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Middle Country Public Library

Middle Country Public Library’s Centereach branch at 101 Eastwood Blvd., will host a Youth Abilities Day: A
Special Needs Resource Fair on Saturday, April 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free and open to all.

Youth Abilities Day is about helping individuals with disabilities and their families find the right resources to enrich lives. The fair features approximately 20 organizations representing a wide variety of specialties including sports, music, baking, healthcare, therapies and many more.

Attendees will be entertained by the Great and Powerful Dave who will provide a magic show at 1 p.m. The Super Mario Bros. characters will also be available for photos during the event and there will be a space provided to unwind in a sensory room. This event is provided in partnership with Stony Brook University’s Occupational Therapy students and Middle Country Special Education PTA.

For more information about the fair, contact the youth services department at Middle Country Public Library at 631-585-9393 ext. 559. Pre-registration is encouraged, over the phone or on the library’s website, www.mcplibrary.org.

Photos courtesy Sophia Serlis-McPhillips

Prepared by Samantha Rutt

Luise Marie Weiss, a cherished member of the Middle Country community passed on Dec. 21 at the age of 86. Luise was born on April 25, 1937 in Mineola. Luise was the daughter of Julius Steinbrenner and Elsa Muller. 

Throughout her life Luise left an indelible mark on her community, serving nearly 40 years at Middle Country Public Library. Here, she worked as the head of adult services, where she spearheaded the law, business and careers collections, topics she expressed a great passion for. In her time in this role, Luise connected with many community members offering a warmth and rejuvenating presence.

“She was a person who had a passion and enthusiasm for books and reference and learning and education, she pulled everybody in,” Director of the Middle Country Public Library, Sophia Serlis-McPhillips said. “Luise was very influential in all of our lives [at the library].” 

In addition to her work at the library, Luise played an integral part in the development of the Miller Business Center, a regional resource for businesses, independent entrepreneurs, not-for-profit organizations, and individuals. 

“It was Luise’s passion and influence with that collection that drove us to that next step,” Serlis-McPhillips said. “The Miller Center is a big initiative of our library foundation. We have so many businesses on Long Island and if you think about the Center, it all emanated from the passion, really of this one woman.”

The goal of the center is to support regional economic development by promoting a literate and job-ready workforce and providing employment information and career exploration opportunities. 

“At the time, the Center was almost equal to a law library,” Serlis-McPhillips explained. “Everything that we did… we partnered with the Hauppauge Industrial Association, to give members access to the resources that we had, teaching people how to use them, and more networking. Luise’s passion really fueled all that.”

Luise’s love of business was one of her most beloved characteristics. She earned two master’s degrees, a degree in Library Science from CW Post and the other in History from Stony Brook University.

“She loved history,” Serlis-McPhillips said. “She wrote a variety of books. She helped us when we wrote our history book for Middle Country.”

She is survived by her loving children, Kirk, Wayne, and Wendy. She now finds comfort in the embrace of a long-awaited reunion with her late son Douglas.

Her spirit lives in her 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Services were held at Moloney-Sinnicksons Funeral Home in Center Moriches.

“You know when you come across the special people in your life, that was Louise.” Serlis-McPhillips said.

Middle Country Public Library, 575 Middle Country Road, Selden will host a Venues for Volunteering Fair on Thursday, Feb. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. Come find out what volunteer opportunities are available in our area and how you can help!

The following organizations are scheduled to be at the event: All American Assisted Living – Coram, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, Bethel Hobbs Community Farm, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, EAC Chance to Advance, Family Service League Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, Federation of Organizations/Senior Companion Program, Fire Island Light House Preservation Society, Friends of the Middle Country Public Library, Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, Great Strides LI, Kids Need More, Legal Hand, Literacy Suffolk, Inc., Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook, Mercy Haven Inc., Middle Country Public Library, NY Blood Center, Rebuilding Together Long Island, Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue, Selden Fire Department, Suffolk County Police Explorers, Town of Brookhaven Dept. of Environmental Education and the Three Village Historical Society.

No registration required. For more information, call 631-585-9393.

Middle Country Public Library has been offering several different activities for patrons this fall season. One activity involved “spirits” — creating  scarecrows out of wine bottles. Fifty-five library patrons at MCPL’s Selden location recently enjoyed participating in the Scarecrow Wine Bottle Decoration program.

Middle Country Public Library director Sophia Serlis-McPhillips cuts the ribbon during the grand opening of the library’s new café. Photo by Raymond Janis

Middle Country Public Library, Centereach unveiled its new café Friday, Sept. 8, continuing an ongoing campaign expanding arts, education and cultural opportunities throughout the greater Middle Country area.

The new café offers freshly brewed coffee and craft espresso drinks from TEND Coffee and baked goods from JeJoJo Bagels of Centereach. It is open from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Library staff hosted community members and public officials for the grand opening ceremony. Library director Sophia Serlis-McPhillips cut the ribbon to the cheers and adulation of the crowd.

“This café is part of a renovation we did for the entire library, which started in 2018,” she said. “We had a soft opening over the summer, but today was the official.”

Serlis-McPhillips highlighted the considerable public demand for a café space through the years, suggesting that the recent library renovations offer a suitable opportunity to embark upon the undertaking.

“We wanted to do that because it seemed like what the patrons and the community wanted,” the MCPL director said. “It is nice for people just to sit down and relax.”

She continued, “Unlike some other places, we are manning the staff. So we hire the staff and train them,” adding that the partnership with JeJoJo’s represents an ongoing effort by the library “to keep everything local.”

Along with the new café, MCPL offers a new maker space and a recording studio. Serlis-McPhillips noted how these innovations have “become part of our everyday operation.”

Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa and Middle Country Public Library director Sophia Serlis-McPhillips celebrate the grand opening of the library’s café. Photo by Raymond Janis

Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden), the majority leader of the county Legislature whose 4th District includes Centereach, congratulated library staff and patrons alike.

“This is just an exciting day for the residents of Middle County to have a facility like this,” he said. “We’ve always had beautiful libraries, but this just takes it up a notch.”

The majority leader highlighted how the new café plays into ongoing community revitalization efforts, with proposals for greater public investments and sewers. He maintained arts and cultural institutions such as MCPL as “vital” to the health and future prosperity of the community. 

“We should never overlook arts — whether they be from paintings to theatrics to … 3D printing,” he added. “The capabilities are unlimited for what we can do, and we have to keep that alive and well in our community.”

Town of Brookhaven Councilman Neil Manzella (R-Selden), who represents Centereach on the Town Board, was once a part-time employee at MCPL. He underscored the several transformations the facility has undergone since his departure.

“It’s just so heartwarming to see how much it’s growing and adapting to the times,” he said. “To see how much it’s growing and everything they do, it’s just amazing.”

Manzella expressed enthusiasm for the opportunities of sewers and for further community revitalization and commercial redevelopment. But as local government works toward those objectives, he said institutions like MCPL remain a “cornerstone” for residents.

“Anything that helps provide the arts, that helps provide outlets for any kind of entertainment or fun, the library is something that provides that,” the councilman said.

Adding to these sentiments, Serlis-McPhillips regarded the library as “central.”

“I definitely feel that we are in the heart of the community,” she said. “Our community supports the library a lot,” adding, “When we work together collectively, I think that makes a difference.”

The Middle Country Public Library in Centereach is hosting its Youth Abilities Day: A Special Needs Resource Fair. Pictured above, children participating in one of the library’s family events. Photo courtesy MCPL

The Middle Country Public Library in Centereach is hosting its Youth Abilities Day: A Special Needs Resource Fair on Friday, April 28, from 4-7 p.m., at 101 Eastwood Blvd., Centereach. This event is provided in partnership with Stony Brook University’s Occupational Therapy students and Middle Country Special Education PTA.

Youth Abilities Day is free and open to all. The fair features approximately 20 organizations representing a wide array of specialties, including sports, music, baking, healthcare, therapies and more. 

The Super Mario Bros. characters will be available for photos during the event, along with a space to unwind in a sensory room. The library’s Flashing Fingers Sign Language Club will perform at 6 p.m. 

Youth Abilities Day is about helping individuals with disabilities and their families find the right resources to enrich lives. MCPL strives to provide a diverse array of educational and recreational resources for patrons of different backgrounds, abilities, ages and interests to ensure that the library has something for everyone. 

For more information about the fair, contact the youth services department at Middle Country Public Library at 631-585-9393 ext. 559. Pre-registration is encouraged over the phone or on the library’s website, www.mcplibrary.org.

The Hallock family played with the “Rigamajig” building toys in the “Engineering at Work” Museum Corner exhibit at Middle Country Public Library in Centereach. Photo courtesy MCPL

The Museum Corner at Middle Country Public Library in Centereach has a new exhibit, “Engineering at Work.” 

Visitors can come in during regular library hours to enjoy fun and engaging hands-on learning activities that will generate interest in and knowledge of different types of engineering.

The exhibit, geared toward children five- to 11-years-old, includes several activity stations providing role-play, experimentation and problem-solving opportunities in addition to displays featuring real-life engineers. 

These are just some of the exciting elements to be found in the exhibit, presented with support from the Middle Country Library Foundation.

The Middle Country Public Library recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening of the Centereach Reading Room. 

The newly renovated 7,500 square foot area includes an innovation maker space and podcast recording studio that will allow the community to explore new technologies. 

Patrons will have the opportunity to participate in the creative process and collaborate with one another in a quiet study room and two small group study rooms along with a redesigned public computer area. 

The functional and transformational design was created in collaboration with architectural firm Bermello Ajamil and Partners and includes the information desk and a glass curtain wall leading to the Reading Garden, and a café that is scheduled to open in the early part of 2023. 

The library thanks the community for their support throughout this project and the many distinguished guests who attended the ceremony, including Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden) and Town of Brookhaven Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden).

A product from Sweet Woodland Farm. Photo courtesy of Rachel Stephens

The leaves are changing and there is a nip in the air, which means it is time for one of the community’s favorite fall events! After two years virtual and outdoors, the 22nd annual Women’s EXPO returns in-person at the newly renovated Middle Country Public Library, in Centereach on Thursday, Oct.6 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with more than 70 exhibitors.

An initiative of the Middle Country Library Foundation, this annual event celebrates women entrepreneurs by connecting them with their peers, local business women and most importantly, potential customers. 

It’s been a tough couple of years for everyone and entrepreneurs have really taken a hit. “While the library’s Miller Business Center never stopped working with these and other entrepreneurs the entire time, we know that the camaraderie and energy of the EXPO is invaluable. We are happy to welcome these local entrepreneurs into our new space,” says library director, Sophia Serlis-McPhillips. 

“Our favorites along with a great selection of new women entrepreneurs will be at this year’s EXPO and we can’t wait,” said Elizabeth Malafi, coordinator of the library’s Miller Business Center. As it has in previous years, EXPO welcomes a diverse group of entrepreneurs with something for everyone including soaps, food, clothing and more. Like all entrepreneurs, they have worked hard to survive uncertain times. 

Shahnilla Jamal, chair of the EXPO’s planning committee and an SVP and Relationship Manager at HSBC Bank is excited to appreciate and celebrate these entrepreneurs. “Resilience is what I see in the women of Long Island, especially the EXPO entrepreneurs,” she said. “They have endured many trials and tribulations over the past couple of years, yet these amazing women have emerged stronger and more determined than ever before.” 

Long Island has always supported small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit. The support comes from shoppers and other Long Island businesses, including People’s Alliance Federal Credit Union (PAFCU), who has supported the EXPO for many years. Lisa Mitnick, Senior Manager of Business development for PAFCU knows how important it is. “Driving initiatives that advance women in their careers is not just critical to our business success, but is extremely important. The EXPO promotes the career advancement and success of women throughout Long Island,” she said.

Let’s learn more about some of the women you’ll meet at the EXPO.

Loretta Oberheim
Artwork by Loretta Oberheim

Loretta Oberheim

Loretta Oberheim Art


After hearing great things about the EXPO from her dear friend and photographer, Holly Hunt, Loretta Oberheim, decided to apply to participate. “The support she had received from the wide range of female entrepreneurs, as well as Middle Country Library, was something I found to be extraordinary…To see an entire event celebrating female entrepreneurs is phenomenal, and I’m proud to be a part of it.” 

Loretta is an award-winning sculptor and abstract artist. After graduating with a B.F.A. in Textile/Surface design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, she began working in the interior design industry with her designs gracing the pages of Vogue, Architectural Digest and more. A traumatic brain injury made creating impossible for a while, but after a time, Loretta was able to create again in a new form – contemporary abstract impressionism. 

As an entrepreneur, sales are important of course, but for Loretta, one of her greatest business and creative successes happened when she gave a piece of her artwork away.  “A young woman came by my booth with her parents and commented on my cool cane. After looking at my work, she commented to her mom that she needed to start painting again.” This comment touched Loretta. She gave one of her paintings to the young woman telling her to “go home and just start trying.” For Loretta, nothing compared to the moment. She knew that the young woman would forever look at that painting and see that a complete stranger had faith in her.

Rachel Stephens

Rachel Stephens

Sweet Woodland Farm


Born and raised on Long Island, Rachel Stephens owns and runs Sweet Woodland Farm on the North Fork, growing elderberry, herbs, roots and more. The crops are hand-harvested, barn-dried and used in all the wellness products Rachel makes and sells through farmer’s markets, local shops and the EXPO. Using the herbs she grows to help people is an incredible feeling for her. Some moments, when Rachel is alone on the farm, looking around, she is reminded that success doesn’t need to be proven financially, but success can mean that you are doing what you love to do. 

“Besides these cherished moments, I celebrate quietly to myself every time a customer tells me how well my products have helped them. It feels incredible to know that I can help people using herbs I’ve grown myself and processed by hand into a product that people will enjoy and benefit from. It’s these moments when I can appreciate the work that I’ve chosen rather than feel the rush and burdens of running a business.”

Rachel is thrilled to be at EXPO again this year. What she remembers most about last year’s event is the camaraderie and support among the women who participate. “I appreciate that there is an event recognizing and celebrating woman owned businesses. As women gain momentum in every field I’m happy to represent women in farming at the EXPO.”

Tina Dos Reis

Tina Dos Reis

All Out Anime!


After too many years in retail management, in 2014 Tina Dos Reis decided to be her own boss, starting a small business that suffered too many losses during Covid and closed. Having plenty of time on her hands, she started watching Japanese anime. Tina quickly became hooked on the action-packed scenes full of heroes with powers and quirks and started collecting keychains, figures and her current obsession, nendoroids. 

That’s when it clicked, her next entrepreneurial outing — “selling anime figures!” Choosing a business name wasn’t difficult.  “The phrase ‘go all out,’ is used quite often in anime. Characters will say it when they are determined to act on or do something important. Going all out was exactly what I wanted to do with this new venture.” And so, All Out Anime!: Your Place to Go All Out! was born. It is a business built on trust. With much of the product imported, there are many fakes out there. This can be a big challenge and is the reason customers may turn to well-known, larger shops first. But Tina is trying to change that in her corner of the anime world — she guarantees that her merchandise is 100% fully-licensed. 

As an online business, one of Tina’s proudest moments has been creating her first website. “When you see your vision come to life, it’s truly exhilarating!” She is excited to be a part of this year’s EXPO. “This event is such a great opportunity not just for myself, but for all women entrepreneurs.  The local community will have the chance to see firsthand the price we women put into our small businesses, as well as the friendly service we provide in order to make each customer experience a happy one.”


The 22nd annual Women’s EXPO will take place on Thursday, Oct. 6 at the Middle Country Public Library, 101 Eastwood Blvd, Centereach from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Snacks and lunch will be available for purchase in the EXPO Café. Admission is free and there is ample parking. For further information, call the library at 631-585-9393 x296 or visit www.womensEXPOli.org. 


'The Goonies'

Middle Country Public Library, 101 Eastwood Blvd., Centereach will present the following free outdoor events for the community this summer:

Music Under the Stars: Petty Rumours

Thursday, July 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Join Petty Rumours for an unforgettable evening of music. This show will bring together over four decades of hits from Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac and the Traveling Wilburys. As this concert will be held outside, patrons should bring their own chairs and/or blankets. Food trucks will be on hand beginning at 6pm and performance begins at 7 p.m.

Music Under the Stars: 20 Highview

Tuesday, August 9 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Get down with 20 Highview, a nine-piece powerhouse band specializing in dance classics with funk grooves. They will cover classics from the 60’s up to the present day. As this concert will be held outside, patrons should bring their own chairs and blankets. Food trucks will be on hand beginning at 6pm and performance begins at 7 p.m.

MCPL Under the Stars Movie Night: ‘The Goonies’

Wednesday, August 17 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Join us for an outdoor viewing of the movie, The Goonies! As this movie will be held outside, patrons should bring their own chairs and blankets. In the event of rain, the program will be rescheduled for August 25. Food truck will be on hand beginning at 7 p.m. and movie begins at 8 p.m.

For more information, call 631-585-9393