Port Times Record

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro has announced that the Holtsville Ecology Site and Animal Preserve will reopen to the public on Monday, Sept. 28.

Brookhaven residents are required to make free, online reservations at www.BrookhavenNY.gov/Ecology to book a visit to the Animal Preserve. Only Town of Brookhaven residents with reservations and proof of residency will be permitted to enter for now; masks are required, as well. COVID-19 safety precautions, limited admissions and social distancing measures will be in place to ensure the safety of all visitors and staff.

The Animal Preserve will be open Monday through Friday with eight sessions available for reservations each day: 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 2:15 p.m. The Animal Preserve will be closed for cleaning and sanitizing in between the morning and afternoon sessions.

The Information Center and greenhouses will not be open; access to bathrooms will be available. The Animal Preserve will be open from the main entrance through the Eagle exhibit. Animals available for viewing at this time include alpaca, Arctic fox, Bald eagle, bobcat, Boer goats, buffalo, coatimundi, hybrid fox, hybrid wolves, llama, mini pigs, Nubian goats, other goats, pine marten, prairie dogs, rabbits, red fox, red tail hawk, and skunk.

The Ecology Site is located at 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville. For more information, call 631-758-9664.

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Wendol received a prolomation from State Sen. Ken LaValle, from left, Kevin Verbesey, Director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Edward Wendol, Founding Director of Comsewogue Public Library Richard Lusak, Ken LaValle’s aid Jeff Kito; Comsewogue library director Debbie Engelhardt. Photos by Debbie Engelhardt

For Ed Wendol, of Port Jefferson Station, time is not marked in years, but in decades.

Ed Wendol has spent 48 years on the Comsewogue Public Library board of trustees. Photo by Debbie Engelhardt

How long was he a teacher in the Middle Country school district? Nearly three decades. How long was he on the Comsewogue Public Library board? Two years shy of five decades. 

On his last day on the library board, the institution’s administration and a few lifelong friends held a short reception for Wendol to celebrate him serving his community, and Suffolk libraries, for year after year after year.

Now Wendol, 78, is planning to move down to Florida to be closer to his family. He, like so many other Long Islanders who are part of the exodus down to places like the Sunshine State or North Carolina is doing it with a heavy heart, knowing he’s moving from the place he has lived in and cared for over the past 50 years.

“What I’m particularly proud of, of being a trustee of the Comsewogue library, is that I’ve been elected to that position over the years,” Wendol said. “The public to me is important to recognize what we’ve been trying to accomplish with the library, and to me it’s the cultural center of the Comsewogue community.”

He is a past winner of TBR News Media’s Person of the Year, in 2003, for his work in Civics, specifically the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association when he vehemently opposed the closure of the DMV location in PJS. That DMV still stands today, partially thanks to his activism. Alongside his work in the civic, he has been an active member of the Polish-American Independent Club in PJS. 

It’s rare for people to have such an immediate reaction to hearing about a community member simply taking the well-worn trek to sunnier pastures, but Wendol’s work with libraries goes well above and beyond what’s normally expected with a library board trustee.

Richard Lusak, of Port Jefferson, was Comsewogue library’s first director and stayed in the position from 1966 to 2003. He saw Wendol as one of the most instrumental people for the library’s longtime success. 

When the library first came into being back in 1966, it was conceived to serve the residents of the school district, forming a five-member library board setting up in a rented 1,000-square-foot trailer a year later. Wendol had moved to the area from Queens in 1967, learning to live in a near-rural place like PJS where the sound of crickets kept city slickers like him up at night. He had long been a lover of libraries and books, he himself being an English teacher. Shortly after the Comsewogue library’s creation there was turnover on the library board, and that’s when Wendol stepped forward, being elected to the board in short order in 1972.

Throughout the years, Lusak said the venerable board member became a beacon for what a trustee could be, almost epitomizing everything the library trustee handbook — yes, it is a real book — stood for. While Wendol was working full time, he took night classes and gained a degree in library science, for what he described as wanting to be more knowledgeable and more helpful in the month-to-month decision-making process.

“He was instrumental in keeping everything on an even plane,” Lusak said. “He was a role model for the other board members.”

Current library director Debbie Engelhardt said that the past eight years in her position have been effective and “gratifying” thanks to Wendol’s steady presence and positive attitude.

“Ed understands well and is a true model of excellence in trusteeship,” she said. “Ed is steadfast, a voice of reason and has vast experience. He speaks his mind and is also a great listener. Ed’s positive influence helps us to keep moving forward. The healthy board dynamic Ed helped shape will remain.”

In his time on the library board, he also came to be recognized regionally for his service. He has several times been elected to the Suffolk Cooperative Library System board of trustees, helping oversee all libraries in the Town of Brookhaven. He has also previously served as that board’s president. Doing that he said his priority was to make all the libraries from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket to Longwood Public Library come together to benefit the whole in their shared mission.

“Ed Wendol has been, for 48 years, the model of what a library trustee and public servant should be,” said Kevin Verbesey, SCLS director. “Ed always understood the critical role that a public library plays in the educational, intellectual and cultural life of a community. He was always informed, polite, active and firm in his support for and belief in libraries. Everyone in Suffolk County who cares about public libraries owes a debt of gratitude to Ed Wendol.”

Along with being active in Port Jefferson Station, for 27 years he was an English teacher in the Middle Country school district. In 2019, Wendol came across a host of copies of Newfield High School’s newspaper, The Quadrangle, sitting in his attic. The dates ran from 1970 to 1976, when he was the newspaper club’s adviser. The ex-Middle Country teacher donated his large collection of papers to the Middle Country Public Library for it all to be digitized.

It’s been a long ride for Wendol, and looking back from how the Comsewogue library progressed, first from its rented trailer location and now into a center where he loves to note that it serves everyone from preschool age all the way up to senior citizen. Libraries now are touchstones for local events, for helping people navigate an increasingly digital world, and all the while still giving people access to his beloved books. Next on the libraries’ plates, he said, is to emphasize culture, and offer people more real-world experiences on some kind of excursion, even if it takes them away from a library’s brick-and-mortar location.

“I think it was a fabulous thing we were able to accomplish,” Wendol said. “I think the aspect of people coming into the library, and wanting to come into the library … I’m happy to say with Debbie Engelhardt and my fellow trustees on the board, we are open.”

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If anything, high school athletes know how to lead a chant. Though instead of doing it on the field to rally their team, this time their barking voices were used to call them back to the field.

Around 60 Comsewogue athletes and their parents stood at the corner of routes 112 and 347 Sept. 18 rallying for support in demanding that Section XI, which runs Suffolk County’s scholastic sports, allows sports to start their seasons in September. 

Cole Blatter, a junior on Comsewogue’s football and wrestling teams, said despite Section XI’s promise that the new seasons for sports could start in January, there’s really no way to be sure, especially because they felt the rug was pulled out from under them already.

Sports “really adds structure to my day — I go to school and then I go to football,” he said.

For his teammates, many of them seniors, the Comsewogue athlete said he could not even well describe how upset they are.

“It’s their last season — some are never going to play football again, some of them are never going to wrestle again, some will never play lacrosse again,” Blatter said. “All of that stuff that made them happy, it’s just been taken away from them.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) gave localities the option to play certain sports deemed low risk Aug. 24, specifically excluding sports like football and volleyball because of their use of shared equipment. Though Section XI originally said it would host fall seasons for all other sports, the entity and its athletic council reversed course Sept. 11 and said it would push all sports into truncated seasons starting Jan. 4. 

The Comsewogue group was part of a large protest earlier that same day outside the Section XI building in Smithtown, demanding their voices and concerns be heard.

Parents of athletes who came to the corner of Route 112 were just as upset about the situation as their children. 

“It’s their senior year, they already lost their junior season, so to have everything be combined next spring, and we still don’t know what the [infection rate] in January is going to be — we don’t know if this promise of January is even going to happen,” Danielle Deacy said. “You’re taking so much away from these kids … scholarships, recruitment. This is such a critical time for a lot of these kids that they’ve been playing since they were 5 years old.”

Deacy, the mother of Jake, a senior at Comsewogue High School, said with the numbers being what they are, and how COVID-19 does not impact young people as much as it does older groups, “the percentage of risk compared to what they’re losing is not worth it.”

When Section XI made its decision, it said in a statement to its website Sept. 11 that it was based on the potential for increased positive cases of COVID-19, reduced spectators, a lack of locker room and facility use, increased costs related to security and transportation, and the general well-being of athletes, parents, coaches and other staff.

Still, at least one member of the Comsewogue board of education wrote a letter in favor of those protesting, namely board president John Swenning. He said in a letter read out to the assembled parents and athletes that the district has had conversations with Section XI, adding that if schools remain mostly COVID-free, then athletes should be able to play before the expected Jan. 4 start date.

“Section XI acknowledged we should continue to have an open discussion with our superintendents and athletic directors to monitor the status of the health and well-being of our students,” Swenning wrote in his letter.

But for the students, who have already missed what was planned to be the original sport start date Sept. 21, every day that goes by is another loss.

“We want to play, we want the chance to have our seasons here,” Jake Deacy said. “Our spring seasons were cut short, we can’t let that happen again.” 

More than 1,000 supporters of President Donald Trump (R) took to county roads Sept. 20 to participate in a car and truck rally.

The rally started in East Northport at the AMC movie theater parking lot. At 11 a.m., participants started heading east on Route 25. The caravan then continued on Route 58 to travel through Riverhead and Greenport.

The rally caught the attention of the president who tweeted, “THANK YOU! #MAGA.”

In a Sept. 21 Facebook post, the rally organizer Shawn Farash said he finally had a chance to reflect on the day.

“We were heard, seen, and it resonated,” Farash wrote. “It reached people. Young and old. We did that. We packed out that movie theater lot. We took over the North Fork, and we declared together, the phrase I’ve heard from so many of you over the past few days, that we will be #SILENTNOMORE.”

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted an official ribbon cutting for Fedora Lounge Boutique Hair Salon on Sept. 10.

The business relocated from upper Port to the former Captain’s Lady Salon at 404 Main Street next to Jolie Powell Real Estate on June 10.

“I love my new location because I’m further into the village and I’ve met so many new friends walking by. It has a great vibe, big beautiful windows, walking distance to some of the best restaurants on the island and a bunch of small business owners supporting each other!” said owner Kristine Murillo.

Specializing in hair extensions and replacement, coloring, cutting and straightening, the salon also offers eye lash styling, nail and makeup services, teeth whitening, waxing, and reflexology.

Pictured from left, John Paul Mitchell Systems educator and stylist Nina Emanuele, chamber director Nancy Bradley, stylist Diane S., owner Bryan Tornee,  owner/stylist Kristine Murillo, stylist Dominique B., chamber president Mary Joy Pipe, nail professional Kathleen D., Port Jefferson Deputy Mayor Stan Loucks, and stylists Lisa P. and Ally G.

Operating hours are Mondays by appointment, Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sundays.

To make an appointment, call 631-374-9583. For more information, please visit www.fedoraloungehair.com.

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Progressive groups stood at the corner of Route 112 and Route 347, sometimes called “resistance corner” Sept. 20 to honor the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, and protest Senate Republicans’ efforts to fill her seat.

At the rally called Our Bodies, Our Courts!, protesters said Republicans are hypocritically pushing a new candidate onto the bench despite those same members saying in 2016 that there should be no supreme court nominations in an election year. Rally-goers said they were concerned about the chance a more conservative court could end the ability for women to get abortions or overturn the Affordable Care Act.

The crowd of about 50 were joined by Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and local Democratic candidates including Nancy Goroff, who is running for the New York District 1 House of Representatives Seat and Laura Jens-Smith, who is running for New York State Assembly District 2.

*Update* On Sunday, the Port Jefferson School District updated parents saying that after the middle school student was determined as positive for COVID, the Department of Health has quarantined a number of other students and staff who were determined to be in contact with the individual. All the individuals have been notified by the district.

The Department of health has determined students are cleared to return to the building on Monday. Staff not made to quarantine are supposed to report Monday as well as the students scheduled to be in school for learning that day. 

“The situation today is a reminder about the importance of social distancing,” said Superintendent Jessica Schmettan in a letter to parents. “The community needs to remain vigilant to avoid closures in the future.”

Original Story

The evening of Friday, Sept. 18, both the Rocky Point and Port Jefferson school districts reported positive COVID cases among a single student each.

Rocky Point Superintendent Scott O’Brien wrote in a letter to parents Sept. 18 that a student at the high school had tested positive for COVID-19. The district said they were in contact with the Suffolk County Department of Health, and “all appropriate areas are being cleaned and disinfected over the weekend.” The school is planned to reopen Monday to follow the school’s hybrid schedule.

“As per the Suffolk County Department of Health, the individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 was last in the building Thursday, Sept. 17 and will not be allowed to return to school for at least 10 days after a negative test result has been provided to the district,” the school’s statement read.

The district is assisting the county DOH in contact tracing. Those contacted by the DOH will need to remain quarantined for 14 days from last exposure to the individual.


Following another case Monday where Port Jefferson School District officials said an elementary student had tested positive, the district again sent a message to parents Friday saying that, after dismissal, the district was notified a middle school student had tested positive.

“We have been in contact with the Department of Health and have begun contact tracing procedures,” the district said in its notice to parents. “Students or staff members that were in contact with this student will receive a separate correspondence and a possible quarantine from the Department of Health.”

The district asked that people be mindful of their interactions with people as the investigation by the DOH is ongoing. The district said it will update parents of any further details once they recieve more guidance from the department of health.

Real Estate brokers said people from more urban parts of the state are on the hunt for rustic or suburban homes like this one for sale in Port Jefferson. Photo from Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Go east, homebuyers.

That’s the message people in Nassau County and New York City have heard in connection with home-buying decisions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘A number of people, because of the density of the population, decided they might like to move away from the city life and get to more open space.’

—John Fitzgerald

After the real estate market all but shut down during the worst of the lockdown in the spring, buyers have shown considerable interest in homes for sale in Suffolk County, driven by numerous factors including people leaving the higher-density areas of Manhattan. Additionally, prospective buyers working there have recognized that a remote working environment has given them options further from the city.

“Because of the pandemic, there was a slowdown in the request for housing and the market stopped for a while,” said John Fitzgerald, an owner and broker with Realty Connect USA, which is headquartered in Hauppauge. Once the market returned, “a number of people, because of the density of the population, decided they might like to move away from the city life and get to more open space,” he added.

With more buyers than houses available, bidding wars erupted. Prospective buyers also benefited from low interest rates, as people shopped for homes based on the monthly cost to build equity in their homes, rather than absolute price.

In some cases, within 10 minutes of a seller listing a house on the market, the phone started ringing for agents, Fitzgerald said. Prospective buyers and agents are calling or reaching out through the internet soon after some new listings appear on the market.

“It doesn’t matter the time of the day or the evening,” said Setauket-based Michael Ardolino, who is also an owner and broker at Realty Connect USA, which has offices throughout Long Island.

The prices for some homes have increased during the course of the year.

“If you’re selling something in February for one price, here we are in September, you can see a price difference,” Ardolino said. “Clearly, people are getting more money.”

Indeed, one home seller, who preferred not to use her name, said she put her house on the market in May but due to the pandemic nobody could come see it.

That, however, didn’t stop people from showing interest as numerous calls were made to her. She even received an offer from someone who hadn’t been in the house.

The offer that the seller eventually accepted was higher than the asking price. The sale closed only a few months after she put the home on the market.

With homebuyers expecting to use their houses for leisure and remote working, Fitzgerald said builders are already considering altering their architectural designs. Instead of a large den, some builders are exploring the potential for two private offices.

“In brand new construction, that will become more of a desired piece when people shop,” he said. Additionally, people may start looking for separate entrances, allowing them to minimize the noise and traffic that comes through their offices.

Some buyers are looking for an area where they are close enough to be in walking distance to town, but don’t want to be in the middle of town.

Catherine Quinlan of Coldwell Banker has also seen high demand for homes, particularly in Port Jefferson — one of her areas of expertise, where the inventory isn’t especially high.

Houses are “selling fast if they’re priced right,” she said.

While the supply-demand curve is tilted toward sellers, the pricing power isn’t extreme. She said sellers might get an extra $10,000 to $20,000, but that they aren’t collecting an additional $100,000.

Buyers are not only looking for office space to work at home, but are also interested in pools. If there isn’t a pool, buyers are asking if there’s enough room to build one.

In other markets, some folks may not want pools, but the current uncertainty about travel, vacations and even the availability of community pools has encouraged some buyers to add them to their shopping list.

Fitzgerald said the demand for pools is high enough that there is a waiting list to buy both in-ground and above-ground pools.

For one home she wasn’t showing, Quinlan was surprised to see a bidding war.

Houses that would have been on the market for months because of the condition are selling in a market in which buyers are willing to “work with a house” to accommodate their needs and to upgrade amenities or even rooms, she said.

Homes that are in the $400,000 to $500,000 range in particular are finding receptive buyers.

For prospective buyers who might be waiting for prices to come down, Fitzgerald suggested that the other side of the cost is interest rates.

“If the rates went up 1%, [buyers] could pay $40,000 to $50,000 more for the home,” he said, so they wouldn’t necessarily have saved by waiting.

Suffolk Republicans Put Onus on County Exec over Police Cuts

Steve Bellone, along with Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart and Police Chief Stu Cameron, said Sept. 18 that without federal funds, they would need to cut the next police academy class entirely. Photo by Kyle Barr

*Update* This story has been updated to include a response from county Republicans.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said Friday that this year’s budget will cut about $20 million from police spending, which includes the loss of an entire police recruitment class of about 200 officers. 

Legislator Rob Trotta, a retired Suffolk County Police detective, claimed the police budget should be relatively stable due to its independent line on resident’s tax bills. Photo by Kyle Barr

During a press conference held at the Police Academy located on the Suffolk County Community College Brentwood campus, Bellone reiterated his plea for the federal government to pass additional aid for local governments. The cut to the police class is expected to save approximately $1.5 million and will shutter the academy for what amounts to a year and a half. 

“Six months into this pandemic, the federal has failed to deliver disaster assistance to state and local governments,” Bellone said. “My message to Washington is simple: ‘Don’t defund the police — don’t defund suburbia by your inaction.’”

The county executive used language very reminiscent of President Donald Trump (R), who has previously asserted that if Democrats win in November they will “destroy the beautiful suburbs.” While Bellone indicated he does not agree with the defund-the-police movement — which aims to take funds away from traditional law enforcement and put them toward other social services or create new, nonpolice response units — he said that is “essentially what the federal government is doing” by not passing any new aid bills.

Bellone added the county budget, which is expected to be revealed in the next two weeks, will also include cuts to the student resource officer program that has trained cops for work in schools. Those officers will be reassigned. 

Additional cuts include the community support unit, suspending promotions, and cuts in county aid to independent East End police departments. These cuts, and potential further cuts hinted in the upcoming budget, could mean less officers and patrols on county streets, according to the county exec, though by how much he did not say.

Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said during the press conference that the loss of the SROs and other specialized officers would be a great loss to the public. 

“They are instrumental in intervening, intervening and addressing gang violence, opioid addiction and active shooter threats, while serving as a visual deterrent to illegal and dangerous activity,” she said. 

Though Suffolk County received $257 million in CARES Act funding back in April, which Bellone said is used as part of the response to the pandemic, a financial report issued by Suffolk earlier this year estimated the county could be as much as $1.5 billion in the hole over the next three years. 

In response to Bellone’s thrust that the federal government has not given enough, Republicans from the county Legislature stood in front of the Police Academy Sept. 22, instead claiming Bellone has not been transparent on Suffolk County finances.

Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), along with other Republican legislators, swore there was a way to keep the trainee cops program rolling, insisting that police are funded by a separate line on people’s taxes, and that unspent CARES Act funds can help cover the cost.

“What it’s like is a guy who has a credit card and he’s maxed out and he owes millions of dollars, then all of a sudden the coronavirus happens, and what does he do?” Trotta said. “He pays a little bit off and now he wants more money to make up for what he did before anybody heard about this.” 

Legislator Steve Flotteron (R-Brightwaters), a member of the Budget & Finance Committee, said he and other legislators have asked the exec’s office to make a presentation to them about the county’s financial state but a person from Bellone’s office never showed.

Trotta insisted the county has only spent a relatively small amount of the funding it received from the federal government, and that the money should go to pay law enforcement payroll. Suffolk County has previously reported most of that money has already been allocated or spent. When asked where Republicans are getting their data, Flotteron said he and others have seen it in reports from places like the county comptroller’s office, but could not point to anything specific.

Republicans have consistently gone after Bellone on county finances, making it a cornerstone of then-candidate and current Suffolk Comptroller John Kennedy Jr.’s (R) run against the Democratic incumbent in 2019. Their assertion now is that Suffolk had long been in financial trouble even before the pandemic hit, citing the county’s Wall Street bond rating downgrades over the past several years. New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (D) called Suffolk, with Nassau, the most fiscally stressed counties in the state last year. 

Other Long Island municipalities have also begged the federal government to send aid. On Sept. 14, federal reps from both parties stood beside several town supervisors to call for a bipartisan municipal aid bill. The Town of Brookhaven, for example, is requesting close to $12 million, as it had not been an original recipient of the original CARES Act funding.

At that press conference, Kennedy said the county is financially “on the verge of utter collapse.”

Suffolk, Bellone said, would need a $400 million windfall to stave off these massive cuts, and potentially up to $650 million to aid with economic hardship next year. 

“We have seen death and devastation … and we are moving forward, but we know we face years of recovery.” he said.

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Families are able to pick up essentials at Give Kids Hope, located on Nesconset Highway in Port Jeff Station. Photo by Courtney Rehfeldt

By Courtney Rehfeldt 

As many Long Islanders face financial hardship and food insecurity, struggling to make ends meet, Melissa Paulson, of Port Jefferson, is helping communities in need.

Donations for a back-to-school drive hosted at Give Kids Hope in Port Jefferson Station. Photo by Courtney Rehfeldt

A yellow wreath adorns the door to the Port Jefferson Station outreach center Give Kids Hope that Paulson recently opened along Nesconset Highway. Families who come to the center can pick up free food and other items, including toiletries and even toys or clothes. 

“It has been truly sad to see the amount of people who struggle with providing everyday basic needs for their family,” Paulson said. 

Eight years ago, Paulson initially started Give Kids Hope as a nonprofit to support children fighting cancer before pivoting towards helping the general public. 

“I started Give Kids Hope after my daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma,” she said. “Having been faced with such a tragedy, I knew that my only hope was prayer and the hospital staff around us. The simple things, such as a toy gifted to my daughter through the worst time, cheered her up. I wanted to be that person to help other children going through the same thing.” 

Unfortunately, Paulson faced yet another challenge when her husband lost his job. Just as before, Paulson’s own challenging experience inspired her to help others in the same position. 

“After my husband lost his job for 16 months, we were faced with the same situation of families who are struggling,” the outreach center owner said. “Luckily, we had our savings account and family to help us through that time. I learned that even working people can lose everything so easily without any notice or warning. We are grateful to have had the option to come back from that situation. However, most families don’t have the support from others or other things to keep them afloat. I wanted to be that person that others can lean on during their crisis.” 

Paulson noted that the pandemic and subsequent job losses on Long Island has created a massive demand for food and daily essentials. She reported that Give Kids Hope assists 15 to 30 families a week with food items, and some weeks that number is even higher, averaging 40 to 60 families. 

“We have seen every type of hard situation that is imaginable,” she said. 

Even before the pandemic, Paulson said many Long Island families were already struggling and that the need for future assistance can occur at any time. 

“I feel the community isn’t aware of how many families are truly in need of basic essentials and living needs,” Paulson said. “Even for a working family who hits a crisis, it becomes a downward spiral of effects. There isn’t enough assistance out there that allows families to receive what they truly need. Some people don’t qualify for government assistance due to a few dollars over the allowed limit. Our goal is to provide assistance and support to them through their time of need.” 

Before opening the Give Kids Hope location in Port Jefferson Station, Paulson ran the operation out of her home. 

“We had a very generous donor who donated $5,000 to get us started,” she said. “We were limited with space and ability when doing it in my home. Now we can open 4-5 days a week for pantry items and other types of assistance.” 

Paulson emphasized that it has been challenging to raise funds, and notes that Give Kids Hope relies on the community’s support to keep it flourishing. 

“Our center is 100% free to others in need,” the Port Jeff resident said. “Since we opened, we have helped 662 families with clothes, toys, and food assistance. A lot of families are walk-ins that don’t have a computer. Our center has been a huge asset to the community and has grown tremendously. We have held free shopping events, back-to-school supplies drives, and we are currently working on a Halloween costume drive, Thanksgiving, and our big toy drive for Christmas.”

Paulson also added that the center is looking for volunteers and takes food and item donations. 

Give Kids Hope is located at 4390 Nesconset Highway in Port Jefferson Station. They can be contacted online by searching Give Kids Hope on Facebook or by calling 631-538-5287.