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Movers & Shakers

Olivia Gregorius, right, and Emma Lutz, left, are hoping to raise awarness for female empowerment on their bike journey across the country. Photo from Gregorius

A Northport native is biking across the United States to raise money and awareness for an organization that builds schools in Africa.

Olivia Gregorius, a 2011 Northport High School graduate, kicked off her cross-country adventure in Vancouver about three weeks ago and said she is determined to finish at the Mexican border by July.

“I feel good so far,” she said in a phone interview. ”My body hurts horribly, but I feel good.”

Gregorius is a volunteer with the organization Africa Schoolhouse, a nonprofit that brings education, medical care, job training and clean water to rural villages in northern Tanzania. Her journey was designed to raise money for the newest ASH project: an all-female boarding school. Gregorius said she hopes to promote female youth empowerment while on the journey.

“This mission to help females so far away who deserve an equal and safe education space is something we believe is very important,” she said. “I truly believe that the way we teach and treat young females is key to shaping a more progressive and healthy society both locally and abroad.”

She also said it is important to acknowledge the privileges she’s been afforded that other women aren’t as lucky to receive.

“We, as young women who have had the distinct privilege of a college education, want to give back to the many girls around the world who struggle to access basic education,” she said. “We want to empower ourselves as young women going on a self-supported trip of 2,000 miles with the ultimate goal of supporting as many other young women as possible to believe themselves capable and worthy of any achievement.”

Africa Schoolhouse began in Ntulya, Tanzania, in 2006, when village elders approached founder Aimée Bessire with the idea of building a school and medical clinic. ASH successfully built the school and medical clinic, and now the organization is shifting its focus on getting women a safe and efficient education.

Gregorius said only 1 percent of Tanzanian girls complete secondary school for reasons including families who privilege the education of sons over daughters, girls being married off at young ages and unsafe journeys to school due to incomplete or unfinished roads, or the risk of assault while traveling long spans of distance on their own.

This wasn’t the first time Gregorius worked on projects associated with female empowerment. During her first year at Bates College in Maine, she helped develop a college-access mentoring program for Lewiston, Maine, middle school females. She also worked at an overnight teen empowerment camp in 2013, where she developed classes pertaining to girls’ youth empowerment, outdoor education, wellness and the arts.

Gregorius is traveling with Emma Lutz, a fellow Bates graduate, and so far the team has already raise more than $3,000. To make a contribution or learn more, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/emma-and-livs-bike-tour-from-canada-to-mexico.

Paul Lasinski, center, smiles with Harborfields High School Athletic Director John Valente, left, and Principal Rory Manning. Photo from Hansen Lee

Paul Lasinski of Greenlawn has been an athletic trainer and health teacher at Harborfields for nearly 20 years, and in less than two weeks he will walk the halls and fields of the high school for the last time as he prepares to retire.

It was about 18 years ago when Lasinski, or “Ski” as he’s known at school, took the position of athletic trainer. Ever since then, he has been a mainstay of the HF athletic program.

“I try to treat the student-athletes like I would want my child to be treated,” Lasinski said in an interview. “The kids here at Harborfields are really great. If you treat the students well and they know that you’re there for them, they know you’re giving your all for them, then a bond will come.”

Lasinski said he will be moving to South Carolina soon, and his replacement has already started training. Rachel Jersky, currently the athletic trainer at Bayport-Blue Point High School, will take over from him.

Lasinski’s history
• Hofstra athletic trainer in 1976, when men’s hoops first went to NCAA tournament
• Two sons graduated from HHS
• Was athletic trainer at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
• Has been at Harborfields since ’97

“Not having Paul roam the sidelines in his infamous trainer’s cart, or watch him tapes hundreds of ankles throughout the year, will be difficult to get used to,” said John Valente, Harborfields director of health, physical education, athletics, medical and nurse services. “[He] has left his mark on so many that he can never be replaced for who he is and what he has represented to the Harborfields Central School District.”

Lasinski said his favorite moments over the course of his HF career have been the times when he worked closely with the students. He said he was not looking forward to saying goodbye.

“The last week is going to be so difficult for me,” he said. “Being around the kids … and watching them play was such a highlight for me.”

He said one of his favorite memories was when the boys’ basketball team won the New York State championship in 2012. Lasinski was on the bus coming home with the team from Glens Falls when he said members of fire departments in the town reached out to him because they wanted to orchestrate a welcome home ceremony for the boys. He let the head coach know, and they decided to keep it a secret from the boys to surprise them.

“When we pulled around the corner … and the boys saw the sirens and the American flags, it was mayhem. That was a special moment,” he said.

Valente said it’s no secret the athletic director shares a bond with many student athletes.

“Behind this talented professional is a man revered by students, staff, parents and the entire community,” he said in an email. “Paul … gives of himself freely. He has been known to travel to athletes’ homes to check on an injury or provide care. It has always been inspiring and touching to witness the interaction that Paul has with the student athletes. They genuinely love Ski.”

Lucas Woodhouse, point guard of the 2012 team and now a key member of the Stony Brook University basketball roster, said Lasinski was an important piece of the group.

“[He] played a huge part in our team’s success over the years,” Woodhouse said. “He was great to be around, so much that people would go to just hang with him and talk about anything. It was great to have him be a major part of the team every year.”

The Greenlawn resident said he has enjoyed his time as a health teacher and said the most important part of teaching high schoolers is maintaining an open conversation, whether the topic is drugs, nutrition or sexual activity.

“You have to talk about it [with the students],” he said. “You really have to tell them what’s going on and make them aware of the choices they could make and how they affect them.”

Lasinski drives his golf cart around the grounds at Harborfields. Photo from Hansen Lee
Lasinski drives his golf cart around the grounds at Harborfields. Photo from Hansen Lee

As an athletic trainer, Lasinski would be looking over nearly 300 student athletes each day during the busier sports seasons.

“Thank God they don’t all get injured at once,” Lasinski joked.

He said a Saturday in the fall could have him working up to 12 hours, between soccer games in the morning and then football games in the later afternoon.

“You need to have a good wife,” he said of his wife Bonnie, who was a support system when he would work extra hours at the school. “She spent a lot of Saturdays without me, but she knows it’s what I love. This is what I do best. This keeps me young.”

And his efforts did not go unnoticed across the district. Valente said Lasinski has gone above and beyond his work responsibilities throughout his years of service.

“Paul works many hours and never looks at his watch,” he said. “It is not uncommon for him to be treating students as early as 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and then work over 10 hours throughout the day being at all of the contests.”

Lorian Prince, Marie D’Elia and Camille Pabon stand outside the storefront. Photo by Desirée Keegan

When Camille Pabon and Lorian Prince aren’t working, they’re still together, whether it be just hanging out or coming back to Del Fiore Italian Market, the business the two sisters own, to make dinner for the family.

“Even on our days off, we still hang out,” Prince said. “But the store is like home base. After work we call each other. People would think, ‘Haven’t I had enough of you yet?’”

The bond the two have makes for a thriving business, both because of the home-style, handmade, all-natural products they put out and because of the atmosphere they create.

“My dad remembers everybody’s name and I always marveled at that,” Prince said of Salvatore D’Elia, who opened the first Del Fiore Italian Pork Store in Patchogue with his brother Felice D’Elia and brother-in-law Carmine Galeotafiore in 1971. “He always has some sort of story to go along with each customer, and even today when he comes in, people love the little information that he throws at them from way back when.”

Fresh cold cuts and products like ravioli, meatballs and sausage line the glass cases inside the market and Italian novelties hang above the counter. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Fresh cold cuts and products like ravioli, meatballs and sausage line the glass cases inside the market and Italian novelties hang above the counter. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The sisters have tried to do the same.

“I’m not good with names. I’m really good with faces, and then I feel guilty because I don’t remember their names, but they’re really good with that,” said Heather Crane, a longtime friend of Pabon’s who’s worked on and off with the family for 20 years. “They’re like a second family here. They get along so well and I envy their relationship. I admire it. My family works together and I don’t want to be there with all that chaos, but they’re really cute together.”

The Del Fiore store in Patchogue, which has since moved up the block from its original location, is still owned by the Galeotafiore family, and Felice D’Elia has since moved to Florida and opened up a similar deli there.

Salvatore D’Elia opened up the Rocky Point shop in March 1973 with his wife Marie, who said she used to take time on her lunch breaks from her job at Slomin’s, which was next door to one of the company’s several locations in Massapequa, to stock shelves with her husband.

“It was a first time for me to run a business and first time for him to run a business, and we did well,” she said.

Pabon and Prince started in the Rocky Point store at a young age.

“I wanted to do everything and I started serving customers as soon as I could see over the counter,” Pabon said. “Maybe not very well, but I thought I was doing something.”

Seeing the company pass onto the next generation is something that warms their mother’s heart.

“He and I are very, very proud of them taking over and doing a wonderful job,” she said. “Better than us, actually.”

Camille Pabon and Lorian Prince, who said her mind was blown when she found out other foods besides Italian existed, took over Del Fiore Italian Market 10 years ago. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Camille Pabon and Lorian Prince, who said her mind was blown when she found out other foods besides Italian existed, took over Del Fiore Italian Market 10 years ago. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Modestly, the sisters laugh about doing a better job than their parents. Although Del Fiore closed its doors in several locations like Massapequa, Selden, College Point and Ronkonkoma, business remains in Rocky Point.

“In the summertime, we do a lot of catering, providing some of the wineries with sandwiches — a man does a wine tour and puts out hot food from us every weekend — so we dread the weekends in the summer,” Pabon said, laughing. “We don’t look forward to them at all.”

The sisters make fresh mozzarella, ravioli, fried eggplant, sopressata and meatballs, among other Italian products, at the shop they renamed Del Fiore Italian Market when they took over the company 10 years ago. Their food contains no additives or preservatives, making it one of the only places the family, and even their coworkers, will purchase food from. Italian novelties also hang above the counter, and other shelves are lined with hard-to-find products, like coffee presses, that you may not find at a local supermarket.

Although the business model has changed a bit, as the sisters make more premade foods for those who are too busy to make dishes themselves, the sisters have learned to adapt to the changing culture.

“We were used to people that cooked,” Marie D’Elia said. “They came in and bought the raw supplies and they cooked it. Now, they come in and they want already fried chicken or premade meatballs, croquettes and rice balls. But the girls have brought in new ideas.”

For both sisters, the decision to work at the store after graduating college was an easy one, and said they’re lucky they have the opportunity to work together.

“I tried it,” Prince said. “I worked in a doctor’s office, and then I thought, why work for someone else when you can work for family?”

By Marissa Paganelli

Cancer survivor and Northport native Alexis Attardi is returning to hospitals — but this time, it isn’t for treatment. Instead, the 19-year-old is helping patients who are fighting the battle against cancer she once fought.

Attardi, a sophomore at Adelphi University, works with Love Your Melon, a nonprofit started by college students in 2012 that raises money for cancer research by selling hats. For each hat sold, one is also given to a child cancer patient.

Love Your Melon has made a name for itself through college representatives like Attardi, who take their time to spread the word and deliver hats to local children’s hospitals.

“Giving a hat to a child with cancer is meant to bring continuous smiles and support to someone fighting,” Attardi said. “Losing hair is a part of the fight where the request of a hat from a loved one is supposed to make the process easier and something these children can look forward to wearing.”

Attardi was 11 when she was diagnosed with stage four of anaplastic non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a strain of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes, a kind of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections.

The only response Attardi said she could muster when the doctor told her was “Am I going to die?”

She said she was told that she was going to be in for the fight of her life, and was given a 70 percent chance of survival.

Attardi was just starting middle school at the time, and was scared no one would want to be her friend because of the way she looked. She had lost 30 pounds and most of her hair as a result of her 15 chemotherapy treatments.

Attardi received her treatments at Stony Brook University Children’s Hospital where staff members and nurses soon became her closest friends. Whether it was coming into her room to spend time with her or just to check in and see how she was doing, she said the staff made the hospital feel like home.

“It was the little signs of thought and care that made being in a hospital and not in school with my friends a bit easier,” Attardi said. She missed her last three months of sixth grade due to treatment.

After her yearlong battle, Attardi was told she was cancer free.

“It was a miracle to hear those words, and a feeling I can’t put words to,” she said.

Attardi said she understood that her cancer could come back at any moment, and it’s because of this she works so hard to give back to children and people who face the same obstacle she once did.

“As a cancer survivor and captain of Adelphi’s Love Your Melon campus crew, giving back is what I’m all about,” she said.

Attardi said she plans on returning to Stony Brook  University Hospital.

“I just want to contribute the same help I was given and I know even the littlest things, like receiving a beanie, means so much more than it would be thought.”

Attardi’s commitment to her cause has impressed her peers.

“I have no doubt Alexis can make a huge impact in children’s lives,” said Erica Massmann, a member of Adelphi’s Love Your Melon crew who has worked alongside Attardi in recruiting new members on campus. “Being a cancer survivor herself, Alexis knows what these children are going through. She can take her experiences with her fight with cancer and bring that into the community to help make a difference.”

Attardi said she has come out of this experience a stronger person.

“I’ve realized life isn’t about materialistic things,” she said. “Helping others is a task that has continued to shape me as a person.”

Bob Koch, above, of Koch Tree Services in Mount Sinai, hangs up the flags each year for Heritage Park’s “Parade of Flags.” Photo from Fred Drewes

Bob Koch is no stranger to giving back.

The single father of three and owner of Koch Tree Services in Mount Sinai is known for his generosity and willingness to always lend his services, or just a helping hand.

“I get emotional talking about him, because he’s just such a wonderful person,” daughter Kara Koch said. “Anybody he meets, he always gives them a chance and makes sure to think the best of them. He really goes above and beyond for everybody and anybody.”

According to Bob Koch’s son Jeremy, his grandfather started the business and his dad took over, working on some major jobs while heading the company. Bob Koch helped clean up Battery Park in Manhattan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, planted trees and plants at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai, helped local businesses plant trees for Christmas tree lightings and he does basic maintenance and upkeep around the area. He donates much of the time he spends on these community projects.

Bob Koch and two workers plant a dogwood and other trees along the Avenue of America. Photo from Fred Drewes
Bob Koch and two workers plant a dogwood and other trees along the Avenue of America. Photo from Fred Drewes

Nick Aliano Sr., who owns Aliano Real Estate in Miller Place, said Koch helped plant a nearly 30-foot tree at the Aliano Shopping Center to honor his son Robert, who was run over by a car and battled through a long recovery. Despite the first tree dying and the replacement tree almost succumbing to the same fate, Koch made it his goal to keep the tree alive.

“He wanted the tree to make it — it was his mission,” he said. “It would cost thousands and thousands of dollars to do what he did, and we didn’t ask him for a favor; he offered it. He’s a special guy. Behind the lines, Bob is putting back into the community. A lot of people don’t even see it. That’s the kind of guy he is. He doesn’t make an announcement about it.”

The Miller Place Fire Department holds an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the tree, which Robert Aliano lights, and where Koch is mentioned for his generosity for the wonderful things he does for his community.

At Heritage Park, Koch sometimes sends his crew in to help with landscaping and cleaning up, according to Heritage Trust Office Manager Susan Peters.

“Everything he does here has been totally volunteer,” she said. “He has made the park more beautiful and more inviting, and he’s done so many things that we couldn’t afford to do.”

Fred Drewes, who has also donated a lot of his own time to landscaping the property, said the environment Koch has created at the park will be admired for generations to come.

“I feel grateful and blessed by his willingness and graciousness to help make our small local park seem so large and enjoyable for so many people,” he said.

At “The Wedge,” Koch has donated and planted trees along the parking lot, as well as a tree for an annual lighting around Christmas, and helped with the planting of trees along the park’s “Avenue of America.”

There is also a Parade of Flags that is arranged on national holidays. Koch’s daughter Katie once asked her father if waking up early to hang flags for each state “drove him crazy.”

“He responded, ‘You know Katie, one thing that’s important is you always give back,’” she recalled. “He always made that a big thing. It’s never a job to him.”

Bob Koch, of Koch Tree Services in Mount Sinai, hangs up the flags each year for Heritage Park’s “Parade of Flags,” above. Photo from Fred Drewes
Bob Koch, of Koch Tree Services in Mount Sinai, hangs up the flags each year for Heritage Park’s “Parade of Flags,” above. Photo from Fred Drewes

She finds that positivity and care is contagious: “He’s such a hard worker,” she said. “The man sometimes works six or seven days a week and still has time to give to his family and the community, and he does it with a smile.”

Carmella “Miss Mella” Livingston of Miss Mella’s Footsteps to Learning, a child care center in Coram, said Koch donated time to take care of her property and planted a tree in honor of her late husband.

“He’s taken care of it all as a good community gesture,” she said. “Besides being very community-oriented, very generous and very kind, he’s also very upbeat, very happy. He’s definitely an asset to the community, but also as a dad. It’s a beautiful thing to see someone who is so giving.”

Although he works quietly, neighbors have taken notice.

Katie Koch recalled driving down the street with her father last year, slowing down for a sign someone hung up on their front porch: “It said, ‘Thank you Bob Koch for everything you’ve done,’” she said. “I remember thinking how proud I was that that was my dad. He’s the most selfless person I know.”

According to Kara Koch, who is an office assistant at Koch Tree Services, her father has inspired his family and everyone in the community to always be positive and the best you can be.

“He’s taught me how to love, how to care, how to be responsible, how to be successful,” she said. “Seeing what he does, it makes me want to be the kind of person he is, and if I can be half the person he is, I’d be a very happy girl.”

A view of a spine captured using the O-arm. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian

By Victoria Espinoza

Huntington Hospital has been under the leadership of Dr. Gerard Brogan for the past year, and since he assumed his post, the hospital has implemented new surgical procedures, protocols and equipment to ensure patients are offered the most advanced and effective treatment they can get.

Brogan, the executive director, first joined the team at Huntington in January 2015 but has been a resident of the town for the past 20 years.

Dr. Gerard Brogan, has been exectuive director of Huntington Hospital for about 15 months. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian
Dr. Gerard Brogan, has been exectuive director of Huntington Hospital for about 15 months. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian

“My philosophy is I want to work at a hospital where I would go as a patient or would send my family to,” Brogan said in a phone interview. “If anything happens to me in Huntington, I am coming to this ER.”

Huntington recently became the first hospital on Long Island to offer the O-arm, a surgical imaging system that generates a three-dimensional computer model of the spine. This over $1 million equipment helps doctors have a more precise view of what they are operating on during surgeries, like screwing nails into the spine.

During the operation, the neurosurgeon refers to the monitors, which provide real-time verification of the location of surgical tools and implants with submillimeter accuracy.

The first surgery using the O-arm was successfully completed at the end of March, and according to Brogan, six more successful surgeries have followed.

The executive director said this equipment ensures “the ultimate in surgical precision,” and that the use of this machinery is “an indication how cutting-edge our hospital is.”

“If you want to be a leader for excellence, you need this capability,” he said.

Dr. Robert Kerr, chief of neurosurgery at Huntington Hospital, was the first to use the O-arm.

“When you have to place a stabilizing screw into the spine and it passes within millimeters of the spinal cord, nerve root or vital arteries, there is no substitute for the kind of accuracy the O-arm provides to a neurosurgeon,” Kerr said in a statement.

Changes at the hospital are coming in even bigger packages.

A view of a spine captured using the O-arm. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian
A view of a spine captured using the O-arm. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian

The hospital is currently in the middle of creating an entirely new $43 million emergency department, which Brogan said will cut down waiting times, help diagnose patients faster and overall improve the quality of a patient’s stay while in the emergency department.

He said some of the protocol changes have already been implemented in the current emergency department, cutting down patients’ wait time by an average of 48 minutes, due to methods like including physicians when a patient is first being triaged and beginning blood work sooner, but added that he is excited to see further changes implemented.

“I think for the patients, the experience is going to be just phenomenal,” Brogan said.

Awards have followed the success of Huntington, with the hospital recently named a national 2016 Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The hospital is one of 11 named to this list, in the Northwell Health system. The nursing staff at the hospital also received Magnet Recognition for excellence in nursing for the past 12 years, a national recognition that less than eight percent of hospitals worldwide have earned.

“If we are going to do something [at Huntington Hospital],” Brogan said, “we do it as well, if not better, than anywhere else in the country.”

North Shore Youth Council members make blankets with kids during a family service night. Photo from North Shore Youth Council

North Shore Youth Council has been keeping kids from ending up on the streets for more than two decades.

The council’s programs “give them more stuff to do beyond the school day and keeps them active and doing positive things,” office manager Marcie Wilson said.

Offering a myriad of programs, the not-for-profit hosts after school recreation, math tutoring on Tuesdays, social skills groups, child care, open mic nights, youth and family counseling, a Big Buddy/Little Buddy service and even helps teenagers get jobs.

“A lot of the time, young kids learn from other young people, so we try to get the high schoolers involved with the middle school kids,” Laurel Sutton, president of the North Shore Youth Council board of directors, said about the Big Buddy/Little Buddy program. “Any time they’re making good choices, it helps teach the younger kids to make good choices.”

The Youth Council also partners with local businesses and organizations to give children fun and interesting things to do or give them an outlet to help others. Shaolin Kung Fu & Fitness in Rocky Point, Studio E in Miller Place, Creative Zone Inc. in Rocky Point and national organization JumpBunch are just a few of those entities. Zumba instructors also host events for kids who are enrolled in the program.

Last December, six students partnered with Habitat for Humanity to help rebuild a home in Rocky Point. Months later, they were brought back to the dedication ceremony to see the final product.

Local students help in the construction of a Habitat for Humanity build in Rocky Point. Photo from North Shore Youth Council
Local students help in the construction of a Habitat for Humanity build in Rocky Point. Photo from North Shore Youth Council

“What was so great was that the kids were amazed,” Wilson said. “They worked on it and they went into what they called ‘their room’ that they worked on. They were so proud of themselves.”

A summer program is also available. Kids begin as campers and can become junior and senior counselors by the time they turn 16.

“They stick around with us for a really long time,” Wilson said. “Then they go off to college and we see them back in the summer time.”

North Shore Youth Council also partners with the Miller Place, Mount Sinai, Rocky Point and Shoreham-Wading River school districts, offering counseling and educating the schools on issues that concern today’s youth.

“We’re at each of the schools at 6:45 in the morning and we’re there until 6 p.m.,” said Janene Gentile, executive director of the youth council. “Everybody contributes to this organization. The kids on our Youth Advisory Board are in the schools and understand the issues and tell me the direction we should be heading in.”

According to Rocky Point Superintendent Michael Ring, six student assistance counselors work out of the Frank J. Carasiti Elementary and Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate schools. While primary focus is on middle school and high school counselors, there is a partnership at the elementary level. Emphasis is put on direct counseling, intervention and support services related to substance abuse.

“These counselors run numerous programs to support the social and emotional needs of our students and families, including anti-bullying, mentoring and character education,” Ring said. “Their expertise and support has provided critical resources to our district for more than two decades.”

Gentile, a drug and alcohol counselor with a master’s degree in art education, has been with the Youth Council for 23 years, working alongside Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office to host expressive art classes at the Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai and working with incarcerated women and youth at the correctional facility in Riverhead.

“We’re trying to help people make good choices,” Sutton said. “North Shore is helping young people have activities to do after school rather than be home and get in trouble. There are enrichment programs, fun stuff and educational things.”

Gentile said she is thankful for all the help she’s received, but those she works with say they’re more thankful to have her around for all that she’s been able to do for the program.

“She’s such a loving, giving person, she’s very involved, she’s extremely creative and she knows her stuff,” Sutton said. “She’s a very in-tune person to what is going on. She basically built this whole program from the very beginning. She’s constantly doing things to improve it, and I couldn’t see anyone else heading North Shore.”

Gentile is more thankful for the connections made with so many other organizations, children, families, schools and businesses across the Island.

“I’m just really grateful that people have the same vision,” she said. “I get up every day and I enjoy being here and helping the young people; they’re an asset in every which way to the community. … I’ll continue to hold the young kids up, because I believe in them.”

Frank Cosentino is the second president of the Huntington Station BID. Photo from Cosentino

There’s a new president of the Huntington Station Business Improvement District.

Frank Cosentino has taken over after the BID’s first president Keith Barrett decided to step down and “let some new blood in.”

Cosentino has owned County Line Hardware in Huntington Station for the past 30 years, and has been a member of the BID for three.

“It was a surprise,” Cosentino said of his nomination in a phone interview. Although Cosentino resides in St. James, he said Huntington Station has become his home town. “Everyone becomes like a family,” he said “ You just want to work to make the area better.”

Of his plans for the future of the BID, Cosentino said he wants to start spending more money on the people and businesses that are giving money to the BID.

“I want to start promoting the businesses in the area more,” he said.

Cosentino said he wants to focus on different businesses every month along a theme, like a month of home improvement and another month of car-related businesses.

“I want to highlight what is already available in Huntington Station,” he said.

He also said the BID is currently working toward revamping its Facebook page, so that the BID can send out notices about events to member and help create programs that teach business owners how to utilize Facebook better.

“We want to develop a seminar to help teach people how to set up a Facebook page for their business, and how to gather likes and create events,” he said.

Cosentino said Huntington Station can sometimes be the “forgotten child,” but to him is just as important, and he wants to continue to work to make the area a more desirable place for people to visit and live.

Graduating with a degree in chemistry from Alfred University in 1977, Cosentino worked at a chemical company until 1985, when the opportunity arose to purchase what is now County Line Hardware.

He worked at a hardware store during college, so he thought his background in the profession made the buy the right choice. “I had always wanted to own my own business,” he said.

Barrett did not run for re-election and said the board had known for the past year that they would need to find a new president.

“He’s a great guy, a successful business owner, and I think he will bring some new ideas,” Barrett said in a phone interview. “He cares about Huntington Station.”

Barrett will stay on as a board member, and he said he hopes that Cosentino will help make the BID more business oriented in future projects.

“I have known the people in the BID for a long time,” Cosentino said. “The fact that they’ve put their trust in me … makes me feel really good.”

Rodger Podell became director of the Cold Spring Harbor Library about three months ago. Photo from Roger Podell

There’s a new director at the Cold Spring Harbor Library & Environmental Center.

Rodger Podell came on board about three months ago and is excited about the new bonds he has already made with residents of the area.

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting everyone in the community,” Podell said in a phone interview. “It’s been great to get out and meet with different parental groups. I’ve loved getting to know everyone.”

Podell is no stranger to Long Island, moving to Jericho in 1978 from New Jersey and graduating from Jericho High School. He worked as a freelance video camera operator for a few years on various television and news shows until the late  ’90s, when he decided to go back to school and pursue a field that had always interested him — library studies.

“I’ve always liked that libraries serve the community and serve all ages,” Podell said. “You can see infants coming in for story time, seniors coming in for social programs and everyone else in between. This is one of the few community-based organizations that serve all ages of the community.”

He graduated with a master’s degree in library studies from Long Island University in 1996, and started working at various school districts on Long Island including Middle Country.

The director also served as the head of school libraries for Western Suffolk BOCES for a few years, where he worked with school librarians throughout the district to help provide development ideas.

Before coming to Cold Spring Harbor, Podell was working as director of the Elmont Public Library in Queens, where he said he served about 1,000 people daily.

“I saw this position [at Cold Spring Harbor] and I had worked with the Cold Spring Harbor school district while at BOCES, so I was familiar with it,” he said. “It’s not only in a beautiful location, but there is also a real dedication here toward education. I could see that right away, and I knew that must carry over into the library.”

Podell said the library is dedicated to the community, not only through many educational programs but entertainment programs as well.

The Cold Spring Harbor Library offers exercise classes, story-time classes, book discussion groups and SAT prep courses.

Podell said a few programs stick out in his mind, like the Jedi Academy, an interactive Star Wars program hosted in February, and Cinderella, a musical production performed at the library in January.

Looking forward, the director said he hopes to continue to improve the library According to Podell, the children’s room was recently changed to better utilize space.

Aside from his director position at Cold Spring Harbor, Podell is also an adjunct professor at Long Island University Palmer School of Library and Information Science, and serves on the Long Island Library Resource Council’s Board of Trustees.

Michelle DaSilva stands on stage with members of the Global Justice Club during one of their concert fundraisers. Photo from Michelle DaSilva

For one teacher at Harborfields High School, ensuring her students receive a proper education doesn’t stop at academics.

Michelle DaSilva has been teaching world history at the high school for years, but in 2009 she started a new venture, as advisor to the Global Justice Club.

“This club is meant to let kids know what is going on in other parts of the world,” DaSilva said in a phone interview. She said there are about 70 to 80 kids involved in the club.

The first fundraiser the club organized was to collect baby supplies after Hurricane Sandy devastated the people of Haiti in 2005.

“I had just had a baby and I kept thinking about all the woman in that developing country who didn’t have diapers, or formula,” she said. The club found a local organization that worked with an orphanage in Haiti, where the members were able to donate the $1,500 in items they received.

Since then, DaSilva said the club has gotten bigger and bigger.

In 2010, the club organized the first global justice concert, which has become the main event the group works on during the year. DaSilva described the concert as an event “fully run by the students,” that has helped the club raise more than $10,000 since it started. Members of the club hold auditions, promote the show, organize the raffle and host it, according to the teacher.

Two years into the event, DaSilva said she met Lucy Sumner, a former Harborfields teacher who traveled back to her hometown of Sierra Leone. She runs a non-profit called Magic Penny, which provides financial support for educational, economic and agricultural programs within her country.

“Now all the money goes directly to her,” DaSilva said. “She’s an amazing woman, and what’s nice is that I know exactly where the money is going. When I put it in her hands, it’s being used for the right thing.”

Global Justice has raised enough money for Magic Penny to fund the building of a school, scholarships for students, teacher training programs, and more.

Currently, DaSilva said they are raising money to help create a middle school, since the first school they raised money for only teaches children up to fifth grade.

“These students are now having to go into the city for middle school, where there is a lot of exploitation and unsafe circumstances, and their families cannot afford to travel with them,” DaSilva said.

Aside from the annual concert, the Global Justice club also organizes and participates in many other fundraisers throughout the year, including a 24-hour famine where students are sponsored…; food drives; and education campaigns — one of which was a refugee project, where members of the club turned different hallways into parts of the world where there are large refugee problems.

“We want to be thinking globally,” DaSilva said of the club, “and acting locally.”