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Monday
Jan022012

Polar Bear Swim at Sunken Meadow

 CLICK PICTURE TO VIEW PHOTO GALLERY OF THE POLAR BEAR SWIM!

It’s January 1, 2012 for most of us the thought of celebrating New Years Day by taking a swim in the Long Island Sound was not even a consideration.  And yet, there they were at Sunken Meadow State Park stripping off their protective clothing and running into the surf.  Crazy? Perhaps.  Generous? Absolutely.

The “Polar Bear Plunge” raised money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. 

Juvenile diabetes (type 1) is a disorder of the body’s immune system. Symptoms include: Increased thirst and frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, fatigue, irritability, blurred vision, yeast infection.  Parents are encouraged to speak with a physician if your child exhibits any of these symptoms. 

According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation –

As many as three million Americans may have type 1 diabetes. 

Each year, more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults – approximately 80 people per day – are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the U.S.

85 percent of people living with type 1 diabetes are adults.

The rate of type 1 diabetes incidence among children under the age of 14 is estimated to increase by 3% annually worldwide. 

The people in the photos took the “Polar Bear Plunge” to raise money and awareness for Juvenile Diabetes and the work being done to find a cure. The water may have been cold but the willingness of the participants to help those who are suffering from this disease was enough to warm a person’s heart. 

To donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation click here

Sunday
Jan012012

Carol McNally - 2011 Person Of The Year

By Stephanie Healion

There are many amazing people in this world, many of whom do not get their names in the newspapers or on television.  There are inspirational and incredible people in the corners of every town and city, so it is always exciting when you discover a person who deserves some acknowledgment for the positive work they do, especially when they are in your own backyard.

Carol McNally grew up in Commack and is currently a resident of Kings Park.  She has spent a considerable amount of her life working in and out of the justice system towards changing the way people think about juvenile justice.  With a degree from Hofstra University in English and a minor in political writing, as well as a masters from Stony Brook University in Public Affairs, McNally worked as the director of public relations in the Suffolk County probation department, a starting point for her future work with the justice system.  In 1994-1995, McNally was also asked to chair the public relations committee of the American Probation and Parole Association.  McNally started focusing on the prevention of crime, with special attention given to youths already in trouble with the law.  “When you look at what works, because government would like to do things that are effective, what worked was the mentoring of young children.  That excited me, that we could do something to help kids in the justice system from getting farther along into the system, from becoming criminals,” McNally explained.

McNally started a mentoring program within the Suffolk County probation department working directly with kids and their probation officers.  “That really opened my eyes because up until then I was a policy person, I drafted legislation and reports, but never got to see how these things affected people one on one.  So I got to meet these kids on probation and learned from them and their probation officers what their lives were like.”  McNally discovered that many of the kids on probation had a lot of risk factors: one or both parents had been incarcerated, their parents were teaching them how to steal, there was drug abuse, mental illness or domestic violence in the family.  These kids were being instructed to behave perfectly and not break any rules, but had no one teach them how to do that, and so more often than not, they violated their probation and were sent away to jail or juvenile facilities.  After McNally retired, she was determined to continue trying to change the system to work for these kids instead of against them.  “I was in the system and I retired, but I still wanted to work to make things better.  I just can’t be a person who goes off into the sunset, reads the newspaper and says “Well that’s somebody else’s problem now,” McNally said.  In 2005, McNally graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in social work, opening up more opportunities for her to work with kids in need.

In 2000, McNally joined the League of Woman Voters (LWV) and  worked on the committee studying Alternatives to Incarceration. She became the  Chairperson of the committee .  Last year she represented the LWV of Smithtown at the state convention in Albany and did a workshop on juvenile justice.  McNally also works with Scope (SCOPE Education Services is a not-for-profit, private organization permanently chartered by the New York State Board of Regents to provide services to schools districts). There she teaches a course on Restorative Practices for teachers to use inside the classroom. 

In April 2009, McNally founded the Center for Restorative Practices, headquartered at the Tuoro Law Center in Central Islip.  McNally trains law students and other volunteers in conferencing, a method used as an alternative to suspension and expulsion from schools for kids in trouble.  The Center works directly with schools, contacting kids in these situations and working towards a better solution. While this is voluntary for the students, the benefit to them is that they would not be suspended for the full amount of time. But the goal for McNally and the Center is to have conferencing in lieu of suspension or expulsion, instead of just reducing the sentence.  “What I’ve learned in life is that it’s about the relationship, whether it’s a teacher and a student, a probation officer and their client, or a therapist and their client.  It’s that relationship that can motivate and help change lives.  And if you don’t have that, you’re not going to be as effective.”

McNally explained that there is a misconception regarding conferencing. Conferencing, isn’t just a free pass for students to get out of trouble. “The outcome of a conference is a contract, an action plan. We ask, “How are you going to fix it?  You are going to stay after school and clean classrooms, or you will tutor somebody.  What is so important is keeping kids connected to the school community?  By expelling them, you isolate them and they are bound to get angry and get into trouble, and they don’t know how to handle that. Children make mistakes.  As educators, we need to help them learn from these mistakes and give them a way back.”

McNally feels that her biggest achievement has been gaining a foothold in the legal system regarding Restorative Practices.  “I think the biggest achievement was that ripple effect, affect one life and you affect many,” McNally said.  “There’s a student organization called PILOT which is students interested in going into the public interest law.  After a conference this year, it was decided by those in PILOT  that juvenile justice was such an important issue that they created a position on the board for juvenile justice.  They work with me constantly to help promote awareness around that issue and getting more involved.” Studies show that conferencing in schools does work well by reducing suspensions, expulsions, violence, decreased absence among the teachers, and improved school grades.  Conferencing is a way to resolve conflict instead of just punishing kids for it, and thanks to Carol McNally, it has become a better known as an alternative tool for schools to utilize.

McNally is looking to officially retire now, having devoted much time and energy towards fixing a vital piece of our justice system.  She is looking for a passionate and intelligent person to take her place as the Executive Director of the Center of Restorative Practices so she can spend more time with her family.  No one has done more for troubled youth than McNally, working from the inside and outside of the justice system, with a fierce drive to change the laws to prevent young kids from becoming criminals and to help them strive to live happy and successful lives.

 

Thursday
Dec292011

Back To The Future In Smithtown

It’s back to the future in the Town of Smithtown.  Town Attorney Yvonne Leifreig is retiring effective Friday, Dec. 30, 2011.  Yvonne has served as Smithtown Town Attorney since 2002 when she replaced John Zollo.  

Expect the Town Board to replace Yvonne with Former Town Attorney John Zollo.

Prior to opening his own office Mr. Zollo was Of Counsel to the Garden City based law firm of Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein (2002-2005) and he was associated with the firm of Vincent J. Trimarco (2005-2008).

Friday
Dec232011

From Smithtown Matters To You - Peace, Health and Happiness 

Dear Reader,

May this holiday season bring you much peace, health and happiness. May you live with the knowledge that life is not always easy but it is always precious. May you understand the concept of inner peace as a force for world peace. 

My wish for you is good health - not merely the absence of illness. My wish for you is that you experience the genuine happiness that comes from helping others.

And finally, my wish for you and your family is that the spirit of the holiday season stays with you forever.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah

Pat Biancaniello

Wednesday
Dec212011

Kings Park St. Patricks Day Parade Committee Raises Big Bucks - That's No Blarney

Gerry Creighton and Kevin Dennis(Northport, NY- December 21, 2011) - On Wednesday, December 14, 2011, the Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, headed by parade president, Kevin Denis, held a kick-off fundraiser event at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport.  Through tickets sales to A Wonderful Life, currently playing now through January 8 at the John W. Engeman Theater, the committee raised money for the Second Annual Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day parade to be held in March 2012.  Before the show, a special reception was held at the theater, which recognized some local residents and parade supporters.  

The Theater’s lounge was filled with smiling parade supporters who were treated to cocktails, hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and a smooth sax and piano duo.

The event honored cherished Kings Park resident Grand Marshal Gerry Creighton, who spoke of her love of Kings Park and her fond memories of the “Irish immigrant women who arrived here to work with only $50 in their pockets.” Gerry Creighton thanked Kevin Denis and remarked that “the historic parade would not have happened without his efforts.”

Kevin Denis thanked all who attended, applauded the event sponsors and those who labored to make the evening successful, especially Desare Denis, Caroline Pumilia, Randy Shaw, Diana Brown, and Colleen Grady.

The evening was highlighted with a toe tapping musical adaptation of A Wonderful Life. A grand time was had by all and a strong foundation was laid for what will undoubtedly be a successful Second Annual Kings Park St. Patrick’s Parade.  Through the fundraiser event, raffles and donations the committee raised approximately $15,000.    

Donations for the Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Second Annual Parade can be made payable to: Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade, P.O. Box 117, Kings Park, NY 11754.