Mark Freeley is the kind of person who likes to get his hands dirty, especially when it comes to helping people in need.
The longtime Stony Brook resident is usually juggling multiple projects, sometimes all in the same day. Whether he’s fighting insurance companies on behalf of his law firm’s clients or picking up rescued dogs, Freeley never shies away from stepping up.
As a young law student at Hofstra University, Freeley got his first taste of how his career could make a difference.
“I was a law clerk for a small firm that did personal injury cases, and I found that I really enjoyed it,” said Freeley, founder of The North Shore Injury Lawyer based in Woodbury. “It’s gratifying to know that I can help people dealing with serious accidents or injuries fight for the insurance money they need.”
This year, he’s also been working with small businesses struggling to access financial assistance in the wake of the pandemic.
Those efforts caught the attention of Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, who also advocates for local businesses.
“I thought it was terrible that so many businesses were being denied support from their insurance companies because of the nature” of the pandemic closures, Rocchio said. “When I found out Mark was involved in fighting for those businesses, I picked up the phone and introduced myself. He has so much compassion for the entire community.”
As it turned out, Rocchio and Freeley often crossed paths while walking their dogs around the T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park. Last summer, Tropical Storm Isaias did significant damage to the site, leaving piles of rubble and a six-figure bill in its wake.
Without prompting, Freeley launched a social media campaign to help restore the park and chipped in some of his own money.
That’s only the latest example of how Freeley has used social media to create positive change. In 2017, he and his dog Storm earned national attention when Storm rescued a drowning deer on their usual walk. Freeley created a Facebook page, Good Boy Storm, to raise awareness of local animal rescue needs.
While he’s always loved animals, it was Freeley’s daughter that led him to do more. Their weekly visits to see the puppies at the Lake Grove Petco store in her younger years blossomed into them volunteering together with Last Chance Animal Rescue in Southampton.
“We did it every Saturday for eight years, rarely missing a week,” Freeley said. “They’re such wonderful people, and I’ve made some really tight bonds through helping to save animals.”
Last Chance is run entirely by volunteers, and Freeley has done everything from fostering to running adoption events and picking up newly rescued dogs at 6 a.m. each weekend.
“I meet the transport van in Patchogue every Saturday, when they bring up rescued dogs from South Carolina. I’m in charge of all the collars and leashes, and making sure the right dog is going to the right foster family,” he explained. “When that van opens up and you see it full of animals that have been saved from being killed, all that effort is worth it.”
This past year, according to Last Chance, it has facilitated the adoption of 875 dogs and cats. And even though his daughter is now away at college, Freeley keeps coming back.
“Mark and his daughter Nicole were so faithful right off the bat, and Mark was always willing to take on additional responsibility when needed,” said Judith Langmaid, director of adoption for Last Chance Animal Rescue. “He’s been there to teach other volunteers that come in, run his own supply drives, sponsor fundraising events, and even play golf in the pouring rain for our benefit. He really is a superb individual and we are so grateful to have him.”
Langmaid added that Freeley is humble and would likely shy away from any attention focused on his contributions.
“He’d rather highlight everyone else and encourage others to lend a hand,” she said.
Before congratulating Mark Freeley for being named a TBR News Media Person of the Year, consider fostering or adopting through Last Chance Animal Rescue. An animal can only be brought to Long Island if there is a foster family ready to take it in, so help is always needed. Learn more by calling 631-478-6844 or visit www.lcarescue.org.