Situated at the corner on Flower Avenue and Elizabeth Street across from John Lewis Childs School is a lovely, spacious home known as Harvest Park. It is one of the jewels of the village not because of its impressive architecture, spacious rooms and welcoming décor but because it houses some very special people.
Established by the Sisters of Saint Dominic in Amityville, Harvest Park is a non-institutional center whose credo is "Independence and Interdependence" where senior members of our community reside in a family atmosphere filled with security, peace and harmony. Each of the residents has their own room and contributes to some of the household tasks. Nourishing dinners are prepared and the conviviality among them is genuine.
I was invited to Harvest Park to celebrate their 10th year anniversary and brought with me a proclamation celebrating their achievement. Sister Jean Brendel and Sister Mary who showed me around and answered my questions warmly greeted me and were delightful hosts. Harvest Park, as any visitor could readily see, is a place of light and airiness with all the accoutrements of a place one would wish to call home.
I greeted the residents in the living room, all ladies, and their interest, their affability and their tender warmth toward their guest charmed me. I spoke about life in the village and how the anniversary of Harvest Park parallels our Centennial milestone. After a few questions, we all huddled together for a group picture.
It was a wonderful occasion, one of my best, where we shared a few stories and a few laughs. They told me they liked to mingle with the children at John Lewis Childs where they marveled at the spontaneity of the young as much as the young were filled with wonder that the residents of Harvest Park were, like them once, a child at play.
Henry Thoreau may have once said that he never found a companion as companionable as solitude but even he hurried back to his home town to shelter himself from loneliness as much as the elements. The lesson of Harvest Park is the spirit of togetherness, of community, where one can feel the human touch, hear its voice and open its heart. Senescence is indeed part of biological nature, which we must accept but always temper with the reservoirs of grace, faith and optimism so richly exhibited and harvested by those who dwell at Harvest Park.
This past week, automated doors were installed at the pool building located at the Floral Park Recreation Center. Our beautiful pool building, as many of you know, is host to countless activities, events and meetings throughout the year. The automation of these doors will not only benefit our disabled residents, it will also ease any difficulties that our seniors and families with strollers and small children experience, while trying to enter or exit the building and pool area.
The effort was spearheaded by Trustee Mary-Grace Tomecki and championed by Nadia Ortiz and Ginny Bonagura, the deeply committed co-chairpersons of the Citizens with Disabilities Committee, which Trustee Tomecki has served as liaison since assuming office. In addition to lobbying hard for the automation of the doors, Trustee Tomecki identified funding for the project by utilizing grant monies provided by the Community Development Block Grant Program. This means that the doors did not come at a direct cost to Floral Park residents, even though they will be the primary beneficiaries.
Special thanks to Susan Walsh, deputy clerk, who went above and beyond to see that the necessary documentation be filed with Nassau County to ensure that the monies were made available to Floral Park in a timely manner. I would also like to acknowledge the Floral Park Chapter of the AARP who provided a generous donation of $500 in support of this worthwhile and most important initiative.
On Saturday, June 14, Trustees Jim Rhatigan and Mary-Grace Tomecki had the distinct honor of attending the American Legion's annual flag retirement ceremony in the parking lot behind the DPW Building.
The disposing of unserviceable flags is a tradition of the American Legion dating back to 1937, inspired by the belief that worn, tattered or faded versions of this cherished symbol deserve a dignified and public disposal. Flags of all different shapes and sizes that have served to inspire and remind those who bore witness to its presence, of the American ideals and practices that generations of servicemen and women have sacrificed their lives for, were neatly stacked and set aflame.
The solemnity of this annual occasion was lost on no one since for some 230 years the American Flag, its colors as well as its stars and stripes, has been a symbol of American strength and unity. I want to especially thank the American Legion for recognizing that symbols and rituals profoundly matter as they indelibly convey to the observer and reader alike, a summary of the ideals and faith that our nation is founded upon and from which its life is sustained.