Two locals honored for community service

Two locals honored for community service

Councilwoman Jane Bonner, left, stands next to honoree Mark Baisch and alongside VFW members and honoree Natalie Stiefel, center, at the Rocky Point Lion’s Club’s Taste of Long Island event. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Around 250 people dressed to impress for the Rocky Point Lion’s Clubs’ ninth Taste of Long Island event, including two residents whose work has made a difference in the community.

The club honored Mark Baisch, president of Landmark Properties, and Natalie Aurucci Stiefel, president of the Rocky Point Historical Society on Wednesday, April 20, at the East Wind Inn and Spa in Shoreham. Baisch, a developer whose work has helped preserve historic sites and provided affordable homes for veterans, their families and other members of the community, said he felt honored by the recognition but added he couldn’t have come this far on his own.

“They’re honoring me, but I hope tonight, that I honor the rest of the people who were involved in helping me do what we’ve done,” Baisch said.

The club notified the duo a few months ago. Stiefel wasn’t only honored but proud to be part of the club’s Taste of Long Island event, adding that she thinks it’s a feat that doesn’t come easily.

“I’ve done some work with different organizations and it’s wonderful to be pointed out and shown at some special event like tonight,” Stiefel said. “I appreciate it so much.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner talks about the honorees during the event. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Councilwoman Jane Bonner talks about the honorees during the event. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Baisch and Stiefel teamed up a few years ago to save Rocky Point’s Noah Hallock house, the oldest house in the hamlet. Noah Hallock built the approximate 295-year-old house that provided shelter for eight generations of his family. The land was sold to the Via Cava family in 1964, and that family sold the property to the historical society in 2013. Basich issued an extended no-interest mortgage on the property to help further preserve the home for future generations.

They also helped veteran Deborah Bonacasa and her 5-year-old daughter Lilianna find a place to call home. Last December, Bonacasa’s husband Louis was killed in a suicide bomb attack during his fourth deployment to Afghanistan.

In honor of their achievements, Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) named April 20 after Baisch and Stiefel in the Town of Brookhaven. The councilwoman commended both residents for their efforts. According to Bonner, without Stiefel’s tenacity when it came to preserving the Noah Hallock home, Baisch wouldn’t have been able to help.

While the councilwoman has known Baisch for eight years, she and VFW Post 6249 Commander Joe Cognitore have known Stiefel for a long time.

Cognitore, who was a former Lion’s Club honoree, met Stiefel in the early 1990s. He said Stiefel is a tireless worker and a part of the VFW family.

According to event organizer Bill Johnson, this year’s dinner was the club’s largest to date. Tickets were $60 in advance and $75 at the door. Proceeds went toward the Rocky Point Historical Society, the Marty Lyons Foundation and the Rocky Point Lions Club.

Johnson said the club goes to former honorees and asks for their input regarding upcoming honorees.

“Very honestly, I did not know Mark Baisch or Natalie Stiefel before they were recommended,” Johnson said. “In retrospect, they’re absolutely the right people to be honoring tonight.”