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Movers & Shakers

The Huntington YMCA struggled during the pandemic but still offered childcare during the peak months. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Healthy eating habits and children don’t always mix in this day and age, but Christina Butcher is not letting that stop her.

Butcher, fitness center coordinator at the Huntington YMCA, is at the forefront of a new program — Healthy Weight and Your Child — that focuses on promoting good choices for young children who have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight.

“This gives kids the support they need and the opportunity to make healthy lifestyle choices,” Butcher said in a phone interview.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the United States. One in six children are obese and one in three are overweight, which could lead to serious health problems including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and mental health issues.

Healthy Weight and Your Child is a 12-month program geared toward 7 to 13-year-old children who are in the 95th percentile or higher on the body mass index scale. All participants must be cleared for physical activity by a health care provider or school nurse, and be accompanied by a parent or caregiver at every meeting.

Christina Butcher is fitness center coordinator and a personal trainer. Photo from Butcher
Christina Butcher is fitness center coordinator and a personal trainer. Photo from Butcher

“Parents usually make most of the food decisions in the home, so we want them included in this learning process,” Butcher said.

The program is meant to focus on social issues in health and engage the whole family on understanding how the home environment influences the choices that lead to unhealthy food selections.

Aside from eating habits, the program also highlights the importance of regular physical activity and behavioral changes.

Butcher said kids participate in different activities like dodgeball, spud and relays, to stay active.

“My favorite part of the program is the family unity,” she said. “There are a lot of siblings in the program, and even just the single children with parents are participating in a great bonding opportunity.”

Currently, Healthy Weight and Your Child at the YMCA has about 35 children signed up. The program is offered on Wednesdays from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and is also available at the Silas Wood Sixth Grade Center in the South Huntington school district on Mondays from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Aside from being in charge of all fitness programs the YMCA offers, Butcher is also a personal trainer at the fitness center in the YMCA.

“I have the opportunity to work with small groups to help achieve their fitness goals,” she said. “Whether it’s working on upper body strength to be able to pick up their grandchild, or getting over an injury or working toward a sport goal, I love the diversity training that the YMCA offers. It’s the best part of being a trainer.”

Jim Feeley has been living in Centerport for most of his life. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

A Centerport resident has planted deep roots in the community where he grew up.

Jim Feeley has been an active volunteer in the Centerport Fire Department for the past 50 years, joining in June 1965.

During his tenure he served as chief of the department twice and a volunteer  EMT on the Centerport Rescue Squad. He was a member of the board of fire commissioners and the president of the Town of Huntington Fire Chiefs Council. Last year he was named Firefighter/EMT of the Year in the 18th Legislative District.

His parents built their house on Fleets Cove Road in Centerport, and Feeley met his wife Joan while walking along Fleets Cove Beach.

“I loved living across from the golf course,” Feeley said in a phone interview. “I used to hunt and explore the grounds with my brothers.”

Feeley is a 1964 Harborfields graduate, and his wife is a graduate of Walt Whitman. When it came time to decide where to raise a family, they both agreed they wanted to continue living in Centerport.

Feeley said he remembers the exact night when he decided to join the Centerport Fire Department, back in the spring of ’65 while shooting pool with his brother at an old bar in Centerport, at just 19 years of age.

“I learned a lot about my neighborhood,” he said. “There will always be someone to help you out; someone you can trust.”

Over the years, Feeley said he had been proud of the department for its active drill team, which has participated in many tournaments, and the camaraderie and closeness of the department as a whole.

According to Feeley, the fire department used to organize multifamily camping trips in the 1970s and ‘80s, and members of the Northport Fire Department even got involved.

“These are the same guys I’ve been meeting for coffee for the past 50 years,” he said. “Everyone has each other’s back. I don’t know where else you would find that.”

Feeley reflected on some of the big fires he’s worked on in his half century with the department.

“In 1966 at Gidyes Inn in Centerport, we worked on a fire for 25 hours,” he said. Gidyes Inn used to stand on Main Street where the U.S. Post Office now stands.

Feeley remembered a fire in 1972 where he and many of his family members left the table at Thanksgiving dinner to go put out a fire on Little Neck Road. The fire had gotten so big that embers were landing on boats floating near the house, which was located on the water.

Feeley’s brother, two daughters and two nephews also volunteer at the Centerport Fire Department. His wife is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the department.

In his off time, Feeley said he enjoys gardening at the Huntington Town’s garden plot in Greenlawn on Dunlop Road and participating in the Knights of Columbus in Greenlawn.

Feeley was recently recognized for his years of service by Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) at a February Suffolk County Legislature meeting.

“James Feeley is an outstanding example of a true public servant,” Spencer said in a statement. “It is a privilege to be able to recognize and thank him for his inspiring service to our community.”

Bruce Blanco smiles with other members of the riders. Photo from Blanco

For one man, riding isn’t just a way of life — it’s a way to honor his son.

Bruce Blanco, president of the American Legion Riders Chapter 1244, first got involved with the American Legion in 2010, after his son Michael Edward Blanco, a lance corporal in the United States Marines, passed away on Feb. 15, 2010.

“I am living in the eyes of my son,” Blanco said in a phone interview. “He is my hero.”

Blanco, a Commack resident, said that whenever his son was on leave he would lend a hand to local organizations like the American Legion, so Blanco “took over the things he would do,” once his son passed.

Michael Blanco served in the U.S. Marines. Photo from Bruce Blanco
Michael Blanco served in the U.S. Marines. Photo from Bruce Blanco

The American Legion Riders started in 1993, when American Legion members decided they wanted to create an environment where members could come together to share their love of motorcycles. Blanco described the American Legion Riders as “riding billboards for veterans,” that help bring attention to and raise money for veteran events.

Blanco, who has been president for the past year, said that through the organization he has been able to spend time with veterans, play bingo or share a meal, stood in as family for burial services when a veteran had no other family left, and raised money to provide veterans and their families with meals for the holidays. According to Blanco, in the last year alone, the riders were present at more than 100 military funerals. They also participate in local celebrations like the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day parades in Huntington and King’s Park, and organize welcome homes from the airport.

According to Blanco, his chapter only has 24 members, but provide at least 150 different missions each year for veterans. They are one of only three rider posts in Suffolk County, and he said they are the most active chapter in New York State.

One of his fondest memories with the riders thus far, was fulfilling a wish of a veteran in his early 90s, who had always wanted to ride a motorcycle.

“We had all of his family and friends out to see him,” he said. “It was just a really nice day.”

Blanco said he thinks the organization is so important because it reminds veterans that they are not alone.

Blanco poses with Post American Legion Post 1244 Commander Dennis Madden. Photo from Bob Santo.
Blanco poses with Post American Legion Post 1244 Commander Dennis Madden. Photo from Bob Santo.

“We show vets love and give them the support they deserve,” he said. “When you have veterans who think they’re alone and then we can be there for them, that makes my day.”

He said he has seen some American Legion posts lose support and membership in the past few years. Some were even forced to close their doors.

“I never want to see this disappear,” he said. “The riders are trying to bring attention to what the American Legion does, and help to try and make it grow.”

The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund recently honored Blanco for the $1,000 donation he and the riders fundraised for in 2015. The scholarship fund gives money to children of fallen post-9/11 service members.

Head coach Andrew D’Eloia speaks to his team during a timeout. File photo by Bill Landon

Head coach Andrew D’Eloia has brought the Northport boy’s basketball team to its first undefeated season.

D’Eloia is in his fourth year as head coach, but he is no stranger to the halls and basketball courts at Northport High School. He graduated from Northport in 1991 and played as point guard for the boy’s basketball team.

“I’m extremely familiar with the district,” D’Eloia said in a phone interview. “I wanted to be able to give back to the community. The Northport High School basketball team did a lot for me, to help me develop — it taught me discipline, teamwork and investing in a common goal.”

D’Eloia now lives in Huntington with his family and owns AD Hoops Training, a basketball training business in Brooklyn.

Before coming back to Northport, he worked as an assistant coach at various institutions including Hunter College in Manhattan and Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School in Brooklyn. He was then offered the assistant coach job at Northport High School and D’Eloia jumped at the opportunity.

Head coach Andrew D’Eloia speaks to his team during a game. File photo by Bill Landon
Head coach Andrew D’Eloia speaks to his team during a game. File photo by Bill Landon

After a year as assistant coach, D’Eloia became head coach, and while he said he didn’t want to bring any major changes to the team, he did want to implement some new focus points.

Among his ideas, he said he wanted to encourage the boys to set up a plan for the off-season, to stay in the best shape they could. He said he believes this helped the team’s bond become even stronger.

“The team chemistry is phenomenal,” he said. “This is one of the best teams I’ve been around in terms of the element of camaraderie, and it’s one of the most unselfish groups as well.”

Since taking over as head coach in 2012, the boy’s record is 72-14, they have won 18 playoff games and made it to the Suffolk County final four all four years. In 2013, the boy’s made it all the way to the state semifinals but fell to New Rochelle.

This was the first year since 1995 that the team has gone undefeated in the league, and D’Eloia credited that to the work of the entire team.

“They are coachable and they do right both on and off the court,” he said. “This is a team in every sense of the word.”

The head coach said that not only are the starting players key to the success of this season but also the supporting players, who have worked well to “conserve small minutes.”

Looking forward, D’Eloia said he hopes his team will continue to play at the highest level possible at every game and go as far as they can in the playoffs.

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Joe Cognitore, commander of VFW Post 6249, dedicates much of his time to helping veterans and his local community. File photo

“He’s a gentle giant.”

That’s what Rocky Point High School social studies teacher Rich Acritelli had to say about Rocky Point’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Fischer-Hewins Post 6249 Commander Joe Cognitore.

“He’s always got the community at his heart,” said Acritelli, who first met Cognitore in 2005 when he asked the post to come down and do a color guard for one of his programs. “He’s such a gentleman, a good guy and he has a good combination of common sense, leadership and also humor.”

Cognitore, who has lived in Rocky Point since 1983, served in Vietnam from April 1969 through March 1971, where he held the ranks of acting platoon sergeant and acting platoon leader. He earned the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantry Badge, as well as the National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign, and Air medals.

He first became active in the VFW in 1991, where he sent packages to troops overseas.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) first met Cognitore right after Sept. 11, 2001, when she was working with the North Shore Beach Property Owners’ Association on a planned blood drive. She said he donated cases of water and soda to the event.

“He’s one of the nicest men that I’ve ever met in my whole entire life,” she said. “He’s a very active participant in all things that make Rocky Point great, but he’s also a really big asset to us in Brookhaven. Joe’s always my first phone call for anything veteran-related.”

Since his start at the post, his role in the VFW and in the community has only continued to grow. The commander also raises money for the Joseph P. Dwyer peer-to-peer group and helped fund the building of two houses for returning veterans in Sound Beach.

Bea Ruberto, president of the Sound Beach Civic Association, met Cognitore five years ago, when she reached out to him for help with the hamlet’s Veteran’s Memorial Park. Ruberto said the plans stalled because of a loss of funding.

“He sat down with us and spoke for hours,” she said. “He’s great. He’s very, very generous with his time. Had it not been for his input I’m not sure we would’ve gone in the direction we did and got the funding for the park.”

Cognitore also worked with Acritelli on the 9/11 memorial at the Diamond in the Pines Park in Coram, helping raise more than $40,000. The two are also working on helping to plan the ninth annual Wounded Warriors golf outing.

“We raised a lot of money for local guys,” Acritelli said. “Joe personifies everything that a citizen should be. He is always working for the betterment of his community. He’s going to be a tough guy to replace at the VFW post and in the state because he does so much.”

Cognitore said he was passionate about not only doing what he can for veterans but the community at large. He has used Post 6249 to host several other events including senior, Cub Scout and Girl Scout meetings, local soup kitchens, and to raise money for local families in need of assistance and for scholarships at Rocky Point and Shoreham-Wading River high schools.

“It’s contagious,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of effort, and we’re all volunteers here at the post.”

This dedication earned him induction into the New York State Senate Veteran’s Hall of Fame in 2005. He received this honor from New York State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

“I was floored,” he said of the nomination. “It was nice, and a great feeling. It recognized a veteran for their service and being a veteran, but also, for what you’ve done outside the veteran realm, and we help the community. The post is opened to mostly everybody.”

Frank Tepedino, of Saint James, who is a former MLB player for the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves, has worked with Cognitore on several fundraisers and spoke with him at different events.

“It’s unbelievable the work that he does,” he said. “A man that takes that much time to ensure that nobody is left behind — he’s always out there to help any cause. He knows a lot of people and he’s surrounded himself with good people and he can get a lot done because of it.”

Ruberto said Cognitore opened her eyes to the countless returning veterans that struggle, realizing that helping returning vets should be more of a concern that honoring fallen soldiers.

“He made me aware of the number of homeless vets that are out there, or the home in Yaphank that feeds and houses vets, so it’s because of those conversations with him that made a light go off,” she said. “He’s very passionate about doing whatever he can for veterans.”

Cognitore said he gets so much enjoyment out of what he does that it doesn’t matter how much time he puts into it, as long as the final outcome is helping someone in need.

“It’s like a full time job,” he said. “Getting everything set up and running around takes a lot of time, but it’s well worth it.”

Harborfields High School. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Harborfields’ boys’ basketball team has become one of the most celebrated at the high school in recent years, with the boys winning the League V title for the eighth straight year.

Although this is only John Tampori’s first year as head coach of the Tornadoes, he has been the assistant coach for the last 11 years, and has been able to seamlessly keep their tradition of domination alive.

Tampori served under Chris Agostino, who left the school left last year for Elmont Memorial High School as the school’s new athletic director.

“I’ve known the players, some of them are three- or four-year varsity players,” Tampori said in a phone interview. “They knew me as well. I knew what I was stepping into. I knew exactly what was going on.”

The transition appears to be just as easy for the players, as the team is currently undefeated in the league and look to be in a great spot in the Suffolk County playoffs, which kick off this Friday.

John Tampori has been with the Harborfields Tornadoes for more than a decade. Photo from Tampori
John Tampori has been with the Harborfields Tornadoes for more than a decade. Photo from Tampori

Tampori said he didn’t want to bring too many changes in as the new coach.

“When things are working, you don’t want to change too much,” he said. However, after losing the Suffolk County A Championship last year, he said he wanted to focus on improving shot selection on offense.

“Playing smarter was a thing I had in mind going into this season,” Tampori said. According to the head coach, that included working the ball into a shot that players are more capable of making, and better time management of the game clock.

Harborfields Athletic Director John Valente said Tampori has exceeded expectations.

“Coach John Tampori had some big shoes to fill when Chris Agostino left,” Valente said in an email. “Coach Tampori has stupendous knowledge of the game and knows all the right buttons to push for the team and players to reach all their goals this season. I couldn’t be prouder of the job he has done this season taking over from a successful coach who he served as an assistant coach to for six years. This is now Coach Tampori’s basketball program.”

For this season, Tampori said the starting five are all very special players, and have really contributed to how successful this season has been.

“They all play super hard in practice and get each other better,” he said of the five, who include seniors Alex Bloom, Dan Morgan, Malcolm Wynter and Robert Pecorelli, and junior Alex Merhige.

For what he enjoys the most about coaching the team, he says it comes down to the type of boys they are.

“We’ve always had really good students — as far as their grades — and they must come from really good families, because they’re all very respectful, polite, and just solid, good young men,” Tampori said. “Even when they get off the bus, they say thank you to the bus driver. That’s a little thing, but it still shows who they are.”

As far as the next few weeks and the Suffolk County Championship, Tampori doesn’t like to look too far ahead.

“I just talk about one game at a time,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to look ahead and forget what’s in front of us.”

Aside from boys’ basketball team, Tampori is a special education teacher at the high school, and also coaches boys’ and girls’ junior varsity tennis teams in the fall.

“I enjoy the faculty and the type of students you have,” he said of teaching at Harborfields. “You get really nice kids, they respond to what you have to say to them, it’s a nice environment to work in.”

Jo-Ann Raia holds a map from the 1880s in the archives. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

There has been a steady hand at the helm of Huntington Town Hall for the past 30 plus years.

Jo-Ann Raia, Huntington Town clerk, was elected for the first time in 1981, and ever since then, she has not stopped bringing positive improvements to the town.

Raia has been a Huntington resident since 1958, but spent summers on the Island as child. She has worked under five supervisors and has served as secretary to the town board and board of trustees, among many other duties.

She has devoted much of her time in office to creating a state of the art facility for Huntington’s archives, and a successful records management program.

Raia said when town government moved into what is now Town Hall, in 1979, the archives were being stored in the old gymnasium, as the building used to be a high school.

“I was told that these were my records, as I am the legal custodian for Huntington,” she said in a phone interview. “I went to as many seminars as I could [on record keeping], I lobbied the state for funding and received state grants.”

She said the road was not easy to get a proper archive system in place, as she had to convince many people to give her the funds and resources required.

 Jo-Ann Raia displays one of the many old town records inside the town archive room. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.
Jo-Ann Raia displays one of the many old town records inside the town archive room. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

“When the town spends money on a baseball field, everyone can see it, but to put money into an area that’s restricted and no one will see it is a different story,” she said. “That’s why I had to convince and beg.”

The archives officially opened in October 1991 and ever since then, researchers and students from throughout Long Island have visited.

Through learning so much for the Huntington archives, Raia herself became well-versed in the topic, and has since spoke at conferences and panels on records management.

“We were the pioneers, and now [Huntington archives] runs like clockwork,” she said.

Some of the items in the archives that stand out to Raia are the Revolutionary War claims, the manumission of slaves and the Duke’s Laws.

Raia said she refers to the Revolutionary War claims as an I.O.U. book, with records of all of the things British soldiers borrowed from colonials living in Huntington in the mid 1770s, like oxen and wagons.

The manumission of slaves is a record of all the slaves freed from a former town supervisor who lived on Park Avenue in Huntington, and according to Raia, used to have African Americans enter through his back door as slaves, and leave through his front door as free citizens.

The Duke’s Laws, published in 1665, covered all the laws of colonial life, like no traveling on Sunday. Raia said Huntington is one of the few local governments to still have an original copy of them.

Aside from her many other duties as town clerk, Raia particularly enjoys the marriage marathon she performs every Valentine’s Day, where she marries multiple couples in a row throughout a day’s time.

In 1989, Raia was appointed marriage officer, and starting in 1995, decided to create a special event as marriage officer.

“I wanted to make it something special, so I researched other ceremonies, and found a special poem that I now recite that has sort of become my trademark,” she said.

The event has blossomed over the years, with merchants from all over town donating baked goods, flowers and gifts for the event. Raia personally donates all the paper goods and decorations.

Raia has presided over large and small ceremonies, and has even seen a ceremonial pick and axe procession performed by a local fire department.

“I never know what I’m going to see,” she said.

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Diane Burkhardt, a member of the North Shore United Methodist Church for the last 11 years, is seen below smiling with children she helps through the organization Life and Hop Haiti. Photo from Hal Low

Don’t let its size fool you — the North Shore United Methodist Church in Wading River may be small, but the variety of outreach and support programs it has reaches across the Island.

“Sometimes there are certain people who are going through a difficult time and I think extending a hand and caring helps restore some hope that things are going to be okay,” said Diane Burkhardt, a member of the church for 11 years who is a retired Shoreham-Wading River middle school teacher. “People are so appreciative and thankful, which makes the whole experience gratifying and fulfilling. It makes you really appreciate what you have, which is humbling.”

Burkhardt said she is fortunate enough to be the team leader for the church’s outreach program, working on volunteer efforts like the Helping Hands Fund, which includes a food pantry that assists about 50 families in the Shoreham-Wading River area on a regular basis, and its back-to-school project, which provided school supplies to 30 children in need this past September.

Volunteers also deliver food to people’s homes, drive those in need to doctor’s appointments, help out with the church’s thrift shop, and deliver meals to and spend time with residents of Maureen’s Haven, a shelter service for homeless adults on the East End.

The North Shore United Methodist Church in Wading River is involved in a myriad of projects from helping its church members to the needy across Long Island. Photo by Giselle Barkley
The North Shore United Methodist Church in Wading River is involved in a myriad of projects from helping its church members to the needy across Long Island. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“Food is tangible, but what comes with it is the intangible quality of hope,” Burkhardt said. “I’m one of a dozen or so active members that are retired and put in a lot of hours because we feel we were all given gifts and skills that can be put to good use helping people.”

Linda McCall, of Center Moriches, has been attending North Shore United Methodist for four years and said she most enjoys spending her time helping those at Maureen’s Haven in Riverhead, while also volunteering through Helping Hands to provide gifts to children and meals to families around Christmas.

“It’s a very small church, and for such a small church we have so many outreach programs going that I found it almost impossible not to get involved,” she said. “It’s one of the things that keep me happy to be here on the Island. I moved here from Las Vegas, so I don’t have any family here, and the church has become my family. Volunteering fills my days with joy and happiness.”

Priscilla Hartman, a Shoreham resident who has been attending services for the last 35 years, said that as the church’s team leader for its membership care program, she finds it rewarding when she can help someone.

The program helps church members get to the pharmacy when they are temporarily ill, don’t have transportation or otherwise can’t leave the house. Volunteers also cook for them or clean their houses.

“It’s a great feeling when we’re helping a homeless person or someone who is down on their luck and seeing them get back on their feet,” she said. “I’m glad that my church is very ministry-oriented. I think it’s a good way for us to act. We’re a small church, but there’s nothing too large for us to take on.”

One example is the church’s partnering with Life and Hope Haiti, an organization founded by Lucia Anglade of West Babylon, who formed the Eben Ezer School in her hometown of Milot, Haiti.

Donna Eddy, who runs a craft group and is also involved with Maureen’s Haven and the thrift shop, said it’s these relationships people make with other community members and those they help that count in life and define who they are.

“I think we are all wired to need and to learn from each other,” she said. “You can’t love, have forgiveness, experience kindness, faithfulness and unselfishness unless you’re involved in the community. People need other people.”

And one person everyone at North Shore United Methodist agreed they need, is Burkhardt.

The North Shore United Methodist Church in Wading River gets together food for the less fortunate during the holidays. Photo from Hal Low
The North Shore United Methodist Church in Wading River gets together food for the less fortunate during the holidays. Photo from Hal Low

“She has an incredible amount of energy and her enthusiasm is infectious,” Pastor Hal Low said. “Nothing ever seems to daunt her. She’s an inspiration to others, including myself.”

Eddy agrees.

“She’s focused, driven and she makes you want to be the best that you can be and give all that you can, because that’s what she does,” she said. “She’s a wonderful model She gives selflessly her time, her energy. If you need something, Diane will be there. You can count on her.”

But Burkhardt doesn’t want to take any of the credit, because she said without the rest of the organization, there would be no outreach ministry.

“I’m part of a whole congregation and I couldn’t do anything alone,” she said, adding that other churchgoers also help by recycling cans and bottles to raise money for lunches for the children in Haiti for instance. Members are also currently providing dinner to children whose parents are both in the hospital while the father is ill, and have been helping transport a man in Bellport, previously of Maureen’s Haven and a home in Middle Island, to and from Sunday services since 2011.

Burkhardt said that she frequently recalls things Shoreham resident and longtime churchgoer Doris Olson used to tell her when she was heavily involved in outreach in her younger years.

“Whenever I’m dealing with someone that can maybe be hard to deal with, she always said, ‘God made that person, too,’ and that brings me right back in touch with what I’m really doing and why I’m going it,” Burkhardt said. “Every day, try to be a blessing to someone else.”

Ethan Feuer, of East Northport, will serve as USY president for 12 months. Photo from Laurie Kamens

A Northport High School senior has proven to be a diverse and formidable leader.

Ethan Feuer was recently elected by his peers as international president of United Synagogue Youth. USY is Conservative Judaism’s premiere youth group and has taught young men and woman the values and skills they need to become exceptional leaders in their religious and secular communities.

“I want to spend this year inspiring others,” Feuer said in a statement. “Starting right now, we need to redefine USY as being about relationships. If you can change one person’s understanding of what they’re capable of, how much people care about them, or how powerful a source for change they can be, you change everything.”

The international presidency is the highest office a young man or woman can achieve at USY, and according to a statement, USY said Feuer is a leader in both his home community and at the organization, and he serves as a role model to his peers.

“Each of the newly elected leaders impressed us with their vision for the future of USY. We can’t wait to work with them as they empower new generations of teens and make their dreams a reality,” David Levy, director of Teen Learning for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism said.

Feuer is a senior and honor roll student at Northport High School, where he has worked in peer tutoring and several other extracurricular activities.

As president, Feuer will spend this year leading thousands of teens from across North America and guiding them toward the organization’s principles of social action/justice, social acceptance and inclusion, and the nourishing of their Jewish identities.

It is the most exciting, yet most humbling, experience I have ever encountered,” Feuer said in an email. “This opportunity means the world to me, since I have dreamed of leading United Synagogue Youth since the eighth grade. It is truly an honor to serve as a leader and role model to thousands of Jewish teens, and the newly elected board is already proactive and ready to be the change that USY needs.”

Above, Richard Boziwick smiles with his wife. Photo from Boziwick

One Northport man has helped bring the spark back into the village’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Richard Boziwick, owner of R. P. Luce & Company Inc. on Scudder Avenue in Northport, helped Northport Harbor ring in the new year by organizing a fireworks show. He said the Centerport Yacht Club used to have an annual fireworks display that was suspended about seven years ago. He used to look forward to watching them from the Northport Yacht Club every year and wanted to bring that celebration back for everyone in Northport to experience.

“It was great to bring this back for the village,” Boziwick said in a phone interview. “It’s neat to have something on the off-season and I think it’s something we needed.”

Boziwick has lived in the village since 1983 and is known to be deeply active within the community. He first got involved with the community’s coveted annual Cow Harbor race in 1985 as a runner, became a volunteer soon after, and was eventually appointed director for the race. He has also spent years on the Northport Planning Board and now serves as chairman.

As director of the Cow Harbor race and chairman of the planning board, Boziwick said he has been able to develop relationships with countless people throughout the village.

“I am in positions that have high visibility within multiple municipalities, so I meet a lot of different people,” he said.

He has been a member of the Northport Yacht Club for the past 20 years and is the rear commodore there, so his reach expands to the nautical community. A rear commodore assists the commodore in his or her duties to maintain the yacht club.

Through these relationships, Boziwick was able to reach out and hear not only that other residents wanted the fireworks back, but that they were willing to contribute to the costs.

The event was almost entirely funded by Northport businesses and organizations. The three major contributors were Northport Yacht Club, Centerport Yacht Club and the Great Cow Harbor 10k. Other smaller community sponsors included Northport Copy, Tim’s Shipwreck Diner, the Northport Historical Society and Jones Drug Store.

Boziwick said this first year of fireworks was quite a success, with more than 500 people coming to view the fireworks in Northport while sipping on hot chocolate and eating cookies supplied by Tim’s Shipwreck Diner.

He said that plans have already been solidified for next year’s fireworks, which he hopes will expand the show in terms of the types of pyrotechnics.

“I just love fireworks and I think it’s unique to have them on New Year’s, since so many towns and villages usually have them on the Fourth of July,” he said. “It’s been great to bring this back to the village because, in the end, it’s got to be something for the village.”

He also said he feels this is a chance for the Cow Harbor race to give back to the community and say thanks for allowing them to use the village every year to host this race.

“This event is meant for the people of Northport and their friends,” he said.