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Oyster Bay Community Support

George and Abby O’Neill once again opened their beautiful home and expansive garden to guests at their annual benefit for their organization, the Community Foundation of Oyster Bay. This was the 47th year the benefit took place at the estate on Sunset Road in Oyster Bay.

The garden party was held on May 31 with close to 300 guests in attendance, sponsored by Charles and Helen Dolan.

“Welcome to paradise,” said Joseph Donohue, president of the foundation, speaking to the guests. “I want to thank George and Abby O’Neill for allowing us to enjoy their garden again this year, a garden that is not only the nicest in Oyster Bay, or Long Island...but probably one of the nicest gardens in America.”

Commenting on the number guests in attendance, Donohue said, “This a crowd that beats all of our prior crowds.”

He thanked the attendees for their support of the community foundation and noted that co-chairs Susan Sheeline and Christie McNicol “really are the powers that drive this kind of afternoon.”

The foundation has a board of trustees who all volunteer their time. He expressed thanks for the amount of work put in by Leslie Armstrong, and mentioned honored guests Sen. Carl Marcellino and Assemblyman Michael Montesano, who both attended the party. A representative from County Executive Edward Mangano’s office was also present.

Donohue said, “They are the ones we can lobby for more support of the organizations that we support.”

The foundation began in 1965 and benefits several local organizations, including the Life Enrichment Center, Main Street Association, the Youth and Family Counseling Agency, the Hispanic Cultural Center of Oyster Bay, the WaterFront Center, the Bullock Horizons Program and the Parent-Child Home Program. The foundation raises a significant portion of their annual goal of $200,000 from the benefit party as well as through an annual appeal for donations. Each of the organizations that receive money from the Community Foundation present their needs to the board every year, and Donohue says they really listen and try to meet those needs as best they can.

“We really abide by the mission statement of ‘doing what we can to improve life in Oyster Bay,’” Donohue told the Enterprise-Pilot. “We are the foundation of the community of Oyster Bay.”

The Dolans underwrite all of the expenses for the garden party, helping to make the foundation what Donohue calls “the most efficient charity.”

Guests mingled and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails on a beautiful late spring evening in the immense garden. Donohue drove home the point that the donations really do benefit the community, as the money stays within a 10 mile radius.

 Silvana La Ferlita Gullo, executive director of the Life Enrichment Center, said, “It was such a pleasure to meet Abby O’Neill; she was at the forefront of getting affordable housing for seniors into the community, 30 years ago, and had such foresight. I hadn’t realized before how many services the O’Neills had launched...it really is a wonderful organization that serves a worthy purpose.”