Written by Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 05 September 2013 00:00
Long Island Wins has long been out to spread the word: immigrants from all around the world come to Long Island to work hard and take care of their families.
One thing that‘s a constant source of pleasant surprise for me is just how many different ways immigrants are refreshing Long Island’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Raj Kumar is one of those people. Born in Jammu, India and raised in Kuwait, Raj first arrived in Miami in 1980 to attend Florida International University. After graduating he packed up and moved to Long Island in 1987. Kumar came to Hicksville to pursue his dream of one day starting his own business.
“I always liked the northeast,” Kumar said. “Long Island is also a good place to raise a family, especially because of the education opportunities here.”
On the insistence from his wife, Geeta, Kumar opened his first business, Modern Bazaar, in 1987.
“There were hardly any Indians here then,” said Raj. “I think it was the only store of its kind on Long Island at that time.”
After a successful run of 15 years, his store was destroyed when a car crashed through the store. Rather than reopen the same store under the same name, he transformed his business and Bengali Sweet Shop was born. Offering only healthy Indian vegetarian food, Bengali Sweet Shop picked up where Modern Bazaar left off. Working alongside his wife and two employees, the restaurant has been a staple of the Hicksville Indian community for over a decade.
“It’s great to see the same faces for the past 25 years,” said Kumar. “Now I’m starting to see the children of those friends coming in and they’re calling me uncle. It makes me feel old,” he joked, “so I tell them to please call me Raj.”
Kumar and his wife are themselves parents to two boys, aged 18 and 14. The older son will be attending Stony Brook in the Fall to study engineering and his younger son is attending Hicksville High School.
Not only has Kumar been a successful entrepreneur, he is also an active member of the community, serving on the planning committee of the annual Hicksville India Day Parade. He is also a member of the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce, and is a founding member of the Rotary Club of Hicksville South, the local chapter of the internationally renowned humanitarian organization.
His contributions are just some of the many that immigrants make to their communities here on Long Island.
“I look at my landscaper, most of his workforce are immigrants,” said Kumar. “Take a look at the local restaurants here, I would say half of the workers are immigrants. Look at all the high tech workers that are here on work visas.”
“And this is why immigration reform will be good for our country,” he added. “Some of these workers have been here for 20 or 25 years. They started families here, they are Americans. It’s only fair that these people get the dignity they deserve.”
Maryann Sinclair Slutsky is the executive director of Long Island Wins, a communications organization promoting commonsense policy solutions that work for all Long Islanders.
Saturday, 07 December 2013 00:00
There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than with music, and critically acclaimed pianist Stan Wiest will be hosting a holiday sing-a-long at Locust Valley Library to help get everyone in the mood on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Wiest has been playing piano since he was 5 years old, and now, at age 69, has recorded his first CD; an album that has been so well-received, it is a top seller on Amazon.com. The talented pianist spent much of his early career traveling and says he played every supper club in Manhattan, while also working full time on a TV soap opera. To promote his album, his local circuit also includes a presentation at Forest Books in Glen Cove on Dec. 12.
About 30 years ago, Wiest stopped traveling to be with his wife and kids and has been running a music entertainment business in Fort Salonga. Now, with his new album, he’s back on the road, something he never expected to happen at this point in his life.
Friday, 06 December 2013 00:00
It was a cold night for the annual Menorah lighting at the Derby Hall Bandstand last Monday. The event, which is sponsored by the Oyster Bay Civic Association, was well attended though, with Oyster Bay Jewish Center’s Rabbi Marvin Demant leading the crowd in cheerful Chanukah songs.
“Every year we gather at the gazebo to celebrate the miracle of Chanukah,” said Rabbi Demant. “It is actually very special this year because Thanksgiving and Chanukah will overlap for the first time in almost 100 years.”
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
With grit, determination and all-out teamwork, the Friends Academy Boys Varsity Soccer team completed their quest for a third state soccer championship, defeating a tough Lansing High School, 1-0, in the New York Class C State Championships.
Both teams kept the game at a tight 0-0, until 20 minutes into the second half, when a throw-in from senior Patrick Moodhe (Manhasset) connected with the head of senior Jon Nierenberg (Sands Point) for the game’s only goal.
Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00
Nicole Giannetti entered her third cross country state meet in her career with one goal in mind: to place in the top 20 and earn an all-state medal. After finishing 38th in 2011 and 26th in 2010, the goal was definitely within her reach.
“She was ranked 25th according to one website, so we knew it was going to be close,” said Coach Kevin Cotter. “After looking at some of the times of her competitors, I told her she could potentially finish in the top 10. If she fell short, at least she would still remain in the top 20 and earn that elusive medal.”