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Civic Duty Begins At Home

Andy Foundation founder honored by village board

Jill Palmeri, founder of a local charitable organization born out of a tragic event to a loved one in her life, was honored by Garden City Mayor John J. Watras and his trustees at the village board meeting held on Thursday, Dec. 5.

The Andy Foundation was founded by Palmeri in 2004 to honor the memory of her late son Andrew; it’s mission is to help children in need, and to date, the volunteer-driven organization has raised more than $700,000 for kids throughout Long Island through fundraising efforts that include tag sales, football clinics, and bingo parties.

Mayor Watras presented Palmeri with an official proclamation celebrating her hard work in giving back to children in need in light of her own terrible loss years ago.

“The Andy Foundation have become an iconic group in the village, and everything they do is unbelievable,” he said. “They’ve been involved in numerous charities, and while I wish there didn’t even have to be an Andy Foundation, Jill was very brave after we lost Andy in 2004 and memorialized her son in a very special way, and all the people she’s energized in the village is just beyond belief.”

Also at the meeting the Garden City Fire Chief William Castoro welcomed the newest addition to the ranks of the village’s volunteer fire department­—22-year-old James Akel, who was approved unanimously to the position by a board vote.

“It’s always great to have a new volunteer on our team,” he said. “We have a great bunch of guys that you get to join, and we wish you luck.”  

Akel, a recent graduate of Adelphi University where he studied business, said that he felt compelled to become a firefighter out of a strong civic-minded desire to serve his friends and neighbors.

“I wanted to serve my community,” he said. “A lot of my close friends are volunteer firefighters, and it’s something that I’ve always been interested in doing.”

“I’m so proud of him,” said Akel’s mother, Cecilia, who was in attendance at the meeting. “I’m concerned, and I’m proud.”

Trustee Dennis C. Donnelly also reported on recent holiday shopping in the village, most notably Small Business Saturday, an event that seeks to promote local retailers after the onslaught of chain store shopping that normally occurs on Black Friday. Unfortunately, Donnelly said that Small Business Saturday was not a great local success this year when compared to years prior.

 “Many merchants are saying that business on Small Business Saturday was not what they were hoping,” he said. “Please keep in mind that, as the holiday season progresses, if you can shop locally among our merchants in our village, that would be very positive.”

Donnelly’s sentiments were echoed by Mayor Watras, who urged people in attendance at the meeting to spread the word- shop locally and support Garden City merchants. “We have wonderful stores and restaurants in town, so please...don’t go to the big box stores. Come here instead,” he said.

Village Administrator Robert L. Schoelle also gave an initial report in the status of the development of next year’s village budget

“The department heads have been extraordinarily diligent in terms of focus not only on this year’s budget, but next year’s budget as well,” he said. “That should place us in good standing for the budget season of 2014-15.”