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The Ward Melville Heritage Organization

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Members of the Anna Smith Strong Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution with WMHO trustees, above, celebrate a $9,848 grant from NSDAR. Photo from WMHO

A historic house on North Country Road in Setauket is about to get some maintenance work to ensure it remains as a Three Village staple.

RDLGF Executive Director Kathryn Curran joins the WMHO trustees after the foundation awarded WMHO a $30,625 matching grant. Photo from WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization recently received two grants totaling $40,473 from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation and the Anna Smith Strong Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. WMHO will use the funds — a matching grant of $30,625 from RDLGF and $9,848 from NSDAR — to replace the roof of the Thompson House, built circa 1709. The replacement will help to keep the home structurally sound.

“To have grants from two of the most prestigious organizations is a wonderful gratification to the organization,” said Gloria Rocchio, WMHO president.

Rocchio added the grants will also help with a new program that is slated to begin in the spring of 2022. During the pandemic, Rocchio said, more information was uncovered about the house’s inhabitants.

The program will include stories about a visit from 10th President John Tyler (1841-45) and his wife, Julia Gardiner; correspondence between Benjamin Thompson and third President Thomas Jefferson (1801-09); and George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring (1778-83).

Rocchio said she found the new information fascinating, and WMHO educators also are excited about what they unearthed.

Kathryn Curran, RDLGF executive director, said the WMHO continues to evolve in serving the community in new ways. The foundation provides grants to organizations that preserve New York history, especially in Suffolk County.

“Their research on the Thompson House will add another layer to Long Island’s regional history,” she said. “The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation supports restoration of historic properties for organizations with educational outreach at the forefront of their mission.”

The second grant, according to Rita Newman, regent of the Anna Smith Strong Chapter, is one of the largest amounts given by NSDAR in both the state and the nation. The nonprofit, named after one of the Culper spies, promotes historical education.

Newman said it was a pleasure to sponsor WMHO’s request.

“WMHO is an outstanding community-minded organization which plays an active part in preserving, restoring and regularly holding educational programs at the Thompson House and  other historic structures, which they also own and maintain in our area,” she said.

Newman added that the house is a valuable asset not only on a local level but also to state and national history. The chapter participates in events held at the house, which is listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.

“During the American Revolution, the Thompson House was the home of Dr. Thompson, patriot, physician and farmer,” she said. “Among his patients listed in his ‘cash receipt book’ circa 1787, are members of George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring. It is a long-standing belief that our chapter’s namesake, Anna Smith Strong, who lived in Setauket during the American Revolution, was an important member of the Culper Spy Ring.”

Ward Melville Heritage Organization trustees wave to the students. Photo by Rita J. Egan

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization has created a virtual bridge across the Long Island Sound for students on both sides of the waterway.

Patricia Paladines holds a horseshoe crab up to show the students who viewed the presentation through Zoom. Photo by Rita J. Egan

On Tuesday, June 1, WMHO unveiled Long Island Sound Connections, its new STEM and conservation program at the Erwin J. Ernst Marine Conservation Center on Trustees Road by West Meadow Creek. Students from Selden and Bridgeport, Connecticut, participated from their classrooms via Zoom, while WMHO trustees members and grant donors looked on from the center. Dr. Robert Park from the Fullwood Foundation, one of the donors, also joined virtually.

Students from Selden Middle School in Michelle Miller’s sixth-grade science class and Julianne Biagioli’s seventh-grade science class in the Bridgeport school district discussed their studies in the June 1 presentation. The students were able to show how urban and suburban communities have contrasting situations, where the Selden students have the 88-acre preserved wetlands of West Meadow Creek only miles away from them, and the Bridgeport students live in a city where former wetlands were developed decades ago.

The organization’s virtual, cooperative learning is led by Deborah Boudreau, WMHO’s director of education.

“It’s an opportunity for students to research their local Long Island ecosystems, and share what they learned about those ecosystems to learn how we can best preserve all the animals and plants that depend on these ecosystems,” Boudreau said.

She told the students during the June 1 class that the teachers wanted to hear from them as much as possible.

“I want to say that this program is very much about the students and your data and your research and your ideas,” she said. “You are the future of our wetlands. You are the ones that are going to carry that forward.”

During the presentation, students compared findings about the wetlands as well as species that would normally be found in waterways including lobsters and horseshoe crabs, which Bridgeport students found recently in mudflats.

Naturalist and environmentalist Patricia Paladines, from Setauket, was on hand to provide a presentation on horseshoe crabs for the students. She found one in West Meadow Creek June 1 that was injured and explained it would heal. Paladines told students, while holding the crab for them to see, that a lot of people are afraid of its long tail, but it doesn’t sting.

“A lot of people are afraid of them because they have this long tail here, which is called a telson, but it’s not to hurt you — it’s not to protect itself, it’s a rudder,” she said, adding that the tail was moving at the time because the crab wanted to turn over from its back to being right-side up.

The program will continue throughout the month with various schools participating where they will compare and contrast data such as water salinization, marine species inventory and more.

Gloria Rocchio, WMHO president, said the program was made possible by grants from the Fullwood Foundation, Investors Foundation and Teachers Federal Credit Union.

Health care workers at Stony Brook University Hospital received meals delivered by Stony Brook Village Center restaurants. Photo from Ward Melville Heritage Organization

During the pandemic, helping to feed those with food insecurities came not only from expected organizations such as food banks and church pantries but also restaurants across the North Shore. Several stepped up to the plate to help out as their dining rooms remained empty due to mandatory state shutdowns.

Whether it was the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce working with small businesses to donate food to local hospitals or nonprofits like Island Harvest facilitating meals for those who needed it, here are just a few examples of those who went above and beyond.

Long Island Cares

“We are seeing a lot of people for the first time, and I think that a lot of it’s due to unemployment, job loss, furloughs.” — Claire Fratello

Long Island Cares, the Hauppauge-based food bank, is in the business of making sure residents in Suffolk and Nassau counties don’t go hungry. According to Claire Fratello, LIC’s assistant to the CEO for administration and media relations, the nonprofit, which regularly has 374 member pantries and six satellite locations, established during the pandemic 18 emergency pop-up food distribution sites, a food-box packing center in Hauppauge to make up emergency food boxes, and a consumer-choice pantry in Bethpage, modeled after a supermarket..

From March to November, LI Cares has assisted more than 220,000 people all across Long Island, and the number of new people receiving emergency food assistance due to COVID-19 has increased to 146,919. Food insecurity is up 58% compared to 2019.

LI Cares collected enough food items to give out nearly 12 million meals throughout the pandemic.

“We are seeing a lot of people for the first time, and I think that a lot of it’s due to unemployment, job loss, furloughs,” she said.

Fratello added that LI Cares has tried something new with virtual food drives, and they have seen an approximate 33% increase in donations compared to last year.

“I think the generosity has been kind of fueled by the fact that there are people out there who know that others are struggling,” she said.

In September, LI Cares started creating food boxes for workers of a few Long Island restaurants. The owner of the restaurants expressed concern for his employees who were working less than usual and receiving fewer tips. Each week the workers have been able to pick up food boxes at LI Cares’ Huntington and Hauppauge locations.

Axis Food Pantry

Among the food pantries providing help to local residents is a new one established by Axis Church. Pastor Kara Bocchino said the church has members from all over and three locations, Port Jefferson, Medford and Patchogue, and the new food pantry operates out of the main building in Medford.

“We were sitting home thinking how we can’t just sit home when we’re an outreach-focused church,” she said.

Committed to doing something, the church members called the Patchogue-Medford school district in April, and discovered there were several families in need. Congregants donated a large amount of food and would drop off donations on Sundays. The collected food was delivered to 60 families a week and about another 60 families would pick food up at the church every Saturday.

After the school year ended, church members continued to deliver to the families. However, when the need died down, it inspired the church to start a food pantry. Bocchino said she began receiving calls from the New York State Department of Health asking if they could help deliver food to nearby residents who were quarantined. While they mostly bring food to those who live up and down the Route 112 corridor, they have also helped out those in areas surrounding Port Jefferson.

Bocchino said when she can’t deliver to a person due to distance, she connects the DOH with a church that can.

One family she delivered to was in Rocky Point. She said the drive was worth it when she learned the woman in the household was a foster mom to five children. Bocchino added that the chain Chick-fil-A donated a tray of food to the family.

After food was dropped off for a family in Selden, Bocchino found out the parents needed help buying their children Christmas presents and purchasing oil to heat their house. She said church members quickly stepped up to the plate to help them.

The pastor hasn’t been surprised by the generosity she’s witnessed from congregants and businesses.

“What happens is when people hear of a need, they’re willing to fill it,” she said. “When they don’t hear of the need, they can’t do it.”

La Famiglia, Smithtown

Teresa LaRosa leaves La Famiglia in Smithtown with food for a family member who was furloughed early on during the pandemic. The restaurant began donating meals to community members back in March. Photo by Rita J. Egan

During the pandemic, many restaurants took the lead in offering free food to seniors in their communities and delivering meals to health care workers at local hospitals.

As soon as restaurants were prohibited to provide indoor dining, La Famiglia in Smithtown posted on its Facebook page that the restaurant would donate 50 meals a day to any senior who wanted them over two days. The word spread fast, and soon regulars were stopping by to donate money, which allowed co-owner John Cracchiolo and manager Giovanni Divella to donate 150 meals that weekend.

But the donations didn’t stop there, Divella said, and the restaurant has continued giving away free meals throughout the pandemic, delivering them to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center and Suffolk County Police Department’s 4th Precinct among other locations to say “thank you” to health care workers and law enforcement.

Divella said there was no question about helping out in the community during difficult times. The restaurant has stood on the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Brooksite Drive in Smithtown for 20 years.

“This community is by far the most tight-knit community I’ve ever met,” he said. “And not just Smithtown, but all the surrounding areas: St. James, Kings Park, Commack and Hauppauge.”

Divella said he and Cracchiolo didn’t think the pandemic would last this long but feel fortunate to have been able to stay open during the pandemic, even with the changes in capacity, increased cleaning and mask mandates.

“We’re learning every day to reinvent ourselves,” Divella said. “We’re learning every day to kind of go with the curve.”

Stony Brook Village Center

Thanking the health care workers at Stony Brook University Hospital took a village, as restaurants in Stony Brook Village Center banded together to put together meals for health care workers during the pandemic.

Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization which manages the village center, said the Three Village Inn, Fratelli’s, Crazy Beans and Sweet Mama’s all took part in delivering meals to the medical professionals at Stony Brook University Hospital. In addition, The Crushed Olive, Village Coffee Market, Chocolate Works, Premiere Pastry, Brew Cheese and Penney’s Car Care delivered a variety of snacks, cheeses, pastries, cookies, drinks and much more. More than 11,000 meals and breakroom foods were distributed to SBUH from the beginning of April toward the end of June.

Rocchio said the initiative was called Stony Brook Village/Stony Brook University Hospital Healthcare Meal Program, and it began after it was discovered that a few of the restaurants in the village center were already delivering food to the hospital after receiving donations from customers. Claude Cardin, owner of Fratelli’s, spent $15,000 of his own money to deliver food to the workers.

She credited the work of the restaurants being made a little easier with generous donations to WMHO totaling $25,000 from local residents and businesses as well as people from Nassau County and out of the state.

“It was all of the community coming together as one, to take care of one cause — to care for essential workers,” Rocchio said. “It was so heartwarming.”

Santa stopped by Stony Brook Dec. 6. Photo by Rita J. Egan

While the Ward Melville Heritage Organization had to hold its annual Christmas festival and tree lighting virtually this year Dec. 6, a few of the board members and their friends gathered on the Village Green at the Stony Brook Village Center, not just to see the festive lights, but also for an announcement.

Visitors to the Village Green take a photo in front of the lit spruce. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Richard Rugen, WMHO chairman, said the Village Green in the center would be renamed in honor of Jennie Melville, the mother of philanthropist Ward Melville, founder and planner of Stony Brook Village Center. Rugen said she was the one with the idea to change the then “kind of down-at-the-heels Schooner town” into what it is today, including the two-acre Village Green, even though she didn’t live to see it. 

“It’s been used now for 80 years, much more so this year with COVID,” Rugen said. “People have been able to come down and have a ball game or a card game or a sunset, whatever their little hearts desired.”

The WMHO chairman said despite the Village Green being used more than usual this past year, visitors have been respectful of the grounds.

“The trustees and the staff of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization worked very hard to keep it beautiful, and you have cooperated very well,” he said.

Rugen said after seeing so many residents enjoying the green, the board of trustees decided to name it the Jennie Melville Village Green, and in the spring, they plan to install a plaque with the new name and some history about both Melville and the open space.

Also on hand was Chris Damianos, chairman of the board and CEO of Damianos Realty Group, one of the sponsors of the tree lighting, and his family. The Norway Spruce that was lit to commemorate the holiday season Sunday is dedicated to his mother Virginia, who passed away in 2009.

“She was a strong woman,” he said. “This tree has too grown strong, tall and resolute.”

He called it a symbol of hope.

“Another symbol of hope and joy is Santa,” he said, adding that the man in red was on his way.

To the delight of attendees, Santa, who had just spent a few hours speaking to local children via Zoom in a virtual event organized by WMHO, stopped by to help light the Stony Brook Village Center tree.

During the Zoom call with Santa, children were able to request holiday presents. A mailbox has also been set up in front of the Stony Brook Post Office to send him letters this season.

In past years, hundreds of residents would line up by the post office to have their children take photos with Santa as part of WMHO’s Holiday Festival, which the pandemic made impossible this year.

The past two years the festival also featured the Legends and Spies Puppets Procession led by a New Orleans-style brass band. The puppets paid homage to former notable Three Village residents such as Ward Melville and his wife, Dorothy.

This year WMHO continues its Holiday Tree Competition. Throughout the shopping center visitors will find decorated trees.

Ballots can be obtained from businesses throughout Stony Brook village, and shoppers can vote for their favorite tree until Dec. 21.

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A fallen tree in T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park. Photo from WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization launched a volunteer and fundraising effort after Tropical Storm Isaias left piles of debris and damage throughout Stony Brook village.

The storm destroyed more than a dozen trees in T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park on Harbor Road adjacent to Avalon Nature Preserve, and many more in the surrounding area. It also ravaged the park’s braille engraved handrails, the borders maintaining the park’s gardens, the walkways along the pond and more.

For 80 years, the park has served as a community space for people to enjoy the great outdoors and watch ducks, geese and other birds. The Stony Brook Mill Pond Fishing Club has been teaching fishing techniques to youngsters since it was established in 1951.

The park damage is still being assessed to determine a complete restoration cost. Local Girl Scout Troop 2907, of Setauket, and Girl Scout Troop 824, Service Unit 45, of Centereach, have committed to assist in removing debris at the park’s sensory garden, which features plants with an array of textures and scents.

The WMHO’s volunteer cleanup effort is part of a larger fundraising initiative titled the New Beginnings Online Auction and Virtual Party to benefit restoration of the park. The online auction and virtual party kickoff are scheduled for Oct. 19 when donors will have the opportunity to go online and place their bids for a good cause on a wide variety of highly prized items.

To learn more about the restoration fundraising efforts, call The Ward Melville Heritage Organization at 631-751-2244.

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In previous years, events such as the Memorial Day Parade and the Jewish Summer Festival at West Meadow Beach, above, filled up the days of Three Village residents. File photo by Seth Berman/Rapid Shutter Photograph

Starting with the annual Memorial Day Parade down Main Street and Route 25A, the Three Village area is normally filled with activities all summer long. While many annual favorites were canceled this year due to the coronavirus, some event organizers are striving to stay connected with residents.

In previous years, events such as the Memorial Day Parade, above, and the Jewish Summer Festival at West Meadow Beach filled up the days of Three Village residents. File photo by Rita J. Egan

Jay Veronko, post commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars East Setauket Post 3054, said the Memorial Day Parade is usually the group’s biggest event that they host each year. This year’s parade was canceled due to COVID-19.

“I’m not sure of when the last time it was canceled for reasons other than severe weather,” he said.

Veronko said the event means more than simply memorializing former local soldiers who lost their lives in combat overseas or honoring living veterans.

“The parade also serves as a source of local pride in our way of life — the community getting together and coming out and celebrating life and the beginning of summer, as well as getting many diverse groups together to march and let the community know about them and what they stand for or do,” he said. “For the fire departments, it’s a way for the community to cheer them on for doing a great volunteer job and for the departments to display their pride and commitment to serving the community they protect.”

The post commander said many older post members are hesitant to socialize due to fear of getting COVID-19 and are not visiting the post for social interaction, something he said may not be good for physical and emotional well-being. Veronko said while the future may not be clear, the post doors and the members are there for each other.

“The VFW of Setauket will be there for the veterans who need help or want to gather in the comradeship of arms,” he said.

Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, said there have been no in-person events at the Educational & Cultural Center since the mandatory shutdowns. While events currently can be held inside with 50 people or less, WMHO, like many organizations, had to furlough a few employees, and they currently would not have enough people to work on events even if they could be held as usual. The Discovery Wetlands Cruise, which takes participants on a trip through West Meadow Creek, has been suspended for 2020, and the WMHO also decided not to hold its summer music series this year.

While it’s still a couple of months away, the organization has already canceled Walk for Beauty, which is normally held every October to raise money for breast cancer research. Rocchio said many expressed concerns about those who are battling cancer, who may be immunocompromised, attending such an event. As for the future, she said they are waiting for the updates to state guidelines.

Despite the cancellations, the WMHO president said residents have not forgotten the Stony Brook Village Center.

“We get people on the Village Green at night,” she said. “They sit there with their families usually, some might be two people, some are four people. They do social distancing, and they bring food, some even play ball at the lower part. They feel it’s a nice place to watch the sunset.”

She said residents have also noticed people taking advantage of the view more so than in previous years. To continue connecting with the community, WMHO is also offering virtual classes from the wetlands.

“We’re trying to reinvent ourselves,” Rocchio said.

Lise Hintze, Bates House manager at Frank Melville Memorial Park, said many of their usual events, including their outdoor concerts, had to be canceled this summer, but other activities have been able to take place again. She said the size of the park allows for proper social distance for various classes such as yoga, meditation and tai chi where participants have been wearing masks.

“We can continue with our community and come together, because we have the Bates House and parks grounds that are perfect for what they need with those classes,” Hintze said.

Missing this year will also be the Jewish Summer Festival at West Meadow Beach, which Village Chabad in East Setauket hosts in August. The event also didn’t take place last year due to the grand opening of its new center in June 2020. Despite the lack of in-person events, Rabbi Motti Grossbaum said the center has been trying to maintain a sense of community and connection with virtual classes and events. He said while many have said they appreciate the virtual options, the Chabad staff is looking forward to seeing everyone in person in the future.

“There’s nothing that can replace face-to-face and in-person connections,” Grossbaum said. “A community is all about interaction, sharing, schmoozing, kids playing and enjoying friendships in real life.”

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The Ward Melville Heritage Organization hosted another successful A ‘Taste’ of Stony Brook Village … Ladies Night Out! at the Three Village Inn on Feb. 25. Now in its second year, the evening, which was emceed by Mark Daniels, featured a fashion show by Chico’s, food tastings from restaurants, wine, raffles, giveaways, music by Roberta Fabiano and more. Judy Betz was honored for being nominated for the Town of Brookhaven’s Women’s Recognition Award for Community Service Volunteer of the Year. The sold-out event raised $50,000 for Stony Brook Medicine’s targeted research fund for breast cancer in memory of the late Dr. Lina Obeid.

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In the midst of Chinese New Year, which began Jan. 25, North Shore residents packed into the The Ward Melville Organization’s Education & Cultural Center Feb. 2 to commemorate the Year of the Rat.

WMHO’s annual event featured a lion dance, which is believed to bring good luck and fortune, and a martial arts demonstration by Authentic Shaolin Kung Fu.
Manhattan Taiko performed on ancient Japanese drums blended with modern movement, and the Long Island Chinese Dance Group was on hand to perform along with Jojo Feng who sang Chinese-language songs.

The Gardiner foundation awards the Order of the Ancient and Honorable Huntington Militia a grant to collaborate with the Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay to present demonstrations on colonial crafts and trades. Photo from Raynham Hall l Museum

Since 1639, the Gardiner family and their descendants have owned a 5-square-mile island in the Atlantic Ocean nestled between Long Island’s North Fork and South Fork. The property, known as Gardiner’s Island, was obtained from King Charles I of England as part of a royal grant. Today, that legacy is benefiting all of Long Island, thanks to Robert David Lion Gardiner, the island’s 16th Lord of the Manor, who died in 2004.

In 1987, Gardiner established the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation to support the study of American history. Each year, the foundation awards $5 million in grants to Long Island and New York nonprofits focused on preserving history. Look around at preserved pieces of history all across Long Island and in New York City, and you will likely find the foundation often behind the scenes offering support.

Thanks to the Gardiner Foundation, the new interactive software display highlights the displays in the First Order Fresnel Lens Building that is alongside the Fire Island Lighthouse. Photo from Gardiner Foundation website

The foundation helped reinvigorate the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site in West Hills, for instance, in preparation for this year’s 200th birthday year celebration.

And as the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City prepared for its 50th anniversary of the Apollo mission this past July, Gardiner helped fund programs and space travel exhibits. It’s considered a substantial addition to the museum and Long Island’s contribution to the space program.

The 107-year old Huntington Lighthouse was preserved and restored with a $145,000 matching grant from the foundation. The Whaling Museum & Education Center at Cold Spring Harbor has the foundation to thank for its climate-controlled storage rooms for its collections.

Big or small, the foundation has been a wonderful resource for nonprofits. Since the foundation aims to preserve Long Island heritage and encourages collaboration, it is possible to find many success stories.

In Setauket, some may have noticed the sagging 1887 carriage shed at the Caroline Church has been replaced. The foundation over the last few years has helped fund its stabilization and replacement.

St. James is currently undergoing a revitalization, and the foundation helped fund the Celebrate St. James organization in staging a musical comedy about the entertainment history of the community.

This month, the foundation awarded its 2019 grants. Recipients include the Order of the Ancient and Honorable Huntington Militia which presented Dec. 14 a demonstration at Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay of handmade colonial crafts and trades. The presentation included a free exhibition with artisans who showed how to do silver and black smithing, weaving, horn and leather work and basket weaving.

Harriet Gerard Clark, executive director of Raynham Hall Museum, is one of many people from organizations that recognize the distinct value of Gardiner.

“I would say that the Gardiner foundation is profoundly changing the way we understand history on Long Island, not only by providing very much needed brick-and-mortar funding, but also by proactively encouraging and incentivizing new ways of networking and collaborating among institutions concerned with historic scholarship, so that we Long Islanders can gain a truer understanding of our own identity,” she said.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, which owns historic properties in Stony Brook and Setauket, has also benefited from the Gardiner’s work. The foundation most recently sponsored a live historically-themed play entitled “Courageous Women of the Revolutionary War.” The production highlights the previously unsung female heroes of George Washington’s spy ring.

The Gardiner foundation is comprised of a five-member board, plus an executive director. Kathryn Curran bears that title and deserves special recognition.

“Kathryn is a terrific lady, she is very creative and brings people together.”

– Gloria Rocchio

WMHO president, Gloria Rocchio, is very grateful to the foundation and recognizes Curran’s unique qualities.

“Kathryn is a terrific lady,” Rocchio said. “She is very creative and brings people together.”

One of the conditions of WMHO’s grant was to talk to other historical societies.

“We are making new connections because of that effort,” Rocchio added. “That was all because of Kathy.”

The Smithtown, Northport, Port Jefferson, Miller Place-Mount Sinai and many other Long Island historical societies have grown or become better established because of the Gardiner foundation.

The organization also announced this month that it will fund a Long Island Radio & Television Historical Society documentary that will explore the development of wireless technology on Long Island, featuring the Telefunken wireless station in West Sayville and an international spy ring in the lead-up to World War I. The project also highlights the work of Nikola Tesla of Shoreham and Guglielmo Marconi of Babylon.

The foundation seeks to support 501(c)(3) organizations that demonstrate strong and organized internal capacity, effectiveness, financial and human resources as well as the intellectual capacity to successfully manage the project. Newly formed historical entities are welcomed to apply for a grant.

At a time when historical preservationists report a decline in financial resources, the foundation’s support becomes more and more noteworthy.

For high school students interested in studying history, the foundation also offers a generous undergraduate scholarship worth $40,000.

The Gardiner’s grant portfolio and scholarship information can be viewed on its website at www.rdlgfoundation.org, which gives an in-depth overview of its preservation efforts.

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The Ward Melville Heritage Organization welcomed hundreds for its 40th Holiday Festival in Stony Brook Village Center Dec. 8.

The event kicked off with the arrival of Santa in a Stony Brook Fire Department truck and the Legends and Spies puppets procession led by Tom Manuel, president and founder of The Jazz Loft, and a New Orleans brass band.

The parade featured 14-foot puppets representing local historical figures such as philanthropists Ward and Dorothy Melville, Culper spies Caleb Brewster, Benjamin Tallmadge and Anna Smith Strong, shipbuilder Capt. Jonas Smith and American genre painter William Sidney Mount.

There was music from community school bands plus a petting zoo, holiday train display, carolers and decorated holiday windows at Wiggs Opticians.

According to Santa, based on children’s requests, Pokémon items and the Barbie DreamHouse are making comebacks. Other gift wishes included train sets, toy trucks, iPhones, drones and Xboxes. Dolls were the biggest request as well as puppies, which Santa checks with mommies and daddies first since they are a big responsibility.

Three children requested for their brothers to come back from the military and one 5-year-old boy asked for peace and love.