Tucked away in the basement of the Community Chest building at 382 Main Street (corner of Prospect Avenue) is a small, dedicated group of individuals that are making major contributions to our community. The Twin Pines Co-operative recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. The guiding force behind the organization, Edna Turner, said that it is the last surviving co-operative on Long Island. Said Turner of the fact that they have not only thrived but survived this long in spite of many changes and challenges, "It's a miracle."
Twin Pines was organized as a cooperative buying club in the spring of 1972. The organization provides members with high-quality food and other household items at a lower cost than supermarkets and other retailers. They do this through bulk purchasing and low markups made possible by their not-for-profit status and the extensive use of volunteers.
In the store one finds a wide variety of food choices, with a heavy emphasis on natural and organic items. There are also paper goods, kitchen essentials, and other convenience items. We spotted things that we remembered from childhood, like Octagon and castile soap, as well as the new and trendy, like pomegranate juice, and everything in between. Turner said that they have recently begun to carry furniture. She said that they try to match donors with individuals who need furniture items so that the co-op doesn't have to carry an inventory in the store. Turner said that they work primarily with Our Lady of Fatima and St. Peter's churches. She said, "There are a lot of seniors in Port who have to give up their homes, and they want to donate their furniture."
In addition to what is stocked on site, Twin Pines offers their customers the option of ordering from their extensive catalogs that offer a huge selection of food and non-food items. There is also a thrift shop on the premises, with clothes, books, household items, and much more. Store hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also find Twin Pines co-op out on the Town Dock Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings during the summer and early fall.
Twin Pines Co-operative and its sister organization, the Twin Pines Consumer Association, organized in 1979, distribute food to local not-for-profit organizations, including Port Washington Children's Center; Saint Stephen's Youth Program; Our Lady of Fatima, St. Peter's and Universalist Outreach Programs, local Senior Citizen's programs, group homes, and many others. "Our truck is out five days a week," said Turner. She estimated that they feed over 3,000 people annually. Some of the foodstuffs are purchased by the co-op; others are donated by organizations like Long Island Harvest and Stop & Shop.
Twin Pines provides work experience for the handicapped. Persons with physical or mental challenges can and do gain valuable skills here. The organization, like many other nonprofits, is experiencing a shortage of volunteers.
Twin Pines has many activities for its members, among them a newly formed arts and crafts group (their products are for sale in the store), potluck suppers, a lending library, a newsletter, community cleanups, and workshops on a variety of subjects. A kayaking club is one of the most recent enterprises initiated and implemented by the ever-creative Edna Turner, with support from Atlantic Outfitters and Kayaken Outfitters. This summer the club will sponsor its third annual Port Washington-Manhasset Bay Kayak run. The club typically meets on the third Tuesday of each month.
The anniversary celebration included goodies baked by members and donated by Stop & Shop and Long Island Harvest, as well as free samples and special discounts. The table around which we gathered for refreshments is the place where co-op members regularly congregate, much like the old cracker barrel. "We give each other hugs, and if things are really bad, we may even indulge in primal screams," said Turner.
The inimitable and indefatigable Edna Turner, longtime Port Washington resident, was working for the federal government as a consultant/teacher, came to the Port co-op as a consultant, and never left. "I'm very grateful to be here," she said. "Every day is a different day." For more information about the co-op or the kayaking club, to join, to volunteer, or to donate (by appointment only), call 883-9777. The Twin Pines' website is at http://pwtwinpines.googlepages.com.