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Harry Chapin

Paule Patcher serves as the CEO of Long Island Cares, also known as the Harry Chapin Food Bank. The organization feeds the hungry and will now supply carbon-free energy at discounted rates to households suffering hardships. Photo by Donna Deedy

On Long Island, 89,030 children go hungry. Who’s counting?

Long Island Cares. Founded in 1980 by the late Grammy Award winning musician and activist Harry Chapin, the organization was Long Island’s first food bank. The nonprofit group provides nutritional aid to more than 580 community-based member-based agencies to distribute more than six million pounds of food each year. The food bank’s accomplishments are extraordinary. But in 2019, the charitable organization also stands out for expanding its services to address an array of causes.

Inside the Long Island Cares food bank. Photo by Donna Deddy

LI Cares installed solar panels on the roof of its 35,000-square-foot Hauppauge warehouse to become the first community solar project in the Hauppauge Industrial Park. The energy it generates will be passed along to discount the electric bills for around 40 households suffering hardship. The system is set to activate in time for the new year.

“The LI Cares solar project is significant in so many ways,” said SUNation Solar System’s co-founder and CEO Scott Maskin. “While it’s not the first community solar project on Long Island, it is the first one in the Hauppauge Industrial Park, now known as The Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge.”

Sandy Chapin, wife of the late Harry, who co-wrote with him the gold record song “Cat’s in the Cradle,” serves as chairperson of the group’s board.

Paule Pachter has served for the last 11 years as the group CEO and said that the organization addresses the humanitarian need of veterans, immigrants, seniors and others struggling with economic and social challenges.

SUNation Solar Systems installed the solar project and Maskin compliments the organization for its leadership.

“Paule Pachter is a leader by nature and was the first to engage in the Hauppauge Industrial [Association] power project which aims at transforming the park into a 100 percent renewable park by 2040,” he said. “More importantly is that the power generated from the LI Cares roof will be strategically directed to those most vulnerable and those with food insecurity. As Paule always says, ‘It takes more than food to feed the hungry.’”

For the 50 or more families that will be receiving discounted energy to their homes, their savings of $0.05 per kilowatt hour will go toward meeting their other needs, Pachter said.

This project is designed to provide benefits for 25 years or more, according to Maskin.

“This is a project that would not have come together without the laser focus and direction of Paule, his amazing board of directors, the efforts of LIPA, PSEG and the HIA-LI,” Maskin added. “We at SUNation are humbled to play our role with LI Cares. While we design and install so many projects on Long Island, this one is truly special.”

 

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Port Jefferson Station dentist Alan Mazer is reviving his annual holiday food drive later this month to benefit Long Island Cares and the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

Mazer will be accepting donations of nonperishable food and personal care items at his office, at 140 Terryville Road, between Nov. 19 and Dec. 10.

“We hope to collect barrels of nonperishables so that Long Island Cares can do their magic and assist needy children, seniors, the working poor, the disabled and the homeless,” Mazer said in a statement.

The dentist can be reached at 631-473-0666 or at www.dralanmazer.com.

Long Island Cares and its food bank, founded in 1980 by the late Chapin, a Grammy Award-winning songwriter, helps feed hungry individuals and families in Nassau and Suffolk counties. According to the organization’s website, it also has support services for other community organizations, like soup kitchens and emergency shelters, and hosts programs that promote self-sufficiency, such as job training. The group distributes more than 6 million pounds of food every year.

Garland Jeffreys performs at last year’s Huntington Summer Arts Festival. File photo

The Huntington Arts Council’s Summer Arts Festival is turning 50, and the council is celebrating the anniversary in style.

In honor of the milestone, the arts group will be hosting a 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m. During the event, Sandy Chapin, the wife of Harry Chapin and current arts in education chairperson, will be presented with the Huntington Arts Council Harry and Sandy Chapin Arts and Humanitarian Award. The celebration will be held during the opening weekend of the annual festival.

Established in 1963 as a non-profit organization, the council has been hosting a summer arts festival concert series, where Huntington Town residents get to enjoy free music performances from various genres across the nation and the world.

“The town values its long-time partnership with the arts council in funding and presenting the summer arts festival, which continues to be the signature event in the town’s cultural calendar,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said in a statement.

Award winning musicians, actors, dancers and artists perform at the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park from Tuesday through Sunday for 40 nights, with family nights on Tuesday evenings. Musicals like “West Side Story,” “Shrek,” “Nunsense A-men!” and “Peter Pan” will be on this summer. And bands span genres from traditional Dixieland jazz, contemporary folk and classical orchestra to spoken word rap and more.

As the years have gone by, the festival diversified in terms of performers and types of shows, said John Chicherio, the performing arts director at the council and the program director of the summer arts festival.

“The festival has a great mix of styles and genres.”

The Huntington Men’s Chorus and the Huntington Choral Society will kick off the summer arts festival’s first weekend. The groups have performed each year since the festival began.

Chapin is currently the arts in education chairperson for the council. She has been a staunch advocate of the arts for decades, with a strong commitment to arts education — specifically with the Huntington Arts Council Journey program, which she helped launch. The Journey program, established in 1985, is meant to integrate cultural arts into a classroom curriculum. The program runs in six different school districts, including Huntington, Harborfields and Northport-East Northport. Chapin brought her experience as an elementary school teacher to the Journey program to help make it adaptable in the school districts.

Following the celebration at the Heckscher Museum of Art, members of Chapin’s family will perform a concert at the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park. Proceeds from this support the mission of the Huntington Arts Council, which is to enrich the quality of life for Long Islanders through cultural art and musical programs.

“The summer arts festival is a great way to visit good friends and enjoy a summer evening,” Chapin said. “It’s hard to say what has been my favorite part since it’s such a diverse festival.”