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TBR Staff

TBR Staff
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TBR News Media covers everything happening on the North Shore of Suffolk County from Cold Spring Harbor to Wading River.

By Tara Mae

Something wild is coming to Smithtown. Sweetbriar Nature Center now offers A Wildlife Experience, a unique program offering one hour private guided tours that grant unprecedented access to its buildings, operations, and animals. Located at 62 Eckernkamp Drive, the nonprofit organization provides natural science education and native wildlife rehabilitation services for the community.

The personal tours will allow participants to see the center’s recently renovated wildlife rehabilitation area, now called the Steven Goldman clinic, which is usually off limits to visitors.

“It’s an experience that you’re not going to get anywhere else,” said Veronica Sayers, Sweetbriar’s program coordinator. “It’s not very often that you can see how a wildlife rehab works. You don’t normally get this experience unless you’re in the field.”

Attendees will also be able to explore parts of the main building, which houses some of Sweetbriar’s permanent residents and is generally open for self-guided excursions.

Guests will be able to observe the animals and meet a few of Sweetbriar’s regular ambassadors like Cali, an imprinted Baltimore oriole; Marguerite, an imprinted blue jay; Nugget, a screech owl; and Tulip, an opossum.

The tours give insight into more than the lives of the animals; they delve into the backgrounds of Sweetbriar and the Blydenburgh family, on whose estate the center and preserve now exist. Guides are able to supply greater historical context as well as details about the architecture of the structures and grounds, according to Janine Bendicksen, Sweetbriar’s curator and wildlife rehabilitation director, who came up with the initial idea.

One of four staff members, Ms. Bendicksen noted that she, her coworkers, and the dedicated team of volunteers are constantly brainstorming for ways to keep Sweetbriar operational in the time of COVID-19. The private tours are a way to raise money and benefit the community Sweetbriar serves. “Instead of just asking for money and donations, we are giving back,” she explained.

During the pandemic, Sweetbriar, like many organizations, has had to completely reimagine how it functions. At the peak of the lockdown, the employees were looking after approximately 100 animals by themselves, without the assistance of volunteers, according to Ms. Sayers. In this time of emotional turmoil and economic uncertainty, Sweetbriar has sought to create new ways of connecting with the public and supporting the animals in its care.

As sources of revenue shrunk, animals in need of help were being brought to the center at a higher rate than in years past. “Many rehab centers are experiencing this,” said Ms. Bendicksen. Since the beginning of 2020, the center has treated more than 2,000 animals.

Sweetbriar Nature Center administers comprehensive rehabilitation to wildlife and generates much of its funding from community engagement and outreach programs. Located on 54 acres of diverse woodland, garden, wetland, and field habitats, the center’s grounds are open year-round to the public, free of charge. Since the onset of the pandemic it has been unable to host the events and activities it normally offers, on which Sweetbriar largely relies to support its animals and endeavors.

A Wildlife Experience is available to parties of up to six people by appointment only for $104. People may register and pay the fee online at www.sweetbriarnc.org/animal-encounters. After you purchase your ticket, Sweetbriar will email you to set up a date or they can send you a gift card to book at a later time. Please give them at least 3 days to respond after you’ve purchased your ticket. The tours are mask-mandated and photos are encouraged.

For more information, please call 631-979-6344.

All photos courtesy of Sweetbriar Nature Center.

Stacy Davidson

Calling all Santa’s and Hanukah Harry’s or those who just want to help make a difference this holiday season! For over fifteen years, Stacy from Stacy’s Finds/Pattern Finders in Port Jefferson has been part of a group of everyday people that answer the direct clothing needs and toy requests of 9,000 of Long Island’s less fortunate children living in homeless shelters, temporary foster care, Child Protective Services and domestic violence safe houses every year — and the numbers are still growing. This year especially, the expectation is of more children in need and fewer people being able to help. Last year her group answered the needs of fifty of the children.

Stacy will have actual letters from the children with their clothing sizes, requirements, and toy requests. You can purchase one item, or fulfill the needs of a child’s entire clothing and toy wish list. You may also drop off any children’s new clothing and new toys or gift cards for donations at the shop at 128 East Main Street Port Jefferson. Feel free to call Stacy at the shop with any questions at 631-928-5158.

Joan Harris’ woodland-inspired wreath won Best in Show in a previous year. Photo from SHS

The Smithtown Historical Society (SHS) will host a free Wreath Making Workshop at the Frank Brush Barn, 211 E. Main St., Smithtown on Friday, Nov. 20 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Get creative and ready your wreath for the holidays! Whether it’s to adorn your entry or be an entry in the SHS’s Heritage Country Christmas’ Community Wreath Contest, this is the perfect opportunity to meet up with others, share ideas & supplies, and piece together a winning wreath! Learn the tricks of the trade from master crafter Joan Harris. She will be on hand to assist and inspire you as you work to assemble your masterpiece. You bring the wreath & ribbons. Reservations required by calling 631-265-6768.

METRO photo

There’s no good way to put this. We know in a year of hardship so many of us crave the companionship and familial connection of a traditional Thanksgiving, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s something we simply can’t have this year.

Yes, we fought through the worst of the virus in New York, but cases are rising again all over the country. Suffolk stands as a positive test rate of 3.4% as at Nov. 17. Just a few weeks ago we were bragging about how well we were doing at 1%.

Experts have repeatedly said we will enter a second wave of the virus as the weather cools and more people spend time indoors, where the virus can spread more easily.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced new limits on several businesses and gatherings. Bars, restaurants and gyms are mandated to close by 10 p.m. for everything barring takeouts. The state also limited in-person gatherings to 10 people, though it excludes households with residents already numbering 10 or more.

Some have questioned the point of the latter restriction, especially whether the state even has the ability to restrict the number of people in a family home. Though there are residents who have reported large gatherings in backyards, the order should be taken more as a notice and reminder. It’s easy to guess just how quickly COVID-19 spreads when there are 20 or more people sitting shoulder to shoulder shoveling Thanksgiving delights into maskless mouths.

We only have to look at recent superspreader events to know just how dangerous maskless gatherings can be. A Sweet 16 event at the Miller Place Inn in September caused 37 people to come down with the virus, some of whom weren’t even at the event, while a reported 270 were required to quarantine.

Local officials have already cited Halloween parties for an increase in positive cases. One can only think holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year will do even more harm if we don’t take the initiative now.

With that said, there are still many local businesses who depend on Thanksgiving sales, whether it’s the local butcher or bakery. We ask people to still patronize your neighboring establishments even if you might not need as much this year as previous. I mean, don’t we all look forward to Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches?

But likely more people are concerned about not seeing their family sitting around the table as they do every year. There’s no way around it, no, you shouldn’t. Keeping it to household members only will be hard, but there are ways to talk to friends and family through video and phone. We know some people in our office will offer toasts over Zoom and other facilities. And we know that we will be toasting the many people who work and continue to work, making sure people are safe during an unprecedented time. We also need to thank the many volunteers providing food for the needy during an especially difficult  time, and hope all those hungry people find some meal and companionship this holiday.

So, combined with people still traveling home for Thanksgiving, with more visitors likely to come from out of state, we are left with few good options. Some people say something to the effect that “we can’t let the virus control our lives.”

We would counter that thought with the following: If every single one of us having a smaller Thanksgiving for one year saves even just one life, then it would have been worth it.

Is Thanksgiving canceled? Maybe a traditional one is, but the spirit of the holiday certainly won’t be, not if our goal is to keep those around us safe and healthy.

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Celerina Maureen Miguel Cristy, age 53, died April 15 this year of respiratory heart failure resulting from infection by COVID-19. She died at Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island. Friends called her Rina.

Rina, who grew up in Port Jefferson Station, had a career that intersected with national events in politics and developing the economy, particularly by enhancing global financial security after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Rina Cristy. Go to the bottom of the article to see the date and time for an online memorial.

Rina and her husband of 23 years, Sam Cristy, were parenting two teenage children at the time of her death. The Cristys have lived in Staten Island since 2004. Rina had lived or worked in Port Jefferson Station,  Boston,  metro Washington, D.C., Manhattan and Jersey City.

Born in November 1966 in Chicago, Rina was the first of her family born in the U.S. Her parents, Art and Gloria Miguel, immigrated from the Philippines, then met and married in America. Art was an engineer in aviation, and Gloria was a nurse. The Miguels moved to Port Jefferson Station, where they still live. The gregarious household grew to include Rina’s two younger brothers and two grandparents. Later, the Miguel home expanded again to incorporate Rina and Sam, and soon thereafter a grandson. Four generations gathered daily for breakfast.

Rina is a Comsewogue High School alumna. She attended Emerson College in Boston, graduating in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science in speech communications, advertising, and public relations. In 2000, she received her Master of Business Administration degree in computer information systems from Hofstra University, where she earned the prestigious Hofstra University MBA Fellowship.

Community service is an innate Miguel family hallmark. Rina’s grandfather was an educator and a decorated officer of U.S. and Philippine armies. Rina described her mother as the springboard to political engagement and developing a New Yorker ethos. Rina recalled co-piloting a plane with her father, Art. Such moments inspired her to imagine boundless agency, Rina said. Thus prepared, she moved from Boston to Washington, D.C., to start her career in 1988.

Rina served the Honorable U.S. Rep. George Hochbrueckner (1-NY), Eastern Long Island, administering finance and fundraising in his congressional campaigns. She joined the congressional staff and quickly advanced to senior legislative aide. Reflecting on Rina’s accomplishments, Hochbrueckner commented, “Rina’s diligent activities aided in the funding of the initial as well as the ongoing dredging of Shinnecock Inlet, thus preventing the loss of lives of the local commercial fishermen. She also assisted in the designation of Peconic Bay as a new member of the National Estuary Program, providing special environmental funding to this day.” Her collaboration also secured federal funds for Lyme disease mitigation and education.

Following her congressional work, Rina proceeded to the Defenders of Wildlife conservation society. As aide to the director, she served the executive board and contributed to the conservation of wild lands and restoration of wolf habitats.

The 1990s on Capitol Hill invigorated Rina’s optimism that she could make an enduring contribution in the nexus of public policy and business. The Calverton Enterprise Park is an example. Rina facilitated the legislative steps that converted the federal aviation site to ownership by the Town of Riverhead. This pivot from Cold War defense projects opened the way for emerging environmental health sciences. Calverton now stands primed to open temporary hospital services during the COVID pandemic.

Rina’s pivot to finance came via her Hofstra MBA. She was subsequently hired by the Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan. There, she supported the U.S. Federal Reserve System’s function in regulating and examining regional and global banks. Her work protected deposits, assessed bank solvency, and engaged protections against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Starting in 2004, Rina developed her specialty as an executive in retail and wholesale banks developing data, personnel, and operations systems for transaction security and compliance with regulations and best practices.

She worked in the Staten Island offices of Independence Community Bank. She proceeded to Rabobank International and ultimately to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Manhattan, where she rose to Director & Group Manager of Compliance Operations before being assigned as Director of Compliance Department, Americas Division.

In the era following the 2001 terrorist attacks, bankers wrestled with costly and demanding federal laws for enhanced fiduciary obligations. Evaluating competition, profits, and best practices called for a newly specialized banker. Banks were tasked to ask clients prickly questions, slow deals, and (perhaps) defer legitimate loans until novel risk assessments were satisfied. The urgent world of finance strained to adopt these subjective analyses. As banks with problems incurred fines, compliance experts like Rina proved essential to keeping banks in good control.

Rina’s policy and bank experience fit this role. Her teams set out to divine regulatory expectations and move banks to comply. Foremost, she assured profit drivers that the evolving security measures were intrinsic to bank success. Rina was gratified to see her early interpretations as an auditor at the Fed gain adoption as trade standards years later.

One of Rina’s work colleagues, Risë Zaiser, bonded with Rina as mentor and friend. They shared triumphs in motherhood and careers. Zaiser tracked Rina’s moves in various banks and trade panels.

“When we first met her, she came in guns a-blazing, and we were talking about how we were going to get her a bat. But she didn’t need a bat. She was just able to convince, and they followed her direction,” Zaiser said.

Industry colleagues noted that Rina was an effective department director because of her genuine humanity, humor, and collaboration. Life in banking cubicles can be fraught, staid, and tedious. One boss recalled surprise, then gratitude in receiving an office hug.

“Smiles can tear down the tallest, thickest walls. The power of Rina’s smile was the selflessness behind it,” he said. “Rina was always positive and upbeat, addressing adversity with that smile. I challenge all of us to take what Rina has given us and pass it along.”

Rina was passionate about cultivating professional opportunities for women and developing diversity in business and civic leadership. Hofstra invited her to speak quarterly to business students, and she regularly trained interns. SMBC designated a scholarship in Rina’s name to enhance the Women’s Inclusion Network  professional development project. SMBC noted her continuous mentoring of students and professionals.

“That enthusiasm and willingness to take on things widened her scope,” Zaiser noted. In the Women’s Inclusion Network, Rina was a “tireless devotee,” and she answered a call to be a co-president. “We all voted for her. It was great to work with her. I’m really going to miss her joyfulness.”

Rina was a devoted member of Brighton Heights Reformed Church in St. George. She joined the denomination as a long-time member of the Reformed Church of America at Stony Brook, previously known as Christ Community Church.

Staten Islanders knew Rina as a passionate supporter of families at Dance Dance Dance, Ltd., where her daughter thrived as a student. Many knew Rina through her masterful knitting, which she shared lovingly with cancer patients, premature babies and many friends.

She loved ballroom dancing with Sam. She engaged her kids’ every pursuit with verve, including raising a rescue pitbull. From Rina, her children learned faith in God, the enduring affection of family, and how to cook from scratch.

When Rina contracted COVID, the disease was daily killing 2,000 in the U.S., 8,000 people worldwide. To her family, she endures in death as a true a love and steadfast guide. Quarantined, short of breath, and resolute, she typed her gratitude to the world: “Be kind to each other.”

Rina is survived by her husband, Sam; their children, Alex and Amelia, of Staten Island; parents, Art and Gloria Miguel; brother Arturo Miguel, his wife Kim, and nephew Gabriel; and brother Fernando Miguel, his wife Kim, and nephews Colin, Elias, and Reece.

A family memorial service will be recorded and broadcast on YouTube at 3p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21. Matthew Funeral Home, Staten Island, arranged the cremation. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to ameliorate effects of the pandemic.

The funeral home and Rina’s Facebook page will post updates about observances, including congregational observances in future months at Brighton Heights Reformed Church, Staten Island. To view the memorial, use these links:

Main link: https://youtu.be/7jQKsQzd1r4

Backup link: https://youtu.be/UHYVv2152-c

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Town of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro has announced the sale of personalized video messages from Santa, in lieu of the annual Holiday Light Spectacular featuring in-person visits with Santa at the Holtsville Ecology Site. All proceeds from the sale of the video, which costs $25, will go directly to the feeding and care of the more than 100 animals residing there.

Parents or loved ones can visit www.BrookhavenNY.gov/Holiday to complete a brief questionnaire about their child or children. In the spirit of Christmas magic, they will then receive a unique, personalized video message from Santa via email. Messages may include up to five children. The videos also include behind-the-scenes footage of Santa visiting with the animals who reside at the Holtsville Ecology Site year-round.

“While we are very disappointed that we are unable to host our Holiday Light Spectacular this year, we came up with an alternative that would still allow children to experience that special visit with Santa Claus in a very personal way,” said Sup. Losquadro.

A OneDrive link to your customized Santa video (MP4 file) will be sent to you via email as soon as production is complete. You will receive your video no later than Dec. 23. Please note, only a limited number of videos will be sold/produced; order early to insure you receive a message from Santa. For more information, please call 631-451-9276.

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Frederick Conrad Hoffmann III, of Port Jefferson Station, passed away Nov. 6 peacefully surrounded by his loving family. He was 84.

Fred was born in Jamaica, NY on Feb. 1, 1936 to Frederick Conrad Jr. and Clara (Borden) Hoffmann. He graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in 1953, from Adelphi University in 1962, and earned a Master’s in Administration at Stony Brook University In 1977. Fred was the captain of his high school and college track teams. 

Fred was a veteran of the Army National Guard from 1959 to 1964. He married the former Diane Kuhn in 1960 and was married for 60 wonderful years. Fred had a rewarding 26-year career as a physical education teacher and coach at Comsewogue High School, where he retired in 1991. Fred thoroughly enjoyed teaching and coaching many sports over the years, including track, winter track, cross country, soccer, golf and bowling. 

Throughout his life, Fred enjoyed traveling the country with his wife. His hobbies included fishing, golfing, bowling, cooking, watching sports, Jeopardy, politics, singing, giving nicknames and spending time with his children and grandchildren. Fred was known for his vast knowledge of many subjects, especially sports and sports statistics, much like a sports encyclopedia. Fred touched many lives with his wise advice, was known for his quick wit and sense of humor, and brought joy to all who met him.

Fred is survived by his loving wife, Diane, of 60 years. They were a wonderful example of what love is, often saying the secret to their long marriage was making each other laugh. Fred is survived by his siblings, Maland Hoffmann and his wife Barbara Ellen Weinkauf and her husband Steven and Garry Hoffmann and his wife Lynn; and numerous nieces and nephews. Fred and Diane had four children which he is survived by, including Frederick Conrad Hoffmann IV and his wife Lynda, and their children, Frederick Conrad V and his wife Kristie, Douglas and his wife Samantha, Logan, Trystan, and Brandon, of Port Jefferson, Matthew Hoffmann, of Royalton, VT and son Quinn, of Jacksonville, Fla; Peter Hoffmann, of Port Jefferson Station and Christine (Hoffmann) Joy and her husband David, and their children, Ellen, Amy, and Nicholas, of Buckeystown, MD. Fred adored his grandchildren, and all nine will miss their loving grandpa. Fred was recently blessed with a great grandson, Steele Thomas, and was able to meet him earlier this month. 

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, the family has decided to hold a virtual memorial gathering. Please join the family on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, at 7 p.m. for a virtual memorial gathering. For more information, and to RSVP to attend the service please go to: 

 https://www.virtualmemorialgatherings.com/memorial-services/frederick-conrad-hoffmann-iii

Board and team members of the North Shore Youth Council with Lillian Iorio, Suffolk Federal Miller Place Branch Manager (fifth from left) and Micah Schlendorf, AVP Retail Member Experience at Suffolk Federal (sixth from left). Photo from Suffolk Federal

In an effort to support the charitable work of local organizations that serve the areas of Suffolk Federal branch locations, the credit union has identified nonprofit organizations to provide financial support to. In Miller Place, Branch Manager Lillian Iorio recently presented a $1,000 contribution to the North Shore Youth Council.

“Supporting [the] North Shore Youth Council is more important now than ever,” said Iorio. “They have kept the doors open throughout this pandemic and continue to be a place where the community can go for support and guidance. At Suffolk Federal, it is an honor to support and assist them during these uncertain times.”

“On behalf of North Shore Youth Council Board of Directors, staff and most important the youth that we serve, we are so thankful to Suffolk Federal for this donation,” said Patrick Policastro, Executive Director of North Shore Youth Council. These funds will be used towards upgrades to our programs by purchasing recreational and educational supplies & equipment.”

Pictured in photo: Board and team members of the North Shore Youth Council with Lillian Iorio, Suffolk Federal Miller Place Branch Manager (fifth from left) and Micah Schlendorf, AVP Retail Member Experience at Suffolk Federal (sixth from left).  Photo from Suffolk Federal

The Huntington Arts Council (HAC) will present the juried exhibit Mirror Mirror virtually and at its Main Street Gallery from Nov. 13 to Dec. 19.

Artists were asked, “What kind of mirror does your artwork hold up to the world? During times of reflection is it a full length, vanity, compact, or a funhouse mirror containing many multitudes? Maybe it is more of a looking glass. Allow yourself to observe and then say, “I contain enough.” and let it out.”

Congratulations to all of the artists accepted into this show: Diane Brown Ardell, Sheri Berman, Sílvia Soares Boyer, Christie Devereaux De Cesare, Ellen DiFazio, Eliseea Faur, Jim Finlayson, Jan Guarino, Sueey J. Gutierrez, Heather Heckel, Imperfectly Perfect By Wendy, Margaret Henning, Julianna Kirk, Sarah Lambert, Kirk Larsen, Allison Mack, Kristen Memoli, Kasmira Mohanty, Gail Neuman, Luda Pahl, Sophia Pirone, Andrea Rhude, Thomas “TJ” Roszko, Khurshid Saleem, Lori Scarlatos, Meryl Shapiro, Neill Slaughter, Christina Stow, Tracy Tekverk, Amy Goodfellow Wagner, Stephen Wyler and Allison Zhang.

“I was so captivated and impressed by the broad spectrum of interpretations and varied mediums for the theme of Mirror, Mirror. The entries were so strong, but a concise vision for the exhibit began to form after reviewing every entry and guided my final selections. While jurying this exhibit I could not help but contemplate the way we “see” ourselves in so many places besides physical mirrors and photos,” said juror Caitlyn Shea.

“This exhibit truly highlights how we “see” ourselves when we interact with a person or animal, and how we intellectually “see” ourselves when we look contemplatively at the world around us – desiring a sense of purpose and belonging. The artists even “see” themselves mirrored in the act of creating. While Narcissus so egocentrically fell in love with his own reflection, the curious human act of searching for familiarity and mirrored traits in places like the cosmos, nature, and in other living creatures actually leads us to expand our horizons and grow our true sense of “self”. While artists are usually taught to look at their subjects objectively first, the artist cannot escape being reflected in their own work. This exhibit is an incredible exploration into introspective thought and self-reflection,” she said.

“The sentiment of this exhibition is in itself, reflective of our times. The challenges and changes that we have faced over the last several months have made us all look at things differently. The arts continue to provide a much needed “connection” to ourselves, communities, members and partners,” added  Executive Director of Huntington Arts Council, Marc Courtade. “Mirror Mirror is simultaneously thought provoking and uplifting. Please stop by our gallery or view on our website and “reflect” on this beautiful body of work.”

Mirror Mirror is on view at the Huntington Arts Council’s Main Street Gallery, 213 Main Street in Huntington, from Nov. 13 to Dec. 19 and on online at www.huntingtonarts.org. The gallery is open to the public Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and some Saturdays. Social distancing and masks are required. To schedule a visit, please call 631-271-8423.

Images courtesy of HAC