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Town Honors Fourteen With ‘Make a Difference’ Awards

McGarrys, Stabile, Sander Among Honorees

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and the town board recognized 14 extraordinary community members for contributions to their local neighborhoods at the 15th Annual “Make a Difference” Award ceremony including Joseph and Kristine McGarry of Levittown, Florence Stabile of Wantagh, and Danielle Sander of Seaford.

“The inspirational people being honored this evening are truly the unsung heroes of our communities,” said Murray. “Their selfless acts of volunteerism and leadership are true symbols of Hempstead Town and make our township such a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Levittown residents Joseph and Kristine McGarry were presented to the audience, among this year’s nominees. Their nomination read, “It has been said that love is not a finite commodity. Joseph and Kristine McGarry embody that adage, sharing their boundless love with over 100 foster children while also helping police officers and their families in times of need.

“In 1980 Joseph and Kristine McGarry became certified by the county to become foster parents. In the intervening 30 years, the couple has fostered more than 100 children. Many of these youngsters were born addicted to either drugs or alcohol and many were severely disabled.

“While Joe was working seven days a week, Kris tended to the needs of these children at home. Joe and Kristine offered each child that came into their home unconditional love and support. Many of these foster children have remained a part of the loving and loyal McGarry clan.

“New York City Transit Police Officer Joe McGarry is also a member of the Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance, volunteering his time as a responder to a 24-hour hotline that addresses domestic issues for other police officers. Joe is currently the group’s vice president.”

Of Wantagh’s Florence Stabile, it was shared, “Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, ‘Men do not quit playing because they grow old, they grow old because they quit playing.’ Our next honoree, Florence Stabile, is 97 years young, and she is indeed an active and vibrant emblem of that adage.

“Born into a gifted family, Florence began playing the piano at the tender age of seven. She studied classical music and was greatly influenced by Jimmy Dorsey and Glenn Miller. Now in her golden years, she maintains her status as a professional entertainer and she enriches the lives of others- from school children to seniors- with her talent.

“As the director of music at the Bellmore and Wantagh Senior Centers, Florence is continually making a difference in the lives of our golden residents right here in Hempstead Town.

“And while Florence brings joy to the lives of her fellow seniors, she also educates and enthralls the young by volunteering at the North Bellmore School District’s After School Cultural Arts Program.”

The nomination for Danielle Sander of Seaford read, “There is a famous quote that states, ‘The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.’ While that may be true, we also believe that the true test of a person’s character lies in how he or she treats the most vulnerable in our society.

“By either measure, Danielle Sander has been a veritable touchstone of noble and loving character. For people with special needs, the elderly or the less fortunate, Danielle is making a difference for many people, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

“As the owner of All Stars Gymnastics in Levittown, Danielle recently celebrated her business’ 10-year anniversary by hosting a free carnival in the gym’s parking lot to show her appreciation for the community’s support.

“Each year Danielle hosts a Special Olympics program for autistic children at the gym. She also chooses a needy family to assist and adopts an area nursing home for the donation of holiday gifts to the seniors.”

The honorees have all dedicated themselves to enriching the lives of others. Hundreds of nominations were received for the prestigious award. Those selected, Murray noted, have quietly carried out acts of selfless generosity for many years.

“Our award recipients do not seek recognition, expect rewards or even look for a simple thank you. These special people just care. They care for their neighbors, their colleagues, their friends, their families and their communities,” concluded Murray. “Tonight we are personally thanking them for making the world a better place.”