Last Wednesday evening the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce hosted a wonderful awards dinner at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. This year's list of honorees was most impressive: May Newburger, Murray Seeman, Ralph Nappi, Phil Raices and Frank Longo and John DiMartino. Each honoree not only has worked hard to support business in Great Neck, but each one has also, quite privately, devoted much time and love to the Great Neck community and to those neighbors in need.

Speeches are speeches, and to be honest, most awards dinners are long and tiring and boring, with speech after lengthy speech. Not at this dinner! Each honoree was introduced by a longtime friend who knew them well and was proud to tout the wonderful human side of their friend. Each and every honoree was so proud and so "touched" to be so honored. Phil Raices was too emotional to speak. Kitty Poons, presenting a town proclamation to local chemists Frank Long and John DiMartino, choked back tears, as she told of the owners' devoted service when her own husband, a fire chief, was seriously burned trying to save a life.

May Newburger was overwhelmed by Tom DiNapoli and Howard Weitzman, who both spoke of Ms. Newburger's years of public service and how she paved the way for Democrats in Nassau County. Murray Seeman tried to stop the long accolades, but he deserved every bit of acclaim. And Ralph Nappi so modestly accepted his award, on behalf of the hospital and staff, for all the good they do for this community.

It was a really beautiful evening and we were all so delighted to toast these very special people.

The lesson for the evening, though, was not that long speeches are fine. The lesson is that we should all remember our own community and our own local businesses. We can't say it too many times: During this financial crisis, our local business community needs our support, now more than ever. If we are going to make it through these horribly tough times, we must all pull together, all help one another, all support one another --- just like the Chamber of Commerce honorees have always done.

When you want to help, help out in Great Neck first!

And when you think shopping, most definitely, think Great Neck first, first and first again!

- Wendy Karpel Kreitzman

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