Amid whipping winds and frigid waves, hundreds of Long Islanders braved the conditions this weekend for a good cause at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai.

Whether they were dressed as penguins, donned knitted turkeys on their heads or wore next to nothing at all, they all dove in the roughly 45-degree water, raising money for the Special Olympics New York during the Town of Brookhaven’s 14th annual Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge.

Rebecca Hoffmann, director of development at Special Olympics New York and one of the lead organizers of this event, could not remember the conditions being so — ahem — unbearable for the plungers, and she appreciated each and every hardy soul who participated.

“The Special Olympics is super thankful to the plunging community for coming out and not letting the really cold conditions stop them,” said Hoffmann, who has run the Brookhaven plunge for two years and been with the Special Olympics for eight. “Over 600 people went in the water, and they raised over $140,000, which is good enough to sponsor 350 Special Olympic athletes for a year.”

She added, “I think it is truly amazing to see the community rally together in support of our special athletes.”

The $140,000 raised in 2023 surpassed the total from 2022 by $12,000.

But due to the harsher than expected conditions, a maximum of six people were permitted per plunge this time around. The teams took turns in two-minute intervals, running into the inhospitable waters of the Long Island Sound.

Some chose to go up to their ankles while others fully submerged themselves — a few hooligans even snapping a few selfies while doing so as if it were the middle of August.

One such group — a foursome known as Team Freezin’ Minions — treated the arctic surf like it was their own personal bathtub, dunked themselves into the drink decked out in full-length emperor penguin costumes.

Crystal Vega, captain of the Minions, has been polar plunging for eight years.

“We are so happy to support the Special Olympics today,” said Vega, whose team raised $6,636 despite her losing a water shoe in the Sound. “This is the roughest water I can ever remember, so trying to stay safe and getting the full ‘plunge’ experience was a little difficult, but we survived,” adding, “All of us, except my shoe.”

Other teams included the Arctic Zebras, the North Pole Karens, the Sassy Swimmers, groups of philanthropic students from Port Jefferson, Ward Melville, Mount Sinai and Miller Place high schools as well as Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner’s (R-Rocky Point) Frozen Eagles, who raised over $4,000 this year. Bonner has jumped in 13 out of 14 Brookhaven plunges, missing only in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plungers started hitting the icy waters at about 11:30 a.m., but the festivities kicked off hours early with a few brave souls enjoying hot chocolate, coffee and egg sandwiches as they nervously paced around the Cedar Beach parking lot, awaiting their inevitable appointment with the water.

The Suffolk County Civil Service Employees Association — aka the CSEA Crazies — provided their famous potato soup and spicy chili. They are familiar faces at Cedar Beach in November.

“We’ve been out here at the Polar Plunge since the beginning — all 13 years,” said Bob Brandow, a member of the Crazies who is responsible for making 100 quarts of chili. “Whatever money we get for the food we sell, in addition to the funds we raise via sponsorships, all goes to the Special Olympics. It’s a great cause.”

Team Sachem raised the most money, bringing in over $19,000 with Team Extraordinary in second with $14,500 and Big Ed’s Big Hearts in third with $12,700.

Annual holiday event celebrates shipyards and shorelines

By Rita J. Egan

With the holidays approaching, the Three Village Historical Society is preparing to light the way with a touch of history and seasonal decor.

The historical society will host its Candlelight House Tour on Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2. The event, titled Shipyards and Shorelines, will feature homes near the shores of Setauket Harbor, according to event co-chairs Patty Yantz and Patty Cain. Rounding out the house tour will be the Caroline Church of Setauket. The church celebrated its 300th anniversary this year.

Most of the four homes are on Shore Road, an area known as the Dyers Neck Historic District.

“There will be beautiful homes decorated in seasonal décor by our talented decorators,” Cain said.

The annual event allows visitors to visit the homes to see the designers’ work. 

“All of our events, no matter how glamorous, they are all rooted in education,” said Mari Irizarry, TVHS director. “The Candlelight House Tour, now in its 44th year, is our biggest fundraiser, with all proceeds going directly towards our operating costs. We welcome over 1,000 guests and over 100 volunteers to appreciate historic architecture of the Three Village community and learn about the people that helped build our community.”

Irizarry said the chosen homes are revealed to attendees when they pick up a booklet before their tour begins. This year’s choices include a mixture of historic homes and houses recognized for their aesthetic beauty.

“There is one grand house, down a hidden path behind gates that is ‘shore’ to be the belle of the ball,” Irizarry said.

As early as 1662, the area was once the center of shipbuilding. In the 19th century, the industry became a major commercial activity. According to Yantz and Cain, the tour will focus on shipbuilding, local architecture, oystering and whaling.

Irizarry added the 439-ton whaling ship Daisy was among the inspirations. The ship was built in 1871-72 at Nehemiah Hand’s shipyard, which was located along Shore Road in East Setauket.

According to Yantz, during the event, the society board members will share photos and documents from TVHS archives and little-known local history trivia.

In addition to the house tours, the historical society will host a reception Friday night at The Old Field Club from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and a breakfast Saturday at the club from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for additional fees. The breakfast and tour package allows attendees to visit the homes an hour before they are officially opened.

TVHS members presale begins today, Thursday, Nov. 2 and runs until Nov. 5. Tickets will be available for non-members starting Nov 6. The Friday, Dec. 1 tour runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets for members are $75 and non-members $90. Friday night’s tour and reception package ticket is $145 for members and $175 for non-members. Saturday’s tour is $55 for members and $70 for nonmembers. Saturday’s tour and breakfast combo is $90 and $120.

For more information, visit

Despite challenging weather conditions, more than 50 vendors, including crafts people, local businesses and Community agencies braved the elements and participated in the Sunshine Prevention Center’s Fall Family Festival in Port Jefferson Station on October 14.

In addition to vendors and supportive agencies, there were over 60 raffle prizes and a unique variety of auction items.  For children, there was face painting, balloon making and bouncy houses, courtesy of Tent Pro.   

Overall, the event provided a wonderful venue to network, educate and spread the word about community services, and working together towards common community concerns focused on students and their families.  One example of this is the 65 Narcan kits that were handed out by the Suffolk County Police Department and their training of at least 100 individuals. These kits save lives.  

All in the name of fun for a cause, all proceeds benefit Sunshine’s Fall programs and holiday assistance programs.  In addition, the monies collected and donated to the event go to specific programs offered through this important non-profit organization.  These include newly formed evening programs focused on students and their families.  The monthly parent support/educational workshop series will present a different topic run by different professionals.

In a press release, the organization thanked Nancy Campo who was responsible for all the raffles; Robert Cohen, Sunshine Prevention Board’s President, who donated sports memorabilia for the silent auction; Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich and Hank Heissenbuttel of Long Island Charities Foundation for their ongoing support of Sunshine’s mission and programs; and the Suffolk County Youth Bureau.

Sunshine Prevention Center is located at 468 Boyle Road, Port Jefferson Station. For additional information about their programs, visit www., call 631-476-3099 or email [email protected].

Historical re-enactors Mort Rosen and Donna Smith at last year's event. Photo by Raina Angelier

By Rita J. Egan

For nearly 30 years, the Three Village Historical Society (TVHS) has brewed up ghostly fun with a twist of history at its annual Spirits Cemetery Tour. The popular event returns on Saturday, Oct. 21 with A Century of Chicken Hill. 

Attendees will visit 10 locations in the Caroline Episcopal Church of Setauket and Setauket Presbyterian Church graveyards, where they will learn about the lives of former Chicken Hill residents.

Mari Irizarry, TVHS director, said the society’s educational committee writes and develops the scripts for the annual event. While some dialogues could be reused in the past, all the scripts are original this year.

A scene from the 2022 Spirits Tour. Photo by Raina Angler

“This year, we’re going to see some characters with names that we definitely know like Ridgeway, like Golden,” Irizarry said. “People who were really active in the Chicken Hill community just 100 years ago, 120 years ago.” Joseph Ridgeway was a key investor in the Rubber Factory which once operated in Setauket, and the Goldens were third-generation Jewish residents in the Three Village area.

During previous tours, actors playing the spirits would talk directly to attendees and describe their character’s life. While a few will do the same this year, overall, guests will walk in on conversations taking place among Chicken Hill spirits.

“You will listen in on a conversation they are having about maybe the shipyard off Shore Road or about the new railway that’s coming to Stony Brook,” Irizarry said.

With descendants of some of the former residents depicted on the tour still living in the area, the society’s director said they had the opportunity to confirm a fact about one spirit with a great-grandchild who lives in Stony Brook. “We don’t get to do that very often,” she said.

This year marks the first Spirits Tour Kimberly Phyfe, TVHS development coordinator, has worked on and will experience. She said she is excited to see it and knows regulars will, too.

“Even if you have come to the Spirits Tour in the past, year after year, you’re going to see new characters, you’re going to meet new spirits,” Phyfe said. “We have different locations. Even though, obviously they’re in the same church graveyards, it’s a totally different experience, because it’s all new scripts and a lot of new actors, a lot of returning actors, too.”

She added that researching using the historical society’s archives with Scott Ferrara, collections and exhibits coordinator, was fascinating.

Donna Smith portrays Maria Smith Williamson during previous Spirits Tour

“We were able to reference pieces in our archives that directly relate to and support the scripts of the Chicken Hill characters,” Phyfe said, adding among the items are the Ridgeway family bible, and items listed in a ledger that Rubber Factory laborer and Chicken Hill community member Jacob Hart’s wife, Hannah, bought at the Tyler General Store and more. 

“Just knowing that our archives are in direct relation to the program that we are putting on is really incredible to be a part of,” she said. “lt’s living history. It’s not just in a box on the shelf somewhere. We’re able to bring that out into the community.”

Phyfe added characters not depicting a specific person will be based on the types of people they have documentation on.

Among those who played a part in writing and editing the script were Town of Brookhaven Historian Barbara Russell and professional editor Stephanie Sakson.

Sakson has portrayed spirits twice in the past and helped with the scripts. She said for the Chicken Hill dialogues, she fine-tuned them and added some more history and humor. She said researching Chicken Hill was interesting.

A scene from a previous Spirits Tour. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

“I really didn’t know anything about Chicken Hill,” the Port Jefferson resident said. “I told my friends ‘you have to come see this!'”

She hopes attendees will gain “an appreciation that history is a living thing” and be inspired to do further research by visiting places such as the historical society and library.

“It’s not like it happened and it’s over,” she said. “You can see around you the effects of history, and how it has shaped how we feel about where we live and gives us an appreciation of how colorful and rich the place where we live is.”

The 29th Annual Spirits Tour will be held on Saturday, Oct. 21 (Rain date Oct. 28). Tours, which are approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes long, leave from the Setauket Presbyterian Church, 5 Caroline Ave., Setauket every 15 minutes starting at 5 p.m. The last tour departs at 7:30 p.m. 

Irizarry urges all tourgoers to arrive early, dress for extended time outdoors, wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a flashlight. An exhibit with additional information on Chicken Hill will be on display at Setauket Presbyterian Church throughout the night and complementary apple cider from Ann Marie’s Farmstand in Setauket and donuts donated from local supermarkets will be served.

Tickets in advance at are $25. Tickets on the night of the event, if available, are $30. For more information, call 631-751-3730.

By Heidi Sutton

The 14th annual Village Cup Regatta, a friendly competition between Mather Hospital and the Village of Port Jefferson, set sail on Sept. 9 on the Long Island Sound for two good causes.

The Regatta consists of Yacht Club-skippered sailboat where employees from the Hospital and Village help crew the boats, which race in one of three classes based on boat size.

Presented by the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, the Regatta raises funds for Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program and the Lustgarten Foundation, which funds pancreatic cancer research. This year’s Regatta, which was won by the Mather team, raised $94,000 which was divided equally between the two groups. Mather Hospital’s Executive Director Kevin McGeachy accepted the Village Cup and the check for his team at a celebratory Skipper’s Reception at the Port Jefferson Village Center following the races. Mayor Lauren Sheprow represented the Port Jeff Village team.

Actor, director and local resident Ralph Macchio once again served as Village Cup Regatta Celebrity Ambassador for the event. Macchio has helped to publicize the important work of the two programs funded by the Regatta for the last ten years. His wife, Phyllis, is a nurse practitioner in Mather Hospital’s Palliative Medicine Program.



By Leah Chiappino

Like most nonprofit organizations, the Smithtown Children’s Foundation, since the pandemic, is helping more families with less funds. 

Christine Fitzgerald, executive director and one of the founders of the Smithtown Children’s Foundation, said calls of housing insecurity especially are coming in large numbers to the nonprofit, which assists Smithtown-area families in need.

“I’m sure if you ask people who are not paying attention, they will say, ‘Oh, no, everything’s fine,’” she said. “It’s not. It’s really not.”

Fitzgerald said she received a call from a Commack homeless shelter last year about a 22-year-old woman who was raising her three teenage siblings, seeking to provide them with more stable housing. The young woman had her home health aide license, but her car was dead, so the foundation raised the funds to fix it.

After that, Fitzgerald told the shelter to call her and “vouch” for other moms in need.

“We get a lot of frequent flyers in the system, and we just don’t have the resources for that, to be throwing money around,” she said.

The next call came for a single mom with three kids working several jobs while caring for a baby with health issues. She was close to getting into an apartment but needed help paying the $1,700 deposit fee.

“She does sound like a real hustler, a gig employee, she does DoorDash, does hair, does balloon arches, does everything,” Fitzgerald said.

The woman didn’t live in Smithtown, so Fitzgerald couldn’t write the check from foundation funds. However, through Hart to Hearts, a chapter of the Smithtown Children’s Foundation named in memory of a local single dad who adopted several children, she started a fundraiser through Facebook. 

They wound up having enough funds to cover movers and are offering the mother school supplies, backpacks and gift cards for clothing.

Through the foundation’s Anthony’s Hope chapter, the foundation came across another young mom sleeping in her car. She works full-time and delivers for Uber Eats and DoorDash on the side while trying to save up for an apartment deposit. The foundation is also raising funds for her, Fitzgerald said, who said she vetted the women in need before agreeing to help with the social workers who referred her. 

“I said ‘I can’t just throw good money after bad if I’m going to pay a deposit, and then she’s going to move in and she has no way to support herself and she’s going to get kicked out,”’ she said. “I need to know more.”

These stories have been common since the pandemic, according to Fitzgerald.

“We’re getting people in shelters or people saying I need housing, and I can’t pay the security deposit,” she said.

Yolanda Robano-Gross, CEO of Ronkonkoma-based Options for Community Living, said she does come across homeless people in Smithtown and the surrounding areas.

“There’s a lot of families out there,” she said. “There are people that kind of manage and float under the radar. They couch surf from friend to friend. They are able to maintain their cars. They have a low-end gym membership, which allows them a place to shower.”

But, she added, “The large majority of the general population has a very skewed picture. They picture that person when they get off the train at Penn Station, see the show and have dinner, who has the cardboard sign and is sitting on the corner. And while that’s certainly a part of the population, it’s not the majority.”

Homelessness isn’t always visible in areas like Smithtown, according to Mike Guiffrida, associate director of the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, which runs several outreach and direct service programs, including a street outreach team.

Giuffrida has seen homelessness increase among the elderly, who are being priced out of the housing market and generally have medical debt, and young mothers between the ages of 25 to 35, who cannot afford the cost of living and do not have established careers. 

The backlog of evictions put on hold during the pandemic has recently started to pick up.

“I think an area like Smithtown is a really good example of an opportunity to bring awareness to an issue like homelessness while it might not be overly seen and visible within the community,” Giuffrida said.

Some homeless people throughout Long Island live in their cars but do not have a consistent space to park their cars, making it difficult to track them down. It often takes good Samaritans calling and reporting the person for the coalition to offer them services.

“We really rely on the community to be the eyes and the ears because homelessness looks different on Long Island than it does in other areas, not only in the sense that you don’t see it but also in the trends of how people are living specifically,” he said.

In Smithtown, libraries have helped serve and identify the homeless, Guiffrida said. He added that giving them a place to use the computer to access resources has been instrumental. Police have also played a role.

“We’ve seen this encouraging trend where police are kind of seeking an alternative and more supportive way to engage people that are in that situation,” Giuffrida noted. “They’re contacting us and partnering with the outreach teams and other support.”

With some exceptions, such as veterans, youth or victims of domestic violence, households have to go through the Department of Social Services to access shelters in Suffolk County, said Giuffrida. When people call and ask for the nearest shelter, the coalition cannot give them an answer because the nearest shelter may not be available or the person may not be eligible. 

Data on the number of homeless people in the area is difficult to interpret, according to Guiffrida.

A spokesperson for the Suffolk County Police Department said they could not “quantify calls about homeless people.” When asked about the number of calls received about the homeless in Smithtown this year, due to the fact they are classified as a disturbance, a code used for several issues such as parking problems, dogs barking, loud parties, loose animals and neighbor disputes. 

Smithtown Public Information Officer Nicole Garguilo said the Town supervisor’s office had not received calls from residents about the homeless.

Data for last year on the number of homeless on Long Island from the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless include 9,687 total people, 3,692 single adults and 6,005 households with children.

If you see someone you think may be homeless, call the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless helpline at 631-464-4314, ext. 118.

By Sofia Levorchick

The 8th annual Chicken Hill Country Picnic and Barbecue, hosted by the Three Village Community Trust on Saturday, Aug. 19, gathered over 100 people on the grounds of the Bruce House at 148 Main St. in Setauket to celebrate the history of Chicken Hill and support TVCT.

Attendees enjoyed live music and the spread of barbecued food catered by Bagel Express, with opportunities to participate in raffles and learn about Chicken Hill’s history through TVCT’s videos.

The event began around 4 p.m., with TVCT president Herb Mones delivering a speech of gratitude, thanking the community members for their continual support. He awarded The Mr. and Mrs. De Zafra Scholarship and Dr. Watson Scholarship to two devoted teen volunteers: 15-year-old Lily Rosengard and 17-year-old Eve Rosengard, respectively.

“The organization has a large impact on our community, and I am beyond grateful to play a part in their events and help out my community,” Eve Rosengard said of this honor.

Eve and her sister Lily assisted in setting up this year’s Chicken Hill event as volunteers and the daughters of the trust’s artistic director, Michael Rosengard. Michael Rosengard featured prominently in organizing the event, enhancing the grounds with antiques, paintings, handmade decorations and photographs. 

Motivated by his ownership of two of the factory homes on his street and his membership in the TVCT, Michael Rosengard took it upon himself to research the historical background of the factory homes. He further coordinated that with articles that state when the houses were built, solidifying their origins.

“This event is aimed toward commemorating the history of Chicken Hill,” Michael Rosengard said. “Without that recognition of our history, people wouldn’t realize the importance of where they live.”

As Mones concluded his speech, he shifted his focus to commemorating the history of the Chicken Hill area, which was home to factory tenements that accommodated immigrants who worked at a five-story factory that was previously situated across from the Bruce House. 

That factory produced shoes, belts, baskets and hoses until it burnt down in the early 20th century. Chicken Hill was deemed its name as those who lived in the area began raising chickens that were often let out to run awry and came back home at night to be fed. 

Mones connected this history to the present-day community. “The three houses behind me were those provided to the immigrants by the factory, and they have been preserved by the Trust,” he said. “I think what’s important is that we come and celebrate Chicken Hill. We look back, but we also recognize with gratitude where we are today.”

Among the attendees present were numerous community leaders, including New York State Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson), Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Setauket), former state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) — who is running against Anthony Figliola for the Suffolk County Legislature’s 5th District — and business leader Dave Calone, a Democrat running against Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) for Suffolk County executive.

Kornreich has been involved in this event for years, this time strumming the guitar and singing some tunes in the live band. He said the event has progressed significantly each year, particularly noting its emphasis on celebrating the land on which it is held. 

“I admire the opportunity to get together with the people who are the original inhabitants who grew up here, like Helen Sells,” president of the Setalcott Native American Council, Kornreich said. “It’s important to honor them and respect their continued residency in this area.”

Calone had attended the event in the past and said he had enjoyed it every time. “I think what’s great about the event is that it brings people of all different ages from all around this community to understand the history we have in our area,” he said. “It helps us remember where we came from as a community.”

While in office, Englebright helped secure funds to preserve the historical houses on Chicken Hill. Englebright’s successor Flood said he plans to continue this work, preserving the Chicken Hill houses and maintaining their historical significance within the Three Village community. 

“This area is rich in history, dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War,” Flood noted. “It’s highly important to maintain the history so that the future generations can continue to learn about the history of their neighborhoods.”

Sells, also known as Morning Star, took part in this event. She was raised on the lands of Chicken Hill, describing a sense of deep connection to the area.

“This is home,” the Setalcott leader said. “It will always be home. There are so many memories here,” adding, “I love it here. This event means a lot to me.”

Volunteers and trust members said the event has made notable progress over the past eight years. While raising money for the trust, the event has also fostered awareness about the value of the Three Village community’s local history.

“Throughout the years I’ve attended and volunteered, the event has grown and expanded,” Eve Rosengard said. “I’m ecstatic to see that growth, and I can’t wait for what next year has to bring.”

Meet Jeff Corwin at the Smithtown Performing Arts Center on Aug. 27.

By Melissa Arnold

‘We cannot protect what we do not cherish, and we will not cherish what we do not know…’ — Jeff Corwin

Jeff Corwin has been a vocal and passionate advocate for wildlife and the natural world since the 1990s. The celebrated biologist and conservationist is a recognizable face on television, hosting shows including Disney Channel’s Going Wild, Animal Planet’s The Jeff Corwin Experience, and more recently, Ocean Treks and Wildlife Nation on ABC.

From a cobra festival in India and unexplored jungles in South America, to the African savanna and beyond, Corwin continues to teach audiences that our incredible world deserves protection.

On Aug. 27, Jeff Corwin will partner with Sweetbriar Nature Center to share stories from his adventures around the world and highlight the challenges faced by a variety of endangered species.

The special event, held at the newly renovated Smithtown Performing Arts Center (SPAC), will serve as a wonderful education event hosted by Sweetbriar, a not-for-profit corporation. 

“The Smithtown Performing Arts Center board is always seeking out opportunities to help out community-based nonprofits and share our beautiful, historic space.” said Michael Mucciolo, board president for SPAC. “Our theater has a long history of attracting families with young kids, and I think they’ll have a wonderful time seeing something they’ve never seen before and learning from such an expert like Jeff.”

Sweetbriar Nature Center is situated on 54 acres of garden, woodland, field and wetland habitats on the Nissequogue River. Hundreds of species of plants and animals call the center home — many arrived as part of their extensive wildlife rehabilitation program.

“Everything that we do here is for the benefit of the animals,” said Janine Bendicksen, curator and wildlife rehabilitation coordinator for the center. “Many of the animals that get brought in to us are often at death’s door, sick enough that they allow a human to pick them up. About half of them are successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild, which is fantastic.”

A lot of the patients they receive have similar stories, Bendicksen explained. A concerned member of the community might stumble upon an injured animal on their property or while out on a hike and contact their local Animal Control department, which then reaches out to Sweetbriar.

Whether it’s a wounded eagle on a bike trail or a couple of rabbits playing chase in a mechanic’s garage, the staff at Sweetbriar have seen just about everything.

Around 100 of Sweetbriar’s permanent residents are animals that are permanently injured or otherwise unreleasable. A few birds, including a great horned owl named Lily, have been there longer than Bendicksen has — more than 20 years.

Bendicksen studied fine art and art history, eventually finding her way to Sweetbriar as curator. In addition to her work with rehabilitation, she is responsible for creating art displays and supervising creative projects around the property.

“I was one of those kids who people were always bringing their animals to, and I tried my best to help them. Sweetbriar hits on everything that makes me happy,” she said.

The center’s educational team works hard to instill that same wonder and love of nature in people of all ages. This is especially evident during the summer, when hundreds of children from around Long Island come to the center for weeklong enrichment programs or day visits.

Throughout the school year, Sweetbriar also host field trips, opportunities for families, and in-school presentations.

The dual mission of education and rehabilitation is what makes Jeff Corwin the ideal guest speaker for the event, said Sweetbriar board member Maureen Calamia.

“Jeff has a great reputation and deep care for wildlife, especially those species that are borderline extinct. His enthusiasm is such an asset,” she said.

With only four dedicated staff members, Sweetbriar relies on the ongoing support of volunteers and donors. 

“A lot of people unfortunately don’t know what’s going on in their own backyard, or how to treat nature or wildlife. Sweetbriar does a tremendous service through their programming, both in person and also through their social media, which has a global following,” Calamia said. “They are great stewards, and everyone knows to turn to them if there’s an animal in need. This event is a wonderful way to support their hard work.”

“Tales from the Field with Jeff Corwin” will be held on Sunday, Aug. 27 at the Smithtown Performing Arts Center, 2 East Main Street, Smithtown at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $50 and can be purchased online at or at This event is made possible by a grant from the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning.

Sweetbriar is always in need of donations and volunteers, regardless of experience or skills. Visit their website or call 631-979-6344 learn how you can help.

La Buena Vida Restaurant, 714 Montauk Highway, Moriches will host the 6th annual Pig Roast fundraiser to benefit Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson on Wednesday, July 26 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. $30 donation per person includes dinner and soft drinks with a special musical performance by Damaged Goods. Reservations suggested by calling 631-909-1985.

Geoff, Bob, Karen and Patrick Engel at a previous Hoops for Hope event in memory of their family member. File photo by Kevin Redding

Hope House Ministries will host the 7th Annual Jake Engel Hoops for Hope Fundraiser at the Cedar Beach Basketball Court, 244 Harbor Beach Road in Mt. Sinai on Friday, July 28 from 4 to 8 p.m. with a 3v3 Basketball Tournament, food, music, basket prizes and raffles. All are welcome to enjoy a fun, exciting night. All proceeds to benefit Hope House Ministries. To register for the 3v3 tournament or for more information please call 631-473-8796 or email at [email protected].