Their networking luncheon is October 20th. It’s great networking and a wonderful way to support this amazing organization and learn what they’re doing now!Continue reading
Come learn about how we can “help those who have served our nation with honor live without boundaries.” There will be puppies.Continue reading
April is Autism Awareness Month – Were you aware of Northport’s Mikey Brannigan? I sure wasn’t!!!
Photo of Mikey Brannigan and Sonja Robinson above provided by Fritz Garrecht
I like to think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the inspiring people of Long Island, especially in the Huntington area. I literally make it my business to know these things.
The best part about that? Realizing, no matter how hard I try, I will never begin to grasp it all.
First I learned "The Little Prince" was Written in Asharoken
For one. I was recently amazed to learn that “The Little Prince” (which I was blessed to be introduced to when a dear child handed it to me in grave seriousness many years ago), was written in Northport’s close neighbor, Asharoken. On one hand, given the gorgeous statue in the Northport-East Northport Library, I’m kind of surprised I didn’t learn earlier. However, on the other hand, given that the whole library there is an incredible, artistic ode to literature and more, I can see why I perhaps thought he was just one more aspect of that celebration.
BTW, they just celebrated the 80th birthday of that classic tale written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry at the Northport Historical Society. I strongly recommend you check out all the other amazing things they have going on there!!!
Then I Learned About Mikey Brannigan - WOW!
The other gem – a “Pink Diamond” that was recently held up to sparkle at me is much more current. Frankly, my missing it surprises me even more: Mikey Brannigan.
Did you know that the first Paralympic athlete to ever break a 4-minute mile, and who has in fact run two miles in under nine minutes was born and raised in Northport? Yessir!
New York State record holder Mikey Brannigan graduated from Northport High School in 2015 a local hero and, despite the huge setback that was COVID, has great hopes for the future.
This Guy is Golden
Mikey’s been compared to Forrest Gump, but faster and perhaps even wiser despite having an IQ below 75. He has won the Paralympic Gold, broken three T-20 world records, was named the Sports Illustrated High School Athlete of the Month in 2015, and in 2017 he was named Team USA’s Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year.
He is charming, ever uplifting, and currently taking college-level public speaking classes and more in addition to his rigorous work schedule.
The Mikey Mile and More to Come...
There is movement to name the route he regularly took around Crab Meadow the “Mikey Mile,” and to reengage the Village of Northport – especially its young people — in this man’s remarkable story.
His coach and caretaker Sonja Robinson is a precious gem herself. She has been compared to Helen Keller’s Anne Sullivan. In this case though, it’s running rather than running water that she uses as her medium to reach Mikey, and to guide him in realizing his fantastic potential.
There is so much to talk about regarding them, about running, about coaching, about our society, about life as a special needs individual both in sports and academia … I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface, there is so much to learn! I look forward to sharing more…
Join us for our next “Open Doors Reception”
This will be an evening of networking, light refreshments and music, focused on celebrating health and humans services professionals. We will also offer a taste of the healing power of art. It will be held at The Firefly Artists Gallery in the beautiful historic village of Northport, home of the Engeman Theater, excellent restaurants, lovely shops and a gorgeous park and harbor.
The shops mostly close around 6pm but a few of us, like our neighbors at Artisan House, like to stay open.
What: Synchronicity Open Doors Reception
Honoring: Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of The Family & Children’s Association
When: Tuesday, April 18th at 6pm
Where: The Firefly Artists, 90 Main St., Northport
Please RSVP: to email@example.com Space is limited!
A Little Bit About Jeff
From 2009-2014, Dr. Reynolds served as Executive Director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD), an organization that provides substance abuse screenings, brief interventions and referrals to addiction treatment, as well as professionally-facilitated family interventions and anger management services to adults and adolescents. Under Dr. Reynolds’ leadership, LICADD pioneered evidence-based K-12 substance abuse prevention programs in several Long Island schools, initiated a new mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents and expanded LICADD’s Employee Assistance Program. During his tenure, LICADD’s revenues tripled, and the number of families served per month increased nine-fold.
Prior to joining LICADD, Dr. Reynolds worked for the Long Island Association for AIDS Care for 19 years, where he started out doing case management and finished his tenure as Vice President for Public Affairs, responsible for government relations, resource development, strategic marketing, and communications. In 1997, he co-founded BiasHELP of Long Island, an organization dedicated to assisting victims of hate crimes and their families. As BiasHELP’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Reynolds secured federal, state and local grants and launched a wide array of crime victim assistance services and school-based violence prevention
Dr. Reynolds currently serves on New York’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force, the Executive Committee of the Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force, Suffolk County’s Heroin/Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel, the board of the New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, Nassau’s Family Violence Task Force, Suffolk County’s Welfare-to-Work Commission and he co-chairs the Huntington Town Opioid Task Force. He serves as a board member and treasurer of Lightning Warriors, a youth
triathlon team, and serves on the board of the Long Island Association (LIA).
Dr. Reynolds is Vice Chair and remains the longest serving member of the NYS AIDS Advisory Council, first appointed by the NYS Senate Majority Leader in 1994 and reappointed five times since then. Dr. Reynolds has also served on the NYS Governor’s Recreational Marijuana Task Force, been chair of Nassau County’s Youth Board, co-chaired Nassau County Comptroller’s Non-Profit Steering Committee and served on the transition teams for County Executives Laura Curran (D) and Bruce Blakeman (R).
Dr. Reynolds has served as a consultant and grant reviewer for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and is a frequent presenter and keynote speaker at statewide and national health and human service conferences. He has authored more than 250 news and op-ed articles that have appeared in a wide variety of publications and is consistently used as an expert source for substance use, addiction, HIV/AIDS and human/civil rights information by local and national radio, television, online and print outlets. Dr. Reynolds has received numerous awards for his community service and leadership and was named one of the “most influential Long Islanders” each year 2010-2022 by the Long Island Press. Dr. Reynolds has received leadership awards and honors from the Simple Hope Foundation, Caron Treatment Centers, Strong Youth, Inc., the Long Island Recovery Association, Mainstream House, LICADD, Long Island Business News (Long Island Business Hall of Fame, 2021) and Herald Newspapers (Top Business Leaders in Nassau County, 2021). Dr. Reynolds is also a graduate of Energeia, a regional stewardship program spearheaded by Molloy College. In 2022, he received a Long Island Excellence in Healthcare Award from Herald Newspapers and a “Hero of Hope” award from CN Guidance and Counseling Services.
Dr. Reynolds holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Dowling College (1988), a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) with a specialization in health administration from Long Island University (1997) and a doctorate from Stony Brook University’s School of Social Welfare (2007). Dr. Reynolds’ doctoral dissertation was on “Using the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change to Explore Substance Use Patterns and HIV Risk Behaviors in a Suburban Sample.” He has been a Certified Employee Assistance Professional since 2011.
A lifelong Long Islander and cancer survivor, Dr. Reynolds is an avid marathon runner having completed 15 marathons and is also an Ironman triathlete, a passion he’s used to raise much-needed funds for FCA, LICADD, United Way of Long Island and other local/national charities.”
Basically, we’re lucky to have this guy.
What: Pal-O-Mine Stable Spirits Art Show & Auction
Where: 829 Old Nichols Rd, Islandia
When: May 4th, 5:30-8:30pm
Details: $60 tax deductible ticket includes 4 wine tastings, paired small bites, door prize ticket, interactive mural painting with Splashes of Hope.
Contact: 631-348-1389, www.pal-o-mine.org
Please note: Tickets MUST be purchased in advance and will NOT be available at the door.
I was glad to see this major force for Human Services doing well and finding ways to use his personal experience to help others. Gratefully, he agreed to meet up and talk shop….Continue reading
Help Ukraine: Proceeds from sales of this print “Technicolor Sunflower Vibrations” by Katheryn Laible (available at the Firefly Artists in Northport) will be directed to CARE.
Below is a list of ways we might help people impacted by the war in Ukraine.
The assault by Russia is a heartbreaking atrocity that many somehow thought Europe was now beyond. As we pray for all involved…which really is everybody at the very least due to our intricately woven economies…I hope it also brings us to see people from other war-torn circumstances with more compassion and recognition of our shared humanity.
Fascinating conversations with folks I might think of as “more foreign to me” have underlined this deeply. I am ever grateful to live in such a melting pot where I can look so many different folks in the eye and hear their perspectives. Now that we’re able to gather intimately with strangers again, I realize how very much I’ve missed this, and how deeply valuable it is.
They and others remind me to reflect on how very precious things we may take for granted here are; to recognize that this conflict is at least in some deep way about fundamental values we as a Nation have managed to secularly enshrine: Freedoms of conscience and expression. A right to self determination. The basic human right for civilians to live in peace. The fact that for whatever we may have to criticize about ourselves — and, yes, we do have our fair share! — the very fact that we get to do so as robustly as we will is a valuable privilege too many do not have.
It makes me think about so many things we squabble about at home — and also makes me think about how…while we are far from perfect…our role as a “beacon of light” for so many people the world over has been important. It doesn’t make us as individuals any better than other people, but it does point to some very special things we have managed to achieve and still remain a steward and champion of, if we will take that responsibility.
As our dear Founding Father, an incredible if also very human being, Benjamin Franklin, famously said: We have “a Republic. If you will keep it.”
It makes me wonder: If we don’t continue to champion the inalienable rights and noble ideals this nation was founded upon and that so many have fought to more fully realize, then who will? Who possibly could? It helps me get my own priorities in order, even as I’m not entirely sure how to reconcile my fundamental principles into this on beyond wired new world…
The term “freedom isn’t free” comes to mind from a number of different perspectives as I am struck by how these ideals may be undermined not only by sometimes violent censorship, but also by active disinformation and practical concerns. I am concurrently profoundly moved by how very hard people who really know the value of these rights will fight to maintain them, or determine to assert them anyway, despite even the most pressing of practical concerns.
We are witnessing incredible stories of resilience and determination among the Ukrainians, as well as among people who stand to support them, including from within Russia itself. At the same time, we are also forced to reckon with the fact that there are people — some of whom wield incredible power — that seem to have no regard whatsoever for innocent human lives, let alone our noble ideals. All the while, we are once again getting to fairly directly experience how deeply interconnected we are, how much it costs to dance with the devil, and how exceptionally difficult it can be to know the best course through things, even when guided by the best of intentions…
At the limits of my human capacity to effect change for the better, I pray. For the people of Ukraine. For the people of Russia. For my dear, dear nation and for this whole world we share. May we somehow come through this time better than we were before.
Here is a collection of resources for those who’d like to better understand and to help the people impacted by this war. Grateful thanks to all who live to make things better:
Tips on dealing with difficult news stories
“5 Tips for Dealing with War in Ukraine News Coverage” from the Fair Media council.
“How to talk to your kids about the war in Ukraine (And other tough topics)” from the Long Island Press
Some Analyses of the situation
“Why Has Russia Invaded Ukraine and What Does Putin Want?” from the BBC
The Grid is “a collaborative newsroom of beat reporters, subject editors and data journalists who work together to show how the areas we cover are interconnected.” It’s quite a way to take in the situation.
NPR and WNYC have been covering disinformation campaigns and their responses in the region for quite some time. It’s a really important topic. Here’s a more general series on Untangling Disinformation from NPR.
Here at home is a a story in Newsday about one Long Island family (subscription required) who has taken in childhood friends from Ukraine.
Ways You Can Help
The Long Island Community Foundation provides a list of well-vetted organizations to help refugee and humanitarian efforts related to the war.
“Solidarity with Ukraine” from LI Business News (subscription required) reports on a number of local efforts. It also includes links to support an endeavor by Northwell Health in partnership with Doctors Without Borders, as well as funds created by the National Bank of Ukraine, Razom for Ukraine and HIAS in Ukraine
A Few Hyper-Local Efforts
Your school, your church, your office, you local watering hole may be doing something. I’d love to hear about it! Here are a few lovely things we’ve noticed:
“Three Places on Long Island to Donate to Aid Ukraine” by LongIsland.com. A Babylon effort, an Islip effort and a Long Islander who was born in Ukraine who is channeling donations
“Artists on East End put work up for auction to raise money for Ukraine” (subscription required) from Newsday. The auction, “Artists for Ukraine” will donate every penny of sales. It’s happening this weekend at “The Church” in Sag Harbor
“East End: Main Prospect making dishes to help Ukrainian people” from News12 Long Island, this is a report on a Southampton restaurant that’s already raised over $10,000 making authentic Ukrainian dishes.
Artisans from the Nest on Main in Northport have come together to offer “The Sunflower Collection.” Proceeds from this collection will be donated to Ukrainian relief efforts through World Central Kitchen.
I was so happy to be invited along with my family to Pal-O-Mine Equestrian’s “Winter Wonderland” on the last day of the J-STEP Holiday Market (they’ve since added a few more days…see below!) The childlike delight on my teenagers’ faces made it even better.
This is a deep, yet quiet celebration. It is not a day for the horses to strut their stuff. In fact, they seem to be on holiday themselves, enjoying the beautiful weather and occasionally approaching visitors to say “Hello.”
It is the smaller animals — fancy chickens, sheep and ponies — that have center stage. Children of all ages pet and walk the gentle creatures as they learn about the farm and its residents.
“If you really need some TLC, though,” says an instructor named Danielle, indicating an enormous Belgian Draft Horse standing by one of the fences, “Go see Boomer. He’s the best. He’ll fix you right up.”
“This is the day we give back to our volunteers and funders,” she continues, “Today, they get to come and enjoy, and we get to work.”
The way she phrases this is intriguing, “Ummm….Aren’t you usually working when you’re here?”
“Yeah,” she smiles, “But our volunteers donate so much of their time, and our donors make it all possible. Usually, I’m working with clients. Today, I get to give back to our supporters, hang out with my coworkers, relax and enjoy.”
“Isn’t that right, Lovie?” She nods to the sheep whose line she has just handed off to an older girl. That girl is now guiding other children in petting him and feeling for the lanolin deep in his wool. Danielle offers Co-Worker Lovie a snack and strokes his head.
I have yet to meet a staff member here who does not exude love and deep appreciation for their job.
“I met my best friend here,” says another instructor named Eve. She’s talking about Deb who is standing next to her. With them are two miniature horses whom we’ve been strolling with. They go on about funny coincidences and sweet simple fun. We marvel at the healthy 40-year old little horse named Honey and her dear friend, Darla. We breathe in the whole atmosphere and smile.
“We’re not snorting fairy dust here,” says Deb. Quite the opposite, actually. We laugh, thinking about the stuff inevitably in the air of a farm, even one as remarkably clean and well-kept as Pal-O-Mine. There is hard work being done here every day with a broad range of clients who are generally dealing with serious issues. The energy is overwhelmingly positive, though. Those involved speak of earthly miracles.
Miracles and peace. “Among so many blessings, this place offers the beautiful gift of being present,” Deb reflects, “Whether you work here, or are served here, or are just visiting there is nothing you can do but slow down. The animals require it. The clients with the deepest connection to them need it, too.
“We’re all about the ‘Power of the Pause’ here,” she says. “It’s magical.”
Peace, positivity, and appreciation of what’s possible. “There are so many good people and great stories here…and everywhere, really,” Deb says. “I see it every day. I think more people need to be shown.
“Yeah,” she continues, “we have to face and deal with the tough things, but people need to see the good stuff that is happening, too. Then, they know what can be done.”
I know I’m sure grateful for everyone showing me.
Pal-O-Mine’s added more days to their 2021 J-Step Holiday Shop!
Stop in at the front office if you would like to go to the shop
Thursday and Friday from 10am-4pm
Saturday from 10am-2pm
The Classroom at Pal-O-Mine
829 Old Nichols Road, Islandia, NY 11749
Cash, Card and Check Accepted!
Face Masks Are Required While Shopping Indoors
Last chance for the J-Step Holiday Shop!