Tags Posts tagged with "Three Village Dads Foundation"

Three Village Dads Foundation

The Three Village Dads Foundation, Three Village school district representatives and members of the community celebrate the opening of the Merritt Hawkins Homestead property along with Brookhaven Councilmember, Jonathan Kornreich. Photo by Samantha Rutt

By Samantha Rutt

The Three Village Dads Foundation, with support from Town of Brookhaven District 1 Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), unveiled the refurbished historic Merritt-Hawkins Homestead property on May 6. 

The 9-acre estate, located at 512 Pond Path in Setauket,  is now open for the community, students and teachers to traverse. With a half mile of freshly groomed trailways accompanied by various educational signs, a little free library and park benches, the 3V Dads hope the property will become a known feature in the Three Village community.

“The property was like a blank canvas for us — there’s a lot to think of what this place could turn into. We were very excited to sign on and we appreciate Jonathan and the town for trusting us,” said 3V Dads president, David Tracy. “Our first goal was to transform the outside … and it is now a usable property and a green space for the community.”

Though now open to the public, the work of the 3V Dads restoration is not yet finished. The nonprofit looks to continue working on the interior of the house to restore the historic 1800s feel.

“Hopefully this fall we begin work on the inside of the house. It is an old house, built in 1802 — but it looks like somebody lived there in the 1980s. So it needs to go back to a transformation of the 1800s,” Tracy shared. 

The Three Village Dads Foundation organize efforts to restore the Merritt-Hawkins House in Setauket. Photo courtesy David Tracy

By Serena Carpino

Three Village Dads Foundation recently finished refurbishing the outside area of the Merritt-Hawkins House in East Setauket. The renovations of the 9-acre property cost about $40,000.

The house, located on Pond Path, was leased to the Three Village Dads in 2021, after Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) approached the organization about a partnership. In July 2022, Three Village Dads began fixing up the house and after two years of work, the outdoor renovations were complete. 

After Kornreich was first elected, he began to identify properties owned by the town that needed to be fixed up and looked for stewards to repair these areas. Kornreich said that he chose the Three Village Dads organization for this project because he “figured these guys are going to put on their New Balance sneakers, go out there, and cut vines and be dads in the backyard of this place and clean it up.” Kornreich continued, “It was a good match because there’s a lot of volunteers who like to do this kind of hands-on project.” 

The first step of the restoration was to clean up the trails that led to the vernal pond at the back of the property. Volunteers cleared brushes, put down wood chips and built a parking lot increasing the accessibility for members of the community. In addition, they placed signs around the property that identify different plants and other unique factors of the house. 

Although much of the work was done by volunteers, Three Village Dads also enlisted the help of outside companies. David Tracy, president of the organization explained that they “used [about 30] volunteers from the group for the first year. However, there was a lot of heavy lifting and work to be done, so we hired a few companies to help with the remaining work.” 

The foundation hired Clovis Outdoor Services, a Stony Brook tree company to remove old or rotted trees. In addition, JM Troffa Hardscape, a masonry and building supply company from East Setauket, provided Three Village Dads with the materials for the parking lot. Furthermore, Sheep Pasture Landscaping of Port Jefferson Station helped finish remodeling the trails. Tracy added that they “had a Boy Scout complete his Eagle Scout project on the property by installing our educational signs and building benches.”

The house is near to Nassakeag Elementary School, and Tracy and Kornreich hope that students and teachers will be able to take advantage of the trails through nature walks. There are over 15 educational signs meant for student use. 

“The house is connected to Nassakeag and we’re going to put a gate in between the two, so students from other parts of the district can take a bus and go on guided nature walks and educational walks. So, it’s good for students and it’s good for people that want to just get out into nature,” Kornreich said.

Tracy confirmed there will be public access to the property. 

Having completed the outdoor renovations, Three Village Dads hope to finish work on the inside of the house within the next two to three years. Tracy said that their goal is “to transform it into something similar to the historical society building, with a small museum.”

Kornreich will spearhead a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the house May 1 to commemorate the finished work around the outside. “The reality is that these guys do so many things to support the community and they never really do it for the publicity or the recognition, so I think it’s a really good opportunity to highlight the good work they did and thank them for all their hard work,” the councilmember said.

Three Village Dads Foundation held a fundraiser April 16 to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Food trucks were available during the event. Photo from Three Village Dads Foundation

On April 16, the Three Village Dads Foundation organized a fundraiser to raise funds for childhood cancer research for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Representatives from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services interrupted the event, saying that the proper permits had not been purchased.

David Tracy, chairman and CEO of Three Village Dads, refused to shut down the event.  He was upset by the disruption and contacted several news outlets to seek some answers and hopefully an apology from the county.

On April 17, a spokesperson from the county told Newsday that the citation given to the Three Village Dads Foundation did not carry a fine, but on May 2 the Department of Health Services did send out summons to two different vendors that had donated their time at the event: Chico’s Tex Mex and The Long Island Airstream Experience.

“We were thinking that, with not hearing anything after the public pushback, they were willing to just kind of forget about it,” Tracy said in a phone interview. “Maybe they realized, ‘Maybe we kind of kicked the wrong hornet’s nest here,’ and they were just going to leave it alone. And then all of a sudden here we are getting these letters to appear in court.”

Tracy’s biggest frustration is the lack of communication and clarity from the county. “Nobody from the county at any level called to even tell me that I was wrong,” Tracy said referring to the permits that were not secured prior to the event. “It was pure ignorance; it wasn’t negligence. We weren’t trying to avoid paying a $100 permit.”

Tracy said that they raised over $25,000 for childhood cancer research and that paying a small fee for permits would not have been an issue. He wishes that someone from the Health Department had contacted him prior to the event.

“Why not just pick up the phone and rectify it there if it was truly all about educating us?” Tracy queried, referring to the fact that a spokesperson from the county told Newsday that their purpose was to educate the event organizers about regulations for future events.

An email from the Department of Health’s media relations department said that on April 10 it became aware through a Facebook advertisement that Long Island Airstream Experience would be operating at the Three Village Dads event. “The Facebook post contained no contact information for the sponsor or organizer of the event,” the email stated. “As a result, [Bureau of Public Health Protection]was unable to contact the organizer in advance to discuss SCDHS requirements for food service.”

The Three Village Dad’s website is the first search result when googling “Three Village Dads,” and contact information can be found on that website.

Tracy expressed that Airstream Experience and Chico’s Tex Mex both were donating their time for the event and were doing this as a favor to Tracy and the Three Village Dads.

“My organization will be paying any fines,” Tracy said. “I even have people that are ready to start a fundraiser if need be.”

Tracy believes that the Health Department was primarily targeting The Long Island Airstream Experience after some complaints from food truck vendors on Long Island that airstreams are not scrutinized as heavily as food trucks are. Tracy said the county may have used this event as an opportunity to fine the airstream business and that the Three Village Dads and particularly Chico’s Tex Mex got caught in the crossfire.

“They’re just going after the airstream business and they used our event to get to him,” Tracy said.

Another email from the Department of Health’s media relations department states that Chico’s Tex Mex will not face a fine since they do not have a history of non-compliance, but that “LI Airstream Experience has a history of non-compliance with the department and faces a possible fine.”

The email also added that Long Island Airstream Experience “has previously been informed that the operation meets the sanitary code definition of food service and requires department permits.”

 “I’m ready for this to be over,” Tracy said. “I was hoping that it was already over. It’s unfortunate this has to be dragged out again … I don’t want the county to look bad … but they need to understand that there’s different ways to go about things and this was handled poorly.”

Thomas Francis of The Long Island Airstream Experience and Vinny Galan of Chico’s Tex Mex are scheduled to appear to answer for the alleged permit violations on May 31. The summons state that penalties could be up to $2,000 for a violation.

Three Village Dads Foundation held a fundraiser April 16 to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Food trucks were available during the event. Photo from Three Village Dads Foundation

On Sunday, April 16, Three Village Dads Foundation ran an event to raise money for a local chapter of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The St. Baldrick’s website states it is “a volunteer and donor powered charity committed to supporting the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.”

Three Village Dads Foundation held a fundraiser April 16 to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Some attendees, including David Tracy, below, chairman and CEO, had their heads shaved to help raise funds. Photo from Three Village Dads Foundation

Over the years, Three Village Dads have raised over $225,000 for local causes. They adopted the local St. Baldrick’s chapter last year and moved the event to the Veterans of Foreign War Post 3054 in East Setauket. 

David Tracy, chairman and CEO of 3VDF, is a VFW member.

“We had about 60 or 70 people come down last year,” Tracy said in a phone interview. “It was a bit rainy. So, it kind of muted the overall attendance. However, we still ended up raising $22,000 for St. Baldrick’s.”

This year 3VDF followed the same format but it was a much nicer day, with about 100 guests in attendance. There were vendors donating their time to feed the guests, and Setauket Fire Department brought a fire truck for children to climb on.

About 45 minutes into the event, two women showed up, one wearing a jacket with the words “Suffolk County Health Department.” “They both have clipboards, and they have very serious faces,” Tracy said. “They’re just saying, ‘You need to shut down, this is not a permitted event.’”

This surprised Tracy, as he explained to them that this was a private event on private property. They countered that the event was advertised to the public, so it was a public event. Tracy then offered to buy a permit, but he was informed that that is impossible on a Sunday.

“I asked [one of them] to maybe use discretion, to maybe call her boss and just let me talk to him — and just nothing,” Tracy said. “She wasn’t having it.”

Tracy believes that one of the two women works for the Tobacco Enforcement Unit of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. “They were there to target the one vendor whose business model is a cigar and bourbon experience.”

“They tell me over and over, ‘These vendors have to stop,’” Tracy said. He explained that he was “willing to pay the fines, whatever the fines may be, but this is a fundraiser for childhood cancer research. We are not shutting down. We have two more hours left.”

One woman proceeded to go up to each vendor, go into their trailers, ask them questions and take pictures, according to Tracy. He said that this upset a lot of their guests.

“There were a lot of people that were paying attention to what was going on with her and her inspections, as opposed to paying attention to the 10 brave people to get up there and shave their heads in front of the public to raise money for charity,” Tracy said.

“I guess what bothers me the most is that if they knew about this a few days ago or a few weeks ago, why not just pick up the phone and give us a call,” Tracy said. “We would have rectified it.”

“It just reeks of bad government decisions, and we would like somebody to answer for that,” he added. “Whose call was this? Whose ultimate determination? Who has it out for my friend’s business?”

“I will gladly pay that fine if need be and we will gladly get permits next year. But the way this was handled is just all wrong,” Tracy said. “I would like [to make] a public apology to my organization, to the St. Baldrick’s organization, to the vendors, because there’s a much better way of handling this, especially if they knew about it ahead of time.”

The citation that Tracy received read as follows, “Organizer found operating a temporary food service event to the public without a valid permit.” It also said that 3VDF allowed “food vendors to serve food to the public without valid permits to operate.”

Suffolk County Department of Health Services did not respond to a request for comment prior to press time.

At the check presentation, from left, 3VDF board member Chris Carson; Billy Williams from State Farm; 3VDF President David Tracy, and 3VDF board member Steve Uniszkiewicz. Photo from Billy Williams

Setauket State Farm agent Billy Williams has a long history of demonstrating what it means to be a Good Neighbor by stepping up to help his community. Williams recently presented the Three Village Dads Foundation (3VDF) with a $10,000 grant from State Farm® as part of the company’s Outstanding Community Engagement Program.

The Three Village Dads Foundation was selected by Williams as part of his recognition for being one of 100 agents nationwide who were nominated and selected for their outstanding community engagement. A check presentation was held on June 1.

“At State Farm, we are committed to helping build stronger communities,” said Williams. “For me, it’s not enough to simply say we’re a Good Neighbor, but we also embrace the responsibility to make Setauket better by being a part of a solution.”

3VDF is committed to being community builders who make a difference in the Three Village area. The team hosts a variety of events, such as golf outings and triathlons, to raise funds for the community. One of 3VDF’s current top initiatives is to raise funds for Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. The mission is to help kids win the battle against cancer and the Foundation has already reached $60,000 of its $100,000 fundraising goal.

“We are humbled and honored that Billy would choose our Foundation as the recipient of these funds. We look forward to putting this money to great use in the very near future. Thank you Billy and thank you State Farm!,” said David Tracy, President.

From left, Jeffrey Hendel and Michael Ferrara, Three Village Dads Foundation
From left, Jeffrey Hendel and Michael Ferrara, Three Village Dads Foundation

Hendel Wealth Management Group, 95 Smithtown Blvd. , Smithtown recently delivered nearly $1,000 worth of food donations to the both the Three Village School District and Our Daily Bread food pantry at St. James RC Church in Setauket to support families in the local community suffering from food insecurity.

“Not only as a Long Island business-owner, but also as a member of the Three Village Dads Foundation, I understand importance of doing as much as possible to help the families in our neighborhoods,” said Jeffrey Hendel, President & CEO, Hendel Wealth Management Group and Sr. Financial Advisor, Raymond James Financial Services. “Our team is so proud to have the good fortune to be able to make a difference.”

To learn more about Hendel Wealth Management Group and its commitment to community outreach, please visit www.hendelwmg.com.

Photo from TVDF

By Heidi Sutton

The Three Village Dads Foundation recently signed an official pledge with Stony Brook Children’s Hospital to donate $100,000 over the next 5 years to the Child Life Services program. A check in the amount of $10,000 was presented on April 21 in partnership with Jeff Hendel of Hendel Wealth Management.

Photo from TVDF

“Two years ago when our Foundation began it’s local philanthropic efforts, the Children’s Hospital was actually our very first recipient. What initially was supposed to be a small Three Village Dads group BBQ where I figured we could perhaps raise a few dollars for a great local cause, turned into something so much more. That event was wildly successful as we were able to raise $12,000 which opened our eyes to the effectiveness us Dads could have on our community,” said David Tracy, Three Village Dads Foundation President & Chairman. 

“When we established that relationship with Stony Brook’s Child Life program we immediately felt as connected and dedicated to their mission as their wonderful staff do. To now be in a position where we are able to deliver so much more to this great organization truly means a lot to myself, my board members, and our amazing donors. Jeff Hendel of Hendel Wealth Management joined as a co-donor with this presentation. It is generous donors such as Mr. Hendel that have enabled us to do the good we strive to do in Three Village,” he said.  

Pictured from left, Elisa Ruoff, Development Officer of Advancement at Stony Brook Hospital; Michael Attard, Child Life Specialist at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital; Vince DiCarlo, Three Village Dads Foundation board member; David Tracy, Three Village Dads Foundation President & Chairman; Jeff Hendel, Hendel Wealth Management President & CEO; and Three Village Dads Foundation board members Chris Carson and David Bitman.