Jessica Militello

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Family and Children’s Association Celebrates 135 Years of Service

The Family Children's Association marked its 135th anniversary on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (Long Island Press photo)

The nonprofit Family and Children’s Association celebrated its 135th anniversary Friday at the Mineola Athletic Association Baseball Fields, the site of FCA’s original children’s home that debuted in 1884.  

Members of the FCA, Mineola residents, and elected officials joined together to commemorate and reflect on the group’s fight against substance abuse, homelessness, barriers to education, and economic security. 

“One hundred and thirty five years ago folks much like all of us made a promise to the Long Island community to take care of people who really need help,” said FCA President and CEO Jeff Reynolds. “We’re going to make sure that Nassau County and Long Island as a whole is as strong and healthy as it can be, because we know when our community is strong that everybody does better. And we’ve kept our promise 135 years later.”

CA was originally founded when The Temporary Home for Children was built to provide shelter for orphaned and mistreated children in the area. The institution went on to include a school and a children’s hospital staying true to the idea that no child should go without proper care and compassion. 

Today, FCA continues to better the community for families and children on Long Island, but that work is not done without the help of the nonprofit’s many supporters.

Some of the event’s sponsors included the Mineola Fire Department, the Mineola Historical Society, and the Willow Interfaith Women’s Choir, who opened the event in song as guests made their entrance. 

Lessing’s Hospitality served corn muffins and cinnamon raisin tea biscuits that were recreated from a recipe book from the 1800s that was discovered when the shelter was still standing called The Home Helper.

“It’s fun to be able to get the chefs together and make the goods that were in that book,” said Lessing’s Hospitality President Michael Lessing. “To have an organization as great as the FCA, you have to celebrate every milestone because it helps what they are doing for the community. Being a family-run business, we get it, so it’s our pleasure to be part of it.”

Another treat from the event involved the showing of the FCA’s Safe and Warm Quilt Initiative, which was started in 2017 as a nod to the organization’s history and includes involvement from various schools, libraries, scout troops, as well as families and staff. The various quilts were put side by side on the baseball field and showed a great display of solidarity and a message of hope to the community that everyone can come together and support each other’s success and empowerment.

FCA officials noted that despite the progress made, there is still more work to be done. 

“The agency has really given birth to a value and a principle that I know we all stand for,” said former FCA President and CEO Dr. Richard Dina. “This organization has persisted because of its commitments for kids, their health, their welfare, as well as their families. But what makes it viable, it seems to me is that the organization has always been built upon teamwork.” 

Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, FCA President & CEO, with Michael Lessing, Lessing’s Hospitality President & CEO
Dr. Jeffrey Reynold’s with the staff and children of FCA’s Lynn Vanderhall Nursery Co-Op
The children and staff of FCA’s Lynn Vanderhall Nursery Co-Op sing Happy Birthday to FCA

How To Find Scholarships That Will Ease Tuition

As the summer draws to an end, many students have already started applying for classes for the fall semester. But the search to ease tuition expenses through financial aid and scholarships can be just as stressful if you don’t know where to look for these opportunities. 

Most colleges offer a myriad of scholarships based on merit, talent, and financial need, but there are many more available on a national and local level that can often go overlooked by students who could otherwise qualify for these opportunities. Colleges can assist you even more so in finding the perfect scholarship opportunities.

“There are a plethora of people and organizations willing to help their peers by giving them an opportunity to get a decent education,” said Marcel Roberts, an assistant professor in the department of Sciences at City of New York (CUNY) John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “Potential and current students should contact their academic advisement centers to find out about all of the scholarships available.” 

Common misconceptions on eligibility surround when exactly in a student’s academic career that they should begin looking into scholarships and who qualifies for them. Oftentimes it is perceived that scholarships only apply to students who are either at the top of their class or are star athletes in their school, but financial opportunities for college money go well beyond these limited criteria. 

Before scoping out your prospects, sit down with a trusted peer or mentor and list strengths, talents, and interests that you have. This can apply to any extracurricular activity you participate in or hobbies, including art, sports, martial arts, dance, writing, and more. It is also important to note that you can apply for as many scholarships as you desire if you find you meet the criteria.

Local and community organizations are a great place to start searching for scholarships. There are nonprofit groups and initiatives focused on empowering the community, like the “Stay on Long Island” campaign, which offers scholarships for academically inclined graduates of Suffolk County Community College to ensure graduates continue their education by transferring to a four-year school on Long Island. 

Other scholarships from the area pertain to personal interests and hobbies, like The Long Island Caddie Scholarship Fund, which was founded in 1962 and has awarded more than $4.3 million to young men and women from Long Island who work in service to golf for a need-based scholarship. Individuals must work a minimum of two years in service golf and be in good standing with the club. 

According to Johanna Gavin, the Senior Director of Caddie Scholarship Funds, the scholarship enforces a good work ethic and a chance to learn about the integrity of golf.

“Our applicants are caddies who as young adults learn about the importance of networking and meeting new people,” said Gavin. “It demonstrates hard work and perseverance because you’re not always guaranteed work [as a caddie], so you have to stick to it and become responsible along the way.”

BENEFACTOR INSIGHTS

James Metzger, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Whitmore, a leading insurance brokerage on Long Island, offers his professional advice for students seeking scholarships. He is a major contributor to academic and athletic programs in high schools and colleges such as Hofstra University, Half Hollow Hills, and St. Anthony’s High School. Metzger has dedicated himself to helping student athletes better their college experience and their education through his efforts.

What inspires you to continue to be so involved in helping to fund education? I see giving back as a responsibility and a privilege. Helping others is something my parents instilled in me.When I see the looks of gratitude from families that get support, it’s all worth it.

Do you have any advice for students who are looking for scholarships? There are numerous angles to pursue to find scholarships. It requires preparation, dedication and hard work. I’d suggest encouraging families to start thinking about developing a history and record of achievement as you are leaving grade school.

How can students stand out in their applications? Scholarship applications help school administrators identify a potential student’s character, academics, and extracurricular achievement. Character is a keyword. How you demonstrate these things will differentiate you from your peers. Being able to work with others, leadership, and community service are game changers.

Dr. Ruth Gives Advice on Dating Apps and Talks About Her New Documentary, “Ask Dr. Ruth”

Dr. Ruth spoke on Long Island this week.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer believes that dating apps are not a bad idea for singles on the dating scene, but that people should certainly “use their brains” in choosing if and where they meet with strangers with whom they match.

That was just some of the advice the world-renowned sex therapist gave Wednesday when she appeared at the Great Neck Squire Cinemas for a Gold Coast Cinema Series-sponsored screening of her new documentary, Ask Dr. Ruth, followed by a Q&A moderated by Michael Glickman, the President of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  

“What I do talk about is to warn about apps,” said Westheimer. “Not that I don’t want people to use it, because I don’t want anyone to be lonely, but people have to use their brains to meet some place where it’s safe. The other thing that worries me is the art of conversation is getting lost. Everybody is looking at their phone as if the world is going to crumble if you’re not constantly looking.”

Ask Dr. Ruth is directed by Ryan White and goes into intricate details of her childhood, including being sent to a children’s home in Switzerland at the age of 10 in order to escape the Holocaust, and how the experiences and losses she faced impacted her life. Westheimer first rose to prominence in September 1980 with a 15-minute radio segment called “Sexually Speaking,” which aired on Sunday evenings at midnight on WYNY-FM (NBC) in New York. Her show generated so much buzz from her honest and straight-to-the-point sex advice that it became a one-hour segment. From there, Westheimer’s career took off, including television, film, books, and games.  

As a member on the board of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, Westheimer explained the documentary is not just about her, but to educate others on an important part of history that people must remember so it doesn’t happen again.

“There are people who are Holocaust deniers,” said Westheimer. “And then there are people who talk about Holocaust fatigue, that say we shouldn’t talk about it anymore. At the Museum of Jewish Heritage, we have a very big exhibit on Auschwitz, and I want everybody to go and see it, so that those people who say they have Holocaust fatigue can see somebody has to teach it.”

While Westheimer states that she is “not involved in politics,” recent events in the news contributed to the important message that she conveys in her film.

“I have to stand up and talk about anti-Semitism,” said Westheimer. “All of us have to fight so that this will not happen again. I’m not involved in politics, except these days I have changed my mind. I’m very upset when I see children separated from parents. That of course makes me feel like I felt on January 5, 1939.”