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The Ward Melville Heritage Organization

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The Ward Melville Heritage Organization hosted A “Taste” of Stony Brook Village … Ladies Night In! Feb. 26 at WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center. Gloria Rocchio, president of WMHO, said the organization reached the event fundraising goal of $5,000 for breast cancer research at Stony Brook Medicine.

The night featured a fashion show celebrating clothing store Chico’s 25th anniversary in Stony Brook Village Center, which was the chain’s first one in New York.

The night also included music by Roberta Fabiano, food sampling, hair and virtual reality demonstrations, raffles, giveaways and raffle baskets. Members of Roseland School of Dance were on hand to teach attendees how to dance the Macarena and the cha-cha slide, too.

Rocchio said WMHO raised $45,000 during its Walk for Beauty at the Stony Brook Village Center Oct. 21. She said the organization plans to present a check for $50,000 to Stony Brook Medicine in the near future.

On Feb. 2, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization kicked off its 80th anniversary year with a Chinese New Year Celebration. The event was just the start of the many culturally-diverse activities the organization has planned for its milestone year, including a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration scheduled for March 3.

The day included Authentic Shaolin Kung Fu school performing a lion dance in traditional costumes, and after, demonstrating martial arts moves. The Long Island Chinese Dance Group performed dances symbolizing different regions of China, and Vivian Ye from Seiskaya Ballet Academy presented a solo dance called “Flying Apsaras.”

Singers JoJo Feng and Alice Huang were also on hand, and Manhattan Taiko shared the tradition of Taiko drumming, which includes the beats of drums ranging in size from 1 foot to 6 feet in diameter.

Video by David Ackerman

 

 

Delegation members, above, with The Ward Melville Heritage Organization President Gloria Rocchio, front center, in front of the historic Stony Brook Post Office. Photo from WMHO

Mobile payment platforms have connected the Stony Brook Village Center to China.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, which operates the shopping center, recently hosted a government delegation from Anhui Province, China. The group consisted of government officials and higher education professionals who were in the United States to visit New York and Michigan State University. Their mission was to learn best practices in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Delegation leader Guang Hu, left, completing an Alipay transaction with Jeff Norwood, owner of Camera Concepts & Telescope Solutions

Last year, the Stony Brook Village Center became the first community on Long Island to adopt Alipay and WeChat Pay, which is estimated to have one billion users worldwide. The QR code point of sale terminal systems account for 90 percent of the Chinese mobile payment market, according to the WMHO. The platforms enable Stony Brook village merchants to serve travelers from China better by allowing consumers to purchase goods and services in yuan before then being settled in U.S. currency for merchants.

Gloria Rocchio, president of the WMHO, met with the delegates in her office and then took them on a tour of the village where they were able to shop and experience the mobile payment platforms firsthand. She said it was a whirlwind trip, but the visitors had the chance to shop in many stores including Chocolate Works, Madison’s Niche and Camera Concepts & Telescope Solutions.

“We were happy to host this delegation because they were sincerely impressed with our concern for Chinese customers who are accustomed to using Alipay and WeChat Pay,” Rocchio said.

Jeff Norwood, owner of Camera Concepts & Telescope Solutions, said when the delegates came to his store, one of them wanted to buy a pair of binoculars, but he decided to pay cash instead of Alipay. When he approached the store’s register, Norwood said he realized his point of sales system was offline, and he couldn’t open the register drawer to give the customer change. Another person came over and paid using Alipay, and Norwood said it took two seconds to complete the transaction. It was then that the delegate decided to use Alipay, too.

“I gave him back the fifty, and I said, ‘Look at that, you see, Alipay is easier than cash,’” Norwood said. “It was like the perfect commercial for it.”

The business owner said he’s only had the opportunity to use Alipay once before and said it’s easier to use than the store’s credit card machine. All he has to do is put in the amount, and then the customer has an app on the phone that comes up with a bar code. The sales associate scans the bar code and the store’s machine prints out a receipt.

Twelve government agencies, including the School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, along with the Science, Technology and Intellectual Property Bureau, were represented.

Guang Hu, delegation leader and director of the Division of International Exchange and Cooperation, Anhui Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, thanked the WMHO for hosting the visit in a statement.

“It is very impressive to know that Alipay and WeChat Pay has been implemented by the shops of the village,” Hu said. “Those two are widely used in China, and it shows the technology and innovation offered here. I believe there is great potential to work with [the] Ward Melville Heritage Organization on all levels of collaboration between Anhui and Stony Brook.”

The rain stopped long enough Dec. 2 to allow visitors to Stony Brook Village Center to enjoy The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s 39th Holiday Festival.

The festival marked the second year of the Legends and Spies Puppets Procession led by Tom Manuel, president and founder of The Jazz Loft, and a New Orleans-style brass band. The procession puppets pay homage to former notable Three Village residents. This year, two new puppets featuring the likeness of Anna Smith Strong, a member of the Culper Spy Ring, and William Sidney Mount, a famed American genre painter, were added to the parade.

Santa arrived at 2 p.m. to greet visitors and holiday train displays could be viewed at Wiggs Opticians holiday windows and at the WHMHO Educational & Cultural Center.

The event also included the annual tree lighting and the Promenade of Trees competition, where families and community members decorated some 60 holiday trees, which will stay on display through Jan. 2. The public can vote on the winner, who will receive a $150 Stony Brook Village Center gift certificate, usable in all shops and restaurants.

 

 

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Bernadette Castro

As part of their 55+ Club series, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) and Burner Law Group will welcome Bernadette Castro to speak on her illustrious and diverse career at a Master Class on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

Among her countless achievements, Castro was named commissioner of the New York Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation in 1995 by Gov. George Pataki (R) and her 12-year term included assisting in the protection of one million acres of parkland across the state.

Castro ran for the New York State Senate in 1994 winning 42 percent of the vote, and in 2002 Castro helped to bring the first U.S. Open Golf Championship ever played on a public golf course to Bethpage Black at Bethpage State Park. Currently, she serves on the 2019 PGA Championship Executive Committee, which will also be played at Bethpage Black. Castro was even a recording artist in the 1960s, appearing on the “Clay Cole Rock & Roll Show” singing one of her hits, “His Lips Get in the Way.”

Today she is the chairperson of Castro Properties, the commercial real estate company owned by her family. She is also still the spokesperson for Castro Convertibles, the very company she was the face of as a 4-year-old starring in the brand’s legendary television commercials from 1948 and beyond. Those appearances earned her the distinction of being the “most televised child in America.”

With seemingly limitless drive and energy, Castro, a Suffolk County resident, has won a multitude of awards and supports a number of organizations and charitable causes. She is on the Advisory Board of Volunteers for Wildlife, hosts “Tomorrow’s Hope,” for the Catholic Faith Network (formerly Telecare) and is very involved in raising funds for the INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network), the largest private social service agency of its kind on Long Island helping those challenged by hunger, homelessness and poverty.   

Castro is also an advisory board member of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. She graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism and a master’s in educational administration. She became the first woman to receive the university’s School of Journalism Distinguished Alumnus and last month was inducted into the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication Hall of Fame. Castro also holds an honorary doctor of law degree from St. Joseph’s College, an honorary doctor of law from Dowling College and an honorary doctor of humane letters from Daemon College.

Castro will offer a Basket of Life raffle at this event, which will include items such as her senate race bumper sticker, her 45 rpm record, Norman Vincent Peale’s book, “The Power of the Plus Factor,” which mentions her father, Bernard Castro, an Italian immigrant who never finished high school but went on to become very successful with the creation of Castro Convertibles. She is the proud mother of four children and eight grandchildren and says, “What really matters is what my children and grandchildren will remember about me. Hopefully, that I was kind and generous and helped not only people that I knew, but also those I would never meet.”

The program is free and will take place at WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook on Nov. 28 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served. To reserve your seat, call 631-689-5888.

Photo from WMHO

Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook village hosted the Long Island’s Got Talent 2018 finals on Oct. 19. Caitlin Beirne of St. James took first place (winner of $6,000 scholarship from Five Towns College and $1,000 cash from Green Towers Group); Sara Caliguiri of St. James was in second place (winner of $5,000 scholarship from Five Towns College); and Michael Lomando of Centereach, third place (winner of $4,000 scholarship from Five Towns College). 

Pictured in the back row, from left, Aidan Hopkins, bassist/Mint Band; Matt Broadbent, trumpet/Mint Band; Varun Jindal, drums/Mint Band; Deborah Boudreau, WMHO education manager; Michael Lomando, solo vocalist and guitar; Jay Sangwan, guitar/Mint Band.

Pictured in the front row, from left, Sara Caliguiri, solo vocalist and keyboard; Max Tuomey, vocalist; Ben Fogarty, keyboardist/Mint Band; Jordan Amato, solo vocalist; Caitlin Beirne, solo vocalist; Lydia Korneffel, solo vocalist. Congratulations to all the winners! Watch for details in the spring of 2019 for next year’s contest at www.wmho.org.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization hosted its first Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, Nov. 4 at the Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook.

The event included performances from the Nartan Rang Dance Academy of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Dressed in colorful costumes, the dance group demonstrated various styles and genres of Indian dance. The event also included drum performances from New York Tamil Academy. The group presented traditional Parai drumming — the oldest of the drums used in ancient times to warn citizens about upcoming war, during festivals and at special celebrations.

After the performances, attendees had the opportunity to sample a tasting menu of traditional Indian dishes including potato-filled pastries called samosa and the sweet dessert mithai.

Diwali is India’s largest holiday of the year and is usually held in October or November, and it is named from the lamps that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the light that protects them from spiritual darkness, according to WMHO. Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains all over the world.

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The Ward Melville Heritage Organization presented its 25th Walk for Beauty at the Stony Brook Village Center Oct. 21. The 4k/6k Walk and the Hercules on the Harbor 10k Run drew hundreds of participants.

In addition to the walk and run, the day included a pet costume contest, live music, raffles, speeches from WMHO President Gloria Rocchio and county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and more.

Proceeds from the event go directly to a targeted research fund at Stony Brook Medicine for breast cancer research and the WMHO Unique Boutique for prostheses and wigs.

 

Line shows the route of new sidewalks in Stony Brook village, which will travel west off of Shore Road, north of the traffic circle and curl around to connect to the edge of Stony Brook Yacht Club’s pier. Image from The Ward Melville Heritage Organization

St. James and Stony Brook will be giving their downtowns a small face-lift thanks to a recent Suffolk County grant.

The two projects, one for the St. James business district along Lake Avenue and the other near the harbor front of Stony Brook village, were part of 11 recipients of a $500,000 county pool to partially fund downtown capital projects. Seven other municipalities who applied did not receive any grant funds.

“As we move full steam ahead with our economic development agenda, we will continue to make quality investments to create the robust, vibrant downtowns that make Suffolk County the ideal place to work, live and raise a family.”

— Steve Bellone

“Our downtowns are essential to keeping our region competitive and attracting the high skill, high knowledge workers we need to grow our local economy,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said. “As we move full steam ahead with our economic development agenda, we will continue to make quality investments to create the robust, vibrant downtowns that make Suffolk County the ideal place to work, live and raise a family.”

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization secured a $20,400 grant that should facilitate new sidewalks in Stony Brook village, which look to travel west off of Shore Road, north of the traffic circle and curl around to connect to the edge of the pier of the Stony Brook Yacht Club.

Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, said the funds will help complete the “harbor walk” project started several years ago. The original plans were to create sidewalks and streetlights with decorative plaques starting at The Long Island Museum continuing down to the harbor. She added that this new sidewalk, which travels down to the water’s edge, should go a long way toward making the area a more walkable destination.

“This is a highly used area for walkers and runners and people watching the sunsets,” Rocchio said. “Now the path is worn. This concrete sidewalk will make it a defined area for all to walk or run on by the harbor.”

The Community Association of Greater St. James received by far the largest amount of revitalization funds equaling more than $60,000. The funds will be used for the installation of crosswalks along Lake Avenue between Moriches Road and Woodlawn Avenue. This will also include 22 new pedestrian-activated LED crossing beacons at 10 separate crosswalks. Locals have long complained about speeding along oft-congested Lake Avenue and the safety of pedestrian trying to cross the road.

“As much as it will be pleasing to the eye, it will be safe for our kids and people to be using these crosswalks.”

— Kerry Maher-Weisse

“Even though this is going to be great for the look of the area, we still need everyone’s cooperation to take control and know what’s around them,” association president Kerry Maher-Weisse said. “As much as it will be pleasing to the eye, it will be safe for our kids and people to be using these crosswalks.”

The grant funds will also go toward new gateway signage at the entrance to Lake Avenue along Moriches Road along more discernable and stylized street signage, which Maher-Weisse said should have a homely, rustic “Nantucket” kind of feel.

The association president said she expects the funds to cover the construction, but if it doesn’t, she said her association could work with the town to help find additional funds. Both Maher-Weisse and Rocchio expect construction to begin shortly after they receive the grant funds.

Plans for the revitalization of Lake Avenue have continued for more than a year, which includes road reconstruction and new amenities like new sidewalks and $2.9 million in bond funds to replace water mains. The Town of Smithtown has recently had an appraisal done of the Irish Viking pub along Lake Avenue to hopefully turn it into more municipal parking. Also, in the pipeline are plans for dry sewer mains and pump station around the Lake Avenue business district, which could cost the town approximately $7 to $10 million. Revitalization plans were originally slated for May 2018 but were pushed back a year to coincide with these sewer projects.

Photo by Anthony White

The fourth annual Culper Spy Day was held Saturday, Sept. 15 offering participants self-guided tours of 24 locations in the Three Village area and Port Jefferson including eight more spots than previous years.

Margo Arceri, founder of the event and owner of Tri-Spy Tours, was pleased with this year’s turnout of more than 800 visitors.

Margo Arceri speaks to visitors about Culper Spy Abraham Woodhull at his gravesite in the Setauket Presbyterian Church Cemetery during the event. Photo by Michael Rosengard

“Culper Spy Day has grown beyond my wildest dreams,” she said. “From Manhattan to Montauk, attendees get to learn and understand just how the Culper Spy Ring helped change the course of the Revolution. These were ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Without the hard work and efforts of each individual
organization and their volunteers, it would not be what it is today.”

Tri-Spy Tours, the Three Village Historical Society, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization and The Long Island Museum hosted the  day with more than 40 organizations participating. Ticketholders experienced Revolutionary War encampments; docent-led tours of historic homes, churches and cemeteries; blacksmith demonstrations; Colonial cooking; children’s activities; invisible ink demonstrations, a TURN memorabilia auction and more.

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