The Hamptons and North Fork Find Inspiration All Around

Rabbi Josh Franklin, Fred Thiele, Minerva Perez, Photos: Wil Weiss, ©PATRICKMCMULLAN
Rabbi Josh Franklin, Fred Thiele, Minerva Perez, Photos: Wil Weiss, ©PATRICKMCMULLAN

Memorial Day weekend has traditionally been a time when we heralded the arrival of summer, here on the East End and elsewhere. It has always been important to keep something more than warm weather and sunny days top of mind, however.

At the annual Dan’s Rosé Soirée, we always raised the very first toast to the men and women who gave their lives serving in the military, and to those still fighting for us every day, all around the world. We raise that toast again as Memorial Day 2020 arrives, sharing sentiments of thanks and admiration to those in the armed services, as well as those in healthcare facilities and research centers and across the new frontlines, as we have come to call them. We thank you all for your dedication, your inspiration.

We have all looked for and found inspirations, great and small, in many places and people over the past few months. It could be a local restaurant delivering meals to hospital workers, or a tailor making masks. It could be a sunset or the waves at the beach. A teacher helping a student with remote learning at midnight or an EMT rushing to aid somebody in need, a musician’s uplifting performance or the hopeful drawing of a child. Maybe it was an action you witnessed, an act of kindness you heard about, something you saw on TV, a book you read, an old movie you watched…

Across the Hamptons and on the North Fork, business owners, artists, musicians, politicians and community leaders have united during this unprecedented time of crisis and concern. Here they come together to share what has inspired them, moved them to action and given them hope.

“Having the time to truly observe and appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature has inspired me these past few months. Smelling the grass, walking through the woods and brushing against the leaves, watching the trees and flowers bloom, hearing the sound of the bay and ocean waves. Putting my bare feet in the sand. Waiting for the sun to shine and set, and to view the moon’s glow. Recognizing the value of the simple things in life—family bonds and friendships. Getting to take a breath and focusing on creative endeavors. Reading a book, reciting a monologue, exploring creativity in the kitchen with farm-fresh fruits, vegetables and eggs. Appreciating the time to slow down…leaving the city behind to re-energize and to be grateful for the precious gifts of nature, family, love and friendship. Recognizing that the world community can come together in a time of crisis and cooperate with one another to make the planet safer and more humane.”Sandra K., Sandra K, Inc.

“I’m very impressed with how most East Enders—from the municipalities to restaurants to banks—have pivoted to help us all manage and survive in these unprecedented times, as the timeless beauty of our area blossoms once again.”—Steve Haweeli, WordHampton Public Relations

“What inspired me about hunkering down during COVID-19 was having the time to pursue my passion—cooking! I am a ‘foodie’ by nature and by profession. I guess you could say I have the ‘the soul of a foodie.’ Cooking can be a soulful experience. If you have any doubts about this, watch the movie Like Water for Chocolate! The combination of flavors, textures, aromas and colors is both sensual and artistic. Sharing this with others is a most fulfilling experience. While I wasn’t able to cook for my family, friends or my cooking show, I learned the Instagram platform and filmed from my iPhone at home. Having an online platform to share my passion for cooking with other people who share the same passion will be the memory that resonates.”Andrea Anthony, Host of Eat, Drink and Bake with Andrea, co-owner of The Lobster Roll restaurant

“It has really been “onefunnymommy” [Lisa Marie] on Instagram who has kept me going. Why: her humor is everything right now.—Amity Lucas, The Amity Agency

“I have been truly inspired by Wendy Zuhoski and her staff at Wendy’s Deli in Mattituck. Whenever there is the need, she is the first person to step, and this is no exception. She and her staff have worked tirelessly making food for the essential workers on the North Fork. Always with a smile on their faces. She even organized a T-shirt drive for NoFo Strong shirts and used the funds raised to purchase gift cards from other restaurants for essential workers. The kindness and compassion they show makes others want to help out and be part of the community spirit they create.”—Patty Hocker, PH Graphics & Communications

“What has inspired me in the past few months is the amazing sense of community I have witnessed, people coming together for each other. This is an unprecedented time in our lifetimes and one that has definitely put into perspective what is important in life. Inspiration lies in watching people do extraordinary things, like our healthcare workers, police officers, first responders, etc. that are on the front lines, keeping us safe.

Additionally, what has inspired me is watching the small business owners rally together to not only keep their business alive but keep employees working as much as possible. I am grateful for the restaurants that have hung on, kept food going through their doors, making our lives a little easier. Through all of this it has been the little things I have experienced that have been most life changing. This pandemic is a human experience, one that goes beyond social status, race, religion etc. My hope is that it reinforces the notion that we as a society need to come together and have compassion for our fellow humans.”—Laura Maresca-Sanatore, LMS Design

“As I participate in the zoom meetings with the Southampton Village Business Revitalization Committee, chaired by Kimberly Allan and sometimes Mark Parrash, I have seen a remarkable coming together of the various independent businesses within the historic village. The retail shops, restaurants, arts centers and museums, inns and hotels, are all working together to support local, to come up with creative concepts for procuring the hard-to-find supplies and PPE, with distancing, masking, safety and enormous appreciation for first responders. It’s almost like a return to the simpler beach community from the olden days. Very Norman Rockwell, supportive, sharing.”—Dede Gotthelf, Southampton Inn

“I’ve been inspired by the collective ‘mask brigade’ to join in and do my part to help. I started making masks about a month ago for friends and family, for the staff at WLNG and for some of our listeners. It’s a wonderful way to feel productive and at the same time helping folks to cope.”Bonnie Grice, WLNG, Boots on the Ground Theater

“There is a set of prayers that Jews recite in the morning called ‘nisim b’kol yom,’ or ‘prayers for daily miracles.’ Each prayer contains a brief mention of thanks for a seemingly trivial thing that we witness and experience each and every day. We thank God for giving us strength, for providing for our needs and for opening our eyes. You might call these things ordinary, but the Jewish tradition labels these things ‘miracles.’ Instead of a lofty magical act, we thank God for a small moment, or something that goes too often overlooked. I am inspired by these small moments in life, perhaps because Judaism tradition reminds me to uncover blessing in things that seem mundane. When my youngest daughter, Amelia, who is only a toddler, wakes me up at the crack of dawn, and my oldest preschooler Lilah follows us downstairs on the couch, I take a moment to relish the incredible blessing that my family offers me each and every day. I have been perpetually tired since Amelia was born over a year ago, but I’m never too sleepy to appreciate the blessing of a snuggle from my children. They keep me going even when times are dark. My family is a miraculous light that shines no matter what else is going on in the world.”Rabbi Josh Franklin, Jewish Center of the Hamptons

“I’ve been most inspired by these things: The power of nature! The relentless beauty of cherry blossoms and my daffodils, the beauty of the trails—God and nature abhor a vacuum and don’t care about a virus. Beauty persists. My community. Giving, giving and then giving more—the mask makers, the first responders, the director of marketing at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital who appears to be working 20 to 24 hours a day, the people baking bread, the moms and dads entertaining and teaching their kids, the Zoom support, the musicians playing online—for free—the folks collecting food, even dog food, for our pantries, and all of the gorgeousness and kindness of Montauk!”—Lynn Blumenfeld, Blumenfeld + Fleming

“I would like to mention a man by the name of Brian Beaukalar, who is raising money for needy families on Long Island—he has raised almost $3,500 so far for an organization named Long Island Cares, so people and families do not go hungry during this crisis.”—Bob Grant, Aqualine Swimming Pool Service, Inc.

“The world as we know it shut down! My building business on the East End, my dedicated employees, sent home, churches closed, schools closed, nine of my grandchildren forced to school from home and, sadly, my grandson Harrison Carrano missing his high school graduation. I talk to and watch this young man—as disappointing it has to be, he picks his head up with the intentions of moving forward, encouraging his younger brothers and sister to do the same. As we all strive with the directions we are given to be safe and healthy, it’s amazing to me to see how most of us all adapt to this strange new lifestyle. I find my wife of 45 years researching N95 masks and sewing up piles of them with materials she has collected over the years for family and friends!”—Jim Naples, East Bay Builders, Inc.

“My son, Matthew, and Edward Burke Jr. connected us here at East Hampton Indoor Tennis/The Clubhouse with Soul Kitchen—to appreciate the effort that Jon Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea, put in with both time and money to aid our local food pantries, is inspiring for sure.”—Scott Rubenstein, The Clubhouse/East Hampton Indoor Tennis

“Before the pandemic started, I always had a routine of going to the gym at least four days a week. Then I was stressing out about how I was going to be able to keep track of my fitness goals. Thankfully, group instructors I see on a daily basis created virtual platforms. Because of this, I’m still able to enjoy the classes I love while at home. Two quotes I was constantly being told: ‘If not today, when?’ or ‘Be stronger than your excuses.’ Staying healthy in a time like this is more important than ever. I am also a traveler and photographer. Hiking, visiting beaches and exploring the beauty of Long Island help destress my mind. I’ve tried to add this in my schedule, which is something to look forward to while following the rules.”—Jennifer Haynie, New York Window Film

“As Vice President of Hire Society Hamptons, I place local residents in domestic service roles. Most of the private estates we staff are secondary homes, and, as such, were targets for some of the current negative media attention of Manhattanites vs. Hamptons ‘locals.’ Contrary to this, I have drawn tremendous inspiration from the concern, loyalty and steps our clients are taking to protect their staff both financially and physically.”—Forrest Barnett, Hire Society Hamptons

“What has inspired me these past few months are my fellow business owners. The resiliency and adaptability that I have seen from restaurant owners, car dealers, personal trainers and countless others has inspired me to adapt to our current environment and make changes to my business model to continue to offer our products and services during these unstable times. Dealing with the stress of having our doors closed, dealing with home-schooling, and employees and their families relying on us—most business owners could have tapped out when this first started. Instead, many adapted in so many creative ways to confront the situation at hand. And, in my opinion, those that have done so will emerge even stronger than before this started.”—John Cannarelli, Bay Gardens / Nassau Suffolk Landscaping

“My 10-month-old son, Nathaniel, inspires me to start fresh every morning and to learn, grow and navigate this new world we find ourselves in. As an adult, it is inspiring and encouraging to watch him explore, adapt and experience things for the first time.”—Dr. Kenneth Mark

“The inspiration I have found during these tough times comes from the outpouring of support from the local community. I have been inspired by Marit Molin of Hamptons Art Camp and the outreach food delivery—they have feed so many people in need at local shelters from all donations. I have been fortunate enough to volunteer weekly with this amazing group by helping deliver dinners, sweet treats and flowers to a local shelter. One meal at a time—whatever we can all do to help bring smiles to people’s faces.”—Joanne Comber-Jimenez, A Girl About Town Hamptons

“Seeing families in their yards with their children and pets! Nothing has been so uplifting as this! Here’s to hope for a new perspective on life for all!”—Christine Distefano, Founder, Amaryllis Farm Equine Rescue

“Cooking has always inspired me, and as a result I have focused my career path toward improving the food system on Long Island and regionally. In this crisis, I have realized that cooking exercises the same parts of the brain as problem solving and inventing. It’s creative. It’s pragmatic. It’s helpful. At East End Food Institute, we have leveraged the ‘cooking’ skills of our entire team to address the challenges brought forth by COVID-19. Like others, we have been forced to shift our business model and find new ways to accomplish our mission while also remaining relevant and helpful.

Our team launched a virtual farmers market to provide local food producers and makers with a new way to sell their goods. We are buying thousands of pounds of local produce and fish to support and sustain growers through this crisis. We are employing restaurant workers to assist our team in preparing 2,400 meals a week to feed community members in need. The most inspiring part is the number of ‘ingredients’ and ‘cooks’ that went into the formation of each programmatic pivot. By no means has this been easy, but the collaboration and commitment to community services has been inspiring to see and be part of. Our community is amazing.”Kate Fullam, Executive Director, East End Food Institute

“A few weeks ago, on a Friday evening at 7 p.m., I was lucky enough to be a part of the weekly parade around Southampton Hospital during the shift change for healthcare workers. It was amazing! I was so excited when my husband, who is a chief at the Springs Fire Department, came home and asked if I wanted to go with our five-year-old. I didn’t quite know what to expect. There were so many cars lined up to parade and people standing outside and around the hospital. It was such a wonderful way to just say thank you and honor the people working on the frontlines. I can’t even imagine what those caregivers are experiencing on a daily basis. I’m also moved by how many restaurants and food providers are serving them meals throughout this time. I’m so proud to be a part of a community who chooses to honor them in this way. They are all so deserving.”Rebecca Morgan Taylor, Executive Director, Project MOST

“Learning that our key funder, Michael Donovan, would be contributing more than $700,000 to OLA so that we could provide more than 2,500 Chromebook laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to East End school districts to ensure all students had access to distance learning.”Minerva Perez, Executive Director, OLA of Eastern Long Island

“I’ve read about so many inspiring people and groups helping others through this pandemic. In particular, I’d like to give a shout out to Duncan Kennedy of The Duncan Inn and North Fork Promotion Council, Melissa Caggiano of Jamesport Farm Brewery, and Danielle LaScala of Mattituck Florist, who began the group NOFO Community Cares. They have set up drop locations around the North Fork to accept non-perishable food donations, and have been assembling bags of free food to be given out to those in need. They have been serving 40 to 50 families each week. Their food pantry is open to all on the weekends at Jamesport Farm Brewery. To widen their reach, they have also paired with The Butterfly Effect Project, First Baptist Church, and Open Arms Pantry in Riverhead, and Our Little Free Pantry in Greenport, managed by Penelope Rudder. If folks are in need of food, or if they would like to contribute, more info can be found on their Facebook group, NOFO Community Cares.”Alex Ferrone, Artist

“The staff at the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation is amazing and has been there every day supporting our shelter pets! What has inspired us is our community. Everyone coming together to help our shelter and our pets during this time.”Katie McEntee, Director of Adoptions, Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation

“During the height of the pandemic, when the rate of new hospitalizations were at their highest, I had the opportunity to visit Stony Brook Southampton Hospital with Bob Chaloner, the hospital’s CEO. It was my chance to see how my community hospital, where I was born in 1953, was meeting the challenge of COVID-19 and to thank each and every employee working that afternoon. First, the hospital had turned on a dime to successfully transform its available space to double hospital bed capacity and expand its ICU. It was impressive. However, what was most inspiring was talking to and thanking all of our frontline responders: the doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, administrative staff, security and maintenance. They exemplified the concept of ‘team.’ Without exception, they demonstrated a spirit of camaraderie and optimism that was awe-inspiring. I knew that my community was in good hands regardless of whatever may come.”N.Y. State Assemblyman Fred Thiele

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