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Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker

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Legislator Sarah Anker and Tesla Science Center Executive Director Marc Alessi. Photo from Anker’s office

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) recently presented the Tesla Science Center with a $6,000 grant, which is awarded to organizations that benefit tourism and/or cultural programming in Suffolk County. The grant was utilized to pay for operational costs related to the restoration of Nikola Tesla’s laboratory and the construction of a new visitor’s center. The Tesla Science Center plans to turn Nikola Tesla’s last remaining laboratory in Shoreham into a science museum celebrating science and the history and contributions of the famed scientist and inventor.

“Thank you to the Tesla Science Center for their devotion to the accessibility and advancement of technology, and to the preservation and restoration of the historic Nikola Tesla’s laboratory,” Anker said. “Our community has benefited from the presence of the center and the wide range of virtual resources available through their Virtual Science Center.”

The Tesla Science Center recently completed renovations on the chimney and cupola of Tesla’s laboratory. The center is moving forward in the next phase of renovations and is on track to complete the construction of the visitor’s center by next year. 

“The need for virtual education increased dramatically due to COVID-19, as educators, parents, and students looked for safe, connective e-learning options,” said Science Center Executive Director Marc Alessi. “In response, Tesla Science Center aggressively expanded its virtual education programming. Thousands of people are benefitting, but we needed support to continue. Thanks to the Suffolk County Omnibus Grant facilitated by Legislator Anker, critically needed virtual education will be available to many more people in our community.”

While the museum and visitor center remain under construction, the center has created a Virtual Science Center that is available on their website. The Virtual Science Center features podcasts, informational videos, and virtual STEM camp programs and activities for all ages. For more information, please visit https://teslasciencecenter.org/

Pictured from left, RPSB Chamber of Commerce member Charles Todaro, restaurant owner Barbara Stephenson, RPSB Chamber of Commerce President Gary Pollakusky, RPSB Chamber of Commerce member Larry Hall, restaurant owner Robert Mastanduno (with scissors), Councilwoman Bonner, Leg. Anker, and RPSB Chamber Events Director Jeanine Pollakusky. Photo from RPSB Chamber of Commerce

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner and Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker joined members of the Rocky Point Sound Beach (RPSB) Chamber of Commerce, Angela Noncarrow from Rep. Anthony Palumbo’s office and the local community in celebrating the ribbon cutting and one year anniversary of Robert Anthony’s “Domenica alle Due” Italian Bistro Pizzeria & Cocktail Bar in Sound Beach on Oct. 29.

From left, Councilwoman Jane Bonner, chamber president Gary Pollakusky, chamber members Nichaldeep Parhar and Larry Hall, owners Robert Mastanduno and Barbara Stephenson, chamber members Charles Todaro and Cyndi Zaweski, Leg. Sarah Anker and
Angela Noncarrow from Rep. Anthony Palumbo’s office
Jeanine Pollakusky

Located at 257 Echo Avenue, the newly renovated restaurant owned by Barbara Stephenson and Robert Mastanduno (formerly CaraMia Restaurant and Pizzeria) features a large selection of popular Italian dishes, as well a variety of pizza, salads and more.

“I welcome ‘Domenica alle Due’ to Sound Beach. Brookhaven Town is open for business and it’s important that we support the people who invest in the community and create jobs for our residents, especially during this pandemic,” said Councilwoman Bonner. “I wish Robert, Barbara and the entire staff the best of luck and encourage everyone to stop. The food is ‘spettacalore!’”

“Thank you to owners Robert and Barbara for the delicious pizza and for welcoming us into your beautiful restaurant! Be sure to go visit them soon for some tasty food,” added Leg. Anker.

Restaurant operating hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. For more information, please call 631-849-4809.

Elizabeth, Evie, Madelynn and Kevin Kennedy preparing at their home for Thursday night’s virtual Wave of Light to remember their lost daughter and sister, Grace Ann. Photo byJulianne Mosher

Elizabeth Kennedy lost her second child when she was 26 weeks and six days pregnant.

On Feb. 25, 2018, she heard the words from her doctor that no mother wants to hear, that their unborn child Grace Ann’s heartbeat could not be heard. Struck with grief, Kennedy, a Rocky Point resident, felt she needed to find an outlet to help her cope with her loss, so she began researching different infant loss support groups. Through her online search, she found the Star Legacy Foundation.

“I’ve gotten in touch with other women and families who have lost babies and it’s been such a relief to know that I’m not in this alone,” Kennedy said. “It has made me want to let other people know that they are not alone, either.”

When she found the strength through the organization, she knew she had to give back and help other women who have gone through the same thing.

“It has made me want to let other people know that they are not alone, either.”

— Elizabeth Kennedy

Last year, through the nonprofit, Kennedy took the initiative to try and make Oct. 15 a county-wide Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Awareness Day. The month of October was proclaimed as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month” by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

Earlier this year, she met with Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), who sponsored the resolution. The legislator said Kennedy’s story moved her in a personal way.

“Many other families in our county have experienced this kind of tremendous loss,” Anker said. “I hope that designating this day will help provide necessary support to those who are grieving and remind them they are not alone.”

The resolution was approved unanimously by the Suffolk County Legislature Oct. 6. Anker said the day will increase awareness of the causes and impacts surrounding pregnancy and infant loss. It is also a means to improve understanding as well as offer support and potential resources for those who grieve the loss of a pregnancy or infant.

According to the Star Legacy Foundation, thousands of families in the United States experience pregnancy and infant loss each year. In the U.S. there are approximately 24,000 stillbirths, or one in 160 births a year. In addition to stillbirths, current research suggests that between 10% and 20% of medically confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“It’s not just the experience that’s traumatizing for families,” Anker said. “It’s everything after, too.”

Kennedy is also using her new platform to establish a support group collaboratively with Stony Brook University Hospital.

“I want to put as much information out there as possible so when people go through this, they don’t just crawl into a ball and feel that they’re by themselves,” she said. “To be able to talk to these people and have somebody who understands what you went through, to cry with them, remember our babies with them — it just needs to be out there more … it needs to be talked about. We need to change the stigma.”

On Thursday night, Anker joined people across the country and hosted a virtual “Wave of Light” on Facebook Live and through Zoom. With Kennedy’s family online, and several other local families who experienced such a loss, they lit a candle in honor of the children who are not here today.

During the candle lighting ceremony, Kevin Kennedy, Elizabeth’s husband, spoke on behalf of his wife.

“We’re all grieving the loss of a baby or a friend’s baby,” he said. “Every one of these candles has a name attached to it … a life’s flame blown out too soon, and it’s our responsibility as survivors to honor and remember them all.”

Although getting over her loss is not easy, Kennedy said she finds comfort in knowing maybe this happened for a reason — that losing Grace will help get the message out to families to know they are never going to be alone.

“I hope people catch on to this now and realize we’re not hiding anymore,” she said. “We’re not going to hide our babies; we’re going to be okay.”