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On A Mission

Bethpage-based St. Vincent De Paul Society puts a face on help

You’ve probably seen the St. Vincent de Paul Society trucks in your neighborhood but you might not know who they are and what they do, Who they are is one of the largest voluntary charitable associations in the world, having worked since its founding in 1833 Paris, to serve the needy.  They became established in the U.S. in 1845 and on Long Island in the late 1940s.

 

“We offer emergency assistance in any way we can – food, furniture, utility bills, or help with rent or mortgage,” said Marion Holmgaard, president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society conference at St. Kilian’s Church, Farmingdale. Hers is  one of  about 50 parish conferences on Long Island.

 

“We go wherever the need is,” said Pat O’Dea, former president of the St. Kilian’s conference and a veteran of the society. For example,  many of the people they help already have access to canned goods from a local food pantry.

 

“We’ve been getting into food vouchers so that they can buy fresh food,” O’Dea said, such as milk and eggs.

 

Many organizations seek to help the poor and others in need, but society members believe in looking at the person they are helping face to face. 

 

“What sets us apart is we go into peoples’ homes,” said Tom Abbate, director of the Bethpage-based St. Vincent de Paul Society’s central council, which coordinates the ministry of the society in Nassau and Suffolk. 

 

"We learn better how we can help,” Abbate said. “When we go into people’s homes we can see whether their lights are on, whether there is heat in the house, whether there is food in the refrigerator.

 

Though the society is not able to provide long-term assistance, they try to offer guidance along with material support, such as helping families plan a budget and figure out a better future, Holmgaard said.

 

“There was one single mother and her daughter who were living in a small apartment with a lot of problems, such as mold,”  O’Dea noted.  They helped her find a federal subsidized housing program and get a nicer apartment.

“That changed their whole attitude,” O’Dea said.  “They then had something to lose and they became more involved in helping themselves. Sometimes, amazing things can happen.”

 

Abbate heads the central council, coordinating the efforts of parish-based conferences who go out to meet the people seeking help, assess their situation, and strive to offer what they need. 

 

The society takes its name from St. Vincent de Paul, a 17th century French priest known for his outreach to the poor. In that tradition, “we see the face of Christ in the people we help.”

 

Though a Catholic organization, the society assists people in need regardless of race or religion. The volunteers are generally lay people who go out in pairs to the homes of people who apply for help at their local parish. 

“The people have to contact us first or be referred by a social service agency” or their parish, Holmgaard said. “Sometimes it’s hard for people to come to us.”

 

The parish-based conferences offer assistance with their own resources, but the Bethpage office is there for additional support. For example, they have three thrift stores, which sell some items to raise money for the ministry and give other items away to those in need.

 

”We have a store in Garden City Park and one in Huntington” that has furniture, Abbate said. Another store in Huntington Station has clothing. “We’ll bring furniture to a family who needs it. If they need clothing, they have to go to the store because they have to be sure it fits.”

 

St. Vincent de Paul has other ministries, such as an outreach to people in jail, transitional housing for men recovering from substance abuse, and “Voices of the Poor,” that speaks up for public policy on behalf of people in need.

Their ministry is supported by fund-raisers, revenue from the thrift stores and donations. “The people on Long Island have been very generous,” Abbate said.

 

Though their focus is serving others, society volunteers find personal fulfillment as well.  Holmgaard, a retired secretary at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, wanted to “give back” for all the blessings  in her life. “It’s satisfying  to see that I can help someone.”

 

“Of course, while we are helping people,” O’Dea said, “we are growing closer to God.”

News

The Farmingdale Public Library was recently the site of the rumbling feet and powerful roars of the mighty dinosaur, come to life in modern times... at least in the form of some dedicated actors playing the parts to the hilt for the sake of education and fun. 

 

The Wildlife Theater, a part of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s educational department, was on-hand at the library on April 17, bringing its unique form of lighthearted children’s entertainment containing vital information about the world in which kids live, and the fascinating creatures that share it with them.

 

The Wildlife Theater works out of the Central Park Zoo, traveling around the five boroughs of New York—as well as Long Island—to put on shows at venues such as elementary schools, libraries, and hospitals; they specialize in taking their conservation message along with them in the form of plays about animals and the environment, according to the Conservation Society’s Michael Birch.

Marc Anthony Bynum was able to make a prize-winning dish out of the ingredients in the “mystery basket”—matzah, salty peanuts, dried strawberries, and cocoa nibs—to win the Food Network's TV show Chopped in June 2010. Two months later, he returned to the show for a second time, where he excelled through the appetizer round with a combination of dandelion greens, Greek yogurt, liverwurst and catfish, which allowed him to move forward through the entrée and dessert rounds to win. But it was the combination of geoduck, Buddha’s hand, black radishes and waffle cones that did him in when he appeared in the grand finale of the Chopped Tournament in September that year. 


Sports

The Over the Hill Gang softball league opened its 39th season Friday, April 11 with six games at Allen Park.  Bar-Boy began with an impressive 25-8 win over Bethpage Pharmacy. After scoring one run in the first, BB exploded for 7 runs in the 2nd inning and never looked back.    For the night, Ken Kuzman went 4 for 6 with 2 RBIs, Steve Kirk went 4 for 5 with 2 RBIs, Frank Badalmenti went 5 for 6 with 5 RBIs and a homer, pitcher John Czarnecki went 5 for 6 with 5 RBIs, rookie Jason Cinnelli went 3 for 6 with a homer and manager Ken Kohlmann went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs. 

Farmingdale athletes Franklin Diaz, Billy Allen, and Chris Daily put on award winning performances during the 37th annual All Round Foods 10 kilometer run for ASPIRE, through the streets of Plainview and Old Bethpage on April 5. 

 

Diaz crossed the finish line at the H.B. Mattlin Middle School in Plainview in 34 minutes and 34 seconds, for sixth place overall and first in the 30-34 age group. Allen finished in seventh place overall with a time of 35 minutes and 26 seconds, to earn the third place trophy in the 20-24 age group. Daily scored in 38 minutes, 45 seconds, in 17th place overall and first in the 50-54 age group, in what was one of the most competitive races on Long Island in the past year. 


Calendar

Boating Class - April 22

Board of Fire Commissioners - April 24

Earth Day Fair - April 27 

Tuesday, April 22

Power Squadrons Boating Class

On April 22, Captree Power Squadron will be holding boating classes at Howitt Middle School, located at 70 Van Cott Ave.,from 7-9 p.m. Upon course completion students will be issued certificates that are accepted by local police, bay constables, and the U.S. Coast Guard. All classes take place five successive weeks on same day as start. There is a fee of $50 to attend, which will cover the cost of books and materials. For more information call Gene at 631-242-6117 or Charlie at 631-957-8604.

 

Planning Board

The next meeting of the Farmingdale Planning Board will be held on April 22, at 7 p.m.

 

FBHS 50th Anniversary Dinner

On April 22, the Farmingdale Bethpage Historical Society will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special Founders’ Day Dinner at 6:30pm at the Blue Lagoon Restaurant, located off of Rt. 109 in West Babylon. 

 Thursday, April 24

Board of Fire Commissioners

The next meeting of the Farmingdale Board of Fire Commissioners will be held on April 24, at 8 p.m., inside Village Hall, located at 361 Main St.

Saturday, April 26

Getting By With A Little Help From Our Friends

On April 26, YES Community Counseling Center invite you to attend a special concert/fundraiser at the Nutty Irishman in Farmingdale. 

 

The concert, “Getting By with a Little Help from Our Friends,” begins at 3:30 p.m. and will feature the dynamic music of Half Step, The Therapy Band, and Something In Between.  

 

Tickets are $40 per person and includes a dinner buffet. Proceeds raised will go to help ensure the YES Community Counseling Center has resources to respond to anyone requesting their help.

Sunday, April 27

Earth Day Fair

On April 27, the Village of Farmingdale will be host Earth Day festivities at noon on the Village Green located along Main Street downtown. 

Baseball Parade

 

On April 27, the Village of Farmingdale will hold its annual Baseball Parade. Beginning at 2 p.m., participants will gather outside the Howitt Middle School, located at 70 Van Cott Ave., before marching down Main St. to Allen Park, at 45 Motor Ave. 

High School Go Green Club

 

On April 27, Farmingdale High School’s Go Green Club will celebrate Earth Day from noon-4 p.m. on the village green along Main St. in Farmingdale.

St. Kilian RC Church Blood Drive

 

St. Kilian Church along with the New York Blood Center will be coordinating a blood drive on April 27 from 8:15 a.m.- 2:15 p.m. The drive will take place in the St. Kilian Auditorium on Cherry Street in Farmingdale. For information on St. Kilian’s Blood Drive or to schedule an appointment, please contact Ray Redina at 516-523-7130 or Chris Hillier at 631-445-9026. Your donation will help to save up to three lives. Our community hospitals need your aid. Bring your ID with signature or photo. Eligibility criteria include you to be a minimum weight of 110 lbs., age 16-75 (16-olds need to have parental permission, 76-year olds and over need a doctor’s note), eat well, drink fluids and no tattoos for the past 12 months. For questions concerning medical eligibility call the New York Blood Center at 1-800-688-0900. 

Monday, April 28

Board of Trustees Worksession

The next public work session of the Village of Farmingdale Board of Trustees will be held at 7 p.m., on April 28, inside Village Hall, located at 361 Main St. in Farmingdale. 

Tuesday, April 29

Farmingdale PTA Council

The next meeting of the Farmingdale School District PTA Council will be held at 7 p.m., on April 29, inside Howitt Middle School, located at 70 Van Cott Ave. in Farmingdale. 

Thursday, May 1

Chamber of Commerce Meeting

The next general meeting of the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce will be held on May 1, at noon, at Dominican Restaurant 4, located at 305 Main St. in Farmingdale. 

Farmingdale High School Honor Society

 

On May 1, Farmingdale High School’s technology honor society will hold its annual induction ceremony at the American Airpower Museum, located at 1230 New Highway in Farmingdale. 

Saturday, May 3

Mother’s Day Family Fair

On May 3, Friends of the Farmingdale Public Library will be holding a “giant” Mother’s Day Family Fair, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Come buy a present for Mom or find just the thing you wanted for yourself or a family member. The Farmingdale Library will also be holding a book sale in conjunction with the fair. For more information, call 516-454-6813 or 516-244-0829.



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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