Movers and Shakers

Michael J. Winfield Sr. Photo from Marquis Who’s Who
By Aidan Johnson

Being a teacher can mean more than just helping kids learn arithmetic and reading. Teachers have the power to leave a lasting impression on the lives of their students. Such is the case with Michael J. Winfield Sr.

Winfield, who has been an educator for over 25 years, with teaching and administrative posts at Shoreham-Wading River, Riverhead and South Country school districts, among others across Long Island, currently serves as a sociology instructor at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip.

Though an accomplished educator and administrator, he did not originally intend to go into that field.

“I kind of backed into it,” Winfield said in an interview. “I was transitioning from my business … and I went back to school, and I was going to stay in security.”

While Winfield was working in the security sector, he wanted to get his master’s in sociology. However, after a deal for the security company to pay for his master’s did not pan out, he left and began working as a substitute teacher.

Although substitute teaching was supposed to be only temporary, he found himself enjoying the work.

Teaching was “something that I just kind of warmed up to,” Winfield said. “Before you know it, I was in my master’s program, and I was taking additional courses to get my teacher’s certificate.”

As an educator, Winfield knew it wasn’t just his job to know what to teach kids; he also needed to understand how to teach them. He described how if his students needed help understanding a particular subject or concept, he wouldn’t automatically fault them. Instead, he would ask himself what he could do better to help register with them.

“I think the students appreciated that because they needed those opportunities, those extra looks at things,” Winfield said. “I always learn from them how I can be a better teacher [and a] better person.”

While students may forget their teachers are still humans, they can still make mistakes. Winfield never felt afraid to admit or apologize to his students if he was having a lousy day.

But Winfield’s efforts continue beyond the classroom. While at Spring Valley High School, his supervisor tasked him with creating a Black History Month program that also included all members of the community.

To achieve this, Winfield focused the celebration on community member Edmund Gordon, a well-known psychologist and mentee of W.E.B Du Bois (an American sociologist, socialist, historian and Pan-American civil rights activist), and created a community service award for him and his wife, Susan Gordan.

Winfield also partnered with community-based organizations to bring his diverse community full of different ethnic backgrounds together during a single event.

“We just had so many different people that all came and participated, and really that’s the goal: to share the history with everyone,” he said.

While these types of celebrations can help expand a community’s knowledge of Black history in America, Winfield still feels that the U.S. slipped in instructing what Black people have contributed to American history. 

“There are some periods of history, as you must be aware, that were not so good,” he said. “But we have to learn from them. We can’t hide them.”

“I think there are some people in the educational world that feel as though these things are divisive, and they’re not divisive,” he added. “They help us learn from it, and they help us grow because history is instructive.”

Winfield’s dedication to his career shows in his continued advocacy work. He still has students reach out to him and give him updates on their lives.

“I had a couple of students this year that sent me cards, and in one card, the student said that she thanked me for creating a safe space to learn,” he said.

Winfield, who has authored “Mentoring Matters: A Practical Approach to Fostering Reflective Practices,” a book that advises teachers in their formative years, among other books, has successfully left his mark on the community around him. For that, he is invaluable.

Michael J. Winfield Sr. is also listed in “Marquis Who’s Who.”

The Huangs celebrate 30 years in business with their children Jason and Amy. Photo from the Huang family

By Mallie Kim

Xin Tian Huang came to Long Island with a couple changes of clothes and a clear goal: to learn English and send money back home to his family in Fujian, a province in southeastern China. Huang, now co-owner with his wife Zhi Dan Huang of Kai Li Kitchen in East Setauket, was 18 in 1981 when he landed at John F. Kennedy Airport on an early, frozen January morning. He was shocked and delighted to experience knee-deep snow for the first time, and another discovery soon followed: American soda. “The first day, I drank Coca Cola — ‘What is that?’” he remembered thinking. At the time he’d never even seen Coke advertised in China. “It surprised me,” he said.

The Huangs on their wedding day. Photo from the Huang family

This sense of adventure and enthusiasm would serve Huang well over the next four decades as he and Zhi Dan worked hard toward the classic American Dream: support family back home, provide a better life for the next generation and find success along the way.

China and the United States established diplomatic relations in 1979, opening the door for families like Huang’s to send their children to the United States to study and work. So in New York, Huang trekked from his uncle’s home in Hauppauge to the language school at Hunter College in Manhattan several days a week, leveraging the long train ride to practice English while making friends with other commuters. He spent the rest of his time working in his uncle’s restaurant Hau Po, all while sending money back to his family’s farming village.

In 1990, as he began preparing to open Kai Li Kitchen, Huang took a trip back to China, where his cousin introduced him to a classmate at a party, a young woman named Zhi Dan. The two dated briefly, saw their values aligned, and married within three months. We were “just attracted, and 1, 2, 3!” he said. “Marry first, and then talk later!”

After three years of letters and once-a-month international phone calls, Zhi Dan was finally able to immigrate to Long Island and join him at the new Kai Li Kitchen. Huang said he chose the name because Kai Li is easy to remember, and the Chinese characters translate to “triumphant victory forever,” an auspicious motto for starting a new life with his new wife.

Huang called himself Steve and his wife Gina, to simplify communication with customers, and the newly christened Gina was just as goal oriented as her husband. She made time to learn some English with a volunteer tutor at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library but otherwise spent the years juggling the restaurant and motherhood. “I worked 30 years. I made wontons — 30 years,” she said. “We had six years with no days off.”

The Huangs celebrate 30 years in business with their children Jason and Amy. Photo from the Huang family

Their children Jason and Amy, now 31 and 24, simply came along for the ride, sleeping under the counter during the 5 p.m. rush or standing on small chairs to help take orders once they were tall enough. “It was very, very difficult when we came here,” she said, pointing to the large age gap between Jason and Amy. “That’s why we had seven years with no children, because [it was a] difficult life.”

They pressed on, determined to accomplish their goals, falling in love not only with each other but also their North Shore community.

Regular customers knew the children and watched them grow. Jason would ride a small bike around the restaurant lobby or sit and draw with a stubby pencil. One day, a customer brought in a full box of colored pencils for him. It meant the world to Zhi Dan. “My son right now still saves this box because he says, ‘This is my first gift,’” Zhi Dan said, adding that to this day, she brings up this story whenever that customer drops by for a meal.

By the late 90s, the U.S. economy was riding high, and people ate out more. Kai Li Kitchen started to thrive. The Huangs, by then American citizens, were able to pay off the money they’d borrowed to start the restaurant. Eventually, Jason and Amy earned degrees and started successful careers — Jason as a financial advisor, and Amy as a software engineer at HBO Max. For the Haungs, it meant their hard work had paid off. “This is my goal — this is my dream,” Zhi Dan said. “My husband and I didn’t go to college.”

Zhi Dan loves that her children have integrated so well into American culture, she said, partly because of the discrimination she felt upon moving to the United States — of people seeing her “with different eyes.” She doesn’t want that for them. Though the kids know Chinese celebrations, food and traditions well, she said, “they have American friends; they know American history. They know American culture.”

Other dreams have also come true, thanks to the Huangs’ hard work at Kai Li Kitchen: They paid off their home loan, and they helped other relatives immigrate to the United States as well. The Huangs also made a point to give back to the community they’ve grown to love. Over the years, they said, they have donated food to community events and the fire department, raised money for St. Jude’s Children’s cancer center and even supported a Chinese cultural festival at Emma Clark library — the same place a volunteer tutored Zhi Dan years before.

The Huangs in their restaurant. Photo from the Huang family

Zhi Dan said she no longer feels seen “with different eyes” and credits the Setauket community with that. “I know location is very important,” she said, highlighting the school district and the kindness of neighbors and customers as a few of the area’s assets. “That’s why we’re here 30 years. This location is so good.”

Huang says there is much less snow during Long Island winters these days, but still plenty of Coca Cola — they sell cans of it in their restaurant. And it’s obvious the optimism has remained as well. After more than 30 years cooking sesame chicken, pork fried rice and wonton soup in Setauket, he shares nothing but love for his community. “The thing is, we love this town,” he said with his characteristic enthusiasm. “I tell everybody: This is my home town!”

The hard work doesn’t stop now that the Huangs have achieved their original goals. Now they have new targets in mind: Someday Zhi Dan would like to take more English classes and study real estate, and Huang dreams of driving an RV all the way to California, to see more of this country they are so proud to call home.

And if the past is any indicator, these dreams are just around the corner. “If you have a goal, keep going,” Zhi Dan said. “It can come true.”

Kai Li Kitchen is located at 207 Main St. in East Setauket.

Author Janet Werner, left, and artist Kyle Horne display their finished book, ‘A Pear in an Apple Tree: A Journey with Multiple Sclerosis.’ Photo courtesy Kyle Horne

One of TBR News Media’s very own recently embarked on a life-changing collaboration with a former educator. 

Kyle Horne, a local artist and frequent contributor of political cartoons and editorial illustrations to our newspapers, has partnered with his former teacher, Janet Werner, to create a book about multiple sclerosis. Together, they tell a moving story of overcoming adversity, revealing a powerful, enduring bond between a student and teacher.

A journey with MS

Werner was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, in 1986. At the onset of her symptoms, she recalled a feeling of numbness in her legs and overwhelming fatigue.

“I actually took off for two weeks from work that first year and just slept,” she said. “I got an MRI at the time, and it showed plaque in the brain, which is white lesions. Depending upon where these white lesions are seen in the brain, it could affect your mobility, cognition and eyesight.”

As the years advanced, Werner’s symptoms gradually progressed. During a startling incident one morning, she temporarily lost her eyesight and hearing completely. “What seemed like hours was about 20 minutes,” she said. “I was terrified because it had never happened before.”

Nearly four decades after her initial diagnosis, Werner explained she is “doing pretty well” despite the heightening symptoms with each passing year. She said managing the symptoms requires plenty of rest and an upbeat mentality.

With husband Ernest, “we try to get some exercise, eat correctly and just keep a positive frame of mind,” she said. “Of course, life is very stressful but we try to be positive.”

‘A Pear in an Apple Tree’

Over several years, Werner wrote “A Pear in an Apple Tree: A Journey with Multiple Sclerosis,” saying she was motivated to write the book for various reasons. 

Among them, she noted a lack of public understanding surrounding MS and its symptoms. She also wanted to share her story with those experiencing MS, preparing them for the path ahead and informing them that they are not alone.

“Sometimes with any challenge in your life, you feel like you’re the only one who has this specific condition or challenge, whether it’s MS or cancer and you kind of hide away from the rest of the world,” she said. “That’s not good to do that. I wanted the ‘MSers’ to feel that we’re in this together.”

Werner recalled the moment that gave the book its name. She said she was eating dinner with her husband, struggling with her symptoms that day, when she blurted out, “I feel like a pear in an apple tree, kind of out of place.”

Despite the numerous challenges through the years, Werner said she wrote the book to let others know they have a place with an MS community that also understands their struggles.

A dynamic team

‘You have to educate yourself about the disease and how it affects your body. And then learn to adapt.’

— Janet Werner

The collaboration between Werner and Horne has been decades in the making. A graduate of Deer Park High School, Horne was her student and a member of the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions Club, which Werner had advised.

“He would invite me to some of his book signings and art shows, and we kept in close contact over the years,” she said. “When I was doing this book, I immediately thought of him because I loved his artwork.”

Horne described the early stages of preparing the book with his former teacher. He was eager to sign onto the project. 

“She came to me with this idea for a book dealing with MS and how it affects her,” Horne said. Although managing symptoms “can be difficult, those challenges have been very helpful in developing her into the person she is today.”

Along with the cover and back cover, Horne prepared several illustrations throughout the book, tying into the themes of each of its chapters. Together, Werner and Horne developed the characters of Ned and Nancy Neuron.

Through the illustrations he prepared for the book, Horne said he learned much about Werner and her experiences with MS, describing a sense of growth and mutual understanding forged throughout their creative journey together.

“I don’t have MS, but I’m able to sympathize more with Janet and the struggles that she’s had,” the artist said. “She has a very strong spirit when it comes to this.”

An optimistic future

Following the success of their first collaboration, Werner and Horne are already working on the next project, a coloring book that adds an interactive component to the story of Ned and Nancy Neuron.

Werner said she remains “very hopeful” that researchers will soon discover a cure for MS. Analyzing the scope of scientific investigation into the condition, she said there is considerable overlap between ongoing MS research and similar autoimmune diseases.

“Research that’s being conducted for, say, AIDS or lupus is also being conducted for MS,” she said. “Stony Brook [University] has an MS center, and their research is going on at a rapid rate. So I am so hopeful.”

Despite the decades she has spent with MS, Werner shares a message of resolve in the face of hardship.

“I think you have to keep fighting,” she said. “You cannot give up. If you’re faced with a challenge, you have to educate yourself about the disease and how it affects your body. And then learn to adapt.”

Horne said the collaboration with Werner has been a personal experience as well. Learning about MS, he said, has informed his outlook on his own life.

“I have a condition known as ulcerative colitis, also known as Crohn’s disease,” Horne said. “Understanding the perspective of another chronic illness, and from a different person, has come to help with my own process and working through my own things.”

He added, “When it comes to something like this it can be very scary at times, but it also can be very rewarding knowing the perseverance of getting through a struggle like that.”

To learn more about MS, visit To purchase “A Pear in an Apple Tree,” visit

Indu, left, with sister Kiran Wadhwa at The Meadow Club’s new garden area. Photo from Indu Kaur

By Mallie Kim

Indu Kaur was destined to rise from the ashes.

Indu, right, celebrating Christmas with her sister Kiran and her mother several years after the train accident. Photo from Indu Kaur

Kaur, who runs The Meadow Club banquet hall in Port Jefferson Station and the Curry Club at SāGhar in Port Jefferson, was born in Afghanistan and survived a series of tragedies to become the woman she is — dedicated to family, exuding confidence and poised to solve the next problem.

In the early hours of July 14, 2018, as she watched flames shoot from the roof of The Meadow Club, Kaur made a promise. “‘The tragedy that happened to us will not happen to anybody else,’” she recalled saying to her father and business partner, Kulwant Wadhwa, thinking about the christening and wedding they were scheduled to host that day. “‘We will make sure everybody’s celebration goes on.’”

And she did, together with her father and sister Kiran, the club’s creative director. Within hours, they secured a new venue and redirected staff members and guests.

Long before Kaur was running hospitality businesses, she was a small girl gathering eggs for breakfast outside the earthen home in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, she shared with her parents, grandmother, great grandmother, aunts and uncles. Life felt simple inside the multigenerational Sikh home. Kaur remembered the whole family eating meals together, sitting on traditional hand-sewn floor mattresses. After dinner was the real treat: “The whole family would do this beautiful dance, and then smile, laugh, just be free,” she said.

Outside the home, things were not so free or peaceful. In 1979, when Kaur was a toddler, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The United States supported the anti-Soviet rebellion of the Afghan mujahideen guerrilla fighters.

Kaur’s ancestors had immigrated to Afghanistan from India several generations before, and Kaur’s father, Wadhwa, who took over his own father’s job as pharmacist and family provider at age 15, remembered the nation with affection. “The country was very safe before the Soviet Union,” he said, recalling there were even buses of American tourists. “It all changed.” 

Indu, in chef hat, with her managers and sister.
Indu runs the omelet station at brunches. Photo from Indu Kaur

Smaller communities like Jalalabad became hotbeds of fighting, so in the early 1980s, Wadhwa decided to move his family to the relatively safer capital city of Kabul, where his pharmacy business thrived and the family’s lifestyle improved. They had running water, raised wooden beds and a proper school, but also a backdrop of fear, with unpredictable fighting and bullets flying. “Seeing our parents not smiling or not dancing after dinner was something we really missed,” she said. 

Worse, stray bullets twice hit close to home: One bullet struck a girl at Kaur’s school, and another killed her cousin Harpreet, who was only a couple years older than Kaur. “It could have been me,” she said.

Kaur’s grandmother shielded the children as best she could, trying to bring fun into daily life. “I used to look forward to coming home and washing dishes,” Kaur said, remembering her grandmother would let dishes pile up so the two of them could wash up together after school. “I enjoyed getting wet in the soapy water, and then she would get the hose and, you know.”

In February 1989, the Soviet soldiers withdrew from Afghanistan, and for non-Muslim minorities, life worsened further. Wadhwa remembers the mujahideen, predecessors of the Taliban, told the Sikh community, “‘You guys have three options: You guys either leave the country, or die here, or you can work to be a Muslim,’” he said. “They wanted a nation of only Muslims.”

Wadhwa made plans to uproot the family once again, but not before they faced danger one more time.

Early one morning while everyone was still asleep, mujahideen soldiers came into the house, and Kaur was too far distant to reach the basement hideaway she usually crowded into with the other women and children when soldiers came around. While her father stalled the men, her grandmother laid her on a bench, Kaur recalled, and covered her with a blanket to pretend she was a cushion. “My grandmother sat on me to hide me,” Kaur said, and she remembered listening with horror to the threats and demands of the mujahideen. “They beat my dad up, big time.”

From Afghanistan to India and the U.S.

When safely in India, the family’s lifestyle improved again. Wadhwa restarted his pharmaceutical business and was more successful than in Kabul. They would once again, Kaur said, “rise up stronger.”

Indu, left, with her family in India. Photo from Indu Kaur

Kaur, 13 years old when she arrived in Delhi, attended a British school to fill gaps in her education and learn Hindi and English. She also learned what it meant to be a “country girl” refugee wearing big bows and flowery clothes, among young teens who had an eye for glamor. The bullying was brutal, and Kaur said she did what many adolescent girls around the world do — she plucked her eyebrows and changed her style to fit in. One bright spot was “a beautiful British teacher in a sari,” who inspired the confident posture Kaur still holds today, and also taught her what turned out to be a helpful survival tool — the British “stiff upper lip.” She remembered, “Always, spine straight, look straight, perfect expression.” No matter what emotion, “I could take control and just figure it out.”

This skill was vital when, at age 19 in 1994, she arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport as a new bride in an arranged marriage, a common custom in Indian culture. The day the marriage offer came, Kaur remembered Wadhwa asking if she was OK with it. Kaur reflected on how Wadhwa had led the family so far, and told him, “Whatever you do is always good for us, so [I’ll follow] whatever decision you make.”

She faced settling into life in the United States the same way she faced that first meeting with her future husband at JFK: When things were overwhelming, she went with the flow. “I was very good at smiling and keeping it quiet and having a stable face,” she said. “Emotions were always very internal.”

Internal, but not gone. Kaur is a woman who feels deeply but acts decisively. When she tired of feeling lonely in Delaware and then in Virginia, Kaur built skills, first in retail and computers, and then in banking, working her way up from teller to commercial loan inspector within a couple years. “I was a thriver, I wanted to learn,” she said. “I was eager and hungry for education and doing well.”

Kaur’s parents and younger sisters immigrated to Suffolk County as asylum seekers soon after Kaur’s wedding, once again leaving everything behind. Wadhwa built a completely new career in 1996 as a restauranteur serving Indian cuisine at The Curry Club’s first location in East Setauket, powered by family connections and the entrepreneurship he’d learned restarting his pharmaceutical business twice.

But in the fall of 2000, tragedy came again, when Kaur’s mother Amargeet was walking the dog and suffered a brain hemorrhage, falling onto the tracks at Port Jefferson railroad station. A departing train severed her arms and one of her legs, but — incredibly — she survived.

Indu at her wedding. Photo by Indu Kaur

Kaur remembered her father running to her when she arrived, devastated, in the waiting room. “He hugged me, and he said, ‘We are done, we are done. I’m destroyed. We are not going to live anymore,’” she recalled. “His heart just poured on my shoulder.”

The whole family was heartbroken by the accident, but they were not done. Everyone banded together to keep the family business running, care for Amargeet and raise Kaur’s youngest sister Kiran, who was only 11. Kaur drove nine hours from Virginia every weekend to help.

This back and forth continued for several years, but eventually the pull of family was too strong to resist. In 2013, Kaur moved to Long Island and cared for her mother full time. When her father presented the opportunity to take over The Meadow Club with her sister a year later, she was up for the challenge. Kaur remembered feeling nervous since her two children, Sahiba and Sartaj, were still young. Wadhwa told her, “Well, we have each other.”

With Kiran’s contemporary, Americanized vision and Kaur’s practical determination, The Meadow Club was a success. Then, in 2018, it went up in flames. During construction and permitting, Kaur continued to find venues for her clients and attend events to be sure clients were well served. 

Meanwhile, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants to shut down in 2020, Kaur’s family survived as they always had, together. Kiran created a donation-based meal delivery service to hospital workers, Kaur drove the delivery van and her father oversaw food packing. Kaur said they delivered hundreds of meals a day.

When The Meadow Club finally reopened in January 2021, no scars of the fire were visible. The sisters had crafted a modern, classy, better-than-ever venue.

“It’s a blissful, blessed feeling of knowing that, yes, everything is up and running,” Kaur said. “But the best part is that we are together.”

And together is how she plans to weather any future storms. “I just keep going, just like my dad,” Kaur said. “We wake up in the morning: All right, it’s a beautiful day, sun is up, what’s next? What do we have to tackle now?”

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This year one of the new Rockettes is Head of the Harbor’s Courtney File. Photo from MSG Entertainment

A Head of the Harbor native is proving that dreams really do come true.

Courtney File, 24, is among the newest members of the Rockettes who are kicking their way through the holiday season, performing multiple shows in Radio City Music Hall’s “Christmas Spectacular.”

Seeing the Rockettes staple at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan has been an annual tradition for File since she was 6 years old.

“I just fell in love with it immediately,” she said.

Her parents were nervous about taking her and her brother Connor when they were younger, but she said her parents told her she was mesmerized by the show.

When the curtain came down, she turned to her mother and said, “That’s what I want to do, and it never changed my whole life.”

The 2016 Smithtown High School East graduate attended Chorus Line Dance Studio in St. James until she was 11. She then started training at the Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan, where she was part of its Children & Teens Program for four years.

File said her parents, Richard and Wendy, have always been supportive of her dreams and would drive her into the city when she was in middle and high school.

“My parents have been unbelievable since I was younger and really decided that I wanted to commit myself to dance,” she said.

This year one of the new Rockettes is Head of the Harbor’s Courtney File. Photo from MSG Entertainment

The dancer was also taking acting classes in addition to the CTP program. Sometimes she would audition or take a master class.

While she juggled a busy schedule, after being on Smithtown’s kickline team in middle school, she could not be on the Whisperettes, the high school kickline team at Smithtown East. While she wanted to, she said it would have been difficult with her schedule, and she would have missed some practices and games.

“That was probably one of the hardest things that I had to give up,” File said.

She added once in a while she was able to catch a game to see the kickline team perform

“I always supported them, and I thought they were great,” File said. “It was so fun to sometimes be able to watch.”

Standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall, her height fits in perfectly with the Rockettes’ range of 5 feet, 5 inches to 5 feet, 10 1/2 inches. The minimum requirements were recently changed from the previous 5 feet, 6 inches tall.

File, who was part of the Rockettes Conservatory program this summer, said among her fellow rookie Rockettes are a few dancers who were able to audition due to the new height requirements.

“They have made a lot of amazing strides to open up the opportunities to a bunch of different women this year,” she said, adding 17 of the 18 new dancers were from the conservatory program.

File said she was honored to be invited to participate in the program, which enables dancers at no cost to work with the Rockettes as well as performers with Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and Syncopated Ladies, a female tap dance band.

“It was a really awesome opportunity that the Rockettes gave, to give us a real life experience of what their day-to-day kind of looks like.”

This year wasn’t her first audition, though. She first aimed to be a Rockette when she was 18, and she was cut. In total, she has auditioned six times for the coveted spot.

“It was my dream, and I couldn’t give up on it,” she said.

She was home with her mother and brother when she received the call telling her she had made it. File said she kept asking her mother and brother if it really just happened.

“It was an unbelievable moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life,” she said.

A typical day for File now involves waking up every morning in her apartment and stretching. She said eating enough is also important as the dancers burn a lot of calories.

As a part of the gold cast, she performs in the evenings. The number of shows in one day can vary, and she recently had her first four-show day.

This year one of the new Rockettes is Head of the Harbor’s Courtney File. Photo from MSG Entertainment

The “Christmas Spectacular” began Nov. 18 and runs through Jan. 2, meaning dancers worked Thanksgiving and will be performing Christmas and New Year’s Day, too. Fine said she doesn’t mind as the cast and crew have become like family to her since they have been working regularly together from the beginning of October.

She added she’s lucky that her own family lives close to the city, and it’s easy for them to come to Manhattan to see the show. They have attended the show three times so far
this season.

Among her favorite dances is a lyrical number called “Dance of the Frost Fairies,” where each of the 36 Rockettes has a different costume that includes fairy wings that easily work during the complex, athletic number.

Another highlight, Fine said, was performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and she also attended the premiere of the Hallmark Channel movie “A Holiday Spectacular,” which features two current Rockettes with speaking parts.

While living a dream come true, File had advice for young people regarding their goals.

“Never give up,” the Rockette said. “Every day in the audience, I see little girls that are looking up at the stage like how I did when I was 6 years old. Just work hard and never give up. Dreams do come true. I’m very lucky to be able to say that. Just keep going because all the hard work will be worth it.”

Photo from Robbie Harte

For one North Shore singer, an injury and her 13-year-old daughter have led her on a path she has dreamed about for years.

Singer-songwriter Robbie Harte, above, won two awards at the 2022 International Singer-Songwriters Association awards ceremony. Photo from Robbie Harte

Growing up in Montreal, Canada, Robbie Harte wanted to become a singer-songwriter. However, her goal was put on hold when an accident 14 years ago caused a back and spine injury that left her in chronic pain and unable to sing.

“It affected every part of me,” Harte said.

She added the best way to describe the issue to people is to imagine throbbing tooth pain from the waist to the toes all day, where sitting, standing or lying down doesn’t relieve the pain. It was so overwhelming that it was difficult for her to take in the breaths she needed to hold notes.

The Canadian was already living in Suffolk County when the accident occurred. She had met her husband during a trip to Hawaii. She worked for an airline and planned to go to Paris to write. Last minute Harte said she felt she shouldn’t go to France and opted to go to Hawaii, a place she was familiar with from visiting a couple of times. One morning while sitting in a coffee shop, she saw him run by, and then he was inside the shop a little while later. He stopped by her table to talk to her while she was writing about a couple meeting 

In her song “Out of the Blue,” she recounts the meeting saying she “traded Paris in for paradise.”

They began a long-distance relationship, with the two traveling between Canada and Smithtown, where he lived at the time. Shortly after she moved to Suffolk County, they married. Soon after she became pregnant with her daughter, she was injured.

“It was such a happy time for us, then I was sidelined,” Harte said. “It wasn’t just that I was sidelined — I was sidelined and silenced.”

She added that she navigated sad times in the past by expressing herself through music. Harte said at first, she accepted this was the way it was, but she started realizing she wasn’t herself. 

After her daughter was diagnosed with autism when she was 7, Harte wanted to show her child that a medical diagnosis shouldn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams.

“She’s the driving force that I’m on this journey,” the singer said. “She is the reason I’m pursuing my dream. She’s the reason that I’m doing all of this.”

Harte said she was inspired to pursue her goals despite chronic pain to show her daughter, right, that obstacles shouldn’t get in the way of dreams. Photo from Robbie Harte

Harte remembered the day she and her husband told their daughter about the autism diagnosis. She said they explained that sometimes things may be more challenging for her than others, but she shouldn’t let it get in the way of living her dreams. Harte said that conversation catapulted her to start pursuing her own goals.

“Here I was sitting on the couch, curled up in a ball, not living my dream because I couldn’t do it anymore, and things were really hard for me,” she said. “I said, ‘You know, I can’t tell her that and not put action behind my words. I have to show her by example, by being the best possible role model I can.’ That was the moment that I really decided this is my dream.”

Harte decided to put everything into singing despite how difficult or uncomfortable it was at first. The singer, who taught herself to play guitar, released her first EP in 2020 and has been enjoying musical success with her country/pop songs ever since. She has won and been nominated for several awards. Recently, she won the Gold Songwriter of the Year award and Bronze Single of the Year award for “Outside My Window” from the International Singer-Songwriters Association.

A few weeks ago, Harte released the single “Reason to Rise.” She described the song as an “anthemic power ballad.” The single has received airplay all over the globe and has landed on Canadian, country and indie music charts.

The journey has taught Harte a lot about herself and her strengths, she said. Initially, she was afraid she would never be able to get on a stage because she uses a cane regularly. However, she decided she would hold on to whatever else she needed, whether it was a curtain or microphone stand.

“You can’t let any of these things stop you because they’re just details,” Harte said.

The wife and mother also had advice when it comes to balancing various responsibilities and demands that parents face when juggling their own and their children’s obligations. She said the key is not to let everything overwhelm a parent, and she feels it’s important to make time for oneself. Harte said it’s vital to have a release such as singing, a hobby or playing a sport.

“If you don’t have that, you can’t give to other people,” she said. “You need to be in a positive mindset, and you need to have a few minutes — even if it’s 15 minutes — to do something that you love, so that you’re grounded, so that you can give your best to the people around you.”

Harte said she hopes to use her platform “to uplift, inspire and empower people” and to encourage them to let nothing stop them from doing what they love.

“I want to remind people to go out there and pursue their dreams and do what they love, despite their age, their ability or their limitations.”

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Myra Naseem, second from left, with her daughter Kaneez, left, granddaughter Giselle, second from right, and daughter Lyla. Photo from Lyla Gleason

As co-founder and co-owner of Elegant Eating in Smithtown, Myra Naseem is accustomed to special occasions. At the end of October, instead of being on the planning end of a party, it was her turn to be honored as friends and family celebrated her 80th birthday.

Myra Naseem at her 80th birthday party. Photo from Lyla Gleason

Naseem, who goes all out to decorate the interior of her house every year for Halloween, commemorated her milestone one night with family and friends at her home with a costume party. The next day she, her two daughters Lyla and Kaneez, granddaughter Giselle and female friends enjoyed a tea party at the Smithtown Historical Society’s Frank Brush Barn.

The historical society’s executive director Priya Kapoor is a friend of the octogenarian and was on hand for the festivities. She looks up to Naseem, she said, and described her as a mentor.

“She is my biggest cheerleader who supports me no matter what,” Kapoor said. “She is my person no matter where we are. I feel home when I am around her.”

Naseem’s daughter Lyla Gleason said she, her sister and daughter read 80 things about their mother they loved at the tea party. She said they were touched as many of her mother’s friends, impromptu, stood up and added to the list of things they appreciated about Naseem.

Gleason remembers when her grandmother turned 80 years and was already retired and living in Florida. At the time, she thought 80 was old, but looking at her mother, she doesn’t feel the same way. 

“She’s still in the prime of her life,” Gleason said.

With the pandemic’s negative effects on businesses, Naseem could have retired from her off-site catering business. She admitted she enjoyed some downtime during the shutdowns. However, she continues to run the business with partner Neil Schumer. She also attends events to ensure everything is set up to meet a client’s expectations.

Myra Naseem is the proud mother and grandmother of daughters Kaneez, back row, Lyla, left, and granddaughter Giselle, center. Photo from Lyla Gleaon

Naseem credited her successful partnership with Schumer to always coming to a solution even though they sometimes disagree on the best approach. He is like family to her. For Schumer, the feeling is mutual.

“After 40 years we are best friends, we are family,” he said. “We have a bond that can’t be broken. With Myra, her heart is to make everyone happy. She always says the positive. I couldn’t ask for a better partner, better friend, better family.”

Kaneez Naseem said she admires that her mother continues working and attending social events outside of her job.

“I’m glad that she’s where she is in life right now,” she said.

Kaneez Naseem recognized her mother could have fully retired when the pandemic hit, but she said it’s hard to imagine her not working. The daughter added she loves when people tell her how much they enjoyed the parties her mother has catered.

“She puts such care into every party as if it was for me or Lyla,” Kaneez Naseem said. “She’ll always want to make it like home and perfect.”

Myra Naseem said when she was younger, she had no idea that people would hire someone to cook for a party.

“I didn’t even know there was an industry called catering,” she said. “It was just a fluke.” 

The former home economics teacher and Schumer started the business in her Smithtown home. The venture started after Naseem prepared a few menu items for her older daughter Lyla’s bat mitzvah. The caterer she used, who Schumer worked for, asked her to work for them. She did for a while, and when it was Kaneez’s turn to have her bat mitzvah, the business owner couldn’t have it at his place, so Myra Naseem catered it herself.

People from her temple started asking her to cater their parties, she said. Naseem began catering on a regular basis while still teaching for the first six years she ran the business.

“I liked it right from the beginning,” she said. “I think it’s very intuitive. It was almost like a very easy segue. Whether you’re running a classroom or you’re running a party, everybody gets a task and everybody’s doing their thing.”

In 1987, after her youngest graduated from Hauppauge High School, Naseem and Schumer opened their first storefront in Stony Brook, and the business officially became Elegant Eating Ltd. As the business grew, they moved to its current location on the Smithtown Bypass.

With both girls away at college, she said it was easier to juggle teaching and catering. By the time she retired from teaching in the 1990s, she had already been working in the New York State education system for 30 years, with 24 of those years being spent in the Central Islip school district.

A graduate of SUNY Oneonta and New York University, where she obtained her master’s, Naseem said she grew up during a time when young women were made to feel they could only become a secretary, nurse or teacher.

Myra Naseem with Elegant Eating partner Neil Schumer. Photo from Lyla Gleason

“I think that today the young girls have a very different footing,” she said, adding the best advice for the younger generation is to remember you have to start at the bottom and work your way up.

“You need to see the foundation before you can be at the top of it,” she said.

Naseem’s parents were business owners, too. Born and raised on Long Island, her family moved to Patchogue when she was 5. Her parents owned a dress store in the village and decided to sell it and moved to Smithtown when she was 18. They opened a new dress store on Main Street, where Horizons Counseling and Education Center is located today. When her brother died at the age of 25 after an automobile accident, her mother wanted to leave New York, and her parents moved to Florida. At the time, Naseem was divorcing her husband, and with her daughters only 2 and 3 years old, she moved into her parents’ Smithtown home.

Kaneez Naseem said growing up, she didn’t realize what a positive role model her mother was.

“I don’t know that I appreciated it as a child, but I certainly do now, when I look at her and the way she lived her life,” she said.

The daughter said she realized how courageous her mother was to divorce when she was so young. She said if her mother ever struggled, she never showed it.

“It was us three girls,” Kaneez Naseem said. “It was me, Mommy and Lyla. That was normal to me.”

Gleason agreed, and as she looks back, she too has a deeper appreciation for all her mother did and achieved. When she was younger, she said, she thought what her mother did was normal, but over the years she has come to realize she made some bold moves.

She described her mother as a pioneer who was liberated and empowered.

“Women weren’t supposed to be empowered in those days,” she said. “It was unusual to see a woman take charge and start a career and do all these things without a husband.” 

Gleason added her mother taught her daughters that a woman could do things in life with the support of family and friends and didn’t necessarily have to have a romantic partner. She said it has made her and her sister the independent women they are today, and Gleason is now teaching her daughter the same.

“Your life is not all about being in a marriage or partnership,” she said. “Your friends and family can be just as important and supportive as a traditional husband.”

Looking back at life, Myra Naseem said while there were tough times both personal and in her career, she said it was important to stay positive and always realize how fortunate she is. She compares herself to the Weeble toys that are built to wobble but not fall down.

“I always come right side up no matter what happens to me,” she said. “Whether I have a terrible experience or something gets broken or I’m sick or I have to make a big decision and maybe don’t make the best decision, I always come up straight. I always come up headfirst.”

A monarch butterfly rests on Theresa Germaine’s finger before taking flight. Photo by Rita J. Egan

A Stony Brook resident is doing her part to help the ecosystem, one monarch butterfly at a time.

The monarch before leaving its enclosure. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Theresa Germaine knew she had to keep busy when the pandemic shut down practically everything in 2020. Pre-COVID-19, the now 83-year-old traveled frequently, and when she wasn’t making trips, Germaine split her time between New York City and Stony Brook, where she shares a house with her sister.

When everything shut down, the retired educator decided Long Island was the best place to be. Shortly after, she decided to grow milkweed, a flowering perennial plant, in her garden and encourage the growth of the monarch butterfly population. Not only did she attract the butterflies with the milkweed — the only place they will lay their eggs on — she also took their eggs and nurtured them.

“There are so many negative things going on in the world that you have to find some way to make yourself feel good about something,” Germaine said.

The butterflies, distinguished by their orange and black coloring with white spots, have recently been added to The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. The environmental network considers the monarchs an endangered species, even though the U.S. itself has not yet added the pollinators to its endangered-species list.

a caterpillar feeding. Photo from Theresa Germaine

When the pandemic shutdowns struck, Germaine read about the monarch butterflies and how to attract and raise them. This year marked the third year of her garden and, once again, she has been busy looking for the tiny eggs, about the size of a pin, under the milkweed leaves where the butterflies lay them. She then brings them inside her home where she puts the eggs and leaves in a container.

After the eggs hatch, they emerge as caterpillars and are very small. Germaine puts them in mesh butterfly tents bought online along with pieces of milkweed from her garden in tubes to feed them. She has a few of the enclosures to handle each stage, from the caterpillar — larva stage — to pupa, where they form a chrysalis around themselves, and then the emergence of the butterfly. 

Germaine said once the monarch butterfly appears, it climbs up the side of the cage and needs time for its wings to dry. Once the monarch begins fluttering around the enclosure, she knows it’s time to release them outside. She brings the enclosure outside and allows the creatures to leave at their will.

“I’ve always kind of been a Girl Scout type of person,” Germaine said. “I was a Girl Scout when I was young, and I always had an interest in nature.”

A butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. Photo from Theresa Germaine

While she nurtured a dozen of the pollinators in 2020, last year she released 41 and this year so far, 45. She said she estimates that approximately 10 more butterflies will emerge before the summer ends.

Over the last couple of years, Germaine has purchased more milkweed plants, and the perennials have become more robust over time.

A native of the Bronx, she taught in Manhattan for nearly 30 years, and was an assistant principal for two years in the borough. She retired in 1995, and she said she never chose to get married or have children. Germaine said while many her age may be busy with grandchildren; she was keeping herself busy with her travels and entertainment. The raising of the monarchs has been a welcomed activity.

“As you get older, it’s very important that you have a purpose in life,” she said.

Her hope is that everyone will grow a little milkweed in their garden to help the monarchs. She said while it’s not the most attractive plant, even a small garden with the flower in a corner of one’s property can make a difference. While the eggs have a better chance of surviving inside — more than 80% — just having milkweed can increase the monarch butterfly anywhere between 3% to 10%, Germaine said based on her research.

“If everybody did their part, we would see more butterflies,” she said. “And who does not love to see a butterfly?”

County legislator discusses major initiatives coming out of her office

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) is working on several projects, from bike trails to erosion education programs and more. Photo courtesy Anker’s office

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) is at the forefront of several initiatives at the county level. In an exclusive interview with Anker, she opened up about her positions on public campaign finance, the North Shore Rail Trail, coastal erosion and more.

For those who do not know you, can you describe your background?

My background is that I’m a mother of three children and have been a Mount Sinai resident for 25 years. I’ve lived in Middle Island and in Coram, and I’m very familiar with this area and my legislative district. I worked at different ad agencies, did some independent contracting work and at some of the local shops in Patchogue. Then I took off for a handful of years to raise my kids. 

When my youngest was born, the New York State Health Department put out a cancer map showing that our area had a high frequency of cancer, particularly breast cancer, and my grandmother had just passed away from breast cancer. I decided to start a non-for-profit, the Community Health and Environment Coalition, around 2003. And this was basically to advocate to the state to come and do an investigation, tell us what we need to know, why we had these numbers and where these numbers were coming from. 

Eventually, they came back to the community and did testing, but unfortunately, they left more questions than answers. We continue to investigate and try to understand the causes of cancer.

I got a job working as the chief of staff for [Councilwoman] Connie Kepert [D-Middle Island] at the Town of Brookhaven. She pulled me in and then they got a $4.5 million grant for solar programs. Working with Connie, we started the programs and then I was promoted to be in charge of creating an energy department at the Town of Brookhaven. I left that position to run for this position.

I ran for office and have been elected seven times. I’m term limited, so I can’t run anymore. I’m a Democrat but fairly conservative — moderate and in the middle. I find the common denominator and I focus on that. I don’t go too far left or too far right, and I’m here to represent my constituents and to kind of settle the storm when there are issues out there. My top priority is public safety and the safety of my residents. I did that for my kids and my family. I do that now for my constituents.

How did your most recent project, the North Shore Rail Trail, come to fruition?

That one was very challenging. I had to overcome some major obstacles and challenges along the way. 

The three main challenges were getting the county exec on board. The former one was not supportive; the current one, Steve Bellone [D], supported it. I also had to get the energy folks from LIPA on board. I had worked a lot with them while running the energy program at the Town of Brookhaven and we had a good professional relationship. 

That worked because they were open to the idea of LIPA having this as a wonderful public relations project. The third one was getting the community on board. The ability to see this through stemmed from the fact that there had been fatalities related to people attempting to ride their bikes, jog or run along our local highways. Because all of those concerns and challenges were in place, it was time to move forward.

Hopefully, and I stress this, people need to use common sense and they need to take responsibility for their safety when they cross the intersections. But this provides a safe place for people to be able to recreate. 

Can you discuss the work you are doing related to coastal erosion?

Erosion is a huge issue. I was meeting constituents and I was on Culross Drive in Rocky Point and as I walked up to a house, I noticed that their neighbor’s house had fallen off the cliff — literally, it was down the cliff. This was 10 or 11 years ago.

I found that a lot of constituents in my area are part of beach associations. Miller Place, Sound Beach, Rocky Point — these are private beach communities, so they don’t qualify for federal funding. I’m using the resources we do have to educate them on certain seagrasses, different brick structures, just give them ideas to try to address it. 

Unfortunately, if one addresses it and this person doesn’t and this person doesn’t, then it creates issues for the people that do. So I’m trying to see if we can get everyone on board to address the erosion issue. We’ll do what we can.

Public campaign finance has been an ongoing dispute between the county executive and the Legislature. Can you elaborate on your stance regarding the public campaign finance program that was repealed last week?

I support funding campaign finance reform. I support it. It’s a program that was started last year. We put money into it and it’s a shame that we couldn’t try it out. We do pilot programs all the time and I would have hoped that they could have at least done that. 

It was a project that the former presiding officer, Rob Calarco [D-Patchogue], had advocated for. He worked for a long time on it. I respect him and the amount of effort that he put into that. I would have preferred to at least give it a shot and see where it was going.

If it wasn’t doing well or there were some issues or problems with it, we could have always changed it. I voted to have another way to finance campaigns. Any large organization that has a lot of money can create very, very challenging campaigns for any individual — and I’ve been there personally. 

What is it about the communities that you represent that makes them so distinctive and unique?

I think that we have a lot of folks who understand how important it is to take an active role in their community. We have a lot of folks that participate in projects and events and activities that continue to inspire the people around them. Like the butterfly effect or a ripple in a stream, it just keeps going and I see that in my community.

Right now, in this complicated political climate, we need to understand that we all have something in common and we can all be part of addressing issues and accomplishing our goals by working together collaboratively. I’ve seen that and I do that, and I think that — whether it’s unique to us or not — it’s something that’s important that is happening in our district. 

We get what we put into our community. And right now, the people that have contributed to and who have improved our community, I’m really honored and privileged to work with those folks. 

Whether it’s Bobby Woods with the North Shore Youth Council or Bea Ruberto from the Sound Beach Civic Association, you really see who the true heroes are within your community when you work with them. And I feel very honored to have the ability to be part of what they are trying to create, which is a place that we can call home.

Nico VI, above, is being trained by volunteer Andrea Spencer, of Stony Brook, to one day assist people with disabilities. Photo from Canine Companions

By Amanda Olsen

There can be little doubt that Andrea Spencer is a dog person.

Nico with volunteer trainer Andrea Spencer. Photo from Canine Companions

The Stony Brook resident has rescued Labradors since 2011, fostering and training them while they were waiting for their forever homes. She also co-chairs the DogFest Long Island fundraiser at Marjorie R. Post Community Park in Massapequa and is currently raising a puppy, Nico VI, for Canine Companions.

This is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1975 that provides highly trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities free of charge. Puppy raisers provide specially bred puppies a safe home, take them to obedience classes, serve them a healthy diet, provide socialization opportunities and give them lots of love. Each hour spent caring for a Canine Companions puppy is vital to its development as a future service dog. 

Spencer’s puppy-raising journey began with a rescued yellow Lab named Ruby, who came from Louisiana to live with Spencer and her family. She remembers her fondly.

“She was really my heart dog,” Spencer said. “She was really the dog that brought me into all of my volunteer work.” 

Around 2017, a friend first mentioned Canine Companions as a possible service opportunity, and the organization kept entering Spencer’s life. She attended a couple of puppy matriculation ceremonies, a kind of graduation where the dogs move on from living with their raisers to formal training at the Canine Companions center. It was a turning point for Spencer.

“The graduation was an inspirational, beautiful, wonderful thing,” she said. “It was basically just life changing for me as far as working with Canine Companions.”

After a long, happy life, Ruby passed from lung cancer in August 2020. Spencer credits this loss as the catalyst for her puppy raising.

“And once we kind of settled from that storm, my husband said, ‘We’ve always thought in the back of our heads, you’d like to do something more for Canine Companions. Why don’t we raise a puppy in Ruby’s honor?’ I said, ‘You know what, that’s such a great idea.’”

The family began the process, first with the application in January 2021, then an extensive interview in March of that year. Once that part of the process was over, and they were approved, all that was left to do was wait. 

That September, Nico arrived in New York, and the Spencers were now raising a future service dog for Canine Companions. 

Nico is a Lab/golden retriever cross, which is a special mix Canine Companions breeds for its service dog program. This mix is both personable and very trainable. Spencer said that there are many things Nico picks up on without training, and when she does train him, he learns quickly. 

“With the Spencer family’s love and guidance, Nico is on his way to becoming a Canine Companions service dog, and will someday be matched with an adult, child or veteran with a disability free of charge,” said John Bentzinger, Canine Companions regional public relations and marketing coordinator, in an email. “Nico is being taught basic commands and socialization skills and, in another seven to 10 months, he’ll be returned to Canine Companions where he’ll work for six months with our professional instructors learning over 40 advanced commands that are useful to a person with disabilities. Nico will learn how to open and close doors, turn lights on and off, and pick up dropped items to name just a few.”

One of the biggest challenges is training the puppies to control their excitement. 

“They’re really bred to love people and be with people and be with everybody,” Spencer said. “So that actually provides a little bit of a challenge as a puppy raiser because they really want to go see everybody and they get excited. So, we work on having good manners in public.”

Being in public and being well socialized is critical to the service dog’s success. The dog has to be comfortable in multiple locations on a variety of surfaces. “We want him to be completely focused in these locations, not just in the home where he is the majority of the time,” Spencer said. 

Some commands are specific to his training as a service dog.

“They’re taught to bark a sequence of three, four or five times, and then quiet is paired with that because they don’t want the barking for 20 minutes,” she said. “They just want you barking to kind of alert someone.”

There is a huge network of support for people who decide to raise puppies for Canine Companions. Not only are there informal connections with other volunteers, but the national nonprofit provides each raiser with a mentor called a “puppy pal.”

“It’s a mentoring program with a raiser who’s raised at least three dogs,” Spencer said. “They hook you up with that person and throughout their puppyhood, you can call them or email them or text them.”

Of course, the No. 1 thing Spencer gets asked is how she will feel when Nico leaves her care and goes on to formal training.

“The Lab rescue was like my training or my internship,” she said. “I would have fosters in my house anywhere from one week to two months, and then they would go on to their adoptive homes. And believe me, it wasn’t easy, but you see that you’re helping. I think having a resident dog in the house helps. I look at this not like Nico’s my pet, but he’s my job. You have to have the right mindset for it.”

She also credits her son, Jared, who has Autism, for helping to forge a connection with Nico’s future recipient.

“I think having a child who is disabled and seeing that this organization serves that community has made that connection for me.” 

For Spencer, the decision to raise again is a given.

“I will definitely raise again, because it’s just such a wonderful experience,” she said. “I think as you subsequently raise, even though it’s different, you have all of the basic knowledge, the training tools, the understanding of what they need to learn. Of course, you’re going to have different obstacles with each puppy, because puppies are like humans, they’re all different. But yes, I definitely think we’ll raise again.”

Her advice for people considering raising is straightforward.

“I think if you’re considering raising you have to have a certain mindset, that you’re raising this puppy not for you but for to help somebody,” she said. “You definitely need to have the entire family on board, because it does become a family affair. You’re going to have challenges, but you’re going to also have great successes. There is a very strong network of support right here on Long Island. And really, we’ve become a family. We call it the Canine Companion family. And it’s something that is so rewarding on so many levels. And you know, hopefully more people will join in and take part in this because without the puppy raising there are no dogs.”