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East Setauket

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Approximately a dozen clergy members stood for equality at a Setauket intersection June 5.

Members of the Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association gathered on the southeast and northeast corners of Route 25A and Bennetts Road/North Country Road. On the muggy Friday, with signs in hand, the peaceful protesters wanted to let the community know that black lives matter. The protest was in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of a police officer.

The Rev. Linda Anderson, community minister in affiliation with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook, said it was important to organize the event with faithful people from different religions.

“We wanted to show people that we can stand together for peace and for justice, and that is what our faiths ask us,” she said.

The Rev. Gregory Leonard, of Setauket’s Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and one of the founding members of the grassroots organization Building Bridges in Brookhaven, said when it comes to residents caring about an issue, it starts with the faith communities. The pastor said at this significant moment in history, the group couldn’t let it pass by without doing something.

“This is a big moment,” he said. “Something is happening, and it could be something good if we stand up and speak up, and it could be something negative if we just sit there and don’t say anything.”

Rabbi Paul Sidlofsky, from Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook, said the individual congregations have been emphasizing the importance of human rights, but he said it was important to come together as a community.

“This is not something that affects one group, one religion or one part of our society, but it affects everyone — everyone who believes in freedom, who believes in justice and equal rights,” he said.

Elaine Learnard, a Quaker and member of Conscience Bay Friends Meeting, said it was important for her to take part.

“Quakers, since the beginning, have believed in equality of all, and like most of the nation, we haven’t always lived up to our ideals, and it’s important,” she said. “This is a time to me of crisis with potential for great change, and it’s important to be heard and seen in support of the equality of all.”

The majority of the drivers passing by were honking and giving nods of approval.

“I think our signs saying who we are, Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association, I think that helps people have goodwill and maybe make some of them think a little bit,” Anderson said.

Leonard was not surprised.

“I have always known here in the Three Village there are more compassionate, good people than there are those who are afraid and negative,” he said.

Though Leonard did notice a few negative gestures that didn’t deter his hope in people.

“You know what, it’s the start of a dialogue, talking to each other,” he said. “When we talk to each other, get to know one another then hopefully things like what happened with George Floyd will become less and less. I think there will always be hatred and ignorance in the world. I think that’s just the way it is, but today the Three Village clergy and the other people who have joined us are making a statement that what’s going on is not right. We need to respect each other. We need to get to know one another. We need to build bridges to one another.”

Sidlofsky said the negative is expected as sometimes people misinterpret the message.

“We have to realize that when we stand up for the rights of one group such as the African American community, it doesn’t mean you’re denying the rights of others, it means you’re enhancing human rights,” he said.

Anderson said she has faith in the future.

“I always have faith and trust in the goodness that’s in humanity and I think, I hope, that we perhaps have hit a bottom and the only place to go is up,” she said.

The Rev. Ashley McFaul-Erwin, community outreach pastor for Setauket Presbyterian Church, who grew up in Northern Ireland, is also hopeful.

“I really believe in the inherent goodness in all people,” she said, adding it will take hard work to continue building relationships. “I think at the heart of it, even though we’re very divided right now, there’s a goodness that I hope will come through.”

Leonard said, regarding Floyd’s death, the thing that sticks with him most is how he cried out for his mother who died two years earlier.

“When he called out for his mother, he called out for all mothers black and white, rich and poor,” the pastor said. “That was very meaningful for me and something to think about regarding the tragedy of his death.”

Car parades to celebrate birthdays and other momentous occasions have become popular during the pandemic as people look for alternate ways to commemorate their loved ones’ milestones.

On May 9, a short distance from the TBR News Media office, a car parade was held for Siena Figliola who turned five the day before.

In addition to her father, Anthony, mother, Christine, and siblings 7-year-old Anthony and 14-month-old Celine on hand, friends, family members and her fellow Setauket Elementary School pre-K classmates headed down her street.

Her mother said the family had an amazing time.

It was so wonderful seeing the children with big smiles on their faces,” she said. “For a brief moment parents and their kids were able to forget about what was going on in the world and just be happy. The pre-K class was adorable — the children hanging out of their car with signs, birthday cards and presents. One dad retrofitted his car with microphones and flashing lights.”

Christine Figliola said the hope was to not only celebrate her daughter’s birthday but also give other children a “small break from the lack of normalcy they’ve all been experiencing.” During the birthday parade, participants received curbside favors, treats and goodie bags, handed out from a safe distance.

The mother said her daughter has been taking the recent changes to everyday life in stride and enjoyed her big day.

I know she will look back on this time, and it will be a birthday for her in the history books,” Figliola said.

Sei Ramen in East Setauket is just one Asian restaurant on Long Island that said business is down since the start of the coronavirus panic. Photo by David Luces

The uncertainty of the coronavirus has led many people to avoid public places that see a lot of foot traffic. Some have resorted to hunkering down at home. With the first confirmed cases of coronavirus reported in Suffolk County this past week, despite efforts to sanitize their locations, some local businesses owners have been seeing the impact directly.

Since the outbreak began in China late last year, Asian American and Chinese restaurants and businesses have seen a decline in the number of customers. 

The Great Wall Chinese restaurant in Sound Beach is just one of several Asian establishments impacted by irrational fears over the coronavirus. Photo from Google Maps

Kevin Ma, co-owner of Sei Ramen in East Setauket, acknowledged the drop-off in business. 

Business “for area restaurants, it’s going down,” he said. “I have friends that run their own businesses and they are going through the same thing.”

Since opening last month, Ma believes they have been doing OK and hopes to see an uptick in customers once the coronavirus scare dies down.

“All we can do is let customers know the food is safe [to eat],” he said. “We are making sure everything is clean and sanitized.”  

Gary Pollakusky, president and executive director of Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the fears of coronavirus are affecting businesses in the area. 

“I spoke to two Chinese restaurants [that are chamber members], they don’t want this to affect them,” he said. 

Pollakusky said misinformation on the coronavirus has caused the reduction in business, especially to the new owners of the Great Wall, a Chinese restaurant in Sound Beach. 

“The fears of the people toward Chinese food are irrational — people shouldn’t be afraid of eating local,” he said. “The Great Wall in Sound Beach has new owners and they are very excited to be a part of this community.”

The executive director said all businesses are taking the proper precautions and safety measures to make sure its facilities are clean. 

Libraries also see a lot of visitors and are trying to stay a step ahead.  

Ted Gutmann, director at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket, said they are closely monitoring the situation. 

“We take the health and the safety of our patrons very seriously,” he said. “We have ordered additional cleaning supplies to clean surfaces, computers, keyboards and other areas.”

Gutmann said if patrons feel sick, he would advise them not to come to the library. 

“We have tried to be proactive, we haven’t really seen a decrease in attendance at the library,” the director said.

At this point, Emma Clark has not decided to cancel any upcoming events but has had internal discussions about the problem, should the overall situation gets worse. 

Debbie Engelhardt, director of Comsewogue Public Library, had similar sentiments. 

“We haven’t noticed a change in attendance,” she said. “We are trying to be proactive, just washing our hands is part of our daily routine.” 

Engelhardt said they already had numerous sanitizers installed throughout the building. 

“We increased signage reminding employees and patrons to wash their hands,” she said. “If employees are sick, we have told them to stay home — we are monitoring information from the state and county. We are trying to stay educated, we have a responsibility as a public service building.”  

“We are making sure everything is clean and sanitized.”

— Kevin Ma

Several local groups have been canceling events. The Three Village Democratic Club, Three Village Historical Society and Three Village Community Trust have all canceled or pushed off events out of a sense of caution. 

Brookhaven Town has released an executive order canceling all town events for senior citizens due to coronavirus concerns. Those events are suspended beginning March 12. Meals on Wheels deliveries will continue to homebound seniors, while those previously served by congregate nutrition programs at senior centers will be offered meal delivery at home.

Residents can call 631-451-8696 for more information.

Despite the preparation, other businesses said they haven’t seen much of an impact so far.

Bobby Suchan, general manager of Port Jeff Bowl, said besides less people coming into bowling alleys in general, they haven’t seen a change in business as of now. 

“We have installed more hand sanitizer in the building and just making sure everything is clean, which is something we always do,” he said. 

Charlie Ziegler, director of operations at Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook, said it’s business as usual at the hotel. 

“It’s not having an effect [on us] — the number of customers coming is the same,” he said. 

Despite that, Ziegler said they will continue to make sure everything in the building is cleaned and sanitized. 

“We had a meeting recently with the staff and we told them to make sure to wash their hands constantly,” he said. “We want to keep areas clean … we are disinfecting areas like the great room, telephones and door handles.”

Ziegler said they don’t anticipate any further disruptions from the coronavirus situation. 

File photo

Police said an East Setauket woman, who had been trying to assist people involved in a separate crash in Islandia, was struck and killed by a passing vehicle the morning of Monday, March 2.

Suffolk County Police said a 2005 Toyota was rear-ended by a 2002 Toyota on eastbound Suffolk Avenue, west of Casement Avenue, at around 5:40 a.m. Jennifer Burgess, 36, of East Setauket, who was not involved in the crash, stopped to render assistance to the involved drivers.

A 2014 Toyota and a 2003 Chevrolet then struck the 2005 Toyota, causing Burgess to step into the westbound lane of Suffolk Avenue where she was struck by a 2018 Honda.

Burgess was transported to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore where she was pronounced dead.

The driver of the Honda, Chris Cardinale, 59, of St. James, was not injured.

The Honda was impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the 3rd Squad at 631-854-8352.

Mark Daniels

Despite a recent setback, mornings still look bright for one East Setauket resident.

A familiar voice on Long Island radio for more than 30 years, Mark Daniels was notified he was being let go as co-host of WALK/97.5FM’s “Mark and Jamie Mornings” right before Thanksgiving. 

But with the start of a new year, the radio host embarked on a new adventure Jan. 2, launching the podcast, “Breakfast with Mark Daniels,” right from his East Setauket home.

Daniels said the 10-minute installments will be Long Island focused and told in a storytelling format. Subjects will range from pizza to the railroad.

“I always try to relate something to Long Islanders that Long Islanders call their own, and I think keeping it that way and keeping it local provides that relatability that folks in Nassau and Suffolk have to one another and to living here,” Daniels said.

A recent podcast featured the radio host’s recent adventure into the city on a day when the Ronkonkoma Branch railroad line was undergoing construction. He said he and his family headed to the Babylon station, “but so did the rest of the planet east of Babylon.” Fortunately, they were able to get a parking spot.

The idea of a podcast came about when some friends suggested he reinvent himself. In the future, Daniels said he hopes to build a big enough base to attract advertisers.

“It’s evolving every day,” he said.

An East Setauket resident for 21 years, Daniels and his wife Marianne have three children, Mark, Brian and Allison, who have grown up in the Three Village school district.

The radio host originally commuted to Patchogue for his on-air duties for WALK, and then after Connecticut-based Connoisseur Media purchased the station, he traveled to their Farmingdale studios.

While the commute may have been longer for Daniels once the studio was moved to Farmingdale, it was a job he always enjoyed.

“It is a lot of fun to be on the air and to talk to your co-host about topics, and the immediate listener response is just incredible,” he said. “It’s just so much fun. It was like a playdate every time I was on the air. I’m trying to keep that going on the podcast.”

He said among his favorite memories is collecting donations for the food bank Long Island Cares, where listeners would often contribute so much there was no room to store the contributions at the station. He also loves appearing in The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Walk for Beauty in October. He said the community’s response to such causes is overwhelming.

“To me, that’s what radio is really about,” the broadcaster said. “It’s about people. When you put out a call to attend and support, people show up, and people show up in large numbers.”

While Daniels said he is not at liberty to comment on his exit from WALK/FM, he added he wasn’t surprised when he heard at the end of the year that WALK would broadcast the same morning show as Star 99.9, “The Anna & Raven Show,” which is broadcast from Connecticut. 

“It’s a business decision and that’s what they chose to do, and that’s what I have to live with, and I have to pick up and move on,” he said.

This week Connoisseur Media also announced Daniels’ most recent co-host, Jamie Morris, will now head K-JOY’s morning show.

Daniels said he couldn’t believe the amount of support he received on social media after the news of his dismissal was announced, and he admitted it gave him goose bumps.

“I really only think of myself as just a guy that goes in, does a job and has a lot of fun with it and enjoys it, and then I’m home,” he said.

The radio host said his podcasts can be found every weekday on the “Breakfast with Mark Daniels” Facebook and Instagram pages, Spotify, Apple podcast and Buzzsprout.com.

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As his former office sits empty on North Country Road in Setauket, former investment adviser Steven Pagartanis will be spending time in jail.

The 60-year-old East Setauket resident appeared in Central Islip’s federal court Jan. 9 where U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack sentenced Pagartanis to 14 years in prison and also ordered him to pay more than $6.5 million in restitution, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The former investment adviser was arrested May 30, 2018, and in December of the same year, pleaded guilty to charges of mail and wire fraud for orchestrating a securities fraud scheme for 18 years.

“Today’s sentence is a well-deserved reckoning for Pagartanis, who preyed on elderly investors, many of whom trusted him with their life savings, for nearly two decades,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue. “Protecting investors, especially those that are vulnerable, from white-collar criminals is a priority of this office and the Department of Justice.” 

According to the press release, from January 2000 to March 2018, Pagartanis targeted elderly women to invest in two publicly traded companies. He requested the victims write checks payable to an entity he secretly controlled. After laundering the investments using a series of bank accounts, he used the money to pay for personal expenses. He also funded failed business ventures that included his wife’s pet store. 

The defendant’s victims invested more than $13 million and sustained losses of over $9 million, according to the EDNY office.

Pagartanis’ attorney Kevin Keating, of Garden City, declined to comment.

Frank Napolitano’s mother, Roseanne Maggio, of Middle Island, lost nearly $70,000 in the scam. Since Maggio died in 2018, Napolitano attended the sentencing along with other victims.

He said he was satisfied with the sentencing and was surprised that the judge ordered Pagartanis to prison immediately. While to his knowledge his mother’s $70,000 is the smallest amount lost by a victim, he said money is relative to everybody.

“Seventy thousand to one person is $3 million to another person,” he said. “It’s really kind of all my mother had in terms of investing.” 

Napolitano said it was crazy to hear of all the luxury items Pagartanis purchased with the money, including vacations and luxury cars, especially since he targeted elderly women, most of whom had recently suffered an illness or death of a family member.

“It breaks your heart,’” he said.

Despite her passing, Maggio’s family will still see some restitution. Her son said his mother had hoped to leave money to her four grandchildren.

“They’re able to see a little something of grandma’s investment so it helps a little bit,” he said.

A Walmart customer donates to Stan Feltman’s fundraising efforts for fellow veterans. Photo by Rita J. Egan

On a recent December morning, while many shoppers rushed into the Middle Island Walmart to take care of some holiday shopping, others paused in the vestibule to throw some money in a bucket.

The container sat in a shopping cart filled with articles and wartime photos that feature veteran Stan Feltman, 93, the man standing behind the cart. Feltman is a familiar face at the store as he stands there practically every day, all year long, collecting money for his fellow veterans with the recognizable red poppies in his hand. Some days he takes a break, but only from his usual spot. He then moves on to collect money at the Walmart in Centereach or East Setauket.

Feltman said he’s met so many generous people through the years. He usually can collect between $80 and $100 after standing there for two hours. One day a gentleman shook his hand and noticed he was cold and bought him a jacket from the store. One woman gave him a $20 bill one day saying it was for him to keep.

“I took the $20, and when she left I threw it in the pot,” he said. “I don’t need the money.”

A member of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA Col. Mickey Marcus Post 336, Feltman brings the donations to the post’s monthly meetings where he and his fellow members decide where the money should go. Post Comdr. Norman Weitz said over the last few years they have been able to donate more than $21,000 thanks to Feltman’s fundraising efforts. The post is a regular contributor to many veterans efforts, including the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University.

“A common theme you will see in the veterans community is that veterans are dedicated to giving back to helping other veterans.”

– Jonathan Spier

In 2017, the post donated $5,000 to LISVH. Jonathan Spier, deputy executive director of the vets home, said the donation was used to purchase oxygen concentrators for the patients. He said the JWV has been a partner with the home for more than 20 years and other donations from them have been used for recreational therapy programs. The post also assists Jewish vets to attend Shabbat and holiday services.

“A common theme you will see in the veterans community is that veterans are dedicated to giving back to helping other veterans,” he said.

Spier added he is in awe of Feltman’s fundraising efforts.

“It’s really incredible to see that passion and that energy and the effort that he puts in to help veterans,” he said.

As for his war record, Feltman was a B-29 tail gunner in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1945. He was a double ace, meaning he shot down 10 enemy planes. Weitz said he admires Feltman, who one time when he was shot down had to escape on a raft. When Feltman’s fellow soldier slipped off the raft into shark-infested waters, he dived down to save him and grabbed him by the collar. Feltman earned the Bronze Star Medal for saving the man’s life. The medal wasn’t the only one earned during his service, as he gained four medals in total throughout his time in the Air Corps, even though they are no longer in his possession.

“My wife was so proud of them when she passed away, I put them in her coffin,” he said.

Weitz said he believes there are more heroic acts that Feltman doesn’t talk about, and the office of U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is trying to see if his medals can be replaced by writing to the Air Force Historical Research Agency, which has access to after-action reports. The post commander has also nominated Feltman for membership in the Legion of Honor of The Chapel of Four Chaplains, which recognizes veterans who have gone above and beyond their required duties and contribute to their community.

In addition to raising money for veterans, Feltman has participated in lectures at schools and senior groups, including Erasmus Hall High School where he attended while growing up in Brooklyn. He also has been interviewed for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, an initiative established to collect and preserve firsthand remembrances of wartime veterans.

Weitz calls Feltman amazing and said he is worthy of all the accolades he has received.

“The record amount of money he’s collected allows us to distribute thousands and thousands to local veterans organizations,” he said.

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Carolyn and Rich Mora stand inside Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits. Rich Mora holds a bottle of bourbon made specially for the store’s 30th anniversary. Photo by Rita J. Egan

What started as an interest in wine has led to a store that has become a staple in the Three Village area.

On Nov. 30, Rich Mora will celebrate 30 years as owner of Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits. His wife of 16 years Carolyn, a retired children’s librarian who helps her husband run the store, credits its success to Mora’s passion for locating smaller production wines and different spirits customers tell him about. She said patrons, many of whom find the store through its website, come from all over including a gentleman recently all the way from Tennessee.

“We have great customers, but basically it’s Rich’s passion for fine wine and for staying his course and not selling out to big companies,” she said. “I’m very proud of him. Thirty years is a big thing. It’s all about community here.”

The exterior of Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits

Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits continues the legacy of a liquor store at the location of 280 Route 25A in East Setauket. Mora said in 1989 he bought the building from Robert Eikov, who was in his 80s at the time and also ran a liquor store. The Eikov family lived in the area for decades, and elder Eikov originally opened a cut-to-order butcher shop at the location. Three Village Historical Society historian Beverly Tyler said Eikov, along with his wife Blanche, constructed the building shortly after they were married sometime in the 1930s, and lived in an apartment at the rear of the store. Decades later, Eikov reopened his business as a liquor store.

“Robert Eikov told me that he was having trouble cutting meat due to the cold temperature and because his hands were not as flexible as in his youth, so he had to give up the butcher shop,” Tyler said.

Today the building looks pretty much the same as it did when Eikov owned it, Mora said, even including a green awning and a neon liquor sign that has been there since 1965.

The store owner said he didn’t set out thinking he would own a wine store, even though he always felt like he would work for himself. Born in Central America, he grew up in Larchmont in Westchester County, and after going to college for a while in Oregon he decided to study at Stony Brook University. He holds an undergraduate degree in physics, but while studying at SBU, he decided to take a formal wine class and became interested in the art of fine wines. He started teaching after college but the wine tasting classes stuck with him, and he began researching how to acquire a liquor license and setting up the business itself before he bought the building he is in today.

While he was studying at SBU, Mora said the area reminded him a lot of Larchmont, where he lived near the Long Island Sound. He added he always loved the water, beaches and boating.

“It felt a lot like home here,” he said.

When it comes to running a successful business, Mora said a store owner needs to constantly reinvent the business as rules, shipping laws and the business world are constantly changing.

Through the years, Mora has offered events, such as tastings, for his customers as he said the universe of wine keeps expanding, and with the increased number of spirits brands out there, interest has grown.

“This community is very responsive to that,” he said. “They like to discover exciting new wines. They like our events. They like the people from the wine business that we introduce them to.”

To celebrate the store’s milestone, the Moras recently had a bourbon whiskey specially made by Garrison Brothers Distillery in Texas. The couple tasted samples to choose what they felt best represented the store. Rich Mora described it as “a honey barrel,” and bottles are available at the shop for purchase for a limited time.

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Hayes Physical Therapy at its new location at Schoolhouse Square Shopping Center in East Setauket.

An East Setauket business proves that people somehow manage to emerge from the ashes of tragedy.

A year after a fire ripped through one of the buildings that makes up the Setauket Commons at 60 Route 25A, Hayes Physical Therapy is still operating from a storefront down the road in the Schoolhouse Square Shopping Center.

Anne McLaughlin, president of Hayes Physical Therapy, said she didn’t expect the move to be as seamless as it was, and the business, which celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, has grown in its new location.

“It’s a good spot,” McLaughlin said. “We have fantastic neighbors. It seems like we have even better visibility here. It’s actually working out better than we could have hoped.”

McLaughlin, who bought the business in 2009, said the office operated out of the Setauket Commons building since 2004. She, along with other tenants, including Brookhaven Cat Hospital, were forced to close down after the Oct. 7, 2018, fire.  The incident, which took more than two hours to control, according to Setauket Fire Department, left smoke and water damage in its wake.

After the fire, the business owner, who lives in Bay Shore, said she made house calls when possible and referred some patients to colleagues in the surrounding area. When the physical therapy office was able to reopen in its new location in February, all the employees returned, and the business currently has three therapists and five support associates, and recently, they have taken on an intern.

McLaughlin and her employees reached out to former patients as best as they could through phone calls and ads, while other people have found them while patronizing other stores in the shopping center. She said she is grateful that many of her patients have returned for treatment.

A recent fire at Mario’s, located in the same shopping center, she said affected her.

“That sends a nasty chill coming in and seeing fire trucks in the parking lot again,” she said. “We’re wishing them the best. That’s been a horrible drain on the whole community.”

After the ordeal, McLaughlin said she would advise anyone who goes through a similar tragedy to consult those who are experts in dealing with such things, crediting her team of lawyers and insurance professionals with giving her valuable advice.

“I was able to rely on advice from other professionals to really guide me through completely unnavigable waters,” she said. “I didn’t know one thing about how to pick up the pieces after something so horrific. Thankfully there are a lot of people who know more about that than I do. I trusted them and I was very fortunate.”

McLaughlin said she also credits members of the surrounding community who bolstered her spirits by keeping in touch and asking her when she was going to reopen.

“It’s a matter of fortitude,” she said. “It’s really just not giving up and not getting disgusted. It can be very frustrating. You reach the outer depths of whatever frustration you thought you could handle, and you buckle up and keep going.”

“Climate change is not a lie, please don’t let our planet die,” a crowd of more than 50 people yelled in unison in front of Suffolk County’s H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge Sept. 27. Students, community groups, environmental activists and elected officials gathered to call for immediate action by governments and corporations on the current climate emergency.   

Kallen Fenster, 13, speaks about the impact of climate change. Photo by David Luces

The protest came on the last day of the Global Climate Strike, spearheaded by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who joined some 250,000 protesters in Manhattan Sept. 20. 

Kallen Fenster, a 13-year-old middle school student and founder of the youth organization Leadership for Environmental and Animal Protection, spoke on the effects climate change could have on future generations. 

“Myself and the others here are like millions around the world that we represent today that are worried for their lives and yours,” he said. “Entire species are dying, our oceans are filthy with plastic waste, our beaches are unsafe to swim in, the air is polluted. What hope is there for my future children, or even worse, theirs?” 

The middle schooler called on lawmakers to put more of an emphasis on climate change policy. 

“Tonight, we the youth demand that local, state and federal lawmakers put climate policy first,” Fenster said. “We ask every adult to be a climate action hero and advance policy that will protect communities and its families. It will take all of us, it will take work and it will take sacrifices, but we have no choice, we have no ‘planet B.’”

Other youth activists who spoke at the protest had similar sentiments. 

Gabe Finger, a 7-year-old elementary student, said he wants more people to take this movement seriously. 

“I want people to stop seeing climate change as a political belief and look at it as the dire crisis it is,” he said. “More and more people are seeing that global warming is something not to be ignored. This is not just a fight for the environment, but a fight for our lives — do whatever you can to help because hope is not lost yet.” 

Camilla Riggs, a student at The Laurel Hill School in East Setauket, mentioned climate change will affect everyone. 

“You may not believe in the science but it doesn’t mean you are immune to it or your children’s children. This is not about us anymore, this is about the future of all of us,” she said.

Elected officials called out the current White House administration, which has dialed back on climate change reform.  

“This president has engaged in an assault on all previous efforts to control and contain these greenhouse gas emissions, leaving the Paris accord was an embarrassment, said state Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove). “It is hard to imagine an American president would hire the worst polluters to run the agencies that are supposed to protect us.” 

Lavine said despite that, the state has started to move in the right direction in curbing greenhouse emissions. He mentioned the state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, congestion pricing going into effect in New York City and a ban on single-use plastic as key steps forward. 

State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) said we hopefully haven’t run out of time when it comes to climate change. 

“We have to hand [the Earth] over to them responsibly but, to be honest with you, my generation hasn’t been responsible and we have to step up to the plate,” he said.

Elmer Flores, of New York’s 2nd District Democrats, spoke on how climate change is already affecting certain communities. 

“Our low-income communities and minority population will disproportionately feel the negative impacts of climate change,” he said. “Research has shown that climate change, if left unaddressed, will worsen or cause unintended health consequences.”

Flores mentioned that when it comes to air quality, Hispanic and Latino residents have an asthma hospitalization rate that’s three times more than their white counterparts.  

Cheryl Steinhauer, special events manager of Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares, which helped organize the event with Action Together Long Island, spoke on the importance of calling for change. 

“I feel like this is a necessary thing to do. There are a lot of issues at the moment but really this is at the top and most important, at least to me, is taking care of our planet,” she said.