Tags Posts tagged with "Fundraiser"


By Aramis Khosronejad

Earl L. Vandermeulen High School in Port Jefferson hosted its sewcond annual St. Baldrick’s event on March 15. During the event, students and faculty volunteered to shave their hair in solidarity with all those who are struggling with or have already gone into remission from a childhood cancer. 

In addition to those who “brave the shave” during this event, Port Jefferson high school helped fundraise by selling merchandise or simply accepting donations. All the money raised was donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. 

According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, there are more than 300,000 children diagnosed globally with cancer each year. In the U.S. alone, more children die due to cancer than any other disease. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is an international organization dedicated to funding research for different kinds of childhood cancer to help accelerate and improve this type of research. 

The principal of the high school, John Ruggero, is passionate about hosting St. Baldrick’s events annually and exposing the high school to these kinds of events. 

“I want to get it so it occurs every year, so that lots of students and faculty and families, and people off the streets, come to donate,” he said.

Ruggero has been hosting St. Baldrick events for “over a decade,” he said. The principal is a firm believer that the most important education “takes place outside of the four walls” of a classroom. 

“When you have a philanthropic mindset, it really opens your mind out to what’s happening around us,” he said. Ruggero pointed out that these events can show students the most important lesson: If possible, doing things for others “should come first.”

“What happens is that kids who start to see that people rally behind these [events] become a little more confident in sharing their stories and want to get the word out,” Ruggero explained. He elaborated on how he wanted students to learn “the impact their actions have on others’ lives.”

The event was also supported and promoted by a 16-year-old student, Kyle Martin. When he was a child, Martin was fighting cancer and has been in remission for almost been eight years. 

Martin approached Ruggero and expressed his own desire for the school to host such an event, and the two worked together to bring the dream alive. Ruggero expressed his admiration for Martin’s mindset and ideas, explaining how because of his remission, Martin has been inspired to help other kids who are battling cancer. It’s safe to say that St. Baldrick’s will become a powerful tradition that Port Jefferson will adopt in future years. 

By Bill Landon

It was the inaugural battle for the Cat Cup at Shoreham-Wading River High School Feb. 29, a fundraiser to kick off the traditional LAX Out Cancer campaign, a charity that helps local families fighting this insidious disease. 

The event pitted the faculty of Albert G. Prodell Middle School, Wading River School and Miller Avenue School along with the high school in a fun-filled Olympic-style competition. Included were a tug-of-war, beach ball relay, rope skipping relay and hockey shot competition among other events in the high school gym in front of a capacity crowd. There were food sales, raffle tickets, silent auctions and apparel sales in the hallways just outside the “stadium.” 

After the dust settled, it was the Miller Avenue faculty that stood above all others capturing the coveted Cat Cup.

At the last tally, the event raised $8,500 according to Lax Out Cancer committee member Melissa Brandt, adding that this year there are three recipients in the community that will benefit from this year’s effort.

The event bookends the LAX Out Cancer lacrosse event featuring local teams in a carnival-like atmosphere at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field Saturday, May 4.

Great Horned Owl, “Tiger Lily,” displays her prowess. Photo by Cayla Rosenhagen

Join Sweetbriar Nature Center for a Rock N’ Raptors fundraiser at the Bates House, 1 Bates Road, Setauket on Saturday, Jan. 27 from 2 to 6 p.m. Enjoy live music, raptor presentations, raffles, games, food, and more. Bring your whole family or rock out with your friends. All the funds from this event and raffles help Sweetbriar take care of all the wildlife that comes through their doors and educate all the children that will be stewards of our planet. Held rain or shine. Tickets are $25 per adult, kids under age 12 are free. To order, visit www.sweetbriarnc.org. 

Victoria Wyeth returns to the Reboli Center on Oct. 21. Photo courtesy of Reboli Center

This spooky season, The Reboli Center for Art and History, 64 Main Street Stony Brook Village invites the community to a Costumes & Cocktails with the Wyeths fundraiser event on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 7 to 9 p.m.

“The late artist Joseph Reboli loved the fall, especially Halloween and pumpkins and enjoyed painting the vivid colors of the season and capturing the magic and moodiness of autumn,” according to Lois Reboli, founder and president of The Reboli Center for Art and History. The noted Wyeth family is also enamored by this time of year and Victoria Wyeth will share spooky, seasonal stories and a slide presentation of works of art inspired by the autumn by her famous grandfather, Andrew Wyeth, as well as her uncle, artist Jamie Wyeth. The Wyeths were known to have special fun on Halloween including wearing pumpkins on their heads!

“We are thrilled to welcome back Victoria to our Center for this fun filled event, which includes a Halloween themed costume contest with the best outfit winning a $100 gift certificate to the Design Shop,” added Lois Reboli. Costumes are optional, but everyone is encouraged to express their spirit of the season whether focusing on the intense and vibrant colors of pumpkins and harvests or the mysteries imagined by the gloomy dusk and dark nights. In addition to Victoria’s presentation about the Wyeths fascination with Halloween, there will be time for questions, followed by cocktails and delicious hors d’oeuvres.

This Halloween event is sponsored by the Ferentinos Family. Tickets cost $100, $75 of which is a tax deductible donation, and may be purchased on line at www.rebolicenter.org or by calling the Center at 631-757-7707. Reservations are required.

The Reboli Center for Art and History is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 631-757-7707.

Meet Jeff Corwin at the Smithtown Performing Arts Center on Aug. 27.

By Melissa Arnold

‘We cannot protect what we do not cherish, and we will not cherish what we do not know…’ — Jeff Corwin

Jeff Corwin has been a vocal and passionate advocate for wildlife and the natural world since the 1990s. The celebrated biologist and conservationist is a recognizable face on television, hosting shows including Disney Channel’s Going Wild, Animal Planet’s The Jeff Corwin Experience, and more recently, Ocean Treks and Wildlife Nation on ABC.

From a cobra festival in India and unexplored jungles in South America, to the African savanna and beyond, Corwin continues to teach audiences that our incredible world deserves protection.

On Aug. 27, Jeff Corwin will partner with Sweetbriar Nature Center to share stories from his adventures around the world and highlight the challenges faced by a variety of endangered species.

The special event, held at the newly renovated Smithtown Performing Arts Center (SPAC), will serve as a wonderful education event hosted by Sweetbriar, a not-for-profit corporation. 

“The Smithtown Performing Arts Center board is always seeking out opportunities to help out community-based nonprofits and share our beautiful, historic space.” said Michael Mucciolo, board president for SPAC. “Our theater has a long history of attracting families with young kids, and I think they’ll have a wonderful time seeing something they’ve never seen before and learning from such an expert like Jeff.”

Sweetbriar Nature Center is situated on 54 acres of garden, woodland, field and wetland habitats on the Nissequogue River. Hundreds of species of plants and animals call the center home — many arrived as part of their extensive wildlife rehabilitation program.

“Everything that we do here is for the benefit of the animals,” said Janine Bendicksen, curator and wildlife rehabilitation coordinator for the center. “Many of the animals that get brought in to us are often at death’s door, sick enough that they allow a human to pick them up. About half of them are successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild, which is fantastic.”

A lot of the patients they receive have similar stories, Bendicksen explained. A concerned member of the community might stumble upon an injured animal on their property or while out on a hike and contact their local Animal Control department, which then reaches out to Sweetbriar.

Whether it’s a wounded eagle on a bike trail or a couple of rabbits playing chase in a mechanic’s garage, the staff at Sweetbriar have seen just about everything.

Around 100 of Sweetbriar’s permanent residents are animals that are permanently injured or otherwise unreleasable. A few birds, including a great horned owl named Lily, have been there longer than Bendicksen has — more than 20 years.

Bendicksen studied fine art and art history, eventually finding her way to Sweetbriar as curator. In addition to her work with rehabilitation, she is responsible for creating art displays and supervising creative projects around the property.

“I was one of those kids who people were always bringing their animals to, and I tried my best to help them. Sweetbriar hits on everything that makes me happy,” she said.

The center’s educational team works hard to instill that same wonder and love of nature in people of all ages. This is especially evident during the summer, when hundreds of children from around Long Island come to the center for weeklong enrichment programs or day visits.

Throughout the school year, Sweetbriar also host field trips, opportunities for families, and in-school presentations.

The dual mission of education and rehabilitation is what makes Jeff Corwin the ideal guest speaker for the event, said Sweetbriar board member Maureen Calamia.

“Jeff has a great reputation and deep care for wildlife, especially those species that are borderline extinct. His enthusiasm is such an asset,” she said.

With only four dedicated staff members, Sweetbriar relies on the ongoing support of volunteers and donors. 

“A lot of people unfortunately don’t know what’s going on in their own backyard, or how to treat nature or wildlife. Sweetbriar does a tremendous service through their programming, both in person and also through their social media, which has a global following,” Calamia said. “They are great stewards, and everyone knows to turn to them if there’s an animal in need. This event is a wonderful way to support their hard work.”

“Tales from the Field with Jeff Corwin” will be held on Sunday, Aug. 27 at the Smithtown Performing Arts Center, 2 East Main Street, Smithtown at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $50 and can be purchased online at www.sweetbriarnc.org or at www.smithtownpac.org. This event is made possible by a grant from the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning.

Sweetbriar is always in need of donations and volunteers, regardless of experience or skills. Visit their website or call 631-979-6344 learn how you can help.

Above, Jeff Schnee, president of Three Village Historical Society, tells visitors what the barn and education center will be like. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim

Amid raising funds to raise a barn, Three Village Historical Society is also looking to raise friends. 

Above, Jeff Schnee, president of Three Village Historical Society, tells visitors what the barn and education center will be like. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim

A so-called FRIENDraiser on Wednesday evening, June 28, was intended to provide a construction progress update and inform neighbors about the planned $1.3 million Dominick-Crawford Barn Education and History Center on North Country Road in East Setauket.

“People may drive by and not know what’s going on behind that fence,” said Kimberly Phyfe, the society’s development coordinator. 

Rain soaked the site right up until the event started, but still about 100 visitors came out to join hard-hat tours of the construction site, listen to live music, buy pierogies and, of course, make donations — to the tune of about $3,000. 

“We love this community and what we’re building here, so to see everybody come out and support us despite the downpours of rain is so heartening,” said Phyfe.

The barn, named for George and Sarah Dominick, who built the barn circa 1847, and William and Janet Crawford, its last private owners, will serve as a home for artifacts and exhibits, as well as an ADA-compliant event and education center on the ground floor that will be able to fit up to 183 people at a time. 

That’s a far cry from the society’s museum next door to the construction site, where 15 people at a time can tour exhibits about the area’s history — the Revolutionary War Culper Spy Ring and the multiethnic Chicken Hill community centered around first a piano factory and later a rubber factory.

During a hard-hat tour of the construction site, society president Jeffrey Schnee told visitors the larger space will dramatically improve logistics for the society’s history programs for students from Three Village Central School District, other school districts and BOCES programs.

“The schools always want to send more than one school bus,” Schnee said, adding that groups of students would have to wait outside while 15 classmates toured the museum. “That leaves an awkward situation.”

Children play historic games at the barn ‘friendraiser.’ Photo by Mallie Jane Kim

Instead, up to four buses of students can gather in the center’s main room, according to Schnee, where there will be a timber frame reconstruction of the historic barn with wood recovered from its original site in the Village of Old Field.

Subjects for future exhibits at the center include veterans of Three Village, women of Three Village and archaeology of historic sites around the area. There is also an oral history booth planned, where visitors can search by keyword and listen to available oral records.

“We’ll be able to bring more tourism to the area, and we’ll be able to explain more about the history of the area,” said Schnee.

The historical society is still looking to raise about $650,000 for the center and is planning to provide opportunities for community involvement in coming months, according to Phyfe. She said they are also looking into additional grants — the society previously received a $350,000 grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation and a $300,000 grant secured by former state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket).

For more information about the barn education center, visit tvhs.org/buildthebarn.

Three Village Dads Foundation held a fundraiser April 16 to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Food trucks were available during the event. Photo from Three Village Dads Foundation

On April 16, the Three Village Dads Foundation organized a fundraiser to raise funds for childhood cancer research for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Representatives from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services interrupted the event, saying that the proper permits had not been purchased.

David Tracy, chairman and CEO of Three Village Dads, refused to shut down the event.  He was upset by the disruption and contacted several news outlets to seek some answers and hopefully an apology from the county.

On April 17, a spokesperson from the county told Newsday that the citation given to the Three Village Dads Foundation did not carry a fine, but on May 2 the Department of Health Services did send out summons to two different vendors that had donated their time at the event: Chico’s Tex Mex and The Long Island Airstream Experience.

“We were thinking that, with not hearing anything after the public pushback, they were willing to just kind of forget about it,” Tracy said in a phone interview. “Maybe they realized, ‘Maybe we kind of kicked the wrong hornet’s nest here,’ and they were just going to leave it alone. And then all of a sudden here we are getting these letters to appear in court.”

Tracy’s biggest frustration is the lack of communication and clarity from the county. “Nobody from the county at any level called to even tell me that I was wrong,” Tracy said referring to the permits that were not secured prior to the event. “It was pure ignorance; it wasn’t negligence. We weren’t trying to avoid paying a $100 permit.”

Tracy said that they raised over $25,000 for childhood cancer research and that paying a small fee for permits would not have been an issue. He wishes that someone from the Health Department had contacted him prior to the event.

“Why not just pick up the phone and rectify it there if it was truly all about educating us?” Tracy queried, referring to the fact that a spokesperson from the county told Newsday that their purpose was to educate the event organizers about regulations for future events.

An email from the Department of Health’s media relations department said that on April 10 it became aware through a Facebook advertisement that Long Island Airstream Experience would be operating at the Three Village Dads event. “The Facebook post contained no contact information for the sponsor or organizer of the event,” the email stated. “As a result, [Bureau of Public Health Protection]was unable to contact the organizer in advance to discuss SCDHS requirements for food service.”

The Three Village Dad’s website is the first search result when googling “Three Village Dads,” and contact information can be found on that website.

Tracy expressed that Airstream Experience and Chico’s Tex Mex both were donating their time for the event and were doing this as a favor to Tracy and the Three Village Dads.

“My organization will be paying any fines,” Tracy said. “I even have people that are ready to start a fundraiser if need be.”

Tracy believes that the Health Department was primarily targeting The Long Island Airstream Experience after some complaints from food truck vendors on Long Island that airstreams are not scrutinized as heavily as food trucks are. Tracy said the county may have used this event as an opportunity to fine the airstream business and that the Three Village Dads and particularly Chico’s Tex Mex got caught in the crossfire.

“They’re just going after the airstream business and they used our event to get to him,” Tracy said.

Another email from the Department of Health’s media relations department states that Chico’s Tex Mex will not face a fine since they do not have a history of non-compliance, but that “LI Airstream Experience has a history of non-compliance with the department and faces a possible fine.”

The email also added that Long Island Airstream Experience “has previously been informed that the operation meets the sanitary code definition of food service and requires department permits.”

 “I’m ready for this to be over,” Tracy said. “I was hoping that it was already over. It’s unfortunate this has to be dragged out again … I don’t want the county to look bad … but they need to understand that there’s different ways to go about things and this was handled poorly.”

Thomas Francis of The Long Island Airstream Experience and Vinny Galan of Chico’s Tex Mex are scheduled to appear to answer for the alleged permit violations on May 31. The summons state that penalties could be up to $2,000 for a violation.

The mechanical eagle above the Stony Brook Village post office. File photo/TBR News Media

Atop Stony Brook Village’s post office is the only mechanical eagle in the world that flaps its wings, every hour on the hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Although the eagles wings are still flapping after 82 years of service, the hand-carve wooden fixture is in need of restoration. Funds are being raised by the  501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation  Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) to help the eagle soar once more. 

Stony Brook Village was constructed in 1941 by businessman and philanthropist, Ward Melville. At his own expense, he relocated, demolished, or modified some thirty-five buildings in the downtown area. The enormous undertaking also included the rerouting of roads, the relocation of large trees, and moving one million cubic yards of dirt. Although the construction of the village was impressive, Ward Melville’s centerpiece gem was the 20’ mechanical Stony Brook Eagle.

For generations, visitors of Stony Brook Village have been awed by the eagle’s mechanical movements. Watching the wings of the eagle flap is a childhood memory thousands cherish. Since the inception of fundraising, donations to restore the eagle have come from all over the United States, from coast to coast.

Fundraising efforts by the WMHO include: The Summer Soirée, a fundraising gala with a cocktail hour, dinner and live auction at the historic Three Village Inn on Thursday, June 22, and an online auction beginning May 22, with exciting items such as a real military tank driving experience for 30 people in “The Scorpion” British armored reconnaissance vehicle, a suite for up to 22 people at the Total Mortgage Arena, and an all-inclusive stay for seven nights in a three room, five-star Panamanian boutique inn.

While the primary purpose of the fundraising is to support the restoration of the beloved eagle, any additional funds raised may also support two new engines for the WMHO’s Discovery Pontoon Boat, digitizing Ward Melville’s archives, repairs to the roof at the Brewster House (c. 1665), a new exhibit at the Thompson House (c. 1709) in Setauket, as well as education programs.

Donations are being accepted now. To help support the WMHO in its fundraising efforts, visit wmho.org or call 631-751-2244. Checks can be made payable to the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, and can be sent to P.O. Box 572, Stony Brook, NY 11790. Your donation is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by the law.

Gerald Dickens

UPDATE on Dec. 5 — This event has been canceled with no immediate plans to reschedule.

Read post from Gerald Dickens here.

By Melissa Arnold

When it comes to Christmas shows, there is perhaps none more iconic or beloved than A Christmas Carol. Since its publication in 1843, Charles Dickens’ famous novella has inspired dozens of theatrical and film adaptations, many with cult followings.

Whether your favorite Scrooge is George C. Scott, Michael Caine or Scrooge McDuck, a one-of-a-kind performance in Huntington next week may just top them all.

On Dec. 5, the Cinema Arts Centre (CAC) in Huntington will welcome British actor and producer Gerald Charles Dickens for a live, one-man performance of “A Christmas Carol.” Gerald is the great-great grandson of Charles Dickens, and his fascination with the author’s life and works led him to create something of his own.

Gerald will portray nearly 30 individual characters as the story unfolds with a touch of humor and deep emotional connection to the man behind the words.

The performance comes in the midst of the center’s Vic Skolnick Life of Our Cinema Campaign, an annual fundraising effort to support programming for the coming year, said Nate Close, CAC’s director of marketing and communications. He added that they like to host events during the fundraiser that are intriguing and fun for a broad audience to enjoy. “It’s always great to see theater performed live, especially when we typically broadcast theatrical performances on-screen here. The theater seats around 190 people, so it will be an intimate performance and we’re expecting a great turnout.”

CAC board member Jude Schanzer said that A Christmas Carol is the perfect holiday classic to set the season’s purpose of generosity, kindness, and goodwill.

“While it is true that Gerald is the great-great grandson  of Charles Dickens, it is his acting skills that make him extraordinary. His command of his voice and movements create unforgettable and completely distinguishable characters from Scrooge to Tiny Tim, all with minimal props,” said Schanzer. 

“How often are you afforded the added perk of having a brush with history? Gerald is passionate about his work as an actor and in portraying characters with whom he has a unique bond. He is also generous with his time and spirit and readily answers audience questions after every performance,” she said.

Copies of Gerald’s new book Dickens and Staplehurst: A Biography of a Rail Crash will also be available at the event. The book examines a deadly rail crash in 1865 and the subsequent investigation. Charles Dickens survived the crash and was profoundly affected by the events of that day. Gerald digs into Charles’ private life and professional motivations before and after the crash.

See A Christmas Carol at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 at the Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave, Huntington. Tickets to the performance are $30 per person, $25 for CAC members. Tickets to the performance plus a copy of the book are $45, $40 for CAC members. For To order, visit www.cinemaartscentre.org or call 631-423-7610. 

Learn more about Gerald Charles Dickens at www.geralddickens.com.

From left, Logan Valeiko and Logan Simon at the entrance to Frank Melville Memorial Park. Photo by Kerri Glynn

Three teenagers answered the call when the Frank Melville Memorial Park board asked for volunteers to raise money to support the park’s programs and upkeep. 

Julia Zabinski at the Three Village Farmers Market. Photo by Kerri Glynn

Located in Setauket’s beautiful historic district, the private park relies on donations from the public and Julia Zabinski, Logan Simon and Logan Valeiko stepped up and raised over $500 this summer. 

Julia raised the money while running a Kids’ Corner at the Three Village Farmers Market. Each week she offered a free activity and gently used books. When people asked if they could give her a donation, she chose to raise money for the park. 

The two Logans made bracelets and set up shop in front of the Setauket Post Office at the entrance to the park, selling them for a ‘name your own price.’ Both boys have volunteered for three years to help with the educational program held every Tuesday at the park’s Red Barn.

“These three teens have been so generous and hard working,” said the park’s program director Kerri Glynn. “We should put them on our Board!”