TESTIMONIALS

A Heartfelt poem by Maxwell Corydon Wheat, Jr. First Poet Laureate of Nassau County 2007-2009

Friends of Freeport - Mentors of Our Village

Looked like a ball team practicing in my backyard,
Twenty women and men in red sweaters and jackets,
"Friends of Freeport," black letters front,
"Doing our Thing," black letters back

Community, one of four, every weekend
help Hurricane Sandy victims,
clean debris littered yards,
rebuild surge-invaded homes--
rip outs, sheet rock, insulation, painting.
Volunteers: thirties, forties, those beginning gray,
gray and white, esteemed white

Book keeper, emergency dispatcher, butcher,
math teacher, school cafeteria manager,
nursing home music therapist, Freeport Policewoman,
retired Freeport Policeman, Freeport Village Historian,
former Freeporter every weekend back from Pennsylvania...

Picking up branches from ground, pulling them out of piles,
stepping on long limbs, breaking them shorter,
awkwardly underarming sticks to waiting F250 Ford truck

This is the work of the Green Thumbs crew,
Kill and remove mold, do repairs -- Inside Crew,
Breakfast-lunch eggs -- cooking hamburgers -- Chow Thyme Crew

Greetings, hugs, arms around shoulders,
orders shouted enthusiastically, jokes, laughter,
the comradery of volunteers dedicated to help

 


A GREAT BIG THANK YOU - from Mrs. Haslam  2/28/14






A Homage by Michael Fabrizio




 
 

  My  belongs to Freeport!  
By Linda Combs Stuerzel


I was born and raised in Freeport and the daughter of a Bayman.  My younger years were  spent on the waterways surrounding Freeport. I graduated from Freeport High School and 18  years ago returned there. Almost a year ago when Sandy hit I was living in Baldwin. Fortunately  we were only affected by the loss of power. My childhood home where my mom was still living had  8 feet of water in the basement. I knew I wanted to help in some way. I was in the process of  moving and during that time I heard about the Friends of Freeport. I contacted Rich Cantwell  and said “I want to help but I can’t swing a hammer.” Rich said to me, “Give me some time and  we will find something for you to do”. A few days later he contacted me and said they needed  someone to co-ordinate food for the volunteers. Having a background in food service, I said “I can  do that”. That day literally changed my life! What I found with Friends of Freeport was a group  of mostly strangers, who came together with the same hopes that I had; to help the people of Freeport. I have never known such a group with more love and compassion than the Friends of Freeport.
This past June Friends of Freeport spent a day at my mom’s house, cleaning up and planting her yard. Mom passed away a few weeks later and never got to see her beautiful yard, but she knew what was done. She said many times how happy she was that Friends of Freeport had done this for her.
Friends of Freeport – You have truly changed my life. I now have a second family
of wonderful people. I am so proud to be able to say “I belong to Friends of Freeport!”

  



My name is Barry Goodman and I am a Freeporter
 

  Although I haven’t lived in Freeport in almost 30 years I did live there from 1956 to 1982 so “time in” makes me a Freeporter for life. My family moved from Pelham Parkway in “Da Bronx” to Nassau Ave, Freeport where moving to Long Island was still considered G-d’s Country. We were one block north of the canals that were cut into the middle of southern Freeport streets from Woodcleft Ave to Long Beach Ave. Not many houses, with the exception of a few bay houses south of Suffolk St. Our streets were narrow but always had room to play ball in the middle of them. Our split ranch home always experienced some type of flooding when the canals would spill over into the streets and backyards during exceptional high tides, and over time we just accepted that this was a fact of life living in South Freeport. Our first real experience with hurricanes was in September of 1960 with a category three named Donna. This hurricane flooded South Freeport with 5 feet of water. I remember our friends bringing their small wooden boat over from Miller Ave and tying it off our porch to visit. I don’t remember this being a big deal back then. The old timers said this was nothing and the “Great Hurricane of ’44” and “Diane in ’55” brought the same or more water in from the ocean and bays. I didn’t remember anyone fussing about their sheet rock and mold issues back then, only the replacement of furniture and carpets. Even the cars that got caught in the flood started and ran after the flood waters receded.

      Over the next many years, many of the streets in our area were raised which was somewhat helpful in keeping the canals flood stage levels to a minimum. But still, many backyards and ground floor homes did get some flooding. The next hurricane that impacted many homes in South Freeport was Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Only this time the waters that swept through South Freeport never got over 2 feet. 

      Fast forward to 2012 when only being able to heed the warnings of high winds and torrential rainfall in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, where I was living, Super Storm Sandy uprooted thousands of trees and knocked out power to thousands. The aftermath devastation reminded me of Freeport’s undeclared tornado of 1974 where I spent 36 hours manning a post on North Ocean Ave, assigned to me by my captain of Hose Company 5 of the Freeport Fire Department; to keep people from walking over live power lines brought down by the winds and fallen trees. Travelling down into East Stroudsburg, a 15 minute drive did I see how this super storm, whose eye was over 100 miles away, could cause such destruction. I arrived to an area of Main Street that had power and walking into the only place that had internet service (Wi-Fi), it was here at Starbucks in Pennsylvania, did I first hear of the devastation of the South Shore of Long Island, including Freeport, from Hurricane Sandy. Even up here in the mountains of Pennsylvania, we were without power for the next 15 days, so my only contact with the outside world was travelling to town with my laptop to get the news from friends in Freeport. The photos and stories started to pour in to Facebook and emails of the destruction. This was the storm of the century, the perfect storm, to have caused so much damage and displacement of so many residents. Reports of over 8 feet of water that swept away, or fires that burned down businesses, homes and property was incomprehensible. Coping with my own problem of two 100 year-old trees that were semi uprooted and looming over my house, was I reminded of what “community” means. Since it was just about impossible to get a tree-service company to cut down this tree, my neighbors sprang into action. We tied off the trees with heavy ropes and chains and began to cut the tree down from the top down by climbing and hoisting people up with chain saws. Five hours later the tree was down and we all joined in to have a giant BBQ. This was “community”, neighbor helping neighbor, at its best.

      Another month passed as cleanup and rebuilding continued. It was in November 2012 when I first heard about some neighbors helping neighbors in Freeport. Stories and photos were posted on the Freeport, New York 11520 Facebook page showing these neighbors helping clean out basements and homes of their wet and destroyed belongings. Photos of dumpsters being filled with personal items including furniture and appliances were all over the page. Information for hurricane victims for food, water, heaters, clothing, healthcare products, generators and lights all sprung up directing residents to shelters, schools and other locations for survival needs. It was at this point I loaded up my Jeep with firewood, water, propane lanterns and stoves, blankets, cans of soup and travelled to Freeport to meet up with friends and strangers to give these supplies to them. Knowing the situation about gas and whether I could refill to get back home, I also loaded a 5 gallon gas can so I could return to Pennsylvania. Travelling the streets of South Freeport did I have the opportunity to see for myself all the destruction. Businesses closed, destroyed or burnt down, home after home with either a dumpster in their driveway or street or no one at the home, abandoned. Piles of destroyed property piled up 6 feet in front of homes that didn’t have dumpsters. Stopping in front of homes where residents were telling me about their experiences and horrors and grim outlook for the future to return to normalcy.

     I made more trips to Freeport over the next many weeks to bring supplies. On my trip in December, I could see some homes being worked on. Wet and damaged sheetrock, insulation and floor boards were all being tossed into new dumpsters. Freeport was rebuilding. The “Mile” had some of its restaurants reopening. Reports said that Jeremy’s, a mainstay of the “Mile”, was closed only until the waters receded and was open for business in what seemed like hours after the storm. As more and more information and photos were posted about small groups of Freeporters helping those residents clean out their homes, more Freeporters jumped into action to help, either by donating money, goods or services. A new tee shirt and sweatshirt was being offered with the tag line, “It’s a FREEPORT thing” screen printed on a carefully created image of all submitted places of Freeport and was offered to those who wanted to show their support and proceeds were given to the needy. I got both and wore mine proudly every time I came to Freeport. But I wanted to do more.

     I am not a stranger to community service in Freeport, once belonging to the Freeport Fire Department, so it was only natural for me to do it again. In March 2013 I got into my Jeep with my tools and travelled to Freeport to volunteer with the group now called Friends of Freeport. This group, which started with just a few, had now grown into a movement of neighbors helping neighbors, weekdays and every weekend, helping bring Freeporters back into their homes. Having a degree in Industrial Arts and Technology, this was right up my alley. Setting my alarm for 5:30 AM Saturday morning March 2nd and travelling over two hours didn’t bother me. It was about helping a fellow Freeporter to have the opportunity to return to their homes, now fixed and return to a normal life. When I arrived at 8:30AM, I was greeted by Rich Cantwell the President of Friends of Freeport. With a big smile he directed me to the job site where I went to work ripping out wet and damaged sheetrock and insulation. Three hours later to another home being installed with new sheetrock. I saw so many familiar and new faces all together volunteering their time and resources to help fellow Freeporters. This is what community is all about, helping each other, both volunteers and homeowners. The reward is looking at the homeowners and seeing tears of happiness and hope in their eyes as their nightmares now return to dreams of a positive future, back in their homes. My reward is being able to help my fellow Freeporters and even being given my Friends of Freeport volunteer red shirt. My two-plus hour ride back to Pennsylvania each weekend is filled with pride and reflection of what a community is able to do when one of its own is in need. 

     

"It’s a FREEPORT thing; Doing our Thing! This IS Freeport, like no other place on earth!"

  



By Shari Wolf
My history with the Village of Freeport is life-long. I grew up in Baldwin, but my aunt- my mother's sister has lived in Freeport for my entire life- she lived at 572 S Bayview Ave, and we spent many happy hours in that house as well as my childhood home in Baldwin. I went to a community nursery school that was in the basement of the apartment buildings on Buffalo Ave. I learned to swim at Casino pool, which was located on Casino Ave between Westside and Roosevelt. I have lifelong friends who are from Freeport.
      My mother is an original owner at the Anchorage of Freeport- moving in, in July of 1985 when the complex did not even have paved roadways. My first solo apartment away from college was on Brooklyn Avenue. Freeport is in my blood and I love it here. I am proud to say that I am for Freeport- prouder now that I am watching this village rise like a phoenix following Superstorm Sandy's destructive wrath.
      I got involved with Friends of Freeport on a lark- I saw a post on Facebook indicating that a group
was selling magnets to raise funds to assist fellow residents to return home. At the time I was a refuge, living with my mother in law in her home in Bayside. I sent a response asking where I could purchase my magnets and found out that I could get them at Atlantic Hardware, so on my next trip home-which was still at a time that every ride caused tears and incredible sadness- I stopped into Atlantic Hardware and purchased a set. I returned to my mother in law's home and turned on the computer and posted that I was thrilled to have my magnets, jokingly adding that I had no refrigerator to put them on... I pressed send and seconds (literally) later I got a response from a man I had never met (our own Rich Cantwell) asked me if he could help me in any way to get a fridge! I replied to him that I was displaced and that my place was nowhere near ready to even contemplate a fridge. I joined the Friends facebook page.
Several posts followed- one asking for people who might be available to help walk the village and seek out individuals who were in need of rip and rebuild assistance- I met Rich and Christina Parkman in a warehouse along with Ismael Berrios... I felt an immediate connection. The next post I responded to came from Justine Smith- she was looking for anyone who was "crafty" that might be able to help make things to put in "Welcome Home" baskets- I began crocheting, and over the course of the next month or so brought about 50 pot holders to Justine.    
     When I returned home I attended the Friends of Freeport fundraiser at The Patio, and then began showing up on Saturdays to help plant, and on weekdays when I could to help paint. The group of individuals I have met have become a HUGE and wonderful supportive addition to my family. I feel connected, needed and wanted. My skills have increased- I have learned to paint WELL, have learned how to tape, and spackle- sand, and respackle. I have conquered fear of heights- painting on scaffolding in a home with ten foot ceilings, and recently have had the opportunity to climb a ladder taller than I have ever climbed, just to say I did it!

This group is WONDERFUL and life-affirming. I believe I have made a group of friends for a reason and for way more than for a season- I hope that these connections will continue for a long, long time!  

  
  



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