Grateful Thanks, Trudy

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” Shakespeare

I have an announcement! Many, actually, but this comes first: After 10 years as Vice President of Laible & Fitzsimmons Inc, Trudy is retiring.  I feel a bit like Dumbo without his feather. Even more, I am grateful for Trudy’s friendship, support and more as we’ve worked together in one capacity and another for over 20 years “to serve and celebrate folks who care for Art, Science and the Common Good on LI and Beyond.”

As Founder Emeritus of the Synchronicity Network Newsletter, Trudy will be the first member of an honorary advisory board that we look forward to inviting others into soon. For now, though, let us focus on Trudy.

She will tell you that since coming into this world in 1952 she “has done every crazy job that was legal and moral.” In the last 20 years I’ve known her to serve as a field manager, a seamstress, an architectural assistant, interior designer, bus driver, snowplow operator, cleaning lady, and a receptionist. She has worked with microchips and in product testing. She often serves as a poll worker during election season. In 2009, she informed me that she “wanted to volunteer somewhere she was really appreciated.” She then proceeded to become a nanny that gave Mary Poppins a run for her money, magic carpet bag and all. It was around then that she also became my business partner.

That story actually begins in 1997, three years before I met her when Charles Agius of Cablevision went through Long Island’s only community leadership program, Leadership Huntington. As he was her employer, Trudy ended up learning a lot as she assisted his participation. The nine-month intensive program was designed to Develop, Connect and Engage diverse community leaders using the Town of Huntington as a living laboratory, fostering stewardship across diverse perspectives. Once graduated, Charlie came back to Trudy – who was already an entrenched volunteer in her church, for local theater and in organizations surrounding her children — and said he would nominate her to go through the young program.

She did it, while at the same time fighting cancer.

Trudy became an ardent volunteer for Leadership. She attended in her own way to every class, save a few when she was caring for her mother and after completing her service in 2014. She was a board member for years. In 2010, when Leadership was suffering the Great Recession, she found herself almost single-handedly coordinating the program. She and Dianne Parker pulled me in. Trudy and I quickly ended up becoming Program and Acting Director together. She got to know many graduates of classes she’d missed and for a long time also volunteered in diverse capacities for the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce whose Chamber Foundation founded the organization. In 2015 the Chamber bestowed upon Trudy its prestigious “Klaber Award” to honor her deep and enduring service to the Town.

Through Leadership, Trudy became involved in Vision Long Island, a regional force for Smart Growth with a particular focus on down towns and local endeavors, and a champion of education and relationship development across interests. One of her Class of 1999 fellows, Ron Stein, was planting the seeds of this organization that first germinated as Vision Huntington. As a founding Vision Board Member, Trudy tended to every Board and Huntington Smart Growth Steering Committee meeting and did a lot of the organization’s early videography. I myself became involved when they hired me in 2000. Trudy played a meaningful role in early community planning processes and provided thoughtful, practical support to the development of the Smart Growth Awards and Summit. Since Vision’s maturation as a regional force for smart growth planning and policy, Trudy has served Vice President, Treasurer, and now Co-Chair. The role she really plays, tho, and probably always will, is deeper…

Trudy also served as Chair of the Ladies Auxiliary of both the Huntington and Suffolk County VFWs. In addition to much basic support to both bodies, she played a key but quiet role in securing State funding for much needed roof, electrical and other repairs to her local VFW Hall. She then served on the board of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, as well as the Huntington Housing Authority. She was also an early board member of The Moonjumpers Charitable Foundation, which was founded by Larry Kushnick, Robert Benson and Peter Mazzeo.

In the worst of circumstances, Trudy has been there for her community with soup, a blanket and informed guidance. FEMA certified, she served Suffolk Country Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), acting as both a trainer and a support provider in times of local crisis, as well as assisting in the creation of the organization’s Standard Operating Procedures. While Superstorm Sandy came the same day as her latest grandchild, she still did not hesitate to also lend a hand to that monumental cleanup effort.

Trudy Fitzsimmons is a loving mother, grandmother and an extraordinary friend. She has been a dearly appreciated sounding board and guide to countless folks who have endeavored to make a positive difference on Long Island. I am grateful for this opportunity to celebrate her, and look forward to great things going forward. I love you, Trudy.

The Summit is Coming! We Get to GO!

Can’t say it enough: These in-depth interviews hosted by Eric Alexander featuring a broad range of local leaders are fantastic. Learn and get inspired by these amazing Long Island community members….We do!

Honestly, like they always seem to, the good folks of Vision Long Island have done an incredible job of turning the challenges of the COVID-19 era into new opportunities to highlight people making a huge difference in our communities, and generally helping those folks wrap their heads around the challenges and opportunities of today.

Still. We’ve REALLY missed being able to see these folks in person. We are so excited that the Smart Growth Summit is being held November 17-19, 2021 and will have an in-person component on the final day!

 

Check out their website for details and get on their email list!

Vision Long Island Highlights Local Leaders

These in-depth interviews hosted by Eric Alexander featuring a broad range of Local Leaders on Vimeo are fantastic.

Check ’em out.

FOR MORE: Follow the Vision Long Island Facebook Page and the Long Island Main Street Alliance for news and information, much of which is particularly aimed at helping Long Island’s small businesses.

They’ve also got great stuff on YouTube covering and exceptionally broad range of local issues. Check it out.

2020 Smart Growth Summit Review

While the event was very long, and dug into many deep challenges, it was an overwhelmingly hopeful affair, grounded in real people doing real things, so much so that folks kept watching long after 5pm on Friday! In summary:

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Vision Smart Growth Awards, Summit

We also deeply missed being able to gather with 1,000 community leaders at a live Smart Growth Awards this year. We are grateful for all our sponsors at Vision Long Island do to advance Smart Growth, their focus on serving Main Street (especially now!) and for their endeavors — like so many other nonprofits — to ensure their important work continues.

The online version was still deeply valuable. You can read a brief description of the honorees here. Check out their YouTube page for a video of the event itself, as well as great videos at the sites with the honorees.

Please also continue to check out the Long Island Main Street Alliance for news and information aimed at helping Long Island’s small businesses.

The Smart Growth Summit will also be virtual this year!

“In a time of social distancing and being unable to meet in person, the 19th Annual Long Island Smart Growth Summit is an event that takes on more importance as we seek to assist our local communities through economic recovery guided by placemaking principles.

This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, we will be holding a virtual program that will feature workshops, technical worksessions, and plenary sessions on regional and local issues facing downtown redevelopment, complete streets projects, infrastructure investment, regulatory relief and economic recovery through the Coronavirus.

For years, Vision has brought together thousands of civic members, chambers, community-minded developers, environmentalists, design professionals, labor, academics, seniors, young people, and minority owned businesses along with federal, state, county, town and village officials from Long Island and the region.

We need your continued energy and participation to help shape recovery efforts so the many years of progress made in our local communities is not lost.”

When: December 2nd through 4th

For More Info and to Register: Visit their Eventbrite page

We Repeat: Main Street News is a Must-Read

We’ve said it before, we’re going to keep saying it:

 

THIS IS VALUABLE AND IMPORTANT.

Vision Long Island and the Long Island Main Street Alliance publish the Main Street News. This is a grounded, productive, community-oriented force for those who care about the economic aspects of the COVID-19 crisis. It’s sobering, comprehensive and helpful.

While these issues are bursting with a broad range of information and resources, some key issues lately involve strong advocacy for local leadership, particularly in terms of local zoning, helping local businesses prepare for reopening, and focusing on the need and what’s being done to help folks meet basic human needs.

There’s some substantive good news in there, too.

Check out their website. Follow their Facebook.

Vision is one of our strongest advocates for Long Island downtowns, and has been generally connecting diverse local stakeholders to learn and work together for the betterment of our communities for over 20 years. We strongly believe they are a huge reason why there’s as much healthy communication and collaboration in the name of true public service and community development on Long Island as there is today. We are grateful to call them a sponsor.

Main Street News is a Must-Read

We’ve said it before, we’re going to keep saying it:

THIS IS VALUABLE AND IMPORTANT.

Vision Long Island and the Long Island Main Street Alliance continue to release daily issues of their new Main Street News.

This is a grounded, productive, community-oriented force for those who care about the economic aspects of this crisis. It’s sobering, comprehensive and helpful.

There’s news about what’s happening, what’s open, resources, proposed legislation and whatever else they can find to help folks weather the storm. They have also added a “Good News” component that highlights folks doing the right thing.

Check out their website. Follow their Facebook.

Vision is one of our strongest advocates for Long Island downtowns, and has been generally connecting diverse local stakeholders to learn and work together for the betterment of our communities for over 20 years. We strongly believe they are a huge reason why there’s as much healthy communication and collaboration in the name of true public service and community development on Long Island as there is today. We are grateful.

Main Street News is a Must-Read: What’s Open, How Folks Are Doing, What You Can Do.

THIS IS IMPORTANT. Vision Long Island, one of our region’s strongest advocates for Main Street is now releasing daily issues of their new Main Street News. as it endeavors to keep up with events as they unfold. Check out their website. Follow their Facebook.

It’s a sobering, comprehensive review of important, information that includes a range of local initiatives, resources and ways you can help.

There’s news about what’s open, how folks are doing and whatever they can find to help folks weather the storm.

So go there and get informed. In general, some updated ideas that have seemed good to us include:

  1. Find your favorite local businesses on social media. Call them on the phone See what they’re doing. Buy their stuff.
  2. Buy Gift Certificates. Consider simply sending a donation to your favorite local business
  3. Restaurants are closed, but many can still do takeout/delivery. This article, which seems very well resourced, helped us feel informed and a lot safer about doing that!
  4. Realize many of these places care about their own health, your health and the community more than most ever realized. Know that many local shops are going out of their way to safely keep on keeping on — Much of Main Street — not just the eateries — are now offering curbside service and even delivery. Look up their website/social media. Even if they aren’t advertising it, call them to inquire!
  5. Special events are hugely important for organizations. Had an event cancelled? Send a donation! You can check our newsletter archives to find 100s of great local organizations
  6. Strongly consider supporting policy proposals that directly support individuals, small businesses and local governments. While they are going out of their way to come up with creative means of keeping going, there is only so much they can do,
  7. Just be kind — Especially to the cashiers, service providers and others working through this. Just. Be. Kind.

Support Local Business & Community Groups

Main St, Northport

Photo of Northport Village by Katheryn Laible

This is a really tough time to be a small business or a not-for-profit organization. While everyone is rightly encouraged to stay home and keep their hands off the world, bills are still coming due and people are wondering what’s going to happen to their income.

When you see one of your most go-getting survivors of a friend seeking donations for her employer, you have to stop and think — What are we going to do for our people here?

Vision Long Island is one of our region’s strongest advocates for Main Street. They have just released their first Main Street News offering a great guide to what people can do in terms of personal initiative, resources and advocacy.

Another strong advocate for local business that has been posting good stuff on their facebook page is the Long Island Business Council.

In general, some ideas that have seemed good to us include:

  1. Buy Gift Certificates. Consider simply sending a donation to your favorite local business
  2. Realize small businesses are often better for social distancing because they tend to be less crowded. They may even have that hard to find supply!
  3. Restaurants are closing, but can still do takeout/delivery. Even for alcohol!
  4. Realize many of these places care about their own health, your health and the community more than most ever realized. Know that many local shops are going out of their way to safely keep on keeping on — Book Revue in Huntington, for example is offering curbside service and even delivery. We’ve heard report of local hair stylists all but wrapping their stylists in bubble wrap. Look up their website/social media. Even if they aren’t advertising it, call them to inquire!
  5. Special events are hugely important for organizations. Had an event cancelled? Send a donation! You can check our newsletter archives to find 100s of great local organizations
  6. Strongly consider supporting policy proposals that directly support individuals and small businesses. While they are going out of their way to come up with creative means of keeping going, there is only so much they can do,
  7. Just be kind — Especially to the cashiers, service providers and others working through this. Just. Be. Kind.
 
 

Ron Stein: Long Island Renaissance Man

As the founder of LI’s premier Smart Growth organization Vision Long Island, a champion of the endeavor to advance John and Alice Coltrane’s legacies, Ron Stein has a tremendous knack for getting great things started.

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