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Pauli Rose Libsohn: Poetic Promise Kept

Pauli Rose Libsohn

A Manhasset author who’s immortalizing her late mother in a book series is preparing for the release of her sixth novel, Messages of Love Remembered, this spring.

Pauli Rose Libsohn, who has worked at Rallye Motors in Roslyn for the past 38 years, launched her literary career in 2014, when she arranged and edited a book of poems by her mother, Mitzi Libsohn, that marked the first book published by either of them. The latest effort includes romantic poetry that her parents wrote to each other in greeting cards from 1945 on, along with Pauli’s own thoughts, she told the Press.

The new book is much “like a window into my parents’ lives,” she says.

Part of the story dates back to 1971, when the author was taking a creative writing class at Long Island University (LIU Post) and got a homework assignment to write a poem.

“I was in a panic because … I didn’t think I could write a poem,” she says, adding that she struggled but managed to finally write that poem, which she called “Imitation of a Poem.”

With her mother’s encouragement, she turned it in, then forgot about it. That inspired her mother to write a poem of her own called “Duet.” When her mother read it to Pauli and and her father, David, the two of them were dumbfounded.

“It was so magnificent,” she recalls, noting that it was the first time she learned of her mother’s writing talent. It started her mother’s poetry career.

“For 35 years, my mother and I would sit at the kitchen table and she wrote poetry and she would go over it with me, and I would help with the title [and] I would give her constructive criticism and then I would type up these poems,” she recalls.

Pauli convinced her mother to publish her poetry, so she helped put a manuscript together.

After David passed away in 2004, Mitzi continued to write until she passed four years later. Pauli put the manuscript in her mom’s closet and left it there for three years.

“She died because of the stress of my father passing,” she says. “She couldn’t live without him.”

When Pauli was ready emotionally, she took out the manuscript, because she had promised to publish it, she says.

“For the first time, I realized that the poems [Mitzi] had written were really about …  her romance with my father, from beginning to end, when they first met on the beach at Far Rockaway in the 1930s all the way up until the end when he passed away, and she never told me that,” Pauli says.

After some difficulty finding a publisher – poetry is a tougher sell than prose – she found Staten Island-based Page Publishing, which agreed to publish Immortal Kisses: Confessions of a Poet.

Pauli said she then found 135 poems in a box that Mitzi had written after David died that included poems written to him. She decided to publish them also, in a collection called Songs of You: A Postscript in 2016. She found another box of her mom’s writing, including poetic dissertations about love and books she had read, and that became the book Silhouettes: Literary Passageways, also published in 2016.

People found the love story about her parents appealing and urged her to write about it, so she went on to write the first book entirely on her own, What Is Love, published in June.

A fifth book followed in October, which included a combination of her mom’s writings about Shakespeare written when Mitzi was 20 and Pauli’s own biographical writing, called My Mother and Shakespeare: A Daughter’s Journey.

This is a “whole new career that I developed for myself through my mother,” she says, adding: “I wanted everyone to know about her because she was so special. She had such talent … I couldn’t stand it that [her] poems would be locked up in a drawer. Everyone had to know about her. That’s what my dream [was] and that’s what drove me, along with the promise I made.”

PSEG-LI President Daniel Eichhorn: Powering The Island

PSEG Long Island President Daniel Eichhorn.

Few companies directly impact Long Islanders on a daily basis as much as the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG). As the head of its PSEG Long Island subsidiary, Daniel Eichhorn is the executive in charge of making sure more than 1 million homes and businesses have the energy they need to keep running.

Since 2017, Eichhorn has been president and chief operating officer of PSEG-LI, which operates the Long Island Power Authority’s transmission and distribution system under a 12-year contract. He recently spoke with the Press about some of PSEG-LI’s many initiatives and how it’s striving to keep our lights on and bills as low as possible. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

What is the mission of PSEG-LI? We have six goals. Safety, customer satisfaction, reliability — keeping customers’ lights on — storm response, helping customers save money on their bill (mainly through energy efficiency), and giving back to the community.

You started upgrading more than 3,000 miles of wire. How far have you gotten? Since 2014, 2,684 miles of wire have been inspected and upgraded. We also received a grant of about $730 million from FEMA, which is great for Long Island customers because it’s not coming out of their bill. It’s coming out of federal funding. We’ve raised substations, we’ve replaced poles with bigger, more sturdy, hurricane-proof poles, we’ve upgraded wire and the hardware associated with that. And since doing the FEMA work, we’ve done an additional 708 miles of storm hardening and installed 756 automated switches. That program will wrap up in about a year to 18 months from now.

What are your clean energy goals? PSEG-LI’s a big supporter of New York State’s Clean Energy Standard, which calls for 50 percent renewables by the year 2030 and a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by that same time. And it’s something we take to heart. We do have a plan in place to get to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

What are the main challenges that PSEG-LI has faced? The biggest challenge we had, I think, was the perception that, “Hey, are they going to be any different?” And I think with all the technology we implemented in our customer area, pretty much every channel of how a customer interacts with us has been upgraded with state-of-the-art technology.

What do Long Islanders need to know to protect themselves from utility scams? Most of the scams — and the most successful scam — is when the scammers call a customer, threatening to turn off their electricity. A lot of times it’s a Friday night, when people may be looking to entertain. They try the scam with businesses around their critical periods. And a lot of times it involves telling the customer that if they don’t make an immediate payment through a prepaid credit card that their power is going to be shut off. And we don’t do business in that way. So, we always try to get that information out to customers. If something sounds a little bit fishy, just give us a call and confirm.

How did PSEG-LI fare through our first winter storm that happened a week before Thanksgiving? We have a very well-defined storm plan and we go through a very similar preparation every time there’s a storm coming. For this storm, in general, we were prepared. It was supposed to — and it did — happen in the evening, when most of our people are nearing the end of their shift. We brought in about 200 what we call mutual aid workers — most from out of state — to assist with our restoration. About 36,000 of our customers lost power. We have 1.1 million customers. So, in general, it was a small percentage of customers. But, if you’re one of those customers, it’s a big deal to you. And the majority of our customers — 99.9 percent of them — [had power] restored within the same day or within a 24-hour period of when they lost power.

Do you have any sayings? If we’re all working together and we all understand the direction we want to go in, then we can move mountains. The other saying that I like to say is, and I really believe this one, too: What really makes a company great is not only to be able to come up with ideas, but to take those ideas and make them into reality — bring them to fruition.

An Act of Kindness for Christmas in Its 22nd Year at Rallye Motor Company

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Rallye Motor Motor Company CEO Juliana Curran Terian high five children at the dealership's holiday party. Right, children meet Santa.

For the 22nd year, The Rallye Motor Company teamed with the Roslyn Union Free School District to benefit about 80 economically disadvantaged kids in the neighborhood by holding a holiday party Thursday at the Rallye Motors dealership in Roslyn.

At the party, children from first through fifth grade who were nominated by Roslyn Public Schools from East Hills School, Harbor Hill School and Heights School, had a great time. The danced while a DJ played music and they got to mingle with Rallye employees dressed as Donald Duck, Elmo, Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Then, as the icing on the cake, Santa Claus (actually Rallye sales representative Victor Cosme) arrived on a fire truck, entered the building and presented the kids with bicycles, musical instruments, dolls, tablets, video games and other presents. Cosme, who has worked for Rallye since 2003 and been playing Santa at these annual Christmas parties for the past 12 years, is the father of eight-year-old twins.

“I grew up very poor,” he told the Press, noting he was born in the Dominican Republic 36 years ago, migrated to the U.S. at the age of 15, and has been living in Uniondale ever since. He enjoys playing Santa because of “the joy that I bring” to the kids, he said, pointing to the happy “look in their faces when they get that gift that they have been expecting.”

For the most part, children are given their first choice of gift, which Rallye purchases for them, according to Tanya Fernandez, a social worker for Roslyn Public Schools.

“This is my 16th year” taking part in the program with Rallye, she said.

Recalling the start of the Rallye kids’ party, Juliana Curran Terian, the company’s president and CEO, told attendees that her husband, Peter, who ran Rallye until his death in 2002, “wasn’t really a children guy.”

However, she remembered, “when I became pregnant, all of a sudden, he loved every child he ever saw” and decided he wanted to hold a Christmas party for local kids. She pointed out that Dennis Mallon, who worked with her husband, “orchestrated the first party.”

The first party was designed “to give back to the community” and also served as a way to get Rallye employees in sales and service to work together, Mallon told the Press. Kids always wanted bikes as gifts back then and Rallye service employees would assemble them for the kids, he said.

The annual party continues to be a way for Rallye employees to work together to help the local kids, Terian pointed out. “Everybody volunteers for this,” she said, adding they wrap all the gifts, start planning the event in September and “it comes off without a hitch every year.”

Helping to celebrate with the kids this time were guests including Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz.

Whitmore Group CEO James C. Metzger: Giving a ‘Win-win-win’

James Metzger

With giving season underway, there’s no better time for those with a lot to be thankful for to reach out and lend a hand to local charitable organizations that help Long Islanders in need.

Among the many good reasons to be benevolent is that aside from helping people, such acts of kindness in turn make the donor feel better. Just ask James C. Metzger, CEO and chairman of Garden City-based Whitmore Group, a privately held company that has become one of the most successful independent insurance brokerage and financial services firms in the region since it was started in 1989.

Metzger has been involved in philanthropy for many years and, during that time, he has donated money and time to several charities, schools, and youth organizations on Long Island and beyond, including the American Heart Association; the Arthritis Foundation; Big Brothers Big Sisters; the Hempstead Police Athletic League (PAL) lacrosse team; his alma mater, Hofstra University; the Jamaica YMCA; and St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington.

Metzger spoke with the Press about his philanthropic initiatives and what makes giving so important to him. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

Why is philanthropy so important to you? A lot of our giving is around the community — in the New York metropolitan area — as well as our clients’ communities. We’ve become involved with our clients’ causes and our clients’ charities and foundations, which creates a win-win-win situation good for our clients, good for the recipients, and good for The Whitmore Group as well. So, a lot of our giving is client-driven and often the clients are catalysts. For example, today I’m meeting [with] a very large building maintenance company. The owner and CEO of that company is the president on the board of trustees of the Boys & Girls Club of Newark. They’re coming in to visit my office today…to talk about their programs. We support that organization and we have supported that organization over the years. But they want to sit down with me and see if we can expand our relationship with them. [That and the Jamaica YMCA, another organization The Whitmore Group has helped,] just to name two, do an awful lot for the underprivileged and kids in tough areas — challenging environments — and they really help these kids and improve their potential and give them confidence…. I support a number of youth lacrosse organizations and specifically ones that are in the city and are minority centric. I find that gratifying because a lot of these kids are terrific athletes and, historically, they’ve played basketball and baseball and football. But lacrosse is a sport that’s not as competitive as those major sports, so it gives the kids a greater opportunity to excel.

What was it that first inspired you to get involved with philanthropic initiatives? The funeral industry was the original platform upon which I built The Whitmore Group 30 years ago. And the funeral industry, I think, taught me a lot about giving back to the community. Funeral directors are often pillars of the community and many funeral homes are doing business exclusively in their own backyard, so to speak. They’re going to do business in their neighborhood and I think that they are really focused on being solid citizens in the community and giving back and involving themselves in a variety of ways. And I think I learned a lot from that. By giving back, they bolstered relationships with their clients’ families and they made their businesses stronger through philanthropy. And then I became a board trustee of the Funeral Service Foundation, which is a national organization that promotes everything that’s good about funeral service. And I donated money to that organization — to their endowment — and I served on the board and I traveled throughout the country to meet with funeral service professionals…. I think I was initially inspired by that community-centric existence. And from there I became involved with sports and philanthropy when I reconnected with my alma mater, Hofstra University, and Half Hollow Hills High School…. I’ve also become involved with St. Anthony’s. They approached me based on what they perceived as my giveback to the sports community on Long Island…. Initially I thought because I wasn’t an alum of St. Anthony’s, I was going to pass. But they convinced me that it would be a good investment on many levels and I agree…. Whether it was a terrific branding opportunity for me or I get to go watch the young men and women play sports, [that] makes it kind of a proud, gratifying experience to watch them play, given the involvement that I have and the success that they have. And I do think that it strengthens my brand. So, it’s another example of a win-win-win situation.

About how much in donations do you and The Whitmore Group make each year? We give a percentage of our profits to charity every year. I don’t disclose the exact amount. But it’s a significant percentage of our profits…. It always feels good to give back to schools — whether it’s high schools or colleges or Big Brothers Big Sisters or the Boys & Girls Club or Jamaica YMCA. I believe the money goes to the right place and to the right people.

How did you became involved with the American Heart Association? Marc Hamroff is a very successful attorney based in Garden City and Manhattan, and they have a golf outing named after his father, the [Long Island Golf Classic: A Joel Hamroff Memorial Tribute]. And Marc asked me to be the honoree one year…. He thought that I could help them raise money…. We raised over $300,000 the year I was honoree and I was very impressed with the way Marc … ran this golf outing and the amount of money that they raised and, of course, the cause. The Heart Association is, I think, another great charity foundation that does a lot [and] I think the money goes in the right place, to the right people. I’ve been involved and I’ve been a major sponsor for this chapter and for Marc since I was the honoree probably five years ago.

You have also made charitable contributions to the Half Hollow Hills East High School boys lacrosse team. How long have you been involved with that team and what made you get involved with it? I’ve been involved with that probably almost 10 years. I was a lacrosse player at Half Hollow Hills…. I had some success there…. I have very fond memories. We had very competitive teams when I was there…. My experience as a football and lacrosse player there did a lot for me and really helped form that foundation for my future.

What would you say is the philanthropic effort of yours that you are most proud of and why? It’s hard to answer that question. They are all special in their own way. And that’s the truth.

What advice would you give to people or organizations reading this who may not be involved with philanthropic initiatives and may be open to it? When you give, you get back a lot … on a lot of levels. Emotionally and, I think, mentally, it helps in more ways than one would imagine. Start locally. Look around you. There’s no better place to start than your neighborhood. And then take it from there. Like the people that inspired me first [in] the funeral industry…. I think it’s great to start locally and then go from there. Make your backyard a better place for everyone.

Experts: It’s Never Too Early or Too Late to Plan for Your Golden Years

Joseph La Ferlita, partner at Uniondale law firm Farrell Fritz, discusses estate law at the LIA event.

Far too many people wait much too long to make plans for their retirements, as well as all aspects of old age for that matter, with some never making such plans at all.

The consequences of not planning can be devastating for them and their families, according to a group of experts who discussed aging on Long Island this week.

“You’re never too young to plan, you’re never too old, you’re never too poor and you’re never too rich,” Jennifer Cona, managing partner at Melville-based Genser Cona Elder Law, said Nov. 15 during a panel discussion presented by the Long Island Association (LIA) Small & Mid-Sized Business Committee at LIA’s Melville headquarters.

The event was billed as “The Top Challenges of Baby Boomers: Health, Caregiving, Finances, Retirement Anxiety and the Economy,” and LIA said the discussion was designed to “reduce your stress” about our golden years.

“I think the most important issue facing us as caregivers and our aging population is how it’s going to impact us as working elder caregivers and businesses,” Cona said. After all, “as business owners and as people who are trying to work and juggle these issues, it’s going to impact us both ways.”

Businesses are already seeing the impact from the lack of planning because many workers with deadlines and important meetings scheduled are often instead “flying out the door to deal with emergency issues for their parents” because “they haven’t planned ahead, they’re not prepared for those issues – whether it’s the hospitalizations or the home health aide didn’t show up or mom fell,” she noted.

In addition to the stress on those workers, businesses often suffer as well due to lost productivity and other issues, she said.

“Businesses have to get prepared for this silver tsunami, as they say, so that they can mitigate those issues,” she added.

The amount of money that many Americans have saved for retirement, meanwhile, is “woefully inadequate,” according to John Rizzo, LIA chief economist and a professor of economics and statistics at Stony Brook University. “Nearly half of Americans aged 50 and over have saved $25,000 or less for retirement,” he pointed out.

Compounding the issue, a growing number of young adults are living at home with parents due to issues including the high cost of housing and living on LI. Nearly three times as many young adults were living with their parents on the Island in 2016 as the rest of the U.S., he said.

Options for the elderly on Long Island include senior living communities that allow residents to remain independent in their golden years, such as Jefferson’s Ferry Lifecare Retirement Community in South Setauket, according to Linda Kolakowski, its vice president of resident life. Jefferson’s Ferry provides various levels of healthcare to residents and those services change and adapt as their healthcare needs change, but the cost remains the same throughout the time they live there, she pointed out.

“It gives you safety and security,” while keeping residents in their home environments, and also provides security for residents’ families and makes planning easier, she explained.

“People plan for retirement, but nobody plans for aging or for getting old,” Kolakowski said, adding that the result is many people regularly face new crises. “Nobody ever thinks it’s going to happen to them. It’s going to happen to the other person.”

Noting that about 57,000 people on Long Island have Alzheimer’s disease, Tori Cohen, executive director at the Westbury-based Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation, pointed out her organization helps not only those suffering from that disease, but family members who are balancing caregiving and work responsibilities.

When it comes to legal planning, it’s important for everybody to consider issues involving what will happen both before and after they die, according to Joseph La Ferlita, a partner at Uniondale law firm Farrell Fritz who specializes in trusts and estates.

“The key takeaway is planning for the inevitable because it is going to happen,” La Ferlita said of death. All too often, he told attendees, he “sees the outcome of the problem” of lack of planning when meeting with surviving spouses and others who’ve just lost loved ones, and the clients are confused and “don’t know where the assets are” in some cases, or “they’re concerned whether they’re going to have enough to live, they’re concerned about taxes and liquidity,” and also concerned about special needs children and family businesses.

La Ferlita also stressed the importance of everybody having a will, as well as health care proxies and power of attorney documents. The results of not having these legal documents is often unnecessary added misery and stress for family members who are already going through a tragedy.

Catholic Health Services of Long Island’s Dr. Patrick O’Shaughnessy: Taking Patient Safety to New Heights

Dr. Patrick O'Shaughnessy

As executive vice president and chief medical officer of Catholic Health Services (CHS) of Long Island since 2013 and its executive vice president and chief clinical officer since last year, Dr. Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s areas of expertise include population health management, medical informatics and high reliability science. He’s become a recognized leader in high reliability health care and has published and spoken nationally on patient safety and quality improvement processes in health care. We recently spoke with Dr. O’Shaughnessy to learn about his organization’s patient safety initiatives and get his take on the current opioid epidemic, as well as his love of flying.

Why are high reliability health care, patient safety and quality improvement processes in health care so important to you? We have successfully applied methodologies of high-reliability organizations to better serve patients, raising awareness throughout the system, promoting robust process improvement tools such as Lean and Six Sigma principles and creating a culture of safety with a new campaign, Safety Starts With Me. To promote this philosophy, we created the Daily Patient Safety Principles that stress a culture of safety, the importance of communicating clearly, paying attention to detail and having a questioning attitude along with supporting best practices and guidelines to reduce harm. This is layered with CHS Red Rules, which stress using two-patient identifiers, conducting a time out before invasive or high-risk procedures and a two-provider check before administration of blood, blood products and high-risk medications. Thanks to these initiatives, CHS has been improving patient safety and achieving consistent performance. The result: best practices, high reliability, better outcomes. This equates to safe, high quality care for CHS patients and has realized a 70 percent reduction in hospital-acquired infections.

Can you tell me about your efforts to address the heroin and prescription drug epidemic on Long Island? I have served on the Suffolk County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Task Force that helped frame legislative recommendations. Also, I provided key legislative testimony to Governor Cuomo’s task force on heroin and prescription drug abuse last year. At CHS, I implemented policies that aid emergency department physicians in preventing drug-seeking individuals from obtaining addictive medications. Additionally, CHS has partnered with the Family & Children’s Association (FCA) to assist people with substance abuse issues who are treated in our emergency departments. Known as SHERPA, this free service is provided by FCA and is made up of peer recovery coaches trained to meet with overdose survivors and with their families in emergency departments. The team connects people to treatment, offers peer and family support and provides follow-up.

In addition to being a doctor, you are also a licensed pilot. Is there anything you’ve learned as a pilot that you’ve been able to use in the field of medicine? I have applied the concepts of military and commercial aviation safety best practices to health care systems clinical operations to the benefit of thousands of patients.

What other accomplishments are you especially proud of? I established the CHS annual Pinnacle Awards for Quality & Patient Safety, where clinical teams from all six hospitals and the system’s continuing care division submit projects that advanced quality patient care. Through the Pinnacle Awards, we have introduced CHS staff to a host of experts, such as John J. Nance, author of Why Hospitals Should Fly and more than 20 other books. Another such guest speaker was former NASA astronaut Story Musgrave and Dr. David B. Nash, founding dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health. We are making care safer and recognizing those driving these changes.

What do you like most about your job? The ability to make a difference.

Do you have any sayings? I always say our mantra for our patients should be: “Don’t harm me; heal me; be kind to me.” To positively impact patient quality of care, we launched CHS on a journey to high reliability. CHS may not be the biggest health system, but we will be the best!

What would readers be surprised to learn about you? I’m on TV as the host of CHS Presents: Dr. O: Faithfully Transforming Health Care, which airs on Telecare, now known as the Catholic Faith Network.

Flushing Bank CEO John R. Buran: Nothing Is Impossible

John Buran, CEO of Flushing Bank. The Bank serves a large customer base on Long Island.

As president and CEO of Flushing Bank since July 2005, John R. Buran has played a key role in the company’s continued success, as well as its ability to overcome challenges facing Long Island, the banking industry, and the country.

Before taking over, he served as the bank’s executive vice president and COO beginning in January 2001. Prior to joining Flushing Bank, he held senior positions at both Fleet Bank and Citibank.

We recently spoke with Buran to discuss his company, its mission, and the importance of giving back to the communities Flushing Bank serves.

Do you have any sayings? As a matter of fact, I have one hanging in my office: “It can be done.” It inspires a positive attitude and means that nothing is impossible. If you put the right resources, thought, and effort into any challenging situation, a solution can be found.

What is your company’s mission? Quite simply, our mission is to build profitable customer relationships to enhance shareholder value. We are committed to being the preeminent community financial services company in our multicultural market area by exceeding customer expectations.

How significant is the Long Island market for your company? We have three branch locations on the Island currently. A few years ago, we relocated our corporate headquarters to Uniondale. We serve many customer segments including the personal, business, and commercial segments. Our Government Banking team serves many public entities on Long Island, along with towns and villages, water, fire and school districts. We will continue to expand prudently as opportunities present themselves.

What specific challenges are present in the Long Island market? Long Island is a large and diverse market with many segments that require a targeted approach to ensure that we meet the needs of the market. Our goal in any new market is to develop a presence and provide something above and beyond what a big bank provides. Our community-based approach is about building sustainable relationships with our customers. I grew up in New York City but spent most of my adult life on Long Island and raised my family here, so I consider it my home.

Why are charitable initiatives important to your company? As a community bank, Flushing Bank is committed to giving back to the communities we serve. Over the years, we have contributed millions of dollars to charitable organizations that make a difference in our community. We are proud to sponsor cultural and charitable events throughout our markets. Our work within the community does not end when the workday ends. Many of our employees participate as board members or volunteers of local community organizations. Their participation helps keep us connected with the community and supports the economic and social vitality of the communities we serve.

Why did Flushing Bank decide to partner with Island Harvest? Island Harvest has become Long Island’s largest hunger relief organization. It provides hunger awareness and education and is a key ally for our community. Flushing Bank has three branch locations on Long Island and serves many customers who live and/or work on Long Island, as do many of our employees.

What philanthropic effort or efforts have you been most proud of? It is difficult to select just one. One that I am particularly proud of is our affiliation with the United Way of Long Island. We have sponsored several initiatives that help students, veterans, and families. A particular program of theirs that stands out in my mind is Project Warmth. Project Warmth’s Emergency Fuel Fund can make a significant difference for families in our region. As Long Island’s only non-government islandwide emergency fuel fund, Project Warmth is a safety net for individuals and families who are unable to pay their heating bill. Supporting organizations such as United Way of Long Island and Island Harvest ensures that the basic necessities of life are addressed for those most in need.

What do you like most about your job and what would you say has been your top accomplishment to date as CEO? The best part of being the CEO of Flushing Bank is leading an organization of extremely talented and dedicated people to deliver outstanding service to our customers throughout Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan each and every day. I think the top accomplishment of my tenure as CEO was ensuring that we not only remained stable, but we grew profitably throughout the recent economic downturn (a.k.a. The Great Recession). We consistently delivered a dividend each quarter and were laser focused on providing value to our shareholders.

NYCBS Breaks Ground on New State-of-The-Art Cancer Treatment Facility

Elected officials joined NYCBS for a ground-breaking ceremony.

New York Cancer & Blood Specialists (NYCBS) held a ground-breaking ceremony Oct. 10 for what it said will be a “state-of-the-art” cancer treatment facility in Port Jefferson Station.

The new, modern facility will be “the most advanced, patient-friendly cancer treatment center of its kind on Long Island,” according to NYCBS, pointing out the 15,000-square-feet center was “designed to treat the whole patient, not just their cancer.” The new center will have everything patients need to fight cancer in one convenient location right in their own backyard, including a pharmacy and radiology services, said Dr. Jeffrey Vacirca, CEO of NYCBS.

“About three years ago, we decided that we needed really to redesign and have a new office that was more centered on what the patient experience needs to be,” Vacirca told the Press.

The goal was to provide patients with everything they needed for their care in one center, “from the beginning of their treatment to survivorship after they finish treatment,” he said. “Our mission is to take care of patients in their community. But also our whole belief in our cancer care model is that we don’t want patients to have to be admitted to hospitals, spend unnecessary time away from their home and unnecessary cost if we can do everything for them locally and do it better.”

The existing Port Jefferson Station facility will remain open after the new center opens, which is expected before summer 2019, he said, noting “we’ll probably add about 30 people” to its existing staff of about 100. A nearby East Setauket facility will close after the new center opens, according to NYCBS. 
 

Also planned are two additional, state-of-the-art large cancer centers in Suffolk County that will open in the next 12 months. New facilities in Riverhead and Patchogue will follow the one in Port Jefferson Station, Dr. Vacirca told the Press. On tap as well are NYCBS’s first two locations in Nassau County, also scheduled to open in 2019, but those plans – including their exact locations – are “still in development,” he said.

NYCBS is also planning an expansion into Brooklyn and upstate New York, he said, noting it now has 30 offices, including 13 in Suffolk (where it first started) and the rest in Queens, Manhattan and The Bronx.

Dr. Vacirca told attendees at the ground-breaking event: “To kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, New York Cancer & Blood Specialists is proud to announce the home of our newest cancer center.”

He thanked NYCBS patients attending the event “for allowing us to care for you,” adding “this is not going to be your normal cancer center.” Among its other unique features, the facility will be open 365 days a year, he said.

Dr. Vacirca also thanked attending local elected officials: Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward Romaine.

“I’m very happy to see that they’re here,” Romaine told the Press of the new NYCBS Suffolk facilities, adding: “I think they’ll help a lot of people who normally would have to think about seeking treatment in” New York City.

Pointing out that he himself is a “two-time cancer survivor,” Toulon told attendees: “I wholeheartedly know how important it is to have not only good patient care, but have compassionate, caring people when you walk in through the doors.”

One “appealing” feature of the new facility for Keith Seidel, a 53-year-old Farmingville cancer survivor who has been a NYCBS patient since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2014, is the fact that it will have doctors, a pharmacy and radiology services all in one location, he told the Press. That is convenient and will “definitely” save time for patients, he said.

An artists rendering of the new building.

Hamptons Classic Panel Tackles Wild Horse Issue

From left to right are Moses Brings Plenty and Manda Kalimian, both of the CANA Foundation, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), former U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), author Roberto Dutesco, and equestrian show jumping rider Kelli Cruciotti at the First Annual Hampton Classic Legislative Panel. Photo by Jeff Berman.

Equine advocates and elected officials from both sides of the aisle recently joined forces on Long Island to brainstorm how best to address the crisis facing America’s wild horse population in the West.

The CANA Foundation, an East Norwich-based nonprofit horse rescue organization, sponsored the First Annual Hampton Classic Legislative Panel on the topic September 1, the last day of the Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton, to raise awareness of the issue.

“This is really an issue of horses and habitat and humanity,” said former U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), CANA advisor and panel moderator. “This is a good example of one of the bipartisan elements that exist in Congress right now – and that is Democrats and Republicans working together to protect horses, to protect our heritage.”

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) estimates that there are 47,683 wild horses and burros in captivity as of August 2018; most of those animals are on pastures. Polls show 80 percent of Americans oppose either euthanizing or sterilizing the animals. Opinions vary about how to best manage the horses, which advocates say have been driven from their native rangelands by the oil industry and agricultural interests.

“We believe rewilding is the answer to many environmental problems … and to the wild horse crisis,” said CANA founder Manda Kalimian, who defines rewilding as “putting things back to the original state of being.”

Related Story: Long Island Advocates Bridle Over Trump Plan to Euthanize Mustangs

The group is seeking people willing to adopt wild horses and “find lands to rewild,” she told attendees. The group is “cautiously optimistic” that Suffolk County legislators may help them place wild horses on the North Fork, she told the Press.

“This is something we have to work together on,” said U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). “There may not always be easy answers. But the main goal should be to preserve and protect as much as possible when it comes to wildlife and wild horses.”

“Horses saved my life,” said Moses Brings Plenty, an actor and CANA advocate who was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Now, he’s looking to return the favor.

Also on the panel was author Roberto Dutesco, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.); and equestrian show jumping rider Kelli Cruciotti.

CANA Foundation is recruiting volunteers and donors for its #RewildOurWorld movement. More info can be found at canafoundation.org.

Moses Brings Plenty, CANA Foundation’s director of relations and rangeland acquisitions, and CANA Foundation Executive Director Manda Kaliman.
U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), author/photographer Roberto Dutesco and equestrian show jumping rider Kelli Cruciotti.
Jean Shafiroff, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), New York State Assemb. Rebecca Seawright (D-Manhattan), Long Island Press Publisher Victoria Schneps-Yunis and Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King-Sweeney.
Claudia Pilato and Kevin Cummings of Bridgehampton National Bank at the Hampton Classic.

Deirdre O’Connell: Long Island’s Top Realtor

Deidre OConnell, CEO of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. Photo by Matthew Kropp.

As CEO of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, Deirdre O’Connell has played a key role in its success and the development of strategic initiatives and goals for the future as the company approaches its 100th year in business. O’Connell oversees the sales management of a $3.3 billion organization that has 950 sales associates in 26 offices spanning Nassau, Suffolk and Queens, with another location opening soon. She has also been instrumental in the company’s growth and expansion over the past decade. We recently caught up with O’Connell to get her take on what makes her company and the Long Island market so unique, and how her family and growing up here have helped her achieve success. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

What is your company’s mission? Our sales associates are trained, experienced and committed to diligence, discretion and luxury service. All are well versed in our philosophy of caring service and strictly adhering to the company’s code of ethics, with genuine knowledge of the local communities, as well as unequaled skills in the arts of marketing and negotiation.

What do you like most about your job? While our traditions of service, integrity, professionalism and always doing the right thing will forever be at the heart of our organization, with our 100th birthday approaching, it’s critical to our success to demonstrate to today’s market that we are 100 years young and reflective of today’s sellers and homebuyers.

How did you get started in realty? I got my first taste of real estate doing public relations for the real estate department of a large insurance company (MetLife.) I had two children at the time and wanted to be in more control of my career, so I went to work at Thomas O’Connell and Sons, a real estate company in Manhasset owned by my husband’s uncle.

How significant is the Long Island market for your company? While we are a Sotheby’s International realty affiliate with sister offices around the world, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International is owned and operated right here on Long Island. We opened our first office in 1922 in Huntington. Long Island has the best of the world right here.

What specific challenges are present in the Long Island market? One of the largest problems in the Long Island real estate market today is [that] buyers, regardless of generation, are looking for homes that are completely done, smaller in size with smaller yards, and convenient to town and transportation. Our agents are, therefore, working very hard with sellers of larger homes on multiple acres to price the properties appropriately, stage them to attract today’s buyers and market them with professional photos and video on digital and social media platforms.

How much of an impact did growing up on Long Island have on your worldview? I grew up on the North Fork of Long Island in the small town of New Suffolk. My mother taught me entrepreneurship, hard work, love of family. Born in Ireland, my mother came to the states at 18. She married, had five children and began a pie-baking business, in peak season selling over 100 pies at a farm stand. We all helped — peeling, chopping, mixing, labeling and other tasks. Later, both my parents opened a specialty market and deli in Cutchogue and that is where I learned from my father the significance of quality versus quantity and concierge customer service. Our store provided only the highest-quality meats, cheeses and specialty items and we were all trained to engage with all customers in a professional, warm manner, which included carrying bags to cars, delivery to homes and always smiling.

What philanthropic effort have you been most proud of? Every October, each of our offices becomes a coat drive drop-off, collecting hundreds of coats to be donated to the local charity with the greatest need in each market. Then, in the spring, we sponsor a Dress for Success month and collect professional clothes for men and women. Our company, agents and employees love Long Island and want to help our fellow Long Islanders.

Do you have any sayings? Kent Gale had a saying, “Do the right thing,” and Pat Petersen, our chairman and president, continued to build the company around that saying. At our company meeting in February, when I was announced as CEO, we unveiled our new company campaign, “Your Way Forward.” I believe in our deep, strong roots of luxury, professionalism and doing the right thing and I will always bring those values forward as this very special Long Island company continues to grow.