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SHS Kicks Off Walk Under The Trees Project

The Smithtown Historical Society (SHS) has kicked off its 2017-2018 Walk Under the Trees Project by planting six trees at its entrance located on Middle Country Rd., Village of the Branch, Smithtown. The Cherry Blossom trees were gifted to the Smithtown Historical Society by John Feal from FealGood Foundation and Martin Aponte 911 Responders Remembered Park.

(l-R) Marty Aponte, 911 Responders Remembered Memorial Park Inc, John Feal, FealGood Foundation, Bradley Harris, President, Smithtown Historical SocietyA goal of the Walk Under the Trees Project is to recreate the feel of the famous Washington DC Cherry Blossom Pathway and also to beautify the grounds.  In addition to the trees the society is hoping to add flower beds around the trees and to other areas on the property. 

On Tuesday, July 18th, the Historical Society hosted the tree commemorating ceremony. Trees were commemorated by John Feal from FealGood Foundation and Martin Aponte from 911 Responders Remembered Memorial Park Inc.  The event was followed by an appetizing breakfast which was attended by board members of the Smithtown Historical Society.

“We, at the Smithtown Historical Society work to preserve the historic properties in our town and we seek to expand and improve upon programs for both adults and children while sharing Smithtown’s rich history. All these activities require funding, and we have been fortunate enough to have the support of our wonderful friends and neighbors in Smithtown.” Executive Director Marianne Howard.

Anyone interested in sponsoring a tree or another grounds beautification project, please contact our offices at 631-265-6768


Gurwin Photo Contest Winner Announced "Corinth Sheep"


Annual Gurwin Photo Contest Winners Announced 

Contest, now in its 24th year, receives more than 700 entries and brings joy to nursing & rehabilitation center residents

2017 Best-in-Show Winner: “Corinth Sheep” by James Napoli of South Strafford, VT. Commack, NY— The winners of the annual Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center photo contest were recently revealed and are now on display at the 460-bed facility. These photographs have been a staple at the facility for 24 years and are credited with creating a welcoming and “home-like” environment for the residents and visitors. 

With only 100 entries and 10 winners in its first year, Gurwin’s photo contest has grown to be one of Long Island’s top photo competitions. This year, the contest received more than 700 entries in 12 categories, some of which include Nature, Pets, Children, Action/Sports and Long Island/New York. Awards include Best-in-Show, grand prizes and honorable; this year 45 photos were selected to be hung on the walls of the facility. 

The Gurwin Photo Contest was originally created to showcase local talent as well as decorate the empty corridors of the Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. However, according to Herbert H. Friedman, Executive Vice President/CEO, these photos have a much larger purpose. “The winning photos do more than just decorate our residents’ home.  They bring joy in the form of sparked memories, perhaps of a beloved pet, a favorite grandchild or a long-ago family vacation,” he said.  “Our photo gallery is a source of enjoyment for everyone who passes through our building, and we are grateful to the amateur photography community for sharing their talent with us.” 

Dawn Lettau, CTRS, Director of Therapeutic Recreation also believes the photographs are more than just decorations. “We use the submitted prints as reminiscence aids with our residents and for visual inspiration in our art therapy programs,” she said.  

Professional photographers from the Long Island area select the prize winners, while a resident panel is responsible for choosing the “Resident Selections,” a designation that means just as much to some as a grand prize selection would. Deidre Elzer-Lento, a long-time entrant and often winner, feels that any recognition is a tremendous honor. “I love that my photos are hanging throughout Gurwin, contributing to the pleasure of the people who pass through,” she said. 

The Tiffen Company, a Long Island- based manufacturer of high end TV and camera lenses, has sponsored this contest for the past 11 years. Nat Tiffen, the founder of the Tiffen Company, was also a resident at Gurwin. Winning contest photos, sorted by township, are available for publication with this press release via Dropbox at http://bit.ly/2tAyCyI

2017 Best-in-Show Winner: “Corinth Sheep” 

by James Napoli of South Strafford, VT. 

2017 Best-in-Show Runner up: “Riding with Dad” 

by Jo-Anne Bodkin of Dix Hills, NY.

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center is a 460-bed nursing care facility located in Commack, Long Island and is part of the Gurwin Jewish family of services.  Gurwin Jewish offers skilled nursing care, short-term rehabilitation, medical/post-surgical subacute care, respiratory and ventilator dependent care, a social and a medical adult day health program, on-site dialysis, memory care, palliative and hospice care, home care, assisted living, and a proposed independent living community all on a 67-acre campus. Follow us on Facebook (bit.ly/GurwinNursingRehab) and Twitter (@GurwinJewish).



Smithtown Historical Society Receives Grant For Restoration Of Epenetus Smith Tavern Front Porch

The Smithtown Historical Society received grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, Inc. for restoring the historic Epenetus Smith Tavern front porch


Town Historian Bradley Harris, Kathryn M. Curran, Executive Director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.Smithtown Historical Society Executive Director Marianne HowardThe Smithtown Historical Society is delighted to have received a $10,950.00 grant from The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. The grant was endowed by the Gardiner Foundation for the purpose of restoring the historic Epenetus Smith Tavern front porch.

The Tavern was built before the Revolutionary War and originally stood just west of the juncture of Middle Country & North Country Roads. This site was a popular stop on the Brooklyn to Sag Harbor stagecoach route during the 1770s and during the Revolutionary War, the house often played host to British soldiers. Moved twice in 1911 & 1921, it found its current location in 1972, one half mile from its original location. Epenetus Smith Tavern is used for school programs and educational events. Annually, over 3000 students visit this house and learn about our history and heritage.

Executive Director Marianne Howard said, “Thank you to the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, for this grant award.  Without it, we would not be able to restore the Revolutionary War era tavern. To add the front porch will allow our visitors to gain a better understanding of the architecture of the building and will continue to allow us to enhance the grounds.  Thank you to Mancini Architecture for providing the designs for the porch, the Village of the Branch for its support of historic preservation, and to School House Remodeling, who will be completing the work.”

Matt Fleece, owner, School House Remodeling Co. said, “We are very excited to partner with the Smithtown Historical Society on this project.  It is such an asset to be able to bring the historic Tavern back to its original design.  We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Society on these and many other improvements to the historical buildings on the grounds.”

“The Smithtown Historical Society is a vital part of their community. They are engaging the public in new and innovated ways to bring Long Island history to life,” said Kathryn M. Curran, Executive Director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. 

The Smithtown Historical Society works to preserve the historic properties in our town and we seek to expand and improve upon programs for both adults and children while sharing Smithtown’s rich history. All these activities require funding, and we have been fortunate enough to have the support of our wonderful friends and neighbors in Smithtown. Our community, which plays a vital role in supporting our cause and through the years, has helped build our Society.


"Camp Karma" Or You Never Took Us Camping 

“Camp Karma”

by June Capossela Kempf

Little did we know that after we were done raising ‘our kids’, we would one day find ourselves on the defensive, struggling to explain why we failed to provide them with one of the most vital and fundamental needs in their formative years? Who knew that after sacrificing so much sleep, so many hours of precious time and boatloads of hard earned cash, to make sure our kids were clothed, fed, entertained and educated; we would today be facing accusations of downright retroactive child neglect?

“You never took us camping.”

“What? “

My husband was stunned – speechless.  Even I, who am never completely speechless, toiled with these feeble excuses we had to offer:

First of all, we did take our kids on carefully planned vacations all over the country almost every year. There were trips to Disney World and Disney Land. Jersey theme parks Washington DC, a cabin in the woods of Vermont. We roamed through the Howe and Caverns of Luray, snapped photos of them being held still by a colonial punishing device in Williamsburg and snuck weekend excursions to Mystic Seaport and Cape Cod. 

Plus, we just didn’t like camping.

I tried to put up a weak defense by blurting out, “Remember when we flew down to Atlanta and went to Six Flags over Georgia.” My daughter was quick to remind me that that was with her older brother.


 I searched my memory. “Well, I can recall a few trips we took with you along. Remember when we all went to the water park in Jersey? “ 

“You mean when you rushed me to the ER for an earache …That was a fun time,” she said.

“Just imagine how much worse it would have been if we were stuck in some remote camping ground. -  no doc in a box in sight. “

“Mom, you don’t know anything about camping sites.”

“Nor do we ever want to find out.” I said.

I argued that when we took ‘our kids’ on vacation, we wanted to escape the daily routine – the housekeeping chores – the bad weather. I spelled out the meaning of the word ‘vacation’ to her: rest, escape, retreat etc.  I liked staying in the motels with the pools and the hotels offering activities for the kids and shelter from the elements. “Daddy  actually enjoyed pouring over the tourist maps showing the points of interest we could visit; and I loved returning to made up beds - mints on the pillows… dinner served in the dining room from 6 to 9 pm - room service!. ” “But we missed out on the whole camping experience… The family bonding, the connection to nature the…” daughter said as she guided her husband on his third attempt to back the 40 ft. RV into the driveway of her home – both of them all sweaty and dirty - yelling at the kids to get out of the way. 

I argued that we never saw a problem bonding with each other and “The only connection to nature, I ever envisioned were encounters with bears, bugs and soggy slippers - No thanks.”With that said, I rested my case.  Funny, we never heard a whimper of protests from the offspring back when they were being dragged up - so deprived.

It became obvious that we had reached an impasse. Ron and I were never going to apologize or seek counseling for being pathetic failures as parents, traumatizing our kids for life. She was determined not to let her children grow up with that same big void in their lives. This is fine with us, as long as they don’t invite grandma and grandpa to go camping with them. 

A truce of sorts was reached with a round of hugs. After all, our daughter has her own family with the right to vacation wherever they want - however they wish. We on the other hand can bask guilt free, in the knowledge that we did our very best for our kids - always.  And now instead of looking back at our mistakes, we can dream ahead, pondering the odds that one day, our grandchildren will turn around and ask ‘our kids’,

“How come you made us go camping all the time? We hated it!”  



June Capossela Kempf is a Saint James resident and author of a memoir.’Yo God! Jay’s Story’. Her recent accomplishments include several articles in various magazines and periodicals including the e-line publication, Kaleidoscope and a national magazine, Just Labs. She facilitates the Smithtown Library Adult Writers Group and recently was inducted into the  Long Island Authors Circle (LIAC) June is also a regular featured contributor to the Saint James publication, Our Town.
June’s new book a children’s fantasy, Lady of the Dollhouse, inspired by a Smithtown dollhouse shop and it’s owner is soon to be released.




Hunger Is Year Round Assemblyman Fitzpatrick Collects Food For L I Cares

Fitzpatrick Summer Food Drive Collects UNPRECEDENTED 1,332 Pounds of Food Says Long Island Cares 

Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I,Ref-Smithtown) and volunteers were on hand at one of the food donation sites for his Summer Food Drive for Long Island Cares.Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I,Ref-Smithtown) is delighted to announce his recent Summer Food Drive to End Hunger was very successful because of the kindness from residents within his Assembly district. Donations made by the public resulted in 1,332 pounds of food, which will be distributed to those in need by Long Island Cares – The Harry Chapin Food Bank. 

“Thank you to each and every one who donated to support the efforts of Long Island Cares. Together we are helping to feed hungry families on Long Island,” said Fitzpatrick. “Food insecurity is a year-long concern, especially during the summers when children are home from school on break, as schools are often a source of free or reduced-cost meals for students in need. So, thank you to everyone who helped. It really does make a difference when we can band together to do some good.”

“During a time when food drive donations are historically low, The Summer Food Drive to End Hunger serves as a significant tool in meeting our vision of a hunger-free Long Island. This series of food drives helps us to put more food on the tables of our friends and neighbors facing food insecurity. The food drive sponsored by Assemblyman Michael J. Fitzpatrick on Saturday, July 8, 2017 resulted in an unprecedented 1,332 pounds of food for the needy. We are very grateful to Assemblyman Michael J. Fitzpatrick for his participation and recognizing the truth of hunger on Long Island, and for his decision to stand and act on behalf of those in need,” said William Gonyou, Community Events and Food Drive Manager of Long Island Cares.

Fitzpatrick held the summer food drive to help emphasize the year-round need for support of families facing food insecurity. Summertime can be particularly difficult for these families as children who qualify are able to receive free or reduced breakfasts and lunches, which help ensure children are eating. During the school break, such programs are not available to children. 

In 2010, the Hunger in America Report noted that 75 percent of Long Island families being served by emergency food services like the food bank are facing food insecurity. Individuals or families facing food insecurity have limited and uncertain access to nutritionally adequate foods. Those facing food insecurity are sometimes forced to make choices to cut back on meals or food portions because of limited financial means and uncertainty of when or where their next meal may come. Furthermore, hunger disproportionately impacts households of single mothers and children.

For more information about Long Island Cares, Fitzpatrick encourages the public to visit www.licares.org or to call 631-582-FOOD (3663).