Tags Posts tagged with "Jenni Culkin"

Jenni Culkin

Two girls prepare to have their locks chopped off at a St. Baldrick’s event last year. File photo

By Jenni Culkin

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s yearly fundraising effort to get local residents engaged in the fight against childhood cancers kicks off this month.

Participants volunteer to shave their heads and in the process raise money for cancer research.
Find an event in your community below, or visit www.stbaldricks.org/events for more information.

Miller Place
March 14
Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub
275 Route 25A

Port Jefferson
March 22, 2-7 p.m.
Hurricane Grill & Wings
1037 Route 112

March 28, 6-9:30 p.m.
Schafer’s
111 West Broadway

Stony Brook
March 29
Three Village Heroes at the Bench
1095 Route 25A

Lake Grove
March 15, 12-6 p.m.
Miller’s Ale House
4000 Middle Country Road

Centereach
March 6, 7 p.m.
Centereach Civic Association
Centereach Fire Department
9 South Washington Avenue

Kings Park
March 22
The Park Lounge
605 East Main Street

Commack
March 6
Commack School District
1 Scholar Lane

Huntington
March 18
Walt Whitman High School
301 West Hills Road

Northport
March 15, 5-8 p.m.
Laurel Avenue School
158 Laurel Avenue

March 14, 12-7 p.m.
Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub
229 Laurel Avenue

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Linda Ventura, center, holds up a picture of her son Thomas, who overdosed on heroine three years ago. She will be one of the many speakers at a Kings Park drug forum in March. File photo

By Jenni Culkin

A forum will be held at William T. Rogers Middle School, 97 Old Dock Road, Kings Park, on Wednesday, March 4, at 7 p.m., with the hope of keeping the next generation of Kings Park residents safe and informed, event organizers said.

The event is going to be geared toward middle school students and their parents, making a point to intervene while the middle school students of Kings Park are still young and impressionable.

“The best way to stop addiction is through prevention,” says Kimberly Revere, president of Kings Park In The kNOw.

Attendees can expect Kym Laube, the executive director for Human Understanding & Growth Services, to speak to the parents about understanding trends in addiction and other decisions that have potentially destructive outcomes. She will also be discussing the role that parents play in their teenagers’ attitudes and provide them with the tools and information that they need to navigate the challenges of their children’s teen years.

“Parents are still the number one influence on their teenagers,” Laube said.

There’s also going to be a speaker for the adolescent attendees. Linda Ventura, a mother who lost her son to an overdose. She will be sharing the journey that she and her family went through.

Suffolk County Legislator Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) will also be speaking. All of the attendees will listen to a brief overview of laws like the Social Host Law and the 911 Good Samaritan Law that affect those who are involved with, or know somebody who is involved with, drugs and alcohol. Trotta is a retired Suffolk County police detective who was assigned to the FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force for over 10 years.

In The kNOw’s goal is for each of the communities in the state to take care of itself in order to take care of the overall problem.

Even those who have no substance abuse are still affected, and they are advised to attend to learn about what the community can do to prevent any possible damage.

“We are facing an opiate epidemic in this country,” Revere said. “Something has to be done.”

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Emma, one of the Angela’s House children, rides a pony earlier this year. Photo from Bob Policastro

By Jenni Culkin

The Town of Smithtown will host a night of saying thanks to a group known for its generosity.

The Watermill Caterers of Smithtown is set to hold a special gala on Thursday, March 19, to honor two important contributors to the nonprofit group, Angela’s House.

Hundreds of children and their families reach out to Angela’s House each year to provide them with a safe and comfortable place to go to ease the pressure of caring for a child with specific medical needs: 24-hour nursing care, case management, family counseling and other beneficial programs sustain the caring and attentive environment of the organization.

The two honorees, Ron and Rob Brigati of White Post Farms, donate their time, effort and resources toward an annual summer party for the residents of Angela’s House and their families. Their actions provide a carefree summer day to relax and take a breather from their daily responsibilities.

“The smiles and joy that they see as a result makes it very special,” Ron Brigati said.

Now it was time for Angela’s House to return the favor, the organization said. At $100 per ticket, local residents can enjoy an evening at one of the area’s most distinguished wedding halls by socializing at a cocktail hour, a reception and a formal dinner. Guests will also have the opportunity to win prizes during auctions and raffles. The money raised from the event will go toward the children that Angela’s House assist on a daily basis.

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The iconic Smithtown statue, “Whisper the Bull,” welcomes residents as they enter the township and is a symbol of the community’s long and storied past. File photo by Elana Glowatz

By Jenni Culkin

There is cause for celebration among Smithtown residents this year. The town was founded 350 years ago, and the Smithtown Historical Society is preparing to get its residents involved in festivities and immersion in the town’s proud history.

“This town has been inhabited for 350 years,” said Kiernan Lannon, executive director of the Smithtown Historical Society. “It’s self-evident that this is a milestone!”

Lannon said the Smithtown Historical Society’s mission is to “preserve and present the town’s history,” and in order to develop an itinerary for the 350th annual celebration, the town’s historical society developed the 350 Foundation — a group of volunteers comprised of representatives from various organizations in the town.

On March 3rd, 1665, Richard Smythe, the town’s founder, was granted the Nicholls Patent. The patent gave him the right to the territory that encompasses present-day Smithtown. Originally, it was believed that Smythe was told that he could have all of the territory that he could circumnavigate on the back of a bull.

The bull story is so important that it has become the icon that represents Smithtown. The bull statue, affectionately named “Whisper the Bull,” welcomes residents as they enter the town boundaries.

The story proved to be only a legend, but it still has a place in this year’s celebration of the town’s history.

The Bull Smythe Relay is proof that the bull story is still sentimental to the people of Smithtown. The relay is the first of the 350th anniversary events that the 350 Foundation is planning, scheduled for March 1, which will mimic the torch relays that are performed during the Olympics.

The relay will cover approximately 36 miles within the town, each mile sponsored by a different person, organization or family. The public is welcome to come and watch the Bull Smythe Relay and support the participants.

Town historian Bradley Harris helped spearhead the planning of this year’s 350th celebration after Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio penned a letter to him asking him to help plan the events.

Only two days after the relay, on March 3, there will be a special town board meeting. A time capsule opening will follow the meeting. The capsule was buried in 1965, during the town’s 300th anniversary celebration.

Town Councilwoman Lynne Nowick says that she can remember attending the 300th anniversary and said the events were historically a great historical celebration for the Town of Smithtown.

“The 350 committee is doing a fabulous job,” she said.

The dedicated 350 Foundation has a tentative calendar of events stretching from late February to December of this year. Not all of these events are held by the historical society.

The Smithtown Performing Arts Center is also hosting a musical performance called “The Spirit of Smithtown,” which will be playing in late May and early June. The Smithtown Library is also formulating a schedule of events that is to be announced within the last few weeks of February. Even the public schools in Smithtown’s school districts are planning an art show and contest.

The Ronjo magic shop is full of tricks and costumes. Photo by Jenni Culkin

By Jenni Culkin

Ronjo has a little something magical for everyone. The magic and costume shop has card tricks, coin tricks, novelty items, pranks, juggling props and swords, magicians, knife throwers, ventriloquists, jugglers, balloon artists and party planners. There are costumes, accessories, makeup, masks, wigs and so much more on display from the moment a customer walks through the doors.

“We specialize in entertainment,” said Ronald Diamond, owner of the shop on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station. “We can do it all.”

Ronald Diamond performs a card trick at the Ronjo magic shop. Photo by Jenni Culkin
Ronald Diamond performs a card trick at the Ronjo magic shop. Photo by Jenni Culkin

Diamond is a professional magician and entertainer who has years of experience working with different age groups. He believes that magic is an art form that serves a purpose higher than just entertainment.

He attributes his success to good business practices, like customer service skills and product knowledge. He also gives credit to the current manager of the store, Peter Albertson.

Born in Flatbush, Diamond’s family moved to Suffolk County in 1966. The shop owner began his adventure at seven years old, when he was introduced to magic and took it up as a hobby. In May 1974, when he was 15, he began to take magic from hobby to profession.

“It made me feel confident,” Diamond said about performing magic. “It helps people with public speaking and it is used as a way to connect.”

Diamond, a husband and father of two girls, lives in the Town of Brookhaven, where he says he can relate to and understand the needs of his local customers. He believes he can spread his confidence and social skills by offering private magic lessons for adults and children and running a magic club during the first Friday of each month. During the nicer weather, Diamond runs a free magic show that accepts donations for designated charities.

According to the businessman, magic can boost even the most distinguished professionals, such as health professionals and lawyers, by helping them develop social connections with the people they work with.

In 1978, Diamond began expanding his store’s specialties to include costumes and other dress-up items, a transition that began when his performers started asking him if he could provide them with a mask or a costume to further entertain their audiences.

“We are not Halloween, we are Hollywood!” Diamond said, sharing his motto for Ronjo’s costumes.

People are impressed by the quality and selection of the store’s costumes, he said, especially when compared with chain stores that tend to carry only three sizes or one-size-fits-all costumes. Ronjo’s shelves have costumes for many seasons and holidays, including the Easter bunny, Santa Claus and some comical green St. Patrick’s Day outfits.

Ronjo also manufactures its own tricks — about 40 right now — and distributes them worldwide, and Diamond has published a couple of his own magic booklets.

In recent years, Ronjo has upped its game, becoming a “green” store that uses LED lighting and prints on both sides of the paper and cards they use.

“This is not a job,” Diamond said about his business. “It is a lifestyle for me.”

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Mackenzie Wardrope with baby Addy and husband Gregory. Photo from Mackenzie Wardrope

By Jenni Culkin

Her struggle has become one that is shared with the entire community.

Residents have been giving comfort, hope and encouragement to 1-year-old Adelaide “Addy” Marie Wardrope and her family as she battles a rare genetic disorder rarely seen by area doctors. It was recently discovered that Addy, the granddaughter of Three Village resident Bridget McCormick, has a mutated SCN8A genome and is one of only a handful to ever be diagnosed with such a condition.

“She gets horrible seizures where she will hold her breath for two minutes and turn purple,” said Mackenzie Wardrope, Addy’s mother, “It’s been the hardest experience of my life.”

Wardrope now lives in Maryland with baby Addy and her husband Gregory but grew up in the Three Village community and still checks in with her mother, McCormick, who works in the soup kitchen at St. James Roman Catholic Church.

According to the Frontiers in Genetics academic journal, “the mutation causes seizures, developmental delays, and other neurological complications.” But even through the struggle of conditions, Wardrope remains extremely optimistic.

“She’s an amazing fighter,” Wardrope said about her daughter, mentioning countless hospital visits where Addy would try to lift her head up even under sedation.

Wardrope said she credits much of her early support to a Facebook page dedicated to Addy, where other families going through similar situations as Addy find inspiration to be courageous and fight through the disease.

The family’s tie to the community has given them a strong support system, Wardrope said. Approximately 3,000 families attend the St. James Roman Catholic parish and many of them are involved with helping with or donating to Addy’s fund.

One of Addy’s supporters, Tony Casale of St. James Roman Catholic Church’s and the Kiwanis Club of the Three Village-Brookhaven Township, has been acting as Addy’s Long Island advocate. Casale works with McCormick at the church.

“A lot of people from the church have been very generous since they started the fund,” Casale said.

The fund, which is contributed to by the GoFundMe.com website, has raised $9,835 as of Wednesday.

“Hugs and kisses to the Wardrope family. You’re in my thoughts and prayers,” Pamela Oelerich posted on GoFundMe with her $50 donation.

In addition to Oelerich’s kind donation, 93 other people left money with the fund within four months. Some left sweet messages while others made their donations anonymously. No matter what the intention of the donor, each donation is just one more step toward peace of mind and ease for Addy’s parents in Maryland, her family said.

The Kiwanis Club and Ward Melville High School’s Key Club have also been a tremendous source of leadership and advocacy for Addy’s situation.

Kyra Durko, president of the Ward Melville Key Club and a Village Times Herald person of the year for 2014, has also put forth a huge effort toward helping Addy and her family through their times of trouble.  She created a website for the events for Addy and has reached out to the Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts in her area, providing the young people with the opportunity to help lead a charitable cause.

“This is what the Key Club is all about,” Durko said about the time she spent planning events for Addy.

The Kiwanis Club also plans on raising approximately $1,000 during their family game night fundraiser, Casale said.

“Thank God for the Key Club and the Kiwanis,” Casale said about the events that are being orchestrated in Addy’s honor. “Even if we don’t solve the problem, there’s an idea of giving a little bit of hope to this family.”

To contribute to Addy’s medical fund, visit www.gofundme.com/addysmedical. Or, attend the talent show in Addy’s honor at Ward Melville High School on Feb. 26 or the family game night on Feb. 28 at the Setauket Neighborhood House.

Jane O’Sullivan creates her romantic stories from home in Setauket. Image from Jane O’Sullivan

By Jenni Culkin

In a green-and-white rustic home that overlooks a small lake in Setauket, resident Jane O’Sullivan recently wrote her first romance novel, “Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures,” which takes place in the Victorian era of Italy.

She published the book under the pen name Lillian Marek and maintains a Facebook page under the same name with hopes of conveying some interesting thoughts, ideas and opinions from readers.

The book has earned a rating of 4.6 stars on Amazon.com. Her book received a similar average rating of 4.5 stars on the Barnes & Noble website.

O’Sullivan, who was once an editor with Times Beacon Record Newspapers, said she always loved to read and write, dating back to when she was just a little girl.

“I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else,” she said, “I read just about anything I could get my hands on. My mother used to say, ‘Will you stop reading and go out and play?’”

O’Sullivan is now a proud wife, mother of two and a grandmother of four, who has lived in Setauket since the year 1974. Before Setauket, O’Sullivan was a resident of Jackson Heights, Queens.

She made the switch from a busy urban life to a quiet suburban life in Setauket after she found out that her hometown would not provide the education that she had in mind for her children.

Jane O’Sullivan photo from the author
Jane O’Sullivan photo from the author

Her parents, who lived in Sound Beach, connected her with a real estate agent who eventually introduced her to her current lakeside house. O’Sullivan affectionately described the area as a “comfortable place to live.” She also said that when she drives through the locale, it almost feels like the countryside to her.

“I believe age is strictly mental,” O’Sullivan said with a smile on her face, “but I am definitely old enough to be retired.”

As O’Sullivan entered her retirement, a friend suggested mystery and romance novels as a new endeavor.

After reading some of the recommended books, including titles such as “Mr. Impossible,” O’Sullivan recalls the desire to try writing her own romance novels.

O’Sullivan said her friends and readers often ask her why she chose to write romance novels.

“Writing romance isn’t much different from writing regular novels, except that you have to make it end happily,” O’Sullivan said. She compared it to solving a mystery at the end of a mystery novel. Mystery novels would be incomplete without naming a culprit at the end just as romance novels would be without a “happily ever after,” she said.

And she is not done just yet. O’Sullivan is set to release three new books, including “Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey,” due out in August.

“It’s an adventure story,” O’Sullivan said of her next book. She added that the story takes place in Assyria and features river pirates, which she said would make the story an interesting read. Lady Emily, she said, is the sister of the main character in her first book in the same general time period.