.

A girl plays on a drum. Photo by Seth Berman/Rapid Shutter Photograph

Attendees at the Three Village Chamber of Commerce annual barbecue enjoyed an evening of eating and dancing on the beach Aug. 2. Photo from the Three Village Chamber of Commerce

By Rita J. Egan

A little rain didn’t stop families from enjoying an evening at the beach Aug. 2 when the Three Village Chamber of Commerce hosted its family barbecue.

Attendees at the Three Village Chamber of Commerce annual barbecue enjoyed an evening of eating and dancing on the beach Aug. 2. Photo from the Three Village Chamber of Commerce

This was the 18th annual summer event at West Meadow Beach for the chamber. Vice president Charles Lefkowitz said while it rained for a short period, attendees weathered the storm by spending time under the beach’s pavilion or umbrellas.

“The rain made it fun and interesting, and thanks to the great volunteers we have, and David Prestia from Bagel Express, we were able to get several hundred through the food line,” he said. “It was a very successful event.”

Chamber president Andrew Polan said he estimated  400 people were in attendance, and added the number of families participating in the event has grown over the years. Polan said while the organization doesn’t advertise as much as it did in the past, many still come, looking forward to the raffles and camaraderie at the beach.

“It’s nice to see after 18 years it’s as much of a hit with the community as it’s always been,” Polan said.

Lefkowitz said Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) were among the local residents who attended.

Attendees at the Three Village Chamber of Commerce annual barbecue enjoyed an evening of eating and dancing on the beach Aug. 2. Photo from the Three Village Chamber of Commerce

“This is something that the local community looks forward to every year, and I’ve been involved in it since its inception,” Lefkowitz said. “I’m really proud that the chamber can deliver such an event to give back to the community.”

David Woods, the chamber’s former executive director, recently retired, and Lefkowitz said the board banded together to organize this year’s barbecue. He said their work together on the event has left a great impression on him.

“The true highlight was how my fellow board members really pulled together, and we worked as a group to deliver this barbecue as a successful event,” Lefkowitz said.

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to provide local professionals and business owners the opportunity to grow professionally through community events. The organization is planning its next event — Disco Night at The Old Field Club — Oct. 19. For more information visit www.3vchamber.com.

Local family goes from organizing basket raffles to hosting international symposium

Many battling the autoimmune disease APS Type 1 and their families, above, attended a symposium at Stony Brook University organized by Dave and Sherri Seyfert of Stony Brook. Photo from Sherri Seyfert

By Rita J. Egan

When their son Matthew, now 17, was diagnosed with Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome Type 1 11 years ago, Sherri and Dave Seyfert’s world was turned upside down.

The diagnosis led the Stony Brook couple to join the cause to find a cure for the rare autoimmune disease that affects 1 in 2 million people in the United States, and the results of their efforts culminated recently with the Second International Symposium on APS Type 1 at Stony Brook University July 13 through 15, an event they organized and hosted.

“Each time we have a hospitalization or emergency room visit or are in ICU, for the most part we learn something that will keep us out of there for that particular thing next time.”

—Dave Seyfert

The Seyferts with Todd and Heather Talarico of New Jersey founded the APS Type 1 Foundation with the main goal of making physicians more aware of the rare disorder. In the last decade, the families have raised $500,000 for research through fundraising events, which includes basket raffles organized by the Seyferts at the Setauket firehouse on Main Street.

The Seyferts said the basket raffles were always popular thanks to the support of local businesses and residents, and their fundraising success led to the hosting of the July symposium that gave researchers an opportunity to share information. It also provided patients and their loved ones a chance to find a much-needed support system.

Attendees traveled from all over the country as well as Ireland and South America to share their experiences. The couple said life after a diagnosis can sometimes be lonely for families.

“The symposium gave [families] the opportunity to share, to be able to provide each other with support and also listen to the researchers giving them hope that there’s a lot of research going on out there,” Sherri Seyfert said.

The Seyferts said “there are a lot of moving pieces” when it comes to APS Type 1, because the body has trouble metabolizing Vitamin D, which helps in the process of providing calcium to bones and muscles, including the heart.. A patient can experience various symptoms including cramping, bone mass problems and an irregular heart rhythm. However, a triad of disorders identifies the disease: adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s), hypoparathyroidism, and Candidiasis.

The Seyfert’s son Matthew was diagnosed when he was six years old. Photo from Sherri Seyfert

“So everybody is actually a little bit different as far as what conditions they have, even though they’ll share three things,” Dave Seyfert said. 

He said the disease overall is manageable, even though patients can develop something new every decade of their life.

“Each time we have a hospitalization or emergency room visit or are in ICU, for the most part we learn something that will keep us out of there for that particular thing next time,” the father said.

He said the couple chose the university to recognize the contributions of Stony Brook Children’s Hospital  to the community and their quick diagnosis of Matthew when he was six years old. At the time he was experiencing excessive fatigue and suffered a seizure in kindergarten. His father said it took 48 hours for the team at Stony Brook to diagnosis his son. It can sometimes take years to identify the disease in a patient.

The couple said the symposium included a section for children and teenagers to interact separately from adults. Matthew attended the event and assisted in escorting guests and served as a microphone runner during the Q&A.

Dr. Andrew Lane,  professor of clinical pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at Stony Brook Medicine, and Dr. Mark Anderson, director of University of California, San Francisco’s Medical Scientist Training Program, were among the speakers at the symposium.

“I think that [the Seyferts] are just a fantastic example of encouraging people to believe that for whatever medical condition or other condition in the world they are interested in fixing, even small things can make a difference.”

—Dr. Andrew Lane

“I thought it was really uplifting,” Lane said. “It was really great to see all the families supporting each other. It was also great for the physicians and scientists in the audience to interact, and informally and formally hear each other’s work and help recognize what areas need further work.”

Anderson, who met the Seyferts at the first symposium in Toronto, Canada in 2015, said there is hope for those diagnosed with APS Type 1. He said with stem cell transplants, the thymus, a gland that sits in front of the heart and plays a part in APS Type 1, may possibly be reprogrammed.

“That’s the type of thing that families want to know that someone is working on the problem,” Anderson said.

Lane, who was part of the team that diagnosed Matthew, said the symposium was the perfect opportunity for families to raise concerns directly to internationally recognized researchers in the field, and he is amazed that the family went from organizing basket raffles to hosting a symposium.

“I think that [the Seyferts] are just a fantastic example of encouraging people to believe that for whatever medical condition or other condition in the world they are interested in fixing, even small things can make a difference and sometimes turn into really big things,” Lane said.

Matthew was too shy to comment on the event, according to his mother, but she said the whole family was left with hope after the three-day symposium.

“People were thanking me, and my response always was it’s an honor to be able do this for everyone,” his mother said.

For more information about APS Type 1 and future events, visit www.apstype1.org.

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