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Last Thursday, Life’s WORC, the group I founded in 1971 to serve people with multiple disabilities, like my daughter Lara, opened a new day program in Islandia.
Joining board members and state officials at the ribbon-cutting ceremony was Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
What fun when he presented me with a proclamation announcing Thursday, Sept. 17, was forever to be Victoria Schneps-Yunis Day in Suffolk County. It’s a ceremonial thing, but I’m glad that the organization I founded so many years ago is getting recognition for its critical work with people who have special needs.
Life’s WORC opened its first home in Little Neck in the early ‘70s and now runs 50 homes in the New York City region.
Unfortunately, the funds to staff those homes have been cut and we now need to educate the governor about the people we serve as well as their needs. We must continue to fight for people with autism spectrum disorders and people with developmental disabilities.
We must ensure that those living in our group homes receive the vital and powerful services that will change their lives.
Keep checking back.
Feeding the soul
OK, I admit it, I haven’t cooked a dinner in years.
I’m really good at making breakfast — my favorite meal of the day. Good breakfast is my launchpad for a full day of action, work, and play.
But dinner is quite different.
It seems like there is little reason to cook now that the kids have moved out. My late husband, Stu Yunis, was a lover of food and a creative “chef.” He liked to take one of our many cookbooks from the three shelves that filled our kitchen walls and follow a recipe.
I was not good at math so it was always difficult to follow the measurements required in most recipes. I didn’t care if there were more than three ingredients in a recipe. It was almost every dish.
My late beloved Aunt Gertie had a wonderful method that my cousin, Judy, recorded and then transcribed into “Aunt Gertie’s Famous Recipes,” and had it bound and sent to all the cousins. As I moved house to house over the years, I carried that book with me.
Gertie used her fingers and palm to measure. Gertie used her fingers to measure half a palm of flour, salt, and pepper for a recipe. This method was easier than using traditional measurements.
Stu preferred to take my out for dinner most evenings so that there weren’t any distractions and we could spend time together after a hectic day. I loved those quiet evenings with my husband.
Fast forward to now and my life revolves around dinners out. Now that I live part time on the East End of Long Island, I’ve developed some favorite spots. What better way to make new friends and renew old relationships than in a relaxed setting?
Last weekend, I went to a few of my favorites in Westhampton: Eckart’s Luncheonette on Mill Road for a breakfast meeting and Salt & Loft on Main Street for dinner. Then on Sunday, I was off to Southampton to Union Sushi & Steak. Each of these fantastic restaurants has its own owners.
Salt & Loft is owned by the warm and welcoming attorney, Barry Bernstein, who decided he would build a restaurant on property he owned. It sits on the farthest corner on the shopping block of Westhampton’s Main Street. It is well-known for its American cuisine, juicy hamburgers and delicious pastrami sandwiches. My favorite dish is the crusty salmon, which is grilled to perfection.
My old friends from Bayside Vinny Riso and Georgiana Reese were surrounded by fellow Baysiders Lois Christie and Linda De Sabato on the restaurant’s outdoor patio. The big, bright, glowing, and welcome guest of honor was the large, bright, glowing moon, which lit up the night sky.
I dined at another of my favorite restaurants the next night. Ian Duke’s Union Sushi & Steak has become my “home away from home” in Southampton. It’s only open for dinner, but the companion contiguous Union Burger Bar — with outrageous milkshakes — is open for both lunch and dinner.
It was still warm Sunday, but the sun went down, and the air became colder on the outdoor patio. New friends Ehab Shehata and his wife Nermin joined old friends Rebecca Seawright and her husband Jay Hershenson, who shared his experience receiving his knee replacement.
Joan McNaughton, who works with me and also runs her Leggz Limited Dance Studio in Rockville Center, sat with me, and Brooklyn friend Patrick Condren completed the round table of friends.
As the restaurant’s name would suggest, steak and sushi were our choices for dinner. The skirt steak was tender and juicy, and the sushi was fresh and delicious.
It is so wonderful to share nights with friends and enjoy great food!
A special film festival
Since we own both La Noticia, our Spanish language newspaper on Long Island, and El Correo, based in New York, I was delighted to attend the Ola Latino Film Festival held at the prestigious Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill.
Ola is a respected community organization serving the hispanic community on Long Island and I had wanted to meet Minerva Perez, the organization’s executive director. She was there!
Minerva and mine met while I was rushing through the Parrish. The films were being shown on the outside patio.
As I heard the stories about the struggles of immigrants in America, the short that kicked off the festival brought out my emotions. They spoke about how they worked hard and paid taxes, but couldn’t find a way to become citizens.
I wondered what happened to our belief engraved on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It seems our country has lost its compassion, as told by the speakers in the film.