Drive past the corner of Elwood Road and Cuba Hill Road and you’ll see a sign that reads “Elwood: ‘The heart of Huntington.”’
Centrally located in the Town of Huntington, the 5-square-mile hamlet of Elwood is known as a close community with a strong sense of heritage and pride. In fact, they are home to the Elwood Civic Association, founded in 1945, it is the longest active civic organization in Huntington Town history.
For James Tomeo, civic vice president, it is personal for him. He simply wants to make a positive impact on the community and in turn do what he can to leave Elwood in better shape for his children and the next generation.
“Elwood is a great place to live and we want the younger generation to know the importance of civics and being involved in the community,” he said.
Previously known for over 60 years as the Elwood Taxpayers Association, Tomeo said he and others thought it was time to drop “taxpayers” in hopes of bringing in new members and more community involvement.
“There was a perception we were inclusive, just anti-taxes,” Tomeo said. “We wanted to get rid of that negative connotation and change our platform back to being more community-based.”
Since the name change in June, Tomeo said the feedback from the community has been positive. The group has recently hosted a food drive with Long Island Cares and was able to collect 300 pounds of food and hosted events for Veterans Days and 9/11 among other causes.
Tomeo also said they have partnered with John Glenn High School to create its first Student Scholarship to be given to a graduating senior who has been involved in community service or civics.
“The Elwood Union Free School District is what unifies and brings us together,” he said. “We are comprised of three ZIP codes, two fire districts, two legislative districts and we thought it was important to give back in some way and show the importance of civics.”
Heather Mammalito, the secretary of the civic group and a member for the past six years, said they want to bring people into the fold who weren’t involved in the community before.
“We want to keep people informed and we want to engage younger residents in the community as well,” she said.
As part of the rebranding, the group said they have plans to revamp its Facebook and website in an effort to attract new members into the fold.
“You need a voice, you don’t want to lose that,” she said. “We want to make sure we are leaving a positive imprint and teach others to have roots in the community.”
Tomeo agrees, saying that many of the qualities that brought his parents here years ago are still present today.
“I want to make sure the way of life here continues to be great and be able to pass the torch to the next generation of Elwood residents,” he said. “Elwood fights to stay who we are.”
Residents interested in joining the Elwood Civic Association should visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/elwoodcivic/. The group holds its meetings at Elwood Public Library on the second Wednesday of each month, except January and February.