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Rose Caracappa Senior Center

On May 4, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner was at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mt. Sinai for her first Paper Shredding, Electronic and Prescription Drug Take Back recycling event of the year. The beautiful weather brought out 520 vehicles to drop off 6360 lbs. of electronic waste, 16,480 lbs. of paper for shredding and 11 boxes of prescription drugs for proper disposal.

 

Mobile Mammography Van

On Thursday, August 10, the Stony Brook Cancer Center Mobile Mammography Van will make a special visit to the Town of Brookhaven’s Rose Caracappa Senior Center, 739 Route 25A, Mt. Sinai, to provide breast cancer screenings from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This service, co-sponsored by New York State Senator Anthony Palumbo and the Town of Brookhaven, is provided at no cost to the patient. However, appointments are required. Anyone interested can call 631-638-4135 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Eligibility:

  • Female (40 years and older)
  • No mammograms in the past year
  • Not pregnant or breastfeeding
  • No implants or breast issues such as a lump or nipple discharge
  • Never diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Office visit with a gynecologist, primary care physician or internist who is willing to accept the results of the screening.

Note: Individuals who do not have health insurance will be processed through the Cancer Services Program of New York, if eligible.

Day of the mammogram: Do not wear deodorant, perfume, powders, lotions or creams on the breast area. Bring photo ID and insurance card, if insured.

This project is supported with funds from Health Research Inc. and the New York Department of Health.

 

Josephine Eichner celebrates her 90th birthday at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center. Photo by Stephanie Giunta

By Stephanie Giunta

I was invited to join my grandmother,  Josephine Eichner, at her Seniors Club at Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai on February 7, her 90th birthday. I am 32 and got laid off a few months ago, and although I lacked the eligibility due to my age, I attended as an honorary guest. After hearing about the Tuesday club for 20+ years, I was grateful to have the free time to attend, albeit plagued with the nagging reason as to why I was available.

Josephine Eichner wearing her birthday tiara. Photo by Stephanie Giunta

I held her hand as we walked up the ramp into the building, kneeing the automatic handicap button to open the door.  I walked into a sea full of people, whose wrinkles told the stories of their lives. They scattered about prepping the coffee stations, collecting dollars for the 50/50 raffle, and decorating the tables. Our table, #2, was adorned with a vase of flowers and balloons in honor of Grandma’s big day. My first impression: feeling so touched that her friends had thought of her. 

Amused is putting it lightly. I was more so in awe. These men and women had made it. They had long marriages, bore children, and had grand and even great grandchildren.  They survived successes, failures, peaks, and valleys. They frequented doctor’s offices, and had battled health problems. They kissed their friends and spouses goodbye as they were given eternal life. They had survived all of their worst days to date, and yet here they were — still living.

When the meeting started and they sang “God Bless America,” I could have fallen off of my chair if I was sitting down. It brought tears to my eyes, and I was riddled with such pure joy and admiration. “Cute” isn’t the right word to describe it, since many refer to anything an older person does as “cute.” I think it was more of a genuine appreciation of these people, and knowing they knew what was important: camaraderie, love of self, and love of country. Appreciation for the small, yet impactful things in life. I can’t quite put the feeling into words, but it was something that struck me, and I’ll never forget it.

Josephine Eichner with her granddaughter and guest columnist Stephanie Giunta at the event. Photo by Stephanie Giunta

I got to meet Liz, the woman whose chain emails I have been receiving for decades.  I always opened them up because I didn’t want bad luck for 10 years. Sharon, who was lovingly referred to as “Grumpy” because she’s always so happy. She makes cookies for my daughter, although we had never met. Marie and Bob, who I’ve heard stories about for quite some time. They used to accompany my grandparents on double dates to The Heritage Diner. And Jutta. She doesn’t know it, but her name has been used quite a bit in some of our family’s games.

They walked a little slower, but laughed a little louder. Some were nervous that there weren’t enough slices of cake to go around.  Others complained that tea service wasn’t put out. Me — I just sat in silence at points and soaked it all in. I found it fascinating that they were worried about tea and cake, something so simplistic, whereas I was worried about the fate of my career. We were just in completely different phases of life and it was refreshing to gain a contrasting perspective.

The most rewarding part of the day was seeing my grandmother in action. It is truly beautiful to see someone you deeply admire in a social setting, when you’ve never really witnessed it outside of family functions. She was a shining light who worked the room. Conversations were filled with “Happy birthdays” and “You’re not 90!s” and just simply checking in on each other. Her snowy hair and pink lips bounced from table to table, bearing hugs and cashing in on inside jokes. The woman is 57 years my senior and I think she has a better social life than I do!

And as we capped out the day with BINGO, among covert mumblings about health insurance, next week’s entertainment, and the weather, I was so grateful to be where I was — spending the day with one of the people I love most in this world. Relishing on the roast beef sandwich on rye that she packed for me as if it were a NY strip steak; cutting into the Tiramisu that her friends presented her with; enjoying something so bubblegum, and feeling a bit sad when it had come to an end. I was also disappointed that Harriet won three games and I won zero.

I wish I could look at my life through a senior’s eyes and know that there are plenty of happy and sad times to come, but that they will make me who I am. That each laugh line and wrinkle I collect will signify a pit stop on my journey. That life is a gift and living is a privilege, and at the end of the day, being a good person is all that matters. Age is but a number and friendship has no timetable. 

And as I held Grandma’s hand on the way out, I whispered, “I can’t wait to come back.”

On Tuesday, Aug. 2, the Brookhaven Redistricting Committee will hold a public hearing at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center (above), located at 739 Route 25A, Mount Sinai, NY.

During a meeting of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association on Tuesday, July 26, Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) delivered a startling warning to the people of this area. 

Kornreich, who represents Council District 1, unveiled draft plans for the redrawing of his council district. While he currently represents the entirety of the Port Jefferson Station and Terryville community on the town council, that will change if the draft plans are approved. 

Under this proposal, large swaths of territory — primarily from Terryville — will be moved into Council District 2. In exchange, Council District 1 will receive roughly half of Mount Sinai. Port Jefferson Station and Terryville will be effectively severed from one another and Mount Sinai will be sliced in two. This phenomenon is referred to as “cracking.”

Cracking is a longstanding and pernicious practice in political redistricting. Through cracking, mapmakers can dilute the voting power of a community by dividing its population across multiple districts. With less voting power, limited resources are far more likely to be diverted to the areas that offer politicians the most votes and the best odds at reelection. We cannot allow this to happen here. 

As one civic association member wisely acknowledged during Tuesday’s meeting, the places affected by the proposed redistricting scheme are communities of interest. This means that the people of these areas are unified by a common historic and cultural identity, by common institutions such as public schools and libraries, and by organizations such as civic associations and chambers of commerce. 

The people that work together to strengthen and enrich our community must not be separated by political boundaries. They should have one representative on the town council, a single point of contact to do their bidding. They require a representative who is committed to the community in its entirety and not just a fragment of it. 

The people of this area must rise in solidarity to resist the current redistricting plans. They must tell the Brookhaven Redistricting Committee and their elected leaders at Town Hall that they will not tolerate their community being cut into pieces. 

On Tuesday, Aug. 2, a public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai to discuss the draft maps. Bring family, neighbors and friends. With numbers, the people of Council Districts 1 and 2 can, and will, keep their communities intact. 

There is no conceivable explanation for drastic changes to the present district boundaries. The people must stand together to champion this cause. If we stand united, then nothing can tear us apart. We will not crack under pressure.

Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, right, delivers a presentation alongside executive board members of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association. Photo by Raymond Janis

Members of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association deliberated on a range of issues during their monthly meeting held on Tuesday, July 26 at the Comsewogue Public Library.

Redistricting

Headlining the meeting was Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), who addressed the ongoing redistricting process for the Brookhaven Town Council, calling the current redistricting scheme a threat to his district.

“The intention of redistricting is to rebalance election districts — council districts, for example — based on population changes,” he said. “But in practice, what happens is that both political parties tend to take advantage of this to redraw districts that they believe will be more favorable to their own party.” 

Kornreich, who represents Council District 1, will see significant changes to his district’s boundaries if the current plans are approved. The proposal for Council District 1 is to transfer roughly half of the Port Jefferson Station and Terryville community into Council District 2. In exchange, CD1 would receive roughly half of Mount Sinai. 

“It is unclear to me what is going to be gained from this,” Kornreich said. 

What will be lost is the continuity of planning and progress that he believes has characterized his tenure in the district. “All it does is split the hamlet. … It splits this hamlet that we have worked so hard to work on together.”

The consequence, Kornreich fears, is that public investment in the PJS/Terryville area will be diluted and redirected to areas with greater voting power. He urged community members to attend upcoming hearings of the Brookhaven Redistricting Committee. 

“This is a time for community unity,” the councilmember said. “You understand what’s at stake. So get educated about it and speak up on behalf of your community.”

Ed Garboski, PJSTCA president, spoke of the ways in which the community has come together in the past to protect its interests. He considered the current redistricting controversy a cause for collective concern and action.

“We need to come together,” he said. “We have to have a voice, and it has to be a loud voice.”

Several members agreed to attend the Tuesday, Aug. 2 public meeting held at 6 p.m. at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai to resist the current redistricting plans.

Jefferson Plaza

Another order of business was discussion on the proposed redevelopment of Jefferson Plaza, an expected $100 million investment by the Hauppauge-based real estate group, Staller Associates.

Members considered preparing a statement relating to several inquiries regarding traffic, architectural design, community benefit initiatives and the preservation of the historic character of the area. 

“I like the general approach of this concept,” said one civic association member. “I just don’t want to see a rush to judgment. I want to see us work together collectively to fine-tune it in the best possible way.”

Public safety

Two officers from the Suffolk County Police Department attended the meeting. Several of the members expressed their frustrations over frequent acts of “aggressive panhandling” throughout the area, requesting a greater police presence in the areas where the practice is most widespread. 

One member raised the issue of speeding along Canal Road, which he said has been “constant on Canal ever since they fixed the road.”

Noise pollution generated by loud mufflers has also created a public disturbance. While there are laws regulating loud mufflers, the Suffolk police officers said that they are restrained in enforcing them due to provisions in the law that require a measurement of decibels.

Photo from Councilmember Kornreich's office

On January 14, Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich and Councilwoman Jane Bonner were honored to officiate at the swearing in ceremony of the incoming officers of the Port Jefferson Senior Citizen Club. The installation ceremony was held at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai.

The incoming officers of the club were presented with a Certificates of Congratulations from the Town acknowledging their selection as officers and the outgoing officers received Certificates of Appreciation for their service to the club.  Pictured left to right are Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich; Club Secretary Annette Okula; Treasurer, Joanne Daube; President, Edythe Budke; First Vice President Phyllis Rosen; Second Vice President, Sharon Goodman; Club Leader, Shirley Hudson and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (right).

“Thank you to current and past officers of the Port Jefferson Senior Citizen Club for their service. It’s important that we continue to support our Senior Clubs and I look forward to working with them to improve our community and meet their needs,” said Councilmember Kornreich.

“It’s always a pleasure to meet with the Port Jefferson Senior Citizen Club members and I am happy to see them enjoying our senior center again. Congratulations to the newly installed officers and a thank you to the outgoing officers for their service to the club,” added Councilwoman Bonner.

On June 26, Councilwoman Jane Bonner held her first E-Waste Collection, Paper Shredding and Drug Take Back event of 2021 at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. The event provided the opportunity for residents to safely dispose of unused electronic devices, have their old paper documents securely shredded, and to safely dispose of old prescription drugs.

This special recycling event was co-sponsored by DIME Community Bank. Members of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department were also on-hand to accept the prescription drugs for disposal. Over 500 cars stopped by to recycle 21,780 lbs. of paper, 11,600 lbs. of e-waste and 15 boxes of unwanted prescription drugs for proper disposal.

“My first 2021 recycling event of the year was an overwhelming success. It’s great to know that we can provide a helpful alternative that allows the public to recycle right and dispose of unused or expired drugs in a safe manner. I thank the Sheriff’s Department for their participation and all the people who came out to help keep Brookhaven clean and green,” said Councilwoman Bonner.

Photo from Deposit Photos

Vaccine appointments will available Saturday, April 17, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center located at 739 NY-25A in Mount Sinai for people aged 50 and over.

The office of Town of Brookhaven Councilman Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) can help interested residents register for an appointment by calling 631-451-6963.

Three Mount Sinai children began making music on the piano at a young age. Now their youth ensemble is making memories with residents across the North Shore.

Playing at veteran homes and senior centers, the North Shore Youth Music Ensemble, created by brother and sister Claire and Joshua Cai, focuses on giving back to the community through the arts.

“I know many people who do volunteer work, and I thought music would be a different thing to do,” Claire Cai said. “I feel happy when I play. It’s really nice to know that they appreciate our music and that they give us their time to play for them.”

The 17-year-old learned the violin and the piano at the same time from her mother Dana, who teaches the violin and viola to young students at her home. Claire Cai said she switched her focus to solely the violin almost 10 years ago because she thought there would be more opportunities.

The North Shore Youth Music Ensemble’s, from left, Daniel Ma, Joshua Cai, Claire Cai and Claire Xu performed at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. Photo by Rebecca Anzel
The North Shore Youth Music Ensemble’s, from left, Daniel Ma, Joshua Cai, Claire Cai and Claire Xu performed at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. Photo by Rebecca Anzel

One came knocking when she was accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College Division, which is for elementary through high school students who exhibit the talent, potential, and accomplishments to pursue a career in music. It’s a competitive program, yet the young talent only had to audition once. This month marks her fifth year in the program. She will graduate next year.

“It’s really inspirational,” she said. “I get to meet a lot of people there and I learn a lot from the teachers. It’s a good thing to surround yourself with other people who come from all around the world with different talents.”

Joshua Cai, 14, first learned the piano and violin, but after being rejected by the Juilliard program, switched to playing the viola. He was accepted into the school the following year.

“My sister was always the one that was better than me so it was satisfying to do the same thing as her,” he said.

Their father, Yong Cai, used to play the violin years ago and is currently a physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. While his oldest daughter Mattea no longer plays, she is attending The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in architecture, and she and her younger sister both draw. The father said he believes music was important for his children to learn.

“We just thought that they should learn to play music — it’s always a good thing for young kids to not only enhance them talent-wise, but it can help develop their personality and it’s a form of training your brain in some sense,” he said.

Claire Cai performs in 2014. Photo from Yong Cai
Claire Cai performs in 2014. Photo from Yong Cai

When he heard his children were creating an ensemble he was thrilled.

“It’s a way for them to appreciate how music can help others,” he said.

The two teamed up to create the core trio with friend Daniel Ma, who plays the cello.

“It’s fun playing with my friends,” the 14-year-old said. “It feels like any other performance, but you know you’re performing for seniors, and that makes you feel good about yourself.”

The trio sometimes performs with Claire Xu on violin and Xavier Tutiven on viola. Most recently, at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai, Xu played classical songs with the trio. Duet Katherine Ma and Rachel Zhang also performed for the crowd.

“It’s really nice because we’re able to spread our enjoyment of music to other people,” Joshua Cai said. “It shows up on their faces.”

Claire Cai’s favorite piece to play is Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Opus 96, “American,” because of its spirited vibe, while Daniel Ma enjoys Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik for its classical elements, she said. At the most recent event, the ensemble also performed a more contemporary piece to close out the performance — “You Raise Me Up,” which was made popular by Josh Groban.

From left, Yong Cai, Joshua Cai and Xavier Tutiven perform over the holiday at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. Photo from Yong Cai
From left, Yong Cai, Joshua Cai and Xavier Tutiven perform over the holiday at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. Photo from Yong Cai

Michele Posillico, the manager for the senior center, said she loves when the ensemble comes to perform.

Their playing was “magnificent, over the top,” she said. “The parents’ hearts must be so full of joy to see their children play like that. It’s just remarkable. The seniors enjoy it. What this group of players from the younger generation is doing, their accomplishments, it fills their heart with happiness and love and pride. I just loved it — it brings tears to my eyes how they play.”

Yong Cai agreed, and added that he gets overly excited watching his children play.

“I take videos all the time,” he said with a laugh. “I go to all of their concerts when I can make it. They come to my house to practice and they really enjoy playing music. I have a huge collection of their performances. Some of which I post on YouTube.”

Although their parents instilled an appreciation for music in them, the musicians couldn’t imagine a life without it.

“It’s always been a part of my life and I don’t know what I’d do if I ever gave it up,” Joshua Cai said. “It’s the foundation of my everyday life. I’ve never experienced my life without music.”

To book the North Shore Youth Music Ensemble, email Yong Cai at [email protected], or call 631-403-4055.

Congressman Lee Zeldin. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) will host his next mobile office hours in Mount Sinai.

Constituents can sit down with the Congressman or a staff member for a one-on-one to discuss the issues or concerns important to them at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center on Aug. 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All members of the public are invited to attend, and walk-ins are welcome, as no appointment is necessary, but all attendees who arrive by noon will be guaranteed a meeting with  Zeldin or a staff member.

The Rose Caracappa Senior Center is located at 739 NY-25A.