By Julianne Mosher
Larry Ryan of Port Jefferson Station is known to keep busy with different projects and volunteerism, but he stays modest about the work he’s doing within the community.
“He does things with the best interest at heart,” Doreen Guma, a board member with the Port Jefferson/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, said. “He brings smiles to people’s faces.”
Ryan has been with the chamber for a few years and throughout that time has contributed so much to the overall community, his longtime friend Michael Gargiulo said.
“People know Larry Ryan some way or another,” he said. “He works tirelessly and works with so many different groups and is always there to be involved, offering his help and assistance.”
But one of his true passions is helping those with special needs.
“Larry previously worked for Maryhaven Center of Hope for 28 years, which included running an intermediate care facility that specialized in supporting those with autism,” Gargiulo said. “Throughout that time, Larry interfaced with the community and continued to be a strong advocate for the special needs population.”
Right now, he is working toward his doctorate in special education, all while continuing his community service and working full time.
“He has a ‘can do’ attitude,” Joan Nickeson, who works closely with Ryan, said. “He’s open and accepting and is always looking to the future. He has a vision for our community and connects with all types of people — some people are called to serve and he’s the real deal.”
Ryan is also the co-owner of Sensory Solutions of Long Island, a gym that supports the special needs population with inclusive programming and recreational activities like art, music, Zumba and yoga. It also helps those who are seeking occupation, physical and speech therapy.
“He exemplifies all that is good in our community through his work with children and adults.”
— Joan Nickeson
The Port Jefferson Station resident also is part of a nonprofit inclusive lacrosse program that started last summer, bringing both special needs and typical children together to play in a noncompetitive atmosphere.
“He really tries to unite different people together and is continuing to connect with the community,” Gargiulo said.
And with whatever spare time he has, Ryan works with Port Jeff Bowl, has his own business, and works with the Town of Brookhaven.
“Larry will often collaborate with current Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Brookhaven Town’s District One [D-Port Jefferson Station] on community integration,” Gargiulo added. “You will usually spot him at a local or town event, interfacing with the community or running an informational table.”
Gargiulo added that Ryan’s honor for Person of the Year is long overdue as “he is an intricate part of the community, and continues to make a positive impact, locally and across Long Island.”
Nickeson agreed. “He exemplifies all that is good in our community through his work with children and adults,” she said.