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David Altman

Guide Dog Foundation honored Townwide Fund last year, naming a puppy “Charity” as a special tribute to the group. Photo from Guide Dog Foundation

By Daniel Dunaief

They put their money where their heart is. The dedicated volunteers at The Townwide Fund of Huntington contribute to charities that provide everything from meals to visiting nurses to guide dogs. Founded in 1961, Townwide Fund, which was originally called Huntington Township Charities Inc., has donated over $12 million to charities with the hope of ensuring that the town meets the needs of its residents.

Times Beacon Record News Media is pleased to name the members of Townwide Fund as its People of the Year.

Executives from several area charities appreciated the ongoing financial support from Townwide Fund.

“The need is greater and the funding gets less,” said Susan Shiloni, the executive director of Literacy Suffolk, which has received financial backing from Townwide Fund since 2001. “We are so grateful for these other sources of revenue like the Townwide Fund that help us out. I don’t know where we would be” without places like the fund, which provided $3,000 this year.

Literacy Suffolk helps build literacy among adults. Townwide Fund’s contribution supports training for one-on-one tutoring.

Charity, one year later. Photo from the Guide Dog Foundation

Guide Dog Foundation, meanwhile, has received financial assistance from Townwide Fund for over 20 years that adds up to about $60,000. In the past three years, the fund has helped with new puppy vests and equipment and supplies for the nursery. This year, it also helped buy a portable ultrasound scanner for a home whelping program.

“With this vital piece of equipment, we can scan a mother dog after she has given birth to ensure everything has gone well,” Theresa Manzolillo explained in an email. “We don’t have to bring her to a vet, which reduces any potential health risks to the puppies and helps keep the mom’s stress level low.”

For Island Harvest Food Bank, Townwide Fund has stepped up with $15,500 in the last four years, which helped provide about 31,000 meals.

“The Townwide Fund of Huntington enables us to provide residents who may be struggling with hunger and food insecurity with supplemental food support and essential services to help guide them from uncertainty to stability,” Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest, wrote in an email.

One of the longest standing organizations supported by the fund, Visiting Nurse Service of New York has been receiving contributions from the fund’s inception, in 1961. Prior to the creation of Medicare, the fund helped support a wide range of expenses. In recent years, the fund helps support services Medicare and insurance don’t cover, like acupuncture, which helps with pain control and symptom management, said Linda Taylor.

The fund is “very community oriented” and “supports the people who live here,” Taylor said.

David Altman, a founding partner of the law firm of Brown & Altman, became the president of the fund this year.

The money the fund provides is “really affecting our community to make a better life,” said Vita Scaturrro, who

is on the board of the fund and is also the co-chair of the grants committee. “The grants we give have a return.”

Scaturro said the grants committee reviews all the applications, writes up its recommendations and then presents them to the board. Grants need to be submitted by the end of July.

Townwide has several fundraising events. They host the Charity Gala, St. Patrick’s Run, Classic Golf Outing, Comedy Night and Thanksgiving Day Run. The fund also collects donations through a year-end annual appeal, Corporate Sponsorship Program, Coin Box Program and online Round Up Program.

Scaturro is pleased with the way the funds benefit people who live in the area.

“I’ve been involved with different not-for-profit organizations,” said Scaturro, who has lived in Huntington for 36 years. The money from Townwide Fund “is given for the right purpose.”

People interested in learning more about the fund can visit the website, at www.townwidefund.

The cast of ‘12 Angry Men’. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

For a play that takes place in a single room, “12 Angry Men” has had quite a ride. Written by Reginald Rose after he served as a juror on a manslaughter case, it was turned into a made-for-television movie and broadcast live on the CBS program Studio One in 1954. 

The success of the television production resulted in a film adaptation in 1957. Starring Henry Fonda and Jack Klugman, the movie is consistently ranked as one of the greatest courtroom dramas of all time and was selected for preservation in the United States Film Registry in 2007 for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

From left, Michael Mingoia, John McNamara, Steven Uihlein, Jack Green, Gene Durney, Steve Ayle and Michael Newman.

And significant it is. Over 60 years later, the behind-closed-doors look at the American legal system continues to make an impact in community theaters all around the world. This month, it makes its way to the Mainstage of Theatre Three, a stark contrast to its last production, “Nunsense,” and is more relevant than ever.

Twelve men from different backgrounds sit on a jury where the accused has been charged with murder in the first degree … premeditated homicide. They are tasked with deliberating the guilty or innocent verdict beyond a reasonable doubt of a teenage boy who is accused of stabbing his father with a switchblade. If found guilty, he could face the electric chair. The judge orders the jury to “separate the facts from the fancy” and the deliberations begin.

Jim Pearsall, Michael Newman, Michael Mingoia and Gene Durney.

Directed by Bradlee Bing, the seasoned cast does a terrific job conveying the sense of grave responsibility. As the jurors are led into the deliberating room, the security guard (Alan Schelp) locks them in, giving the sense of being held hostage until a decision is made. 

The actors also effectively convey the temperature in the room by taking turns to fix the “broken” air conditioner, taking off their jackets, taking a sip of water and wiping their foreheads and back of necks. The audience feels the heat, which adds to the volatile environment that envelops the room.

The odds are stacked against the teenager. There are three witnesses, there’s a motive (his father beat him regularly), his alibi is shaky and the murder weapon belongs to him, “But sometimes the facts staring you in the face are wrong.”

A preliminary vote results in 11 guilty, one not guilty — Juror #8, played by Steve Ayle. “Boy, oh boy, there’s always one!” The majority of the jury just want to get out of there and get on with their lives. One has tickets to a baseball game, another wants to get back to running his business and so on. 

Foreground, from left, Mihcael Mingoia, Jack Green, Jules Jacobs, Steven Uihlein; background, from left, David Altman, Joseph Cavagnet and Leonard DeLorenzo

But Juror #8 has doubts and he’s not ready to give in to peer pressure. “A man’s life is on the line …” He asks to see the murder weapon again, to see the layout of one of the witness’ apartment, always questioning and pointing out inconsistencies as the other jurors change their vote one by one.

The characters and plot and suspense develop slowly and that’s the beauty of it. From “You couldn’t change my mind if you talked for a hundred years” and “We don’t owe this kid a thing” to “Maybe we should talk about it” and “We have a job to do, let’s do it” to the final “Let him live,” the emotional progression is an incredible thing to watch.

The end result is a powerful and thought-provoking evening at the theater. The endless clapping at the end of the first act and the standing ovation at the end of Saturday’s opening night performance was most well deserved.

The cast: Joseph Cavagnet, Leonard DeLorenzo, Jack Green, John McNamara, Steven Uihlein, Jim Pearsall, Michael Newman, Steve Ayle, Jules Jacobs, Gene Durney, David Altman, Michael Mingoia and Alan Schelp

Sponsored by Bridgehampton National Bank for the third year in a row, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “12 Angry Men” through May 5. Running time is two hours and 10 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. The Mainstage season closes with the musical comedy whodunit “Curtains” from May 19 to June 23. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 to 12. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

All photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.