Written by Dave Gil de Rubio Friday, 30 November 2012 00:00
It takes a village to raise a child is a much-used trope/African proverb that was recycled as part of the title of a 1996 Hillary Rodham-Clinton-penned book. In the case of recent Hometown Hero recipient Diana Biehayn, her selfless participation in the local Girl Scouts troop and countless other organizations have very much made her a New Hyde Park community stalwart. But for all the accolades she gets for her mostly unsung efforts, the Queens native is shyly modest about it all.
“[Public service] just evolved from when my daughter was in Girl Scouts and I moved along with her,” Biehayn explained with a smile. “I went to Queens College as an adult and my major was sociology, so it just seems to be my calling. I never used it professionally, but I used it in my everyday life.”
Since moving to the village in 1968, the former Woodside resident not only raised a daughter and son, but donated time to a myriad of local institutions ranging from the local chapters of AARP and FISH (Friends In Service to Humanity) to the Lions Club and Meals on Wheels.
It’s exactly this combination of selflessness and humility that led to Town of North Hempstead Town Clerk Leslie Gross making this beaming grandmother her latest Hometown Hero.
“It’s amazing and I know that phrase that says if you need to get something done, give it to a busy person. And you’re very humble and I think most of the people that I choose as honorees are this way. You haven’t done these things I’m sure just so that there might be a plaque to hang on the wall,” Gross explained before bestowing the award in her office. “The people that are the busiest really get so much done. And I know you don’t think about it—you [get involved] because you love doing it. That’s a true hometown hero.”
It’s a sentiment daughter Loretta proudly agrees with and is quick to point out that it all starts with Biehayn’s immediate family.
“She makes every single home volleyball game at New Hyde Park Memorial High School whether I go or not. She makes it to the football games,” Loretta explained. “Whatever my girls were involved with, both my mom and dad come down, but my dad is passed. But my mom keeps marching and doing. She gives food to neighbors that are sick and she’s just always trying to help.”
Bob Simon, another New Hyde Park resident heavily involved with local organizations and has been volunteering alongside Biehayn for a number of years, can attest to his friend’s dedication.
“It’s hard to keep up with her. Every time I opened up the paper, I saw her picture, always doing something,” Simon said before adding. “Diana is a pillar of the New Hyde Park community.”
For the immediate future, aside from being her grandchildren’s biggest cheerleader, Diana Biehayn doesn’t see herself slowing up anytime soon.
“The [folks I help] are very nice and interesting people. People that have lived a lot longer than me, which is really long,” she said with a laugh “But as long as I can, I will keep going.”