An Eagle Rises: A Celebration of Scouting – Thank You for Your Support

Max together with Scoutmasters Brian Zaino and Paco Shum the night of his Eagle Scout Board of Review

Eagle Scout Max Laible together with Scoutmasters Brian Zaino and Paco Shum on the night of the Eagle Scout Board of Review

My Max has been involved in the Scouts since he was first invited to join the Cubs when he was maybe eight or nine. He came home, handed me a flyer and said, “Mom? I think this is me.”

I think he was right! The Scouting program benefited Max tremendously, and while there were certainly challenges along the way, he seemed to enjoy just about every minute of it. I know of nothing else that so effectively provides the hands on, empowering, broadly based, leadership/community stewardship/handiness/survival/basic life skill sets that the Scouts do. It feeds into EVERYTHING he does.

Scouts accomplish more by their 18th birthdays than many do in a lifetime. When teachers would tell me how my child – who struggled with school – consistently showed leadership, responsibility and practical intelligence, I told them I credited the Scouts. The creativity, kindness and thoughtful, intelligent curiosity are all his own, but they’ve been exercised mightily through the Scouts.

He’s HAD to get organized; To Be Prepared.

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

A Scout Is...

People notice the Eagle Projects. While they are perhaps the most personal imprints a Scout might make, I will say they are but icing on the cake; a final hurrah in a decade-long journey. By the time a kid does his own project, they’ve participated in MANY service projects. Even more, they’ve taught, they’ve led, they’ve planned and they’ve tested, all while learning the value of being a mindful follower.

An Eagle Scout candidate has deeply considered what it means to care for self and family, as well as how to be a good citizen in their community, their nation, internationally and in society as a whole. They understand a bit of how local government works, and have been led to really think about the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. They’ve had basic, fundamental human values drilled into their heads weekly, and been engaged in regular interviews where they’re asked what these values mean and how they apply them in their daily lives.

The basic mandate is a golden one: They are to “Do a Good Turn Daily.”

Eagle Scouts have earned a great deal of merit badges, learning to care for self and others, exploring many potential careers and hobbies, and developing deep practical skills. They’ve actively shaped their own experience as well as that of those who lead and follow them. They’ve fed people, guided them on long journeys, learned to safely wield both fire and an axe, and prepared in case of emergency.

At our last Eagle Court of Honor, another Scoutmaster told about how his own child – not very old at all – was the cool head at the scene of a horrific motorcycle accident. This kid knew just what to do, because he was a Scout.

It’s training for big things, and basic preparation. I came in once to find Max teaching himself to knot a tie via his Scoutbook. This is not the only time I saw him pull out that tome as a general reference for life. In getting to last weekend, Max spent well over 70 nights camping, 77 hours performing public service and hiked many, many miles. He earned over 33 Merit Badges in a broad array of skills ranging from citizenship to life saving, camping to chemistry, animation to welding, physical fitness, family life, personal management…

Cliche as it may be, he can’t seem go anywhere without someone asking him how to tie some kind of knot. 

He can conduct either end of a professional interview and has held increasingly responsible leadership positions for years. He worked on at least 12 Eagle projects and led more than 35 people to build his own.

…and, somehow, that’s just a little bit of it…

“On my honor I will do my best to make my training and example, my rank and my influence count strongly for better Scouting and for better citizen-ship in my Troop in my community and in my contacts with other people. To this I pledge my sacred honor.” ~Excerpt from the Eagle Oath

Eagle Projects

While an Eagle project is really just icing on the cake, it’s no lesser detail.

Eagle Projects must be identified, permitted, coordinated and constructed, ideally with the scout himself leading rather than doing as many aspects as possible. They have to create detailed plans (such that should they fall ill the troop can do the project without them), and rally both financial and volunteer support to realize them. Then, they have to report on how it all went.

I can’t remember all the projects Max has participated in, but I know they’ve ranged from dog playgrounds for local shelters, to endeavors to serve folks with Alzheimer’s and developmental disabilities; from trail markings to improvements to the church that hosts us. In his last year alone Max assisted:

Christian Arroyo in developing really cool bee hotels at Elijah Farm in Dix Hills.
Kyle Montagni in building an amazing outdoor classroom for the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery (I love that we can see this one from the road every time we drive by!)
Ashishpal DeWal in transforming an aging Eagle Project greenhouse into a beautiful new butterfly sanctuary for the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s East Meadow Farm.
The full list of Troop 205 Eagles is thus:
2014 Matthew Duggan
2014 Tully Frain

2014 John Edward Zaino
2016 Thomas Clarke
2016 Spencer Gliner
2016 Hayden Dancy
2016 Elizar Alden Aspiras
2018 Jack Mok
2018 Vincent Eng
2018 Marc Huo
2018 Matthew Gavieta
2018 Terence Smith
2018 Andrew Aspiras
2022 Grant Dell’Anno
2022 Christian Arroyo
2023 Kyle Montagni
2023 Ashishpal DeWal
2023 Maxwell Owen Laible
Each had a different journey, making deep and unique contributions to the community. So did many other scouts who never made Eagle (only about 6% generally do!), but who will be influenced by their scouting experience for the rest of their lives. Max will tell you each one of them has been important to his own experience as well.
A photo of the educational kiosk, fence and garden Max led over 35 others to build at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor
A photo of the educational kiosk, fence and garden Max led over 35 others to build at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor

Max’s Project: Building an Educational Gateway at the Nassau County Museum of Art

Max’s own project involved building a visual gateway to native grasslands now being restored at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor. We wrote a little bit about this before here and here. The final project included a split rail fence, a kiosk that serves as an outdoor education asset, and a model garden of native plants. We are delighted to report that the plants are now being maintained and expanded upon by a local garden club. 

This could not have happened without folks who cared to help. These included fellow Scouts, returning Eagles, parent leaders, friends, family, teachers, and great neighbors. Some offered guidance. Others, financial support. Some lent tools and gave materials. Many rolled up their sleeves and showed up to get the final job done. In particular, we offer grateful thanks to:

Michael Borra
Sofia Calle
Kenneth Cao
The Ceron Family
Amy Cincotta
The Clarke Family
Greg Dancy
The DeWal Family
Jim Darcy
Matthew Duggan
The Gliner Family
Angelo Guardado
Jean Henning
Danielle Kaplan
The Laible Family
Gail Lamberta
Jennifer Lau

The Lim Family
Katrina Ludwikowski
The Ma Family
The Montagni Family
Craig Mooers
Drigo Morin
Rob Nock
Northport Native Garden Initiative
Gavin Ng
Jamie Pedicini
Adrianna Peres-DaSilva
Riverhead Building Supply
Lizette Sanlés
The Shum Family
Justin Tian
Brian Zaino
Lawrence Zeltzer

There were so many more who contributed to this journey, and comprise a village Max will value for as long as he lives. In his program, Max wrote this: 

“I am more than thankful for the many years of guidance, care, patience, and humor volunteered by the adult and youth leaders in the troop. I am honored to follow, lead, teach and learn from each and every one of them. I am immensely grateful to all who were there for me during my arduous journey. They made every minute worth the experience.  ~ Yours in Scouting, Max”

We are grateful. Thanks.

2024 Smart Growth Awards

Smart Growth Awards Logo

For over 20 years Vision Long Island has been honoring individuals, organizations, and projects that advance the growth of our downtowns and infrastructure. Specific focus areas include transit oriented development, affordable housing, environmental sustainability, traffic calming, transportation enhancements, clean energy and community based planning.

Continue reading

Huntington Station BID Debuts New Website, Social Media

Photo of Huntington Station BID Boardmembers

Photo of Huntington Station BID Board Members provided by the Huntington Station BID

A Business Improvement District (BID) is “a geographical area where local stakeholders oversee and fund the maintenance, improvement and promotion of their commercial district.”

There are many BIDS on Long Island that do a great deal in service to our communities. The Huntington Station BID, to me at least, seems to do a little more. There is a sincerity to this BID that I find truly remarkable. I’m pretty sure that had a lot to do with those who established it, including Dee Thompson, who served as its Vice President from its founding until her passing last year. 

I’m even more certain that spirit will endure because of the people who comprise its Board and who show up regularly for their meetings. They care about the community, and they care about each other. Some are, themselves, remarkable stories that I hope to get to tell.

Mission & Vision

From the website:

The Mission of The Huntington Station Business Improvement District Association Inc., (HS BID), is to physically improve our
District by keeping it clean, promoting beautification and safety, and the support of our member businesses.

The Huntington Station BID has been responsible for many improvements within its boundaries such as security cameras, Christmas lights, summer hanging flower baskets, street trash receptacles, support of community activities such as the HS Unity Parade and Festival, beautification and maintenance of the streets and of the parking garage on Broadway. We support store front façade improvements and are a strong lobbying force and a recipient of grants for general improvements to the Huntington Station Community.

Our goal is to enhance the vitality and appeal of the Businesses within Huntington Station. Founded with a commitment to continuous improvement, we are dedicated to fostering a thriving and inviting community environment.

You can read more here.

Follow Them!

They’ve worked really hard to establish communications systems so they can share their work and do even more to serve.

Here is their new website.

Here is their new Facebook Page.

Here is their new Instagram.

Follow them to learn more about their work, and the local businesses and broader community that they exist to serve.

Were You There When it all Began?

Were you involved in the founding of this BID? Do you remember the Huntington Station of way-back when? If so, HS BID Board Secretary Kelly Smith would like to speak with you! Please contact her to share your recollections as she endeavors to piece together the history of this organization and the community it serves. Thanks!

Shop Local! Beckman’s Florist Endures!

Photo of Beckman's Florist by Katheryn Laible

Photo of Beckman’s Florist by Katheryn Laible

We were heartbroken to hear that shortly after writing this review, the folks of Beckman’s Florist had come to the very difficult decision that they had to close their doors:

Sometimes, you learn, there have been treasures under your nose all along. This one’s perfect for Valentine’s Day! 

We recently discovered the family-owned Beckman’s Florist, which has proudly served Long Island from it’s Larkfield Rd, East Northport location for almost 75 years. It was a lovely experience. 

The service was impeccable, the corsage incredible. It was also a delight to see all the gorgeous arrangements being prepared to grace other special occasions, offer love and care, and make any old day a bit brighter.

They have lovely gifts, too! This butterfly garden ornament is one of my favorite things. <3

It was heartbreaking, especially as we knew how much they loved their business. Then, we saw this on Facebook:

Seasonal ‘Scapes has some very exciting news! We are extremely happy and humbled to announce that we have acquired Beckman’s Florist. After 74 amazing years in our community, providing high-quality floral service, they came to the difficult decision to retire and sell their building. After our family spoke with their family, we have both decided to join our talents. Beckman’s will now be joining us at our location, 638 Larkfield Road, East Northport.
In the upcoming weeks, you will see new signage and information about our acquisition. Beckman’s Florist will now be a division of Seasonal ‘Scapes Garden Center.
Blending the fabrics of these two great families and businesses will allow Seasonal ‘Scapes to continue to serve our community with the top-notch service and quality that we strive to achieve.
Although Lisa will be “retiring”, she will be joining us as a per-diem floral designer and her daughter, Melissa, will also be sharing her talents and expertise with us as well. Please stop by and see their familiar faces and congratulate them on working with us to find a way to keep the Beckman’s name and tradition alive
within our great town!
We are beyond grateful and excited. These two businesses being woven together is just what our community needs. We are stronger together and when good people work together, great things can happen!

It sounds like wonderful news that underlines the strength and beauty of our communities. Now, they can take good care of themselves and each other, while still carrying on the legacy and talent they’ve been so proud to offer for so many years. We wish all involved the very best, and hope you consider them next time you need something special.

Rising Eagle: Please Join Max in Serving the Nassau Museum of Art

Photo of Max Laible at the Nassau Museum with one of his favorite sculptures.

An Eagle Project is one last adventure in a decade-long journey. Max, here, is leading creation of a fence, educational kiosk and model native plant garden that will serve as an enriching gateway to newly restored grasslands at the Nassau County Museum of Art.

Continue reading

Northport Story Slam: Coincidences

Flyer for the Northport Story Slam. Info in text.

Come to the Next Northport Story Slam: Coincidences!

Live Storytelling to Light Up Hearts and Minds! Inspired by The Moth Radio Hour, Elizabeth Alexander has been organizing storytelling events in Northport Village and the surrounding area. In crafting these “Northport Story Slams,” she is creating opportunities for the community to connect and to be inspired. Illustrating in yet another way the talent and passion of our community, these have been FANTASTIC!
Moth-style storytelling is a genre of personal narrative stories about an experience that took place in the storyteller’s life. The stories are crafted, planned, and told (not read) before a live audience. It’s a wonderful art form that allows folks to connect at a very human level.
These are super fun and a wonderful way to get to know our neighbors, and build community. We were thrilled to get to host one at The Firefly and are excited for this next one!
You can follow them on Facebook, and check out their new website: They were also recently featured in Northport Neighbors Magazine!

Upcoming Northport Story Slam Details

Date: Sunday, May 19 at 6pm
Theme: “Coincidences”
Where: Outdoor stage on Union Place, Northport (parking lot behind 172 Main St. 
Tickets: The $25 fee covers basic expenses. All profits will benefit Terry’s Gifts, a local charity. To purchase a ticket venmo @Liz-Alexander-106 that all or text Liz @ 631-375-4414 or email Please also check out the basic guidelines below.
There will be a large tent offering shelter in case of rain. Light refreshments will be served.
Basic Guidelines for Storytelling: 1. Tell story in 5-10 minutes 2. Story to be told, not read 3. Base story on theme: coincidences 4. Craft your story 5. Story must be about a personal experience. 6. No stand-up comedy acts or rants

Basic Guidelines for Storytelling

We are sure they are already dreaming of the next event, and always looking for story tellers. They might even offer another class to help folks learn this fine art. Here are their basic guidelines, so you can start thinking about that!

1. Tell story in 5-10 minutes

2. Your story is to be told, not read

3. Base your story on the theme: coincidences

4. Craft your story

5. Story must be about a personal experience.

6. No stand-up comedy acts or rants

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!

Continue reading

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,

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