Heroes Take the Field: USA Patriot Amputee Softball Team Exhibition Game, Opportunities for Local Youth

Team members of the USA Patriots Amputee Softball team together with Firefly Steve Caputo, who has photographed them for over a decade

The USA Patriots Amputee Softball Team is coming home to Long Island for another round of exhibition games. This year, they are also offering a pre-game youth clinic and barbecue!

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Folio Awards Coming Friday June 7th

About the 2024 Folio Awards

The Folio Awards will be held Friday, June 7th from 11am-2pm at the historic Garden City Hotel

This is Long Island’s largest and most prestigious press event, celebrating the best in media. It’s a great way to connect with all sorts of local leaders, including top-notch communications professionals and media superstars. 

In addition to Folio Award recipients representing the best of media at local, regional, and national levels, the following special awards will be bestowed:

Lifetime Achievement Award, Local News: Rita Ciolli, Editorial Page Editor, Newsday (introduced by Debby Krenek, Publisher, Newsday)
Lifetime Achievement Award, Regional News: Sandy Kenyon, Entertainment Reporter, WABC-TV/ABC (introduced by Anthony Mason, Senior Culture & Senior National Correspondent, CBS News)
Lifetime Achievement Awards, National News: Michael Powell, Staff Writer, The Atlantic (introduced by Nick Fox, Editor & Editorial Board Member, The New York Times)
Distinguished Service Award: Associated Press (accepted on its behalf by Paul Haven, Vice President and head of global newsgathering)
 
Read more about these distinguished honorees here.
 
Master of Ceremonies; Larry Mullins, 1010WINS. As “one of the most influential news voices of our time and certainly one of the most recognizable in the nation,” you may also periodically hear Mullins as the announcer of ABC’s “LIVE w/ Kelly & Mark.” He is also a former NBC News Correspondent
Awards Sponsor: Bethpage Federal Credit Union
Event Sponsors: Northwell Health & Mount Sinai South Nassau
 

About the Fair Media Council

The Fair Media Council has a multi-pronged mission that essentially works to advance quality journalism, and to help people become more discerning and better understand the media landscape. Their Member Benefits are valuable, their newsletter informative and thought provoking. 

Subscribe to their Award-Winning Podcast, “FMC Fast Chat,” which engages notable guests in profound, informative conversation. The latest episode, “Building Bridges in a Time of Media Polarization,” features global media literacy educator Belinha S. De Abreu, Ph.D. 

They’ve also got a “Screen Time Tracker Journal & Guide to Digital Wellness” that you can purchase. Designed for professionals, students or anyone who wants to take control and achieve a better tech-life balance, it’s an actual 296-page book that lays out a 10-minute/day, 12-week program to teach you “how to optimize your time online to achieve your goals and live a happier, healthier life.”

 

However you choose to engage, it’s information you can use.

 

 

Listen! “Ungoverned” with Joan Cergol

"Ungoverned" podcast logo provided by Joan Cergol

Logo provided by Joan Cergol

I love what Joan Cergol is doing! Check out her new podcast, UnGoverned. You can find it on platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts. I like to just head over to her website, www.joancergol.com.

Grateful to Have Met Her

I first met Joan in 2002, when she left the private sector to work for The Town of Huntington. I was with the nonprofit Vision Huntington, which, at the time was rapidly becoming Vision Long Island.

Our organization had engaged with the Town in a novel concept, “The Smart Growth Steering Committee,” which brought various department heads around a table monthly, together with diverse local stakeholders ranging from the local chamber and BID, to environmental leaders, to housing folks, to youth and community development interests, historical societies, and more.

Some got frustrated that this group didn’t “DO” many things, but I thought what was happening was even more important. People were regularly talking to each other across party, department, and interest, building understanding and relationships…and people WERE doing things with each other and the ideas they shared, just not generally as a group…and we did do some turnkey things as a group…

Anyway, what I soon learned was that anytime anything really good and sensible got done with the Town, Joan Cergol seemed to be there. I was never sure what her party was, but her boss seemed to be then-Republican Supervisor Frank Petrone, who had been campaigning with then-Councilman Steve Israel on the slogan of “Worst to First,” touting their bond rating achievements and the power of bipartisan collaboration.

People Over Party

I recently found out that Joan was actually something of a kindred spirit, having been unaffiliated with any political party (as I have been for life) until she became a Democrat in 2008. Whether or what party Joan was a part of didn’t really matter to me. What I appreciated was the way she seemed to listen, to connect with folks, and to offer the best she could in terms of good solutions.

Eventually, as a Democrat, Joan was elected to the Huntington Town Council where she served for six years. In that, she never lost her independent-minded spirit, nor her thoughtful, inclusive approach to solving government and community problems.

She just liked working in service to the people of the Town.

A New Way to Serve

In 2023, Joan decided to stop running and to serve in a very different way. She is now applying her smart charisma to craft a sweet, thoughtful podcast that she describes as “snackable stories from a recovering politician.” Hopefully, she says, it won’t be too much about politics!

She is missed by many in the Town. It’s nice to see she’s found this new way to engage. It’s an enriching and entertaining listen that I look forward to watching develop. Check it out!

You can also read a recent article about Joan and her podast in this Huntington Now article by Layne Groom.

Photo of Joan Cergol at her podcast desk
Photo of Joan Cergol provided by Joan Cergol

Let It Shine: Dee Thompson, 21st Century Icon, Beloved King-Mother of Huntington Station

Photo of Dolores Thompson in 2008 by Katheryn Laible

Photo of Dolores Thompson taken in 2008 by Katheryn Laible

Prelude: Please Help Me Tell This Story

Last October, I wrote a brief memorial of one of the most extraordinary individuals I have ever known: Ms. Dolores Thompson. Knowing it hardly scratched the surface, I promised I would write a longer version soon. Thank you to all who have sat with me, to share their experiences of her. If you scroll down, you can read a little bit of what’s come from that.

Months, and mounds of paper later, written by myself and others, none of which seemed right to fully cut and many of which only presented more questions, I realized Dee simply didn’t fit into a long form article unless maybe you want to just focus on one narrow aspect, which would be great for exploring that topic but not nearly sufficient to begin to tell her story.

Dee mentored children, and she mentored adults. She was a fierce advocate for the community. She served on the hospital board, and was instrumental to there being a Dolan Family Health Center, which she insisted would be more than a clinic. She helped found the BID and a proper home for a library. She was a force for community policing, and a leader in both her church and the local NAACP. On beyond all of this was a heart, mind and spitfire personality that are worthy of chapters all unto themselves, and generations of community she had a huge role in nurturing who will give their best to keep that flame. There’s more…

When I told the folks I’d been consulting with that I thought maybe I could start with one chapter and see where it goes, I was deeply humbled and honored to be invited to share it at the upcoming Unity Day in Huntington Station. At that moment, it hit me hard that I’m not sure I have any business whatsoever going into the Station and telling folks who Dee Thompson was; that I’d much rather go there and listen a whole lot longer, write some more, and then ask them if they think I got it right.

I am even more deeply honored that they seemed to like this idea. Special thanks to Fireflies Steve Caputo, John Lazzaro, and Drigo Morin for helping me figure out how to rigs a bare-bones story telling booth, and to the entire Unity Day Community for welcoming me with such open arms. I am grateful!

I came away knowing I still have a lot to learn. If you happened to know her, please tell me about it. You can send me an email sharing your story or set up an appointment to connect. What follows here now is something of an introduction. I look forward to sharing beginning chapters soon…

LET IT SHINE - Dee Thompson: 21st Century Icon, Beloved King-Mother of Huntington Station

Introduction: Where to Start?

“A Beautiful Woman Warrior King has gained her wings and her Legacy is second to none! Her Legacy is what books are made of. Her activism mirrored the people in the struggle. Her energy was made up of something that would not be contained in this space or time. Called by many names, some of adoration and some a force to be reckoned with. We speak your name. Never to be forgotten, always Celebrated”

– Michelle Foulke-Edwards

It is hard to overstate what Dolores Thompson sowed and brought to the table.

Rhonda Gooden, who owns Chez Lãa Reine Boutique on NY Avenue in Huntington Station will tell that she takes her job in the Town, and as the Chair of Unity Day and other things very seriously in significant part because she lives to carry forward the spirit of Dee Thompson; that best she could, for so long as Ms. Thompson was able, she gave it her best to carry her into the room if that was what it took to assist in her good work and to learn from her example.

As dedicated as Rhonda is, she’s just one of many. It’s awe inspiring and it’s beautiful.

Gail Lamberta, Associate Dean of St. Joseph’s University served on the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce Board with Dee. It strikes Gail as fascinating, the range of folks who each have their own thing to say about her; the things they would struggle to put words to, the volumes they would say with a look, and words she surmised would come from them all:

“Mentor. Leader. Always for the person less fortunate. Wisewoman.”

Yes, she nodded, “You’re going to find there’s a theme.”

Indeed! …and those words are just the start of it. Dee Thompson was a living legend.

All she touched seem better for it…

 

Gail Lamberta, Associate Dean of St. Joseph’s University served on the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce Board with Dee. It strikes Gail as fascinating, the range of folks who each have their own thing to say about her; the things they would struggle to put words to, the volumes they would say with a look, and words she surmised would come from them all:

“Mentor. Leader. Always for the person less fortunate. Wisewoman.”

A Deeply Local Dent in the Universe

Dee mattered. Immensely. Soon after her passing, Cheryl Blum, a politically active, community oriented Jewish grandmother of Huntington dug up roughly 30 years of news clippings charting Dee’s adventures. Those are just a sampling, but a good one, as they include quite a few you can’t otherwise find online. More that you can are being collected and will be shared.

If you go to the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church of Huntington website, you can find Dolores “Dee” Thompson’s Celebration of Life as one of few things prominently posted. It’s right up on the main menu bar. At that service, the Reverend Larry B. Jennings offered a most moving sermon, taking abundant care to make sure all knew it was GOD who created, guided and used Dolores Thompson as His instrument.

 

Dolores Rose

The Reverend said that every good and inspirational story has three things: A beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning, he insisted, was in God’s work way before Dolores Rose was born on January 14, 1929 in Brooklyn, NY. Take heed, he admonished, for she is a shining example of what happens when one walks with Him and has faith in His Plan.

Heaven knows, she was a force!

Dee was adopted by a black couple, Aaron and Ruth Jarvis, after being given up by her birth parents; a White and Jewish Father and a Puerto Rican Mother. Aaron and Ruth, said Rev. Jennings, made for “a loving God-fearing family who believed in faith, who believed in family and who believed in community.” They moved to Woodbury, where Dee graduated from Huntington High School. There she met her husband, Royal L. Thompson, Jr.

In 1949, they moved to Huntington Station. That was back when it had a thriving business district. She loved it.

“I’m a lifelong Huntington Station resident,” explains Gail Lamberta, “Dee was someone that I could connect with because we used to talk about the ‘Old Station.’ That’s where my family banked and shopped and everything. We didn’t go to Huntington Village. Once in a while we’d go down there, but we didn’t need to because we had everything here. We were in the Station.”

“We had everything, right by the railroad station.

“I’m a lifelong Huntington Station resident,” explains Gail Lamberta, “Dee was someone that I could connect with because we used to talk about the ‘Old Station.’ That’s where my family banked and shopped and everything. We didn’t go to Huntington Village. Once in a while we’d go down there, but we didn’t need to because we had everything here. We were in the Station.”

“We had everything, right by the railroad station.

Mother Dee

Royal was a police officer. Together, they had three children, Royal L. Thompson III (affectionately known as Chipper), Kevin and Tracey. In the 60’s, Dee got into business, becoming an operator for NY Telephone. Over the years, she rose through the ranks to become a manager for AT&T.

Family came first. Tracey will tell you that, while her mother loved her adopted family, and felt deeply blessed to have them, there was always a sadness that she didn’t get to know her own biological parents. She thinks that all of this may have been part of the reason why her mother was so deeply committed not only to her own offspring, but to anyone who seemed in need.

Expectations were high in the Thompson household. “You had to have a couple things,” Tracey recalled, “you had to play two instruments and you had to have a community service position. Those were the must-dos.”

A born community matriarch who herself served many organizations, Dee Thompson’s own first major foray into leadership was back in the 1950s. She partnered with friends and relatives to found “The Silhouettes.” Together, they would take young people on trips and local outings.

Whether she was encouraging her own children and their friends, mentoring youth struggling without healthy family, or endeavoring to provide opportunities to folks who never had them, enrichment was central to who she was. Everything was rooted in human development, and nurturing.

 

Family came first. Tracey will tell you that, while her mother loved her adopted family, and felt deeply blessed to have them, there was always a sadness that she didn’t get to know her own biological parents. She thinks that all of this may have been part of the reason why her mother was so deeply committed not only to her own offspring, but to anyone who seemed in need.

Things Fall Apart. Not Dee Thompson

It’s been said that faith, coupled with commitment to family and community is what guided the Thompsons through whatever fate had in store. Heaven knows there were great losses.

“The thing is,” says daughter Tracey, “Things didn’t fall apart. No matter what happened, my mother never fell apart.”

Although they remained great friends until his passing in 2001, Royal and Dee’s marriage did not last. By the mid-70’s, they were divorced. In 1975, tragedy struck when Royal III died in a truck accident.

“She was extremely sad,” emphasized Tracey, “but always strong. We pulled together as a unit and we continued.”

Not only was the family’s eldest son gone, so was their beloved village. In the early 60s an “Urban Renewal” project ran out of money, shortly after much of the Old Station was torn down. They had been promised a revitalization. What they got instead was their thriving business district reduced to mostly parking lots, and local gentrification that concentrated impoverished people into that freshly established blight.

The community was devastated.

Says Gail, “They took our place away from us. Some of our families had businesses there, and then they were all gone. It was hard…With Dee I could talk to her about that because she knew. There are very few people that still know about that…I was young! 8 or 9 years old, but I remember.”

Dee was older. Not only did she remember, she chose to keep the flame. For so long as she lived, and on beyond in all so moved by her, she kindled that flame; never ceasing to nurture, to rebuild and to champion her community.

Among the most ardent advocates Huntington Station has likely ever had, for nearly three quarters of a century Dolores Thompson persevered. serving as a mentor, a watchdog and a unifier. She was a mother, a counselor and a steward, both to her own children and countless others. A force to be reckoned with, she was tough, unforgettable, seemingly everywhere, and forever in the heart of Huntington Station.

Among the most ardent advocates Huntington Station has likely ever had, for nearly three quarters of a century Dolores Thompson persevered. serving as a mentor, a watchdog and a unifier. She was a mother, a counselor and a steward, both to her own children and countless others. A force to be reckoned with, she was tough, unforgettable, seemingly everywhere, and forever in the heart of Huntington Station.

Thank God for Queen Dee

Thanks be to God, Rev. Jennings rejoiced, “for allowing this 21st Century Icon, a Heavy Duty Staple in the Town of Huntington,” to be His vessel.

I smiled at those titles, “21st Century Icon.” “Heavy Duty Staple of the Town of Huntington.”

“Don’t forget ‘Warrior Queen,’ said Gail Lamberta later when I recalled them. Of course.

Some even went so far as to call her “Reverend Mother.” This was a title that irked some, particularly as – devoted as she was to her church – she was never clergy.

“Honestly,” says Tracey, “The whole thing seemed insensible to her. It made her laugh.”

Dee may not have been formally a “Reverend Mother,” but she was certainly a mother revered by many, who lived in faithful service to God and to her community.

Heaven knows the Reverend Jennings endeavored mightily to make sure we knew it was God who moved her. I don’t think he could fathom how such a soul could BE without being God’s handiwork. It certainly seemed clear that he felt that perhaps the closest he would ever come to communing with The Lord Himself was through his experience of this mortal laywoman; that the best he could do himself in this life was whatever he could to emulate her faith in action.

I don’t think he’s alone. He might be right…

Heaven knows the Reverend Jennings endeavored mightily to make sure we knew it was God who moved her. I don’t think he could fathom how such a soul could BE without being God’s handiwork. It certainly seemed clear that he felt that perhaps the closest he would ever come to communing with The Lord Himself was through his experience of this mortal laywoman; that the best he could do himself in this life was whatever he could to emulate her faith in action.

I don’t think he’s alone. He might be right…

Next Installment Coming Soon: “How She Was…”

Native Garden and Ecolandscaping Resources

Bee on Aster by Katheryn Laible

A few years ago now, I started reaching out to friends and collecting resources that we are pleased to share with you!

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Unity Fun Day 2024: Celebrate Community!

Save the Date: Huntington Unity Fun Day Parade & Fair, Saturday, April 14, 10am-3pm at Stimson Middle School

Since its beginning back in 2010, when it was held in a parking lot on Route 110 by The Station, Huntington Unity Parade and Fair has grown to become a regional event, raising awareness of the deep community that exists here, inspiring togetherness, and a celebration of diversity and solidarity throughout the entire Town of Huntington. Join them!

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Vision Update: Complete Streets Summit, LI Lobby Coalition, Smart Growth Awards

logo Vision Long Island

A report from Vision Long Island on the LI Lobby Coalition and a preview of the Complete Streets Summit. Save the date for the Smart Growth Awards now!

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Repair Café South Huntington!

Repair Café Flyer

The Repair Café is Coming to South Huntington

The Repair Cafe is about repairing broke items together. It’s a great place to get advice, learn a thing or two, and be inspired! There are no guarantees, but a promise to try. Many find the experience itself worth the effort. Folks involved are excited to announce that the next one will be held:

When: Saturday, March 16, 2024 from 1-4pm
Where: South Huntington Public Library, 145 Pidgeon Hill Rd, Huntington Station
Want to Help or Learn More? Email starflexp@aol.com
 

Want to Help?

Are you handy? With machines? Electronics? A needle and thread, perhaps?

Would you share this knowledge with others? Just want to keep folks from throwing good things into landfills, maybe help them save a few dollars?  Come with your kids and teach them? Just come to learn and make new friends?

Get involved in The Repair Café!

Learn More!

Check out The Repair Café Long Island on Facebook.

Just scroll through the images there and look at these folks helping each other and learning so much together.

Oh my goodness!

For years now, Laurie Farber of Starflower Experiences has made it part of her mission to help people fix things rather than just throw them out. First efforts in Wyandanch were successful. Then they built on the idea. The concept survived COVID. A natural partner, libraries, LOVE it when she brings her can-do TLC to their spaces. They’ve been to South Huntington before, as well as the Harborfields Library in Greenlawn, Comsewogue in Port Jefferson Station, Copaigue, Lindenhurst, more!
 

She’s got calls coming in for this program Island-wide. Anyone willing to help her answer them is greatly appreciated!

Laurie Explains

You don’t have to be super mechanical. Everybody can teach or help with something.

Said Laurie: “The more volunteers, the faster folks can get things repaired. People need to be able to bring their own tools. We get a lot of TVs and lamps and small electronics. We also could use people who are good with furniture, clothing/textiles (with sewing machine), more people for jewelry, anyone for watches and clocks, and other miscellaneous things (last time we had an ironing board, bicycle, a small statue that needed to be glued back together…).

We could also make space for a mental health person who would take time to listen to folks who just have a need to talk, or anyone who can do massage (sure, we can ‘fix’ people, too!).

Anyone who’d like to do some small DIY demos like how to sew on a button, darn a sock, rewire a lamp… Join us!

Get Involved!

We imagine The Repair Café  would be an EXCELLENT service project for Scouts, and really anyone who wants to promote the fine art of giving things a second chance at life, and to help make the world little thriftier and more self-reliant.

The best way to get in touch is through the Repair Cafe Long Island Facebook Page. You may also contact Laurie at starflexp@aol.com to learn more!!!

Photos of Repair Cafe’s across Long Island. Photo Credit: Laurie Farber.