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Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for the grand opening of The Brookport on Tuesday, Sept. 28. 

Located at 52 Barnum Avenue in Port Jefferson Village, the complex features 44 apartments (100% leased) and two retail stores, one of which will be Southdown Coffee. Located at the former site of Cappy Carpets, the mixed-use project by The Gitto Group has won the Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award and features amenities including a fitness center, parking garage and furnished rooftop.

A second ribbon cutting for the community was held on Wednesday, Sept. 29 and was attended by Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant, Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Rob and Tony Gitto, Peter Capobianco of Cappy’s Carpets, and members of the community.

Visit www.tbrnewsmedia.com for more photos.

A ribbon cutting was given for Give Kids Hope on Sept. 23. Photo from PJCC

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for Give Kids Hope, Inc. on Thursday, Sept. 23. The new thrift store, located at 1506 Main Street in Port Jefferson, is an endeavor by owner Melissa Paulson (center holding scissors) to bring more resources to people struggling within the community. 

The celebration was attended by Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant, Village Trustee Bruce Miller, Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden; members of the chamber including President Mary Jo Pipe, 1st President Stuart Vincent and Director Douglas Quattrock; friends and family.

Created as a nonprofit to help provides assistance to less fortunate children and families on LongIsland, the storefront features housewares, antiques, furniture, etcc. with a food pantry in the back of the store. 

“We are so thankful for the warm welcome we received from our village,” said Paulson. “[And a] huge thank you to my amazing volunteers who have donated countless days and hours to make our mission possible. The love and generosity we receive from our donors and supporters is incredible. We are truly blessed beyond words.”

The thrift store is currently open Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, please call 631-538-5287.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

For its seventh year, the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Race Festival this past weekend.

Full of color and culture, dragons danced around Mayor Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park on Saturday, Sept. 8 for a day full of fun festivities. 

Originally spearheaded by Barbara Ransome, director of operations at the chamber, she came up with the idea after she attended a dragon boat race festival in Cape May, New Jersey, a few years ago.

“We could not be more pleased that coming somewhat out of COVID we were able to successfully run a safe outdoor event with excellent participation and with wonderful weather,” Ransome said. 

Opening ceremonies began at the Jill Nees Russell Performance Stage at 8:30 a.m. and included a performance by the Asian Veterans Color Guard, singing of the national anthem by Alanna Wu, a Blessing of the Dragon and the traditional “Eye Dotting” ceremony to awaken the dragon.

“To have people come to Port Jefferson, to this beautiful park, and spend the day here is great,” said Stu Vincent, first vice president of the chamber.

This year’s event consisted of 17 racing teams with dragon boats provided by High Five Dragon Boat Co. The teams competed on a 250-meter, three-lane racing course in Port Jefferson Harbor, and were made up of 20 “paddlers,” one steersman and one drummer. 

Along with the races, the festival hosted several performances including the famous Lion Dance, Taiko and Korean Drum performances, martial arts demonstrations and Asian singing.

In the middle of the festival, teams also competed for best t-shirt, where The Moody Team won. 

Team NYCB took home the gold, while Vax NYC placed second and Extreme NY placed third.

Photo from Barbara Ransome

PSEG Long Island is continuing to help local downtowns — this time in Port Jefferson village. 

John Keating, manager of economic development with PSEGLI, said that the company began its Main Street Revitalization Program about two years ago with the goal to bring business back to local mom and pop shops. 

But because of the COVID-19 crisis last year, PSEGLI had seen an opportunity to help out during the changing times and now, nearly a year and a half later, they’re adding more ways to help small businesses.

“This year, it’s the same concept as far as the grants for the chambers of commerce,” Keating said. “The only real difference this year is that we added a new category for beautification, which has the effect of adding another $2,000 to each chamber.”

Last year, the outdoor commerce grants gave chamber and business improvement districts up to $5,000 to help purchase durable goods that support outdoor commerce.

“Mid-to-last year, it became very clear that outdoor dining and commerce was a real lifeline to small businesses who are struggling because of all the COVID restrictions,” Keating said. “So, we offered it as a way of helping individual businesses, but in a group setting.”

By offering it to the chambers, they could set up a centralized area for dining and shopping.

“It turns out to be very effective and was really appreciated by a lot of the participating chambers,” he said.

PSEGLI decided that for 2021 it would create an extra level to the grants. 

“We added the beautification piece of it,” Keating said. “So, anything else that they might have wanted to do, like landscaping or planters and things like that, they could do a separate application and be eligible for another $2,000 — a total of $7,000.”

Barbara Ransome, director of operations of the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said that Melanie Gonzalez of Simple Good sent in the original request and idea to beautify Chandler Square. Shops like Sweet ’n’ Savory, The Spice & Tea Exchange, The Soap Box, Port Jefferson Ice Cream Café, Hannaford Studios and Simple Good are now surrounded by delicate canopies of hanging lights, while flowers to be planted throughout the square. 

Roughly 90 percent of the Long Island economy comes from small businesses, so the pandemic caused stress for the smaller shops. Keating said that between 2020-21, PSEGLI has provided about 36 chamber of commerce grants — some $80,000 in total. While the beautification grant is relatively new, there are six preapproved, including Port Jeff. 

“It’s just been amazing to us how positive it is when the community can get together in a place that they didn’t have before,” Keating said. “Now, that is a nice place with tables and chairs, patio heaters and some nice lighting. It really has helped bring the community together.”

Keating added that while these grants are just for chambers and BIDs, there are other grants that individual businesses can apply for. Details are available online.

Earring Tabu ribbon cutting. Photo from PJCC

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for the new owners of Earring Tabú, Kristen Hoffman and business partner Louis Antoniou, on June 10. 

Located at 158 E. Main Street in Port Jefferson, the boutique, which was founded in 1989, offers eclectic handcrafted jewelry, accessories, clothing and home goods from local and worldwide artisans. 

 Pictured from left, Earring Tabú employee Juyu Jensen; Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn; chamber secretary Nancy Bradley; Arnold Hoffman; owner Kristen Hoffman; chamber president Joy Pipe; Port Jefferson Trustee Rebecca Kassay; chamber member Marianne Hennigar;  and chamber 1st VP Stu Vincent. Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich was unable to attend, but sent a proclamation.

Spring hours of operation are Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 631-928-7113 or visit www.earringtabu.com.

Photo from PJCC

It’s time to spice things up! The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for The Spice & Tea Exchange on April 15. New owners Rose and Robert Rodriguez received proclamations from Legislator Kara Hahn and Brookhaven Town Councilman Jonathan Kornreich who wished them well in their new venture.

Located at 22 Chandler Square, 106 West Broadway, in the village, the franchise offers 140 spices, 85 exclusive hand-mixed blends, over 40 exotic teas, naturally-flavored sugars, salts, gourmet gifts and accessories and a tea bar serving dozens of hot and iced teas.

Pictured in the front row, from left, chamber directors Rose and Robert Rodriguez and Suzanne Velazquez; owners Vinny and Loretta Criscuoli; and chamber president Joy Pipe; back row, Kelly Mayhew from The Spice & Tea Exchange’s corporate offices.

The shop is open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Curbside pickup is available. For more information, call 631-828-4445 or visit www.spiceandtea.com/port-jefferson.

The team behind Icon Cares Inc. at their Hope Hops Around LI fundraiser in Stony Brook on March 25. Photo by Julianne Mosher

A local business wanted to give back, and through fundraising was able to make children at Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York, based in Wading River, smile for Easter. 

Raquel Fernandez, owner of Icon Properties in Port Jefferson and member of the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said that she always wanted to create a charity after opening her agency in 2004. 

But like everything in early 2020, COVID-19 halted their plans. 

In what was supposed to be their first fundraising event to create and donate Easter baskets to three nonprofits across Long Island, they had to postpone it. 

That didn’t stop Fernandez, she said. Right before the shutdown in March, she with her own children, brought over 300 baskets to Little Flower’s Wading River campus for kids ages 2 to 14.

“It was such a great feeling,” she said. “This was the last thing we were approved to do before nothing was allowed in. It gave a sense of normalcy.”

Fernandez said she wasn’t going to let the continuing pandemic stop her from helping again this year. 

Icon Cares Inc. — the charitable part of Icon Properties, and a 501c3 nonprofit — was able to fundraise a bit with its second annual Hope Hops Around LI Campaign, that included hosting an event at Stony Brook’s The Bench on March 25. 

The four-hour event sold out, Fernandez said, which had a guest list of 70 people. All the funds gathered were donated to Little Flower.

“We’re just trying to do something good,” she said. “It feels good to help out.”

Icon Cares joined by the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Julianne Mosher

During the event, there was a 50/50 draw, a silent basket auction and The Bench donated a portion of the proceeds when supporters bought The Blue Bunny — a specialty drink created for the event made of Stoli blueberry vodka, soda, lemonade and blue Curaçao liqueur.

“We’re really excited and hope this event becomes a staple,” Fernandez said.Her fundraising efforts raised more than $1,600.

Right before the event, 100 baskets were created and dropped off at Little Flower, which Taressa Harry, Little Flower’s director of communications, said would be gifted to the kids on Easter morning.

“Last year they reached out to us and we were really happy,” she said. “We love getting support especially when it’s from our local community.”

Little Flower is a 90-year-old nonprofit organization founded originally in Brooklyn, with its main campus in Wading River. 

According to its website, the group has been committed to improving the lives and well-being of children by providing foster boarding home care, residential treatment care and, where appropriate, adoption. Their work focuses on strengthening the family so that they can provide a safe nurturing environment for raising children and to overcome a myriad of obstacles that threaten a child’s safety.

Harry said that donations like Icon Cares baskets goes a long way. 

Kids at Little Flower in Wading River receiving their Easter baskets last year. Photo from Little Flower

“The kids love any special treat they can get,” she said. “It shows them that there really are people who are pushing for them and cheering them on. It makes their day a little brighter, especially during the holidays where they can’t be home.”

Fernandez said the fundraising this year was a success and she looks forward to her next donation. 

“We’re grateful to God that we can do something that helps out others,” she said.

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From left, Mary Joy Pipe, Stu Vincent, Maryanne Douglas, Marites Son and Nancy Bradley are sworn in by Leg. Hahn (in foreground). Not pictured, Michael Sceiford. Photo from Barbara Ransome

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce held its swearing-in ceremony last week for new members and celebrated existing ones. 

On Feb. 24, members joined at The Space at 234 Traders Cove, where Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), chamber installing officer, helped swear in its executive board including President Mary Joy Pipe, of The East End Shirt Co.; 1st Vice President Stu Vincent, of Mather Hospital; 2nd Vice President Michael Sceiford, of Edward Jones; Treasurer Maryanne Douglas, of Davis Town Meeting House Society; 3rd Vice President Marites (Tess) Son; and Secretary Nancy Bradley of People’s United Bank. 

The chamber also welcomed its new directors: Loretta Criscuoli of The Spice & Tea Exchange; Raquel Fernandez of Icon Properties; Rose and Robert Rodriguez, of Hook & Ladder Party Company; and Kristine Murillo, of Fedora Lounge Boutique Hair Salon. 

Flowers for the event were donated by the chamber’s new partner, Diane Mutell of Slate Floral & Event Studio, and antipasto boxes were provided by chamber partner Pasta Pasta.

Only the board of directors were invited to attend the event physically, while remaining attendees were on Zoom. 

Other members were celebrated for their reelections, including TBR News Media publisher Leah Dunaief, Steve Muñoz of Amazing Olive, and Suzanne Velázquez of Stony Brook University. 

Barbara Ransome, director of operations, said the chamber’s small business award was given to John Urbinati of The Fifth Season restaurant. The $500 award will be used to upgrade and enhance their e-commerce and online shopping cart. 

— Courtesy of Port Jeff Chamber

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Stu Vincent was named by the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce as Member of the Year. Photo from Stu Vincent

Someone who’s usually behind the scenes within the community finally has his chance to be spotlighted. 

Stuart Vincent, who is the director of public affairs and public relations at Mather Hospital, was recently recognized by the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce as the chamber’s Member of the Year. 

Vincent, who has been at Mather for 10 years, worked in public affairs at Hofstra University and Newsday, where he started as a reporter. 

As part of his responsibilities of working at the hospital, he was asked to sit on the chamber’s board about eight years ago. While sitting as vice president, he began helping out with different events the chamber, village and BID hosted, including chairing the Health & Wellness Fest over the last four years. 

Photo from Stu Vincent

“Just like the other members of the chamber, I help out at different events,” he said. “So, I was very surprised when Barbara told me I was being recognized.”

Barbara Ransome, director of operations at the chamber, said the award was well-deserved.

“It is always nice to honor one of our own,” she said. “Stu’s loyalty to our chamber has been self-evident, as actions always speak louder than words.”

Vincent said the award goes to someone who has been with the chamber every year, who contributes to the chamber and promotes the Village of Port Jefferson. 

And one of his favorite events is the Health & Wellness Fest, which was unfortunately canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A former resident of Sound Beach, Vincent now resides in Brentwood. Although the commute to the North Shore may be a little long, he said it’s worth it.

“The Port Jefferson Chamber is by far the most active chamber around here,” he said. “Every year we come up with something new … We do a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff, and basically help the promote the business districts.”

“The chamber is lucky to have such a dedicated director who has answered the call of selfless volunteerism,” Ransome added. “We pay tribute and gratitude for his steadfast support.”

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Ted Lucki, president of Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen, (left) stands with Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Port Jefferson Chamber. Photo from Barbara Ransome

One group’s extra funds is another group’s treasure.

Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said that leftover money from the chamber’s restaurant/meal program was donated to the Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen.

According to Ransome, a check for $2,000 was given to the local soup kitchen. The program, she said, ended in late July, but helped bring food during this past spring and summer when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Long Island. 

“Besides the hospitals we worked with, we also coordinated meals for the soup kitchen as well as other non-profits,” Ransome said. “We suspended services late July with the thought that the remaining money could stay static and used at a later time. This was the time.”

Ransome said the chamber’s board of directors agreed to give the donation to the soup kitchen, which is still providing meals to the food insecure five days a week. 

Ted Lucki, president of Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen, said that for nearly 30 years, the soup kitchen has served the greater Port Jefferson area with a shelter to enjoy a hot meal. Prior to the pandemic, the nonprofit utilized five kitchens in local churches, where food was collected. But things had to change with new guidelines and restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

“Basically, the churches closed down and we couldn’t keep the kitchens open,” Lucki said. “We had to adjust to becoming a distribution service instead of a cooking service.” And instead of making the meals, they’re giving them to those in need in an organized, and safe, way. “Now you show up and we give you the food,” he said. 

Restaurants like Port Jefferson’s The Fifth Season and Chick-fil-A in Port Jefferson Station have been donating warm meals and sandwiches that the Welcome Friends can distribute. Stores like Cow Palace in Rocky Point and Trader Joes in Lake Grove also have donated groceries, and fellow nonprofit Island Harvest Food Bank also has been involved. 

“All of these people are so giving,” he said. 

While other groups and organizations have halted their donations to those in need, this group still vows to handout food Monday through Friday.

“Because of the great effort of reorganizing a delivery meal program again, our board of directors agreed to give an outright donation to the soup kitchen, which is still providing meals five days a week for the underserved and people in need,” Ransome said. 

The $2,000 will go a long way, Lucki added. “The chamber helped early on and paid for several meals,” he said. “We’re so grateful.”

Grab and go meals are available Monday through Thursday from 1 to 1:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 309 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station and Fridays at the First Presbyterian Church, Main and 107 South Street in the village from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.