Julia Moro

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Kidney Donor Honored For Gift of Life

Rick Bellando

Donating an organ is one of the most inspiring acts of generosity a person can perform, and a local man who did just that is set to be honored for his benevolence.

Rick Bellando of Farmingdale, who donated a kidney to a friend in 2007, is an honoree at the 14th annual New York Golf Classic at the Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove on August 5. The event is a fundraiser that supports the mission of the American Kidney Fund (AKF), which helps to fight kidney disease.

“I just wanted to make a difference at that time and I never really thought about it,” says Bellando, a sales manager at Oheka Castle who donated a kidney to Mathew Fulgieri after booking Fulgieri’s wedding, when the two became friends.

Bellando found out that Fulgieri was suffering from polycystic kidney disease. Fulgieri lost his grandmother, mother and brother from this disease as well. Fulgieri had two young sons at the time, and Bellando said that he couldn’t help but think about those boys growing up without their father.

“He’s such a nice guy, his kids might not have had a chance to have their dad… I had little girls at the time,” says Bellando. “That’s what really got me, was the kids.”

After Bellando found out he was a match, he decided he wanted to donate his kidney. The doctors told him that there were risks involved with the procedure, and although that did worry him, it didn’t stop him from saving Fulgieri’s life.

Maria Grasso, a Flushing Bank senior executive vice president and chief operating officer who co-chairs the New York Golf Classic and is a member of the AKF National Board of Trustees, says that not many people are aware of the effects of kidney disease, but the golf classic works to change that.

She says that if every Long Islander just didn’t buy a coffee one morning and instead donated to AKF, that would make a huge impact.

Long Island Nonprofit Kayak Outing Honors Those Touched by Breast Cancer

Martha’s Kayak, Inc. hosted its second annual memorial kayaking event this weekend in Island Park on Saturday, July 13, 2019.

Martha’s Kayak, Inc. hosted its second annual memorial kayaking event this weekend at Empire Kayaks in Island Park for breast cancer survivors, fighters, their families, and the families of those who lost a loved one to the horrific disease.

Roger Leider started the organization after his wife, Martha Leider, passed away in 2017 from metastatic breast cancer at age 54. She loved kayaking and visiting the swans she would frequently feed during her trips. Fifty people came together Saturday to kayak with the memory of Martha in their hearts, in hopes of seeing her beloved swans. 

“I hate the reason that I do this, but I love that I can do it,” said Leider. “When you’re a breast cancer survivor, or you’re undergoing treatment, it’s not easy. To be able to have a couple of hours like this where you’re smiling and having fun, it’s a pretty cool thing to do for people.” 

The kayaking, nature, and support shown by others going through the same challenges was said to be very therapeutic for many that attended. Erin Nau, Counseling and Education Coordinator at the Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program at Adelphi University, knew Martha through the support group she facilitated for metastatic breast cancer patients. 

“[Kayaking] brought something so special to her, it was something she and Roger did a lot together, because Roger loved her so much,” said Nau. “This was Martha’s self care.”

Leider describes his wife as a strong, smart, and loving woman. Martha was an avid photographer, lover of animals, gym fanatic, and mother of two. 

“The first time [kayaking] without her was tough,” said Leider. “But now it’s great that I come down here with friends, doing something she loved.”

The organization’s mission is to provide kayaking experiences for people that are either survivors or under treatment for any type of cancer, but specifically breast cancer. Any funds the nonprofit collects is put toward kayaking events for cancer survivors.

Leider has contacted Stony Brook Hospital, as well as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to expand the organization and put together other kayaking excursions in those areas. Leider has also reached out to Memorial Sloan Kettering and Northwell Health, two hospitals his wife was treated at, to get a similar event in Suffolk County. 

Jeanne Dombrowski, a friend of Roger’s and a breast cancer survivor who participated in the kayaking excursion says that the insidious disease has definitely taken its toll on Long Islanders.

“It’s affected too many lives, and ruined too many families, especially on Long Island,” said Domborwski.

Now that the group has gotten their not-for-profit status, Leider hopes the organization will expand. 

“I would love to grow this nationally,” said Leider. “We’re just starting to scratch the surface.”

Martha’s cousin, Sandy Krameisen, recalled how loving and caring Martha was. She remembered how Leider’s kids would call her ‘mama bear.’ The day was special for Krameisen to remember her cousin but also to support others.

“It’s nice for [survivors] and people that are going through treatment to feel supported,” said Krameisen. “For those of us who maybe are not going through that, it’s good to feel like you’re helping in some way, or learning what you can do to help a little bit more.”

Leider has big plans for the organization, all in memory of his wife. 

“It’s good to keep her memory alive,” said Leider. “That’s why we do it.”

Smile Farms Opens New Center in Oakdale

Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Smile Farms center in Oakdale on Friday, July 12, 2019.

Smile Farms Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to employing adults with developmental disabilities, opened a new location in Oakdale at Skills Unlimited Inc. on Friday.

Smile Farms now has eight farms spanning across Long Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan. The organization founded in 2015 currently employs nearly 150 individuals with developmental disabilities. 

“We provide jobs in agricultural settings for men and women, almost none of whom had worked before,” said Vice President of Smile Farms Jennifer Carpenter Low. “So, for the first time ever, they are able to experience the satisfaction of mastering new skills, the pleasure of contributing to their team and the thrill of taking home a paycheck.”

The organization was started by Jim McCann, the founder and executive chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS.com Inc., with the intention to offer meaningful work to people who didn’t have jobs available to them. Smile Farms, the philanthropic partner of 1-800-FLOWERS, partnered with Skills Unlimited over two years ago and has continued to support their work.

Skills Unlimited, an affiliate of Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE), is an agency that provides programs and vocational training to help prepare adults with disabilities for work. Most recently, Smile Farms provided a $31,000 grant to Skills for a new greenhouse within their garden program. Recently, the garden program at Skills has been deemed a certified work training program by the state.

“People who come through get a very intense, robust experience of all different aspects of the garden process, from planting, nurturing and weeding to harvesting,” said Stephanie Lewis, the assistant vice president at FREE.

Skills Unlimited also advocates for adults with disabilities.

“We go to different types of employers in the community and talk to them about the benefits of employing [adults with disabilities],” said Lewis. “We try to support and educate employers about how these people can meet their needs. It just takes a little bit of time.”

Skills Unlimited additionally introduced a mobile market that brings fresh and healthy produce to underserved communities on Long Island. The truck has two nutritionists accessible, both English and Spanish speaking, while also providing recipes to customers.

“We’re trying to promote healthy living to communities that don’t really have access, the understanding or awareness of how they might be able to do so given their circumstances,” said Lewis.

At the Smile Farms, Skills Unlimited campus, they produce crops such as strawberries, zucchini and parsley to be sold at farmers markets, donated to local food banks and used on the mobile market. Recently, the Skills Unlimited campus has received inquiries from local restaurants as well, according to Carpenter Low.

“We want people to see the very real and meaningful contributions that individuals with developmental disabilities make in their workplaces, but also in their communities,” she said.

Related Story: Smile Farms Grows Pride for People With Special Needs

Bike Sharing Program Coming Soon to Suffolk

Officials announced the debut of the new Suffolk bike sharing program on Wednesday, July 10, 2019.

Suffolk County will be welcoming a new bike share program this August with 100 bikes and 24 stations throughout four communities, including Patchogue and Babylon. 

The new program, called Bethpage Ride, is the first of its kind on Long Island. Theresa Ward, Suffolk County deputy executive and commissioner of economic development and planning, said this is a big step in reducing traffic and getting people to consider other means of transportation. 

“Residents [and visitors] throughout Suffolk will be able to go to a nearby train station, a park or downtown area and right through an app on their phone, have instant access to a comfortable user-friendly bike,” Ward said. “The bike share program will not only reduce congestion and improve air quality, but it will help solve the critical problem of that last mile connection when using public transit.”

Massachusetts-based bike share company Zagster will operate and maintain the bike share throughout Suffolk. The company has been providing bike sharing services for over 10 years, serving more than 200 communities nationwide. 

Dave Reed, the sales manager for Zagster, said the goal is to get people out of their cars and connect them to the various recreational activities within biking distance. 

“If you think about Long Island, a lot of people think about congestion, traffic, sprawl, but that’s looking at it from the macro level,” said Reed. “If you zoom in, there are some great communities and there’s a lot of revitalization going on, including here in Patchogue.”

With the use of an app called “Pace,” users can access the Bethpage Ride bike share. There are three options, one is the pay-as-you-go, which is $1 for 15 minutes, then a $10 monthly membership which provides unlimited 30 minute rides, and lastly an annual $60 a year option for unlimited 30 minute rides. 

Riders will be able to locate bike stations with their app and use it to unlock the bike directly from their phone. The app will also show how many bikes and spaces are available at the bike sharings stations in real time. 

The other communities to have Bethpage Ride stations will be decided soon. The program is meant to put once out of reach parks, waterfronts and other recreational activities within biking distance. 

The Bethpage Ride bike share system is sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union (BFCU). BFCU President and CEO Wayne Grossé said this was an opportunity to enrich the lives of its members.

“Many of our members, work, live and play on Long Island and in the boroughs, we feel this is a great way to bring a positive impact to the communities in which they live,” said Grossé.

5 New Products To Help You Be A Better You

Palo Santo Incense Sticks
Palo Santo (‘holy wood’) sticks are the ultimate way to enhance a calm and clear head space. Sustainably harvested from Northern Peru, this incense is believed to cleanse any negative energy in a room and uplift your mood while enhancing the connection to your creative and spiritual side. $9. sacredwoodessence.com

Coconut Body ButterNothing screams summer like the scent of coconut. This nourishing coconut body butter is perfect for skin that’s been out in the sun all day and feels dry. With 48-hour moisturizing properties and a lasting delicious coconut smell, this cream is a dream! $25. thebodyshop.com

Collapsible Reusable Straws
These straws are all the rage these days since “saving the turtles” and using less plastic have become priorities for young people. Reusable silicone straws are portable, easy to clean, and perfect for environmentally conscious people. $6.50. packagefreeshop.com

Seanik Shampoo Bar
Lush recommends their shampoo bars for getting that beachy and voluminous hair look. Seanik is made with ingredients from the ocean. The bar has Irish moss seaweed and Japanese nori seaweed to make hair silky soft, and sea salt to give it volume. Lemon oil is added for a little extra shine with a blend of floral oils to subtly scent the hair. $11.95. lushusa.com

Jade Leaf Matcha Green Tea Powder
Japanese tea is believed to support wellbeing and concentration during meditation. The green tea also has a blend of antioxidants said to fight off tissue damage and inflammatory damage. EGCG, an antioxidant in matcha, is thought to help support metabolism and weight loss. Just take a spoonful of the green powder and whisk it into a glass of ice water for a refreshing, organic drink! $24.95. jadeleafmatcha.com

HMTC Awards: Honoring Upstanding Students

L. to r.: Riley Meckley, Daniel O'Niel, Rachek Leccese, and Chase Brodsky.

The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC) in Glen Cove honored four students on May 6 for their courage in confronting intolerance or prejudice when they encountered it.

Those honored with the Friedlander Upstander Award — which teaches students about the Holocaust and challenges them to act against intolerance — were Riley Meckley of Port Jefferson, Chase Brodsky of Jericho, Daniel O’Neill of Manhasset, and Rachel Leccese of Mattituck.

“All of our upstanders this year had really done something that set them apart by putting themselves out there and really helping others,” says Helen Turner, the director of youth education at HMTC.

The award, founded nine years ago and funded by the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, was set up to give scholarships to middle school, high school and college students who use their voices against bullying and intolerance.

Meckley was honored for demonstrating how she is an upstander through her daily choices, realizing that it is important to step out of your comfort zone to help others. At Gelinas Junior High School, Meckley is the student government president, which puts her in a unique position to continue to make a positive impact on her school and community.

Brodsky was honored after she learned that standing up to bullies and treating others with respect is paramount. She was recognized as an upstander for her willingness to go out of her way to make everyone feel included, while extending her friendship to all of her peers.

Leccese was honored after she had found herself being the subject of intolerance from students at school. As a result, she set to make sure they learned about religious intolerance. Lecesse organized a presentation for her school after contacting HMTC in order to stop discrimination and intolerance.

O’Neill was honored as after he decided to confront his peers that were being anti-Semitic at school. Despite being worried that he would be bullied as well, he spoke up.

“We’re really trying to encourage students to take pride in their actions for being an upstander, but also to celebrate their choices so that they really can make a difference,” Turner says. “They’re extraordinary young people.”

Long Island Fourth of July Events and Fireworks Shows 2019

Long Island Fun Fest and Fireworks
Suffolk County Community College, Brentwood. $5 per person.  4-11 p.m. weekdays and noon-11 p.m. weekends June 19-23.

Long Island Ducks’ Fireworks Spectacular
Bethpage Ballpark, Central Islip. End of games on June 22, 25 July 2, 3, 4, 6, 20, 24, Aug. 2, 3, 22, 31, Sept. 7, 10, 21.

TD Bank “Celebrate America” Fireworks and Show
Eisenhower Park, Uniondale. 9:30 p.m. June 29.

Alive on 25 Fireworks Show
Grangebel Park, Riverhead. 9 p.m. July 3.

Connetquot River Fireworks
Connetquot River, Oakdale. 9:15 p.m. July 3.

Bellmore Striders Independence Day 4 Mile Run
Pettit Avenue, Bellmore. 1 mile youth run 8 a.m., 4 mile adult race  8:30 a.m. July 4.

Annual Port Jefferson 4th of July Parade
Main Street, Port Jefferson. Free. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. July 4.

Parade of American Flags
Heritage Park, Mount Sanai. 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. July 4.

Jones Beach 4th of July Fireworks Cruise
31 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport. 7-11 p.m. July 4.

Stars Over Montauk
Umbrella Beach, Montauk. 8-9:30p.m. July 4.

Sapphire Princess Jones Beach Fireworks Show Dinner Cruise 
11 Richmond St., Freeport. $130 per adult 21+. Reservations Required. 8-11 p.m July 4.

Glen Cove’s Annual Fourth of July Celebration
Morgan Memorial Park, Glen Cove. 9 p.m. July 4.

East Hills Fourth of July Fireworks Show
Great Lawn, East Hills. 9 p.m. July 4.

Village of Asharoken’s Fireworks Display
Long Island Sound near Asharoken. 9:20 p.m. July 4.

Independence Day Celebration at Bald Hill
Bald Hill, Farmingville. 9:30 p.m. July 4.

Fireworks at Jones Beach
Jones Beach, Ocean Parkway, Wantagh. $10 parking. 9:30 p.m. July 4.

Long Beach Fireworks Extravaganza
Long Beach Blvd. and Riverside Blvd. 7 p.m. July 5.

John A. Ward Independence Day Fireworks
Sag Harbor Yacht Club, 27 Bay St. Free. 9:30 p.m. July 6.

Southampton Firecracker 8K
Agawam Park, 25 Pond Lane, Southampton. $30 for 8K or $30 for 3 Mile walk, prices increase after July 5. 8 a.m. July 7.

Town of Oyster Bay’s Salute to America
John J. Burns Park, Massapequa. 9:45 p.m. July 9

Fireworks Night at Mineola Amphitheater
Mineola Memorial Park. 7-9 p.m. July 12.

Shelter Island Fireworks
Shore Road, Shelter Island Heights. 9:30 p.m. July 13.

Islip Arts Council- Annual Concert in the Park
Heckscher State Park, East Islip. 10 p.m. July 13

Clam Shell Foundation Annual Great Bonac Fireworks by Grucci
Mile Harbor, East Hampton. 9:30 p.m. July 13.

Long Island Summer Fairs & Festivals 2019

Patchogue’s Alive After 5 summer street festival, which runs Fridays in July and August, attracts thousands.

St. Philip and St. James Family Festival
Rides, games, food and refreshments. St. Philip and St. James Roman Catholic Church, 1 Carrow Pl., St. James. 6-10 p.m. June 20, 6-10:30 p.m. June 21-22, 5-9 p.m. June 23.

St. Anthony’s Family Feast and Festival
Rides, fireworks, games, zeppole-eating contest and fireworks! Trinity Regional School Grounds, Fifth Ave., East Northport. 6-11 p.m. June 26-27, 6-11:30 p.m. June 28-29, 3-9 p.m. June 30.

Jones Beach 4th of July Fireworks and Dinner Cruise
Dinner, open bar, Jones Beach Firework Show and more! At the end of the Nautical Mile, 11 Richmond St, Freeport. 8 p.m.-midnight July 4.

42nd Annual Old Fashioned Street Fair
Great food, live music and arts and crafts! 105 Love Lane , Mattituck. 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. July 6.

Oyster Bay Italian American Club St. Rocco Festival
Outdoor music, rides, games, fireworks and meatball contest with a $10,000 prize! Short Avenue, NY Fireman’s Field, Oyster Bay. 6-10 p.m. July 10-11, 6-11 p.m. July 12-13, 5-9:30 p.m. July 14.

St. William The Abbot 40th Annual Family Festival
Rides, games, food and live entertainment! 2000 Jackson Ave., Seaford. 7-11 p.m. July 10-12, 6-11 p.m. July 13, 5-10 p.m. July 14.

Annual Alive After Five
Six stages of live music and entertainment, vendors, food trucks and activities for the whole family! Main Street, Patchogue. 5-10 p.m. July 11, 25, Aug. 8.

Long Island Summer Festival
Diverse food, hundreds of local vendors, carnival, hot air balloons and more! 313 Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove. 5-11 p.m. July 12-13.

Fireman’s Festival
Amusement rides, gambling raffles, food, live entertainment and fireworks! Henry L. Stimson Middle School adjoining Peter Nelson Park, Huntington. 7-11 p.m. July 17-21.

St. Rose of Lima School Annual Family Festival
Rides, games, entertainment, and food! St. Rose of Lima School, 4704 Merrick Road, Massapequa. 7-11 p.m. weekdays, 6-11 p.m weekends. July 18-21 and 24-27.

Summer Arts and Craft Festival
Shopping in the air conditioned mansion with complimentary lemonade and cookies! Deepwells Farms, 497 Route 25A, St. James. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 20, 21.

Bellport Day
Live music, pony rides, balloon art, face painting and rides! Main Street, Bellport. 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. July 27.

Sayville Summerfest
Food, rides, games, live music performances, art, a four mile run, and a classic car show! Downtown Sayville Main street, Gillette Park and the Common Ground. 5-10 p.m., Aug. 9, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Aug. 11, 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Aug. 11.

44th Annual Polish Town Fair Polka Festival
Thriving market, food, live music and more! Polish Town Civic Association, 300 Lincoln St., Riverhead. 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Aug. 18, 19.

56th Annual Shelter Island Art Show and Craft Fair
Quality artists, crafts, fun for children and a raffle! Shelter Island High School, 33 North Ferry Rd., Shelter Island. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 24

Critics Urge Diocese of Rockville Centre To Release Names of Accused Clergy

Victims advocates held a news conference June 3, 2019. Long Island Press photo

Victims advocates are urging The Diocese of Rockville Centre to release the names of clergy members that allegedly committed sexual abuse against children.

The Manhattan-based law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates compiled the names of 65 publicly accused perpetrators, their histories, and photographs, but implored the diocese to release the other data they have on priests accused of sexual abuse.

“I’ll say it right now,” Anderson told reporters Monday during a news conference. “This is a dirty diocese.”

The call comes after church officials nationwide have released similar data following a bombshell Pennsylvania grand jury report last year detailed sexual abuse allegations against more than 300 priests. The Diocese of Rockville Centre, which has more than 1 million baptized Catholics on Long Island, is the only diocese in New York State to not release such a list.

The law firm’s list was partly compiled from a 2003 Suffolk County grand jury investigative report into the Diocese of Rockville Centre that concluded that the priests within the diocese were engaging in criminal sex acts and that the diocese was “incapable of properly handling issues relating to sexual abuse of children.”

Attorney Stacey Benson said that of the 65 perpetrators, the firm cannot locate 30.

“We do not know if they’re in the communities next to you, in your schools, in your churches or in some youth serving organization,” said Benson. “Not knowing where these predators are, to us that is a public safety imperative and the diocese needs to provide that information.”

The diocese issued a statement indicating that it is “premature” to release the names “while the investigations into allegations are ongoing” as a part of the diocese’s Independent Compensation Review Program in which victims are offered settlements.

Steve Werner, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who attended the news conference, alleged that he was abused by Rev. Peter Charland, who was last known to be in St. James before he died in 2004. Charland was accused of sexually abusing at least eight children in the early 1970s and later became a private practice therapist focusing on children with learning disabilities.

“I am here in a continuing effort to expose the truth, at least in regards to me,” Werner said. “I hope my presence today will allow [others to find the] strength to come forward and expose what occurred during their childhood years.”

The ICRP had made an offer to Werner to compensate for his abuse, but he did not accept it.

“Transparency is more important to me than a quick monetary offer,” he said.

Another survivor, Bridie Farrell, the founder of NY Loves Kids, an organization dedicated to speaking out against child sexual abuse, was also supportive of the efforts to release the names. Farrell was abused in 1997, and her abuser was named in 1990.

“We up here are not anti-Catholic,” said Farrell, “we are anti-crime.”

Long Island High School Students Face Off At Inaugural NSPC Health Science Competition

A team competitor out of over 300 students representing more 200 teams from nearly 40 Long Island high schools participating in today’s NSPC Health Science Competition presents his project to one of the judges.

More than 300 students from 38 high schools across Long Island competed for $80,000 Thursday at the inaugural NSPC Health Science Competition competition that aims to promote interest in the fields.

Students gathered at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookville, where they presented research that addressed health-related issues ranging from the effectiveness of natural pesticides on food consumption to whether or not mobile technology impacts sleep patterns. The winning students had worked on topics including bio-engineering, microbiology, genetics, biology, behavioral science, and biochemistry.

“[The research] takes a lot out of you, but it’s definitely worth it in the end,” said Elmont Memorial High School senior Michael Lawes, who won first place in the microbiology and genetics category. “I’m really tied to this research, and I love that I was able to share my knowledge.”

Lawes’ project on metal and hyperglycemia-induced neuro-toxicity took almost three months to complete. He will be attending Columbia University in the fall and majoring in computer science.

Dr. Kendra Hoepper, an assistant professor in nursing at LIU Post who was one of the judges at the competition, said that she was extremely impressed by the work from such a young group of people. As a practitioner, she said, seeing all of the students’ research was enlightening and educational for her.

“It gave me an opportunity to see what I need to continue to learn,” said Hoepper. “We’re always learning, we always have to learn. I give a lot of credit to [these students’] work ethic.”

Feyi Rufai, a junior from Roslyn High School, was a first place winner in the behavioral science category. Her project explored how different treatments for mental illness affect perception in teenagers. All of her research took less than a year, Rufai said. She hopes to attend Stony Brook University to become a psychiatrist.

“I wanted to share about all the stigma around mental illness and raise awareness,” said Rufai.

Marvia Pressoir, a junior at Elmont Memorial High School, came in second place in microbiology and genetics. Pressoir had been working on Parkinson’s research for the past four years.

“It’s something that’s really interesting to me because my grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s,” she said.  

Pressoir is continuing her research this summer at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she wants to pursue biomedical engineering and try to stay in the realm of Parkinson’s disease.

The event was mainly sponsored by Neurological Surgery P.C. (NSPC) and the nonprofit Center for Science, Teaching and Learning, which both hope to inspire and encourage kids to continue with the science, technology, engineering, and mathmatics (STEM) fields. Dr. Michael Brisman of Neurological Surgery P.C. felt inspired to kick off the event since there was a lack of support for STEM and health-based learning through competitions.

“These kids have done some amazing work,” said Brisman. “I hope this event inspires enthusiasm. We do want to let people know that health sciences has a lot of exciting opportunities in it, it’s fulfilling. It’s hard work … but if you like what you’re doing, you never work a day in your life.”