A Day in the Life: Veteran Kevin McNeil

Photo of Kevin McNeil

Kevin McNeil is an Army Veteran who served for eight years as a paratrooper for the Army. While hie’s got his share of challenges, he’s more interesting in doing whatever he can to help.

Continue reading

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.

Nikola Tesla: The Man, The Myth, The Legacy

We are grateful the rain held off as we traipsed about the site of Nikola Tesla’s last and only surviving laboratory, “Wardenclyffe.” There, board member Neil Baggett talked about the great scientist and his time on Long Island, and plans to advance his legacy. While nothing can replace an in-person tour – we highly recommend taking one if you can! — here is a bit of what we learned:

Continue reading

Huntington Klaber Award Given for First Time Since 2015. Congratulations, Sheila Pariser!

Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash
2018 Klaber Award recipient Sheila Pariser
2018 Klaber Award recipient Sheila Pariser

Trudy here! I want folks to know about The Klaber Award and its latest recipient, Sheila Pariser. The award is given by the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. It honors long term dedication to the Town of Huntington, NY and is bestowed upon an individual, age 60 or older, who has spent more than 15 years building a record of distinguished and exceptional voluntary service to the community, including key leadership positions with diverse town-wide organizations. The award is not given every year. It was recently given for the first time since 2015, when I was honored to be selected!

The honor itself memorializes a prominent local architect named John Klaber. Born in 1884, Klaber did not make his home in Huntington until 1945. Despite the late start, he had a profound impact, endeavoring to both improve the quality of life and preserve the existing beauty and charm of his adopted community. In his 26 years as a Town resident, John served as Vice President of the Old Village Green and Vice President of the local chapter of the NAACP. He was a member of the Huntington Historical Society, Historical Sites Preservation Committee, Huntington Lions Club and the American Legion. Mr. Klaber continued to be an active member of the community until his passing in 1971 at the age of 87. At that time he was serving on the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce’s Planning and Zoning, Human Resources, and Town and County Affairs Committees. Throughout, Klaber maintained a fascinating scrap book that was donated to the archives of the Town of Huntington in 2014.

This past August, I was pleased to join the Huntington Chamber of Commerce in celebrating the organization’s latest Klaber Award recipient, Sheila Pariser, who has been a volunteer on Long Island for 40 years. Sheila’s community endeavors began with becoming a Board Member of the Huntington Chapter of the American Red Cross in the late 1970s, where she served for five years. Since 1980 Ms. Pariser has been a member of Soroptimist International of Huntington (now Soroptimist International of Suffolk County), with roles including President, Vice President and Director. The organization has also honored her as a Woman of the Year.

In the 1980’s and 90’s Sheila served the Huntington Freedom Center (now Head Start), and volunteered at Huntington Hospital on Sundays.  From 2006-2011 she served on the Board of Managers of the Greens at Half Hollow, then as Secretary of the Homeowners Association in 2011. From 2012-2014, Pariser was Vice President of the Homeowners Association of the Greens in Melville. In 2013, she was appointed Chair of the Special Needs Committee for the Community. From 2016 to present, Ms. Pariser has been member of Condo 3 Board of the Greens in Melville. She has also been appointed Government Liaison for its Government Affairs and Public Relations Committee.

Since 2010 Ms. Pariser has volunteered for the Visiting Nurse Service and Hospice Center of Suffolk. Since 2015, she has been a Board Member of the Friends of Oheka, serving on their artistic scholarship selections committee.

Previous honorees of this award honoring Klaber’s spirit include:

Clayton F. Mugridge – 1973
Bryon Sammis – 1974
John Ficker – 1975
Richard E. Allen – 1976
Honorable Fred Munder – 1977
Jack Lee – 1979 Jane M. Sullivan – 1981
Robert Mitchell – 1984
Ruth F. Concoran – 1986
John Jazombek – 1988
John Staib – 1989
Quentin Sammis – 1991
Anthony Mastroianni – 1992
Walter Spilsbury – 1997
Arthur Goldstein – 1998
Vaughan Spilsbury – 1999
Mary C. Cary – 2000
Libby Hubbard – 2001
Clifford Starkins & Joy Squires – 2002
Duncan Elder – 2003
Kenneth A. Christensen & Eleanor Casey – 2004
Dolores Thompson – 2010
Robert Scheiner – 2014
Trudy Fitzsimmons – 2015
 
If you know someone who should be considered for this award in the future, please contact the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce at 631-423-6100, info@huntingtonchamber.com.

Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds: LI Human Services Champion

Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds is a passionate, accomplished, deeply knowledgeable Human Services Executive. In this, he is as interested in aligning the systems of “doing good” to be more effective as he is in making sure that he stays in direct contact with the diverse populations his agency, the Family and Children’s Association, serves. There’s a lot that goes on in between. We sat down with him recently to talk about it…

Continue reading