It seems as if every important community event in Port Washington features Barbara Faticone, often as the "in-charge," and always an active participant. In fact, she told us that her friends sometimes tease her because her picture appears so often in the Port News. Her answer is typically, "Well, come on out and get involved and you'll get your picture in the paper, too." The Town of North Hempstead (TONH) has acknowledged the accomplishments of this amazing woman by naming her to the 2008 May W. Newburger Women's Roll of Honor. The award will be presented on Thursday, March 27 at the Women's Roll of Honor breakfast at the Clinton D. Martin Park.
We asked this bundle of energy (one friend described her as "the Energizer bunny") how she does so much. She shrugged modestly, and said, "I don't know." After talking with her at length, however, it became clear what the secret is: she deeply loves Port Washington and thoroughly enjoys what she does. Barbara Faticone (nee DeFeo) was born and brought up here in Port, as was her husband Tom. "I love this town," she said. She shared happy memories of growing up on North Maryland Avenue. "It was a great block. There were so many nationalities, so much diversity. Nobody had much money, but we had a wonderful time." She said that, even now, she feels a thrill when she comes back from out of town and sees that "spectacular sunset over the harbor."
Barbara and Tom are both Schreiber graduates, he from the first graduating class and she one year behind. Last year they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They are constant companions; wherever you see Barbara, Tom usually is not far away. She said, "Tommy helps me a lot. Without him, I couldn't do what I do." Tom, when asked to comment about his wife, simply and movingly said, "I've known her almost all my life. I love her, and I'm glad to be married to her." The Faticones have lived in their charming home on Manhasset Isle, which is decorated throughout with Barbara's signature touches of pink, for almost 50 years. They have three children, Wendy, Keith and Thomas, and three grandchildren. Wendy lives in Port and is also involved in community activities. Her first cousin, Pat Lamberti, owns and runs Bayles nursery with his sons.
Not surprisingly, one of Barbara's favorite and longstanding involvements is Pride in Port. She joined the committee in 1989, shortly after its founding, and has been the general chair for about 10 years. She told us that the initiative began with the purpose of generating more "spirit" in the schools and in the community. It grew until today it includes a homecoming game, a parade, a homecoming dance and a Pride in Port Dance, field day for the children and their families, a pep rally, and other events. In recent years, she said, the school district has been much more active and the events have become more popular. As well, they have more student participation, and there are now two students on the committee. Barbara noted that when the group first started, the stands at the game were empty. "Now," she said, "there is standing room only. The spirit is back!" She remarked, "When I see all the children and their parents in the parade, and the strollers, and everybody cheering and smiling, it makes me happy. It makes all the work worthwhile." In 1997, the Faticones were grand marshals of the Pride in Port parade.
Another charity to which Barbara devotes a great deal of her time is Cancer Care of Long Island, of which she is a 35-year life member and an executive vice president. The organization provides support services to persons living with cancer and their families, including education, referral, counseling, and some financial assistance. The big fundraising event here in Port is the Red Stocking Review, coming up on April 10 through 13. Barbara not only has chaired the Review for the past 22 years, but she and Tom perform as well. She said, "I have performed in every show since 1971."
To list a few of her other accomplishments, Barbara is president of the Doe Club of the North Shore Elks Lodge, past president of the Port Washington Columbiettes, member of the Concerned Citizens of Manorhaven and the Sons of Italy, member of the Harborfest Committee, board member of the Port Washington senior citizens' center, co-chair of the Nativity committee, and an active parishioner at Our Lady of Fatima. In 2002, then county legislator (now state senator) Craig Johnson honored Barbara as the Trailblazer from the eleventh legislative district. In presenting the award, he said, "I hope that she inspires others to try to make a difference because her tireless efforts have certainly set a standard not only for women, but for everyone." The Rotary Club honored Barbara and Tom in 1997 for outstanding community service; the Masons bestowed on her the DeWitt Clinton award for outstanding community service in 1999, and Barbara was named Mother of the Year by the New York State Elks in 1989. Oh, and she worked for over 20 years for Publisher's Clearing House (in her spare time).
When asked what message she had for our readers, Barbara was quick to answer. "Get involved. We need more people to step up to the plate, especially the younger ones. We need new ideas." She suggested that Pride in Port is a wonderful way for parents to get involved.
If we listed all the good things that we have heard over the years from her friends and colleagues, it could fill a good part of this edition of the paper. One of her fellow Pride in Port committee members summed it up: "I think she's some kind of saint." Thanks, Barbara, for everything you do for our community.