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Stony Brook

Rabbi Aaron Benson from the North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jeff Station is drawing guests every Thursday for coffee and free advice. File photo

By Alex Petroski

Outlets for negative feedback are bountiful in 2017 America. One need not look far to find someone willing to tear down or criticize, but for residents in the Port Jefferson, Setauket and Stony Brook areas, finding a friendly face who’s ready to listen and provide constructive advice is as easy as buying a cup of coffee.

Rabbi Aaron Benson of the North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jeff Station began hosting regular “office hours” at Starbucks on Route 25A in Setauket earlier this year, or gatherings to discuss ideas in a comfortable, informal setting which have been dubbed Benson’s “Starbucks Schmooze.” Every Thursday, members of the NSJC congregation, or anyone else with something on their mind, are invited to the coffee shop to visit with Benson between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.

“I always liked the idea, when I was a kid, I really had this in mind, when I would see one of my teachers outside of the classroom it was always like a special treat,” Benson said during his schmooze Aug. 31. “Like, ‘Oh my goodness, they let them out of the box.’ And so I thought in today’s day and age, it would be a nice thing to be able to interact with people not inside the synagogue, to be out there and perhaps interact with people that I don’t know, and the success of it is really just if I meet a few people and connect a few people.”

Benson said typically he has between two and four visitors during a session, though he’s had as many as six guests actively engaged in conversation, and the discussion ranges from politics to relationship advice to current events and everything in between. He said the idea emerged organically because it fit in perfectly with his normal Thursday routine, which always includes a stop at The Rolling Pin, a kosher bakery, in the same shopping center as Starbucks where the rabbi supervises to ensure traditional processes and requirements are followed for the kosher designation. After that he would go to Starbucks for his caramel macchiato, then heads to St. Charles and Mather hospitals, where he volunteers as a chaplin. He decided to work the hour-long schmooze into the routine in January and hasn’t looked back since.

“If I can bounce an idea off one of those vital life questions for somebody then I am happy to help with that.”

— Rabbi Aaron Benson

JoAnne Shapiro, a regular attendee and member of the NSJC congregation, said it’s refreshing to have a personal relationship with the rabbi at her synagogue.

“I think when you think of the term rabbi, even in this day and age, people view the rabbi up there [on a pedestal],” Shapiro said. “And it just makes our rabbi much more approachable … I think the neat thing about this is that you never know what’s going to come out of the visit. It’s neat, it’s sort of like a nice way to start the day.”

Linda Miller, another member of Benson’s congregation, was attending her first schmooze Aug. 31, though she said before she left she planned on sending her husband for advice the following week. She said the visit was worthwhile not only for the advice she got from Benson regarding upcoming Jewish holidays, but also because she had a lengthy conversation with Shapiro, who she said she’d known in passing for years but couldn’t recall the last time, if ever, they had conversed for so long.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Miller said.

Benson said some of the more rewarding sessions are the ones that feature conversations which require very little of his own input. He recalled one schmooze when two attendees spent much of the hour bonding over the watch one was wearing.

The rabbi offered perspective on the importance of seeking help and guidance in challenging times, be it religious advice or otherwise.

“I can’t tell you to believe in particular stories, but everybody in the world has to have a set of stories that tells them about how you decide on priorities in life,” he said. “What do you do when you fall in love? What do you do when you fail? What do you do when you lose someone important? Religion provides those stories for you, but everyone has those sorts of questions. Everyone confronts those sorts of issues and everyone needs help with that. So if I can bounce an idea off one of those vital life questions for somebody then I am happy to help with that.”

BEACH FUN Jay Gao captured this gorgeous image on July 29 at West Meadow Beach in his hometown of Stony Brook using a Nikon D750 camera. He writes, ‘It had been cloudy all day long. After dinner, I heard from the TV that the sun would be out and sunset would be beautiful. At once, I grabbed my camera and headed to the beach.’

Send your Photo of the Week to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com.

Steve Kramer raising money to bring Berlinda to U.S. to undergo surgery on her two clubbed feet

By Desirée Keegan

Through the efforts of a retired physicist, an orthopedic surgeon from Stony Brook University and a dedicated Haitian who has since moved to Long Island, a 16-year-old from Haiti is on a path with more open doors than ever.

Berlinda was born with two clubbed feet, though she is motivated to better herself, with the dream of one day walking on her own two feet. Steve Kramer, a retired Brookhaven National Lab accelerator physicist met the student in Haiti through Life & Hope Haiti, a nonprofit founded by Haitian-American Lucia Anglade, who built the Eben Ezer School in her hometown of Milot, Haiti.

Berlinda practices arithmetic. Photo from Steve Kramer

“She had only been at the school for a few months and she was already learning basic arithmetic,” Kramer said of seeing Berlinda back in March, after meeting her during her introduction to the school in December. “I gave her two columns of work and she handed it back to me with a big smile and said, ‘more.’”

Berlinda has spirit, according to many who have met her, and Kramer was so moved by the story that he reached out to Dr. Wesley Carrion at Stony Brook University School of Medicine’s orthopedics department about performing surgery to fix the girl’s feet. He agreed to do it free of charge.

When he contacted Carrion, Kramer said his secretary Joan mentioned he was deployed in Afghanistan and she didn’t know when he would return. Within a day or two she called to tell him she’d heard from the doctor, who said he’d return by April. In May, the two met.

“I sent him copies of Berlinda’s X-rays and the video and he said he felt he could treat her and rotate the feet, and he would donate his time and get the equipment donated,” Kramer said. “That was a big relief. I felt it might become a reality.”

Carrion had informed Kramer that he would need to get the hospital to donate some of the costs, so Kramer reached out to the Department of Medicine’s Dr. L. Reuven Pasternak, who serves as vice president for health systems and chief executive officer of Stony Brook University Hospital.

What the external cages look like that will be used to repair Berlinda’s clubbed feet. Photo from Steve Kramer

“He said they would cover her hospital costs,” Kramer said after his meeting with Pasternak in July. “This was a bigger relief since beside rotating the club feet we need to check out the status of the hole her spinal column might still have from the spinal bifida she was diagnosed as having. Everyone told me the hole doesn’t close up on its own, but she is doing so well that it may have, but it needs to be checked and closed if it is still open.”

To help bring Berlinda to the United States, Kramer set up a GoFundMe to raise money for her flight cost and other post-operation expenses.

“The fundraising has been going slower than I had hoped, even though everyone I contact is verbally supportive,” he said. “As a physicist my human appeal needs a lot of improvement to really move people to give. But then I look at the video and see the determination she has and feel she will deal with it as she has the tragic events she has already endured and I know she will persevere and will learn to walk.”

Following the surgery, Berlinda will be in the hospital for four months, getting her feet rotated to stretch the tendons as part of the healing process. Her legs will be in cages called external frames that will be attached by pins drilled into her leg bones. Because these create open wounds, it’s best for her to stay the hospital instead of returning to Haiti, to keep the wounds sterile. While recovering, she will continue to go through schooling, which will be one-on-one instead of in a larger classroom back in Haiti.

Without the construction of The Eben Ezer School, Berlinda’s struggles might never have come to light for Kramer. What began as a 10-child school back in 2001 has grown to population over 400, according to Anglade.

“I took the $7,000 I received from my tax return and decided I wanted to build a school in my home country — that had been my motivation,” said Anglade, who now lives in West Babylon. “I’m so blessed. I thank God for that, say thank you all the time. It’s a big school now, and we’re still helping.”

Berlinda crawls on her hands and knees because she cannot walk with her two clubbed feet. Photo from Steve Kramer

Anglade first visited Berlinda at her house, and heard from the 16-year-old how her brothers and sisters attended school, and she wished she could join them. Because the school is far from her house, she couldn’t walk there.

“I went to her house and she was quiet, said she can’t go to school,” Anglade said. “I told her I was going to help her, and I took her to the school. I pay someone to stay with her at the school. Her dream is to walk, to learn, to be someone. She wants to be happy.”

Kramer and Stony Brook University Hospital are making her dream a reality.

“Thank God for Steve — he has a good heart and I can’t do it by myself,” Anglade said. “With all my heart, I am so happy. Steve has put in a lot of effort to helping Berlinda make her dream come true.”

Kramer first visited the Eben Ezer School through Wading River’s North Shore United Methodist Church in 2015. He joined a group visiting Haiti in February, and has since visited three more times by himself and with Anglade. They are working toward improving the facilities at the school through solar power and updating the water system.

Kramer also provided economic opportunities for students and natives of the town. He cultivated a group of farmers that grow ancient Egyptian wheat, kumat, which is exported to the U.S.

Now, he’s trying to help provide a future for Berlinda.

“She’s very positive, she’s a sponge for learning,” he said. “I just want to help this Haitian girl who has had a tragic life story so far, but has kept her joy of life and has determination to improve herself.”

Sixteen-year-old Berlinda from Haiti will be receiving surgery on her two clubbed feet at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from Steve Kramer

Amy Miller, of Maine, who has helped Anglade since 2007, said she finds what Kramer is doing admirable.

“I met Berlinda and I really respect his desire to help her move forward,” she said. “You meet someone and they kind of capture your heart, and I think you have to follow your heart. That’s what he’s doing.”

Both said they are also moved by Anglade’s motivation.

“I am tremendously inspired by Lucia,” Miller said. “She’s a force. Lucia is a person that astounds most people that meet her — her energy and her commitment. She loves the kids and it’s wonderful to watch. The community once said she should be their mayor after she brought water to the school she also to the community. She’s quite something.”

Anglade said she’s just doing what she thinks is right, in giving back to her hometown.

“My four kids here go to school, they’re in college, they eat every day, but in Haiti, we don’t have enough to feed over 400 kids, so sometimes when we’re down there for a week or two, we can only feed them for one week,” Anglade said. “I can’t go every week, but if I could go every week, every month, I’d go, just to help them. For me to be able to go down there to help those students, my community, I’m so happy to do it. I really feel good about it.”

To donate to help get Berlinda to the United States and to receive the care and post-treatment she will need, visit www.gofundme.com/BerlindasMiracle. To find out more about Life and Hope Haiti, or to get involved, visit www.lifeandhopehaiti.org.

Leukemia survivor Aubri Krauss collected Band-Aid box donations for Stony Brook University Hospital’s hematology and oncology unit. Photo from Darcy Krauss

By Jenna Lennon

Three years ago, Jericho Elementary School student Aubri Krauss decided to start a Band-Aid drive to benefit Stony Brook University Hospital’s hematology and oncology unit.

She had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. At just over 3 years old, she toughed out the treatment, and when finished, decided she wanted to do something to help others.

“[I want to] bring smiles to other kids who are going through what I went through,” she said.

Leukemia survivor Aubri Krauss collected Band-Aid box donations for Stony Brook University Hospital’s hematology and oncology unit. Photo from Darcy Krauss

“We were at the pediatrician’s office, and she saw all the Band-Aids they had and she was like ‘You know what mom? We used so many Band-Aids when I was sick — wouldn’t it be great if we could get a bunch of Band-Aids for all the kids that are still sick?’” Aubri’s mother Darcy Krauss said. “When they have to get their finger pricked, those plain Band-Aids are boring. That was one of the great things for Aubri was she got to pick her own fun, kid Band-Aid.”

Last year, Aubri decided to try something different and hosted a wrapping paper drive for the events that the clinic holds for the children during the holidays.

Aubri decided to return to the Band-Aid drive this year because “she thinks it’s more personal to the kids,” Krauss said. When she began, she hoped to beat her collection of 700 boxes from her previous Band-Aid drive, and she’s done just that, collecting over 800.

“And they’re not all the little 20 packs,” Krauss said. “Some people brought boxes that have hundreds of Band-Aids, some people bought boxes that have 200 Band-Aids in it. So it’s a lot of Band-Aids.”

Middle Country Board of Education member Dina Phillips met Aubri in 2012 when her father was the assistant coach of her son’s baseball team.

“When I met Aubri, she endured countless tests, procedures, chemo treatments and much more, yet managed to do so without ever losing her sense of joy,” Phillips said. “She had to learn what it means to live part of her life in a hospital room, to lose her hair, and to lose some of the freedoms that other kids her age get to enjoy.”

“She endured countless tests, procedures, chemo treatments and much more, yet managed to do so without ever losing her sense of joy.”

Dina Phillips

She said she was blown away by how Aubri did not let her circumstances define her.

“With a maturity far beyond her years, Aubri turned her illness into an opportunity to help other kids like her, and turned her pain into a way to bring smiles to others,” Phillips said. “I am extremely proud of her. I hope we can all do a simple gesture and help her achieve her goal.”

Band-Aid drives were held at Aubri’s elementary school, Raymour & Flanigan Furniture and Mattress Store in Lake Grove, and Stagecoach Elementary School, where Phillip’s son goes to school. The students there decorated the box for a collection at Stagecoach’s 50th Anniversary celebration on June 9th.

“I think when you go through something so hard and you can come out on the other end and be empathetic and understanding … it just makes me very happy and blessed to be her mom,” Krauss said. “Everyone is like ‘she’s so lucky to have you as her mom,’ and I’m like no, I definitely think I’m the luckier one to have her as my daughter.”

New York State Senator Ken LaValle does not approve of the decision

John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson is set to join Northwell Health. File photo from Mather Hospital

A Port Jefferson institution established in 1929 is set to undergo an unprecedented change, the likes of which has never occurred during its near-90-year history. John T. Mather Memorial Hospital leadership has signed a letter of intent to join Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care provider, which has 22 hospitals under its umbrella. Prior to the agreement, Mather was one of just two Long Island hospitals unaffiliated with a larger health system. Mather’s board considered affiliation with Stony Brook University Hospital, though ultimately decided on Northwell.

Mather Hospital is set to join Northwell Health. Photo from Huntington Hospital.

“I don’t think it’s a good decision,” State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said in a phone interview. LaValle is a fervent supporter of the university, often publicly spotted wearing a red SBU baseball cap. “For 50 years-plus there’s been a culture in place if people needed tertiary care they would go from Mather to Stony Brook. Stony Brook will still be in place, will still offer services and people still if they choose can go to Stony Brook.”

LaValle said he didn’t know why Mather decided to go with Northwell, and members of Mather’s board declined to discuss specifics of the agreement with Northwell because discussions are ongoing. The changeover could take place as soon as prior to the end of the year.

“I would have wished that the Mather board would have been considerate of the people in their area rather than for whatever other reasons they made this decision,” LaValle said. “I don’t know whether Northwell came in with a bag of cash and that’s why they made the decision; but if they were making the decision based on the people they serve in their catchment area they would have gone with Stony Brook.”

Mather Hospital Vice President of Public Affairs Nancy Uzo, said Stony Brook was considered an option for affiliation and offered an explanation by email as to why it was ultimately spurned.

“I don’t think it’s a good decision.”

— Ken LaValle

“Our goal through this process is to ensure that our communities continue to have access to advanced, high quality care and superior satisfaction close to home and to serve the best interests of our medical staff and employees,” she said.

Mather Board of Directors Chairman Ken Jacoppi and President Ken Roberts declined to comment further through Uzo.

“Our community, employees and medical staff have a deep commitment to Mather Hospital,” Roberts said in a press release. “We chose a partner that would support our culture of caring as well as our future growth.”

Stony Brook University Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine Ken Kaushansky declined to comment on Mather’s decision via email. President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. did not respond to a direct request for comment nor through a university spokeswoman.

In 2016 the American Hospital Association released research suggesting hospital mergers like the one Mather is set to undertake result in cost savings and quality improvements. According to the research, mergers decrease costs due to economies of scale, reduced costs of capital and clinical standardization among other efficiencies. An analysis showed a 2.5 percent reduction in annual operating expenses at acquired hospitals. Other benefits include the potential to drive quality improvements through standardization of clinical protocols and investments to upgrade facilities and services at acquired hospitals, an expansion of the scope of services available to patients and improvements to existing institutional strengths to provide more comprehensive and efficient care.

New York State Sen. Ken Lavalle did not agree with Mather’s decision to join Northwell Health over Stony Brook University Medicine. File photo

Huntington Hospital joined North Shore-LIJ in 1994, which became known as Northwell Health in February 2016. After the merger is official, Mather and Huntington hospitals will be the only Northwell hospitals on the North Shore in Suffolk County.

“Mather Hospital is known for patient-centric care both in the community and throughout the industry,” Michael Dowling, Northwell’s president and CEO said in a statement. “That deeply embedded sense of purpose is the type of quality we want to represent Northwell Health, along with an excellent staff of medical professionals and physicians. Together, Mather and Northwell will play a crucial partnership role expanding world class care and innovative patient services to Suffolk County residents.”

In what some view as a related move, Stony Brook announced in a press release Aug. 1 that Southampton Hospital would become a member of the Stony Brook Medicine health system.

“Today we celebrate a unique opportunity in which academic medicine and community medicine can come together to benefit our entire region,” Stanley said. “We will continue to build on successful collaborations achieved over the past ten years, which have already brought many new programs to the East End, including a robust number of internship and residency programs at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and where students enrolled in graduate programs in the health sciences on the Stony Brook Southampton campus can put their training to good use as the next generation of allied health professionals to help address the shortage of providers on the east end and beyond.”

The acquisition will result in new offerings at Stony Brook including a provisional Level 3 Trauma Center, with 24-hour coverage by emergency medicine doctors and a trauma surgeon available within 30 minutes, a Hybrid Operating Room with sophisticated imaging capabilities and a new cardiology practice in Southampton with Stony Brook cardiologists, among other benefits.

LaValle declined to classify Mather’s decision as a “loss” for Stony Brook and added he expects Mather and the university to continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship going forward.

“Stony Brook is close by and they will reach out and still try to encourage both local physicians and people to come to Stony Brook,” he said.

This version was edited Aug. 7 to include comments from Michael Dowling.

Legislators and community leaders, above, at a July 25 press conference make a plea to the New York State Department of Transportation to extend sidewalks along 25A in Stony Brook west of the train station. Photo by Rita J. Egan

By Rita J. Egan

Local legislators are doing their part to create a safer Route 25A for Stony Brook pedestrians.

At a July 25 press conference held at the Stony Brook Long Island Rail Road station, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) made a formal plea to the New York State Department of Transportation to install sidewalks along Route 25A, a state roadway, from the train station heading west to Stony Brook Village’s Main Street.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and representatives from the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, Three Village Civic Association, Three Village Chamber of Commerce and Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners joined Romaine and Cartright to show their support.

“We are blessed to have the largest state university in the state of New York here,” Romaine said. “It provides jobs, it provides culture, it provides academics, but it also provides a lot of kids who are looking to do something off campus. We don’t have a problem with that but we do have a problem with the safety of this road.”

The supervisor said there are sidewalks to the east and west of the station but they stop approximately 500 to 1,000 feet from the location. He said pedestrians are forced to walk on the roadway, and through the years, there have been three injuries and one pedestrian death along Route 25A. While the town has reached out to the state DOT in the past, they have been told that the funds are not in the budget and the installation of sidewalks in the area is not a priority.

“The state DOT has done a number of great projects throughout Long Island,” Romaine said. “We’re asking them to do one more project that may be expensive but would greatly improve pedestrian safety.”

Cartright said Brookhaven Town is completing a corridor study of Route 25A from Smithtown to Poquott, and in the beginning of the year, she attended community visioning meetings.

“Time and time again I hear from our constituents that walkers, students and residents are fearing for their safety in this particular section of 25A,” Cartright said. “Given these safety concerns, the accidents, the fatality that was mentioned, we ask that the DOT prioritize doing work, providing sidewalks in this particular area.”

Gloria Rocchio, president of WMHO, and Bruce Sander, co-founder of  Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners, both described issues with the roadway. Rocchio said there were problems with speeding, especially at night. Sander said many students walk in the roadway in the dark and don’t wear visible colors.

Englebright estimated that installing sidewalks would cost about $5 million and supported the initiative.

“If you’re a student at the university and you want to go to the namesake of your university, which is the village itself, you literally have to take your life in your hands,” he said. “This shouldn’t be.”

Stony Brook women's lacrosse head coach Joe Spallina rounds up his team. Photo from Stony Brook University athletics

Joe Spallina has done what many would deem impossible.

In six short years, the Mount Sinai resident and Stony Brook University women’s lacrosse coach has turned the university’s program from a U.S. Lacrosse Magazine RPI-ranked No. 62 team, into the No. 2 team in the country.

“He knows what he’s doing,” said Frankie Caridi, 2014 Stony Brook graduate and former goalkeeper for the Seawolves. “His coaching style, his philosophy and his ideas are allowing them to get to where he wants to bring that program.”

Stony Brook women’s lacrosse coach Joe Spallina talks plays with his Seawolves. Photo from Stony Brook University athletics

Caridi played under Spallina as a freshman at Adelphi University. He had the opportunity to make the move to Stony Brook and encouraged Caridi, now associate head coach for the Adelphi Panthers, to make the move with him during her playing career.

“He was a great coach straight from the beginning,” she said. “Just playing for him at Adelphi that one year was amazing. The fact that he believed in the few of us that went with him that we’d be able to change the program pretty quickly — he sold us.”

Caridi said she was not only sold on making the switch because of his vision of building a national championship caliber team, but because he was honest about what he was looking for from his players and what he thought they could be.

“He shot the truth,” she said. “He’s someone who is able to get the most out of you. He demands you to be the best you can be … every single day. I respected him so much as a coach, because he respects us as players.”

Her first conversation with him when being recruited to play for Adelphi was about if she wanted to win a national championship and be an All-American.

“He told me the opportunities that I had, and he let them play out,” she said. “I credit all of it to him.”

Caridi became one of the most prolific goalies in Stony Brook program history. Her .514 career save percentage is tops in the school’s record book, while her 5.91 goals-against average is the best among any goalie with at least 1,500 minutes played.

Stony Brook women’s lacrosse head coach Joe Spallina speaks with attack Kylie Ohlmiller. Photo from Stony Brook University athletics

The East Northport native won two America East championships and qualified for two NCAA tournaments, earning International Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Third-Team All-American status in 2014. She was also named the Lacrosse Magazine and ILWomen.com Goalie of the Year, picked as the America East Defensive Player of the Year and nominee for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the most outstanding American lacrosse player.

Current Stony Brook attack and soon-to-be senior Kylie Ohlmiller also bought what Spallina was selling.

“He told me I could live out my dreams here,” she said. “He told me I could win a national championship in my time here, I’ll be the face of women’s lacrosse and on the cover of magazines. And it’s all happening now. He painted my dream in my head for me and has been making it all possible.”

She agreed with Caridi that he’s been able to shape the athletes to get the program to where it is today.

“I think if I were to go anywhere else, and a lot of my teammates would say the same thing, that we might not be the level of lacrosse players that we are or even the people that we are,” Ohlmiller said. “We want to give our fans — all the little girls who play lacrosse — the dream of coming to Division I lacrosse games and watching a good, Top 5 Division I program play and compete for a national championship.”

“He’s someone who is able to get the most out of you. He demands you to be the best you can be … every single day.”

— Frankie Caridi

The Islip resident said she wants to be a coach one day, and Spallina is the inspiration.

“He’s able to be stern and be authoritative, but at the same time he can throw a joke in there like he’s one of your best friends,” she said. “He’s able to make it fun, and that’s ultimately the reason we play. It’s to have fun and win.”

He and Ohlmiller were big proponents in recruiting her younger sister Taryn, who will be a sophomore in the upcoming school year. As the leading scorers on the team, the two are referred to by their head coach as a couple of the “big dogs” on the team. Kylie Ohlmiller’s 164 points shattered the previous Division I record of 148. Her 86 assists are also a new DI record. She was American East Offensive Player of the Year, was named a Tewaaraton finalist, also an IWLCA ILWomen Attacker of the Year. Her younger sister led all Division I freshmen and ranked seventh in the nation with 98 points last season. The attacker was named America East Rookie of the Year and an IWLCA All-American.

“Once you’re one of his big dogs he wants to be closer to you,” Taryn Ohlmiller said. “He does one-on-one workouts with us, he gets you out there early, doing shooting drills. He cares about you as an individual as much as he cares about the team.”

Stony Brook women’s lacrosse head coach Joe Spallina walks the sideline during a game. Photo from Stony Brook University athletics

The team-first mentality that the Ohlmillers and the Seawolves have bought into under Spallina, who is also the head coach of the Long Island Lizards, propelled Stony Brook to new heights in 2017, as the Seawolves went 20-2 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals – all new high-water marks in program history. The team broke Division I single-season records for assists (222) and points (576) in 2017 while leading the nation in scoring defense (7.27) and scoring margin (8.82).

For his leadership, in turning the program around and becoming the winningest coach in program history, Spallina has been named America East Coach of the Year in 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and was named IWLCA Coach of the Year for the Mid-Atlantic Region following this season. He also garnered several coach of the year honors with the Lizards.

“He deserves all of the recognition — he deserves the world and so much more,” Kylie Ohlmiller said of her head coach. “Last year we were ranked second in the nation behind No. 1 undefeated University of Maryland, and that’s just in a couple of years — it takes decades for some coaches to do. He’s doing what a lot of coaches can’t or haven’t done, and it’s really cool to see. It’s insane how he’s flipped the culture of Stony Brook athletics.”

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    *5-6pm, “Meet the Director” Wine & Cheese Reception
    6-8pm, Screening of SOUR GRAPES + Q&A
    4:30-6pm, Midnight Rum — Long Island & Prohibition Exhibit
    Guest Speaker for “Q and A”: Reuben Atlas, Co-Director

    Set in the super-fast, super-rich world of LA and New York during the financial boom of the early 2000s, in the lead up to the 2008 financial crash, and featuring the obsessive collectors, outraged wine producers, suspect auction houses, and specialist FBI sleuths, SOUR GRAPES is an “Emperor’s New Clothes” fable for the modern age. The film traces the story of the millions of dollars made from the sale of fake vintage wine, which flooded a susceptible luxury market with counterfeits that still lie undetected in cellars across the world. Winner of Best Documentary at the Key West Film Festival.
    Time: 85 minutes

    *Tickets for Reception and Film are $12 and we strongly recommend that you purchase advance tickets at portjeffdocumentaryseries.com until July 5th. Please print out your e-mail receipt, as that is your ticket. Walk-ins will be be welcome if we can accommodate.
    **Tickets for film only are $7 at the door (no credit cards, please).
    ***Wines provided by Pindar Vineyards Port Jefferson Wine Shop | 117 Main Street, Port Jefferson, NY
    ****Cheeses and Accompaniments provided by C’est Cheese, Pt. Jefferson, Brew Cheese, Stony Brook, Bliss Restaurant, E. Setauket and Wild By Nature, E. Setauket

    Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro stand on the newly paved Quaker Path in Stony Brook. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

    Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) recently announced the completion of the resurfacing of Quaker Path in Stony Brook, from Route 25A to the Old Field Village Line, just south of West Meadow Road.

    “Quaker Path is a main arterial roadway, leading to both Stony Brook University and the Long Island Rail Road Stony Brook train station,” said Losquadro. “I am glad that we were able to provide relief for residents, motorists and pedestrians in this area, while removing this roadway from our high priority list.”

    The total cost for this extensive paving project, along a nearly two-mile stretch of roadway, was $413,000. Crews replaced 240 square feet of aprons, nearly 300 linear feet of curbing, 1,350 square feet of sidewalk, and installed three, new ADA-compliant handicap ramps.

    “Numerous residents have contacted my office requesting that Quaker Path be paved,” said Cartright. “I am happy that Superintendent Losquadro and I can announce the completion of this paving project, which alleviates major quality of life concerns in this neighborhood. I look forward to continuing to work with the community and the Highway Department to improve roadways in our town.”

    Three Village Chamber of Commerce executive director, David Woods, has been a member of the organization for nearly 10 years. Photo from David Woods

    By Jenna Lennon

    During his time with the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, executive director David Woods is most proud of the new signs welcoming people to the Three Villages and Stony Brook University, placed around the community and  along Nicolls Road.

    “Before they went up, I can remember, for example, one of the former directors of the university hospital was talking at one of the chamber meetings, and he said that it had taken him an hour and a half to get from the airport to the university,” Woods said in a phone interview.

    The former university hospital director flew into the airport in Islip, just twenty or so minutes from Stony Brook, but he drove around for another hour trying to find the university and its community, according to Woods.

    “One of the things that I never would have thought of is putting up a sign like that because in the days where I first came to the community to work for the university, there was a sort of invisible fence between the campus and the community,” Woods said. “There would have been opposition. And those beautiful signs have helped a lot.”

    Now after nearly 10 years with the chamber, Woods is retiring on June 30 at the end of the organization’s fiscal year.

    Charles Lefkowitz, vice president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, worked with Woods nearly his entire time with the chamber.

    Woods has “a unique style and passion to bring the business community together. He was never afraid to try something new or even borderline what would be deemed outrageous,” Lefkowitz said.

    Woods started with the chamber after retiring from the “regular work world” and having just finished his novel “Buffalo Snow Day” — “a sort of comic novel about Buffalo turning into Aspen.”

    Woods spent 17 years as assistant to the president at Stony Brook University. For 20 years after that, he worked in Manhattan “in marketing communications as secretary of the New York City Press Club, the Deadline Club, doing things like introducing the hit board game Pictionary and then an unknown new radio talk show host, now for better or worse a household name, Rush Limbaugh.”

    When the chamber needed a manager, they called Woods.

    “It was, still is, a great job because we were sitting here like ships passing in the night, our historic community on one side of the railroad tracks, Stony Brook University making new history on the other side and convergence clearly needed,” Woods said. “Since then, leaders on both sides of the tracks have been bringing our two worlds together and doing a lot of it at the monthly chamber meetings.”

    Andy Polan, chamber president alongside Woods for the last four years said Woods’ “historical knowledge of the community is pretty amazing from the university to the local history.”

    Polan is looking to fill the vacancy with someone who is outgoing, social media-savvy and “interested in developing the chamber to grow to our next level.”

    Woods and his wife, Desiree, are taking some time off to go upstate to his hometown of Dunkirk on Lake Erie with their daughter and granddaughter for a family reunion.

    Woods will keep in contact with the chamber and continue to support the new director for the upcoming 18th annual chamber beach barbecue, a networking event in July.

    For now, Lefkowitz will miss Woods’ “smile and grin at the other side of the table.”

    Interested applicants for the executive director position with the Three Village Chamber of Commerce should send their resumes to jobs@backofficemail.com.

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