Twenty-Five Years Of The Syosset-Woodbury Chamber Of Commerce


A night of honoring past presidents

Gail Warrack, left, holds up the raffle tickets that will support the Rudman Food Pantry at the Mid-Island Y JCC and the pantry at St. Edward the Confessor Church, of which Rev. Michael T. Maffeo serves as pastor. (Photo by Jennifer Corr)

The Mansion at Oyster Bay on May 23 presented a beautiful backdrop to a momentous occasion for members and board of directors of the Syosset-Woodbury Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s 25th Anniversary Gala Celebration marked a milestone of the chamber and honored the past presidents who led the chamber over the 25 years.
The gala was organized by a committee led by co-chairs Alan Goldberg and Tami Racaniello, as well as volunteer coordinator Danielle Delgrosso. Deisgn/graphic layouts and social media posts were done by chamber administrator Felice Linder.

“Founded in 1998, the chamber has survived the Internet Bubble of the early 2000s, the Great Recession of 2008 and a pandemic that affected the landscape of the entire community,” said Russell P. Green, the president of the Syosset-Woodbury Chamber of Commerce in a message published inside the gala’s booklet. “Credit goes to those who preceded us and membership who build a strong foundation for this organization. When Judy Jacobs, Frank and Marilyn Urso, Bill Chabina, Jo Costa and others formed this chamber, one wonders what their vision of today would have been like. It is my hope they are proud of what their initial efforts have become, and my aspiration that when we gather for the 50th anniversary, we can smile and be pleased where the chamber is then.”

The chamber supports and promotes almost 200 small businesses in the community, and the annual Street Fair presents an opportunity for upwards of 10,000 residents to interact with the businesses and community organizations. The annual Holiday Lighting Spectacular is another way the chamber brings the community together.

“Annually, we offer two scholarships to deserving Syosset High School seniors who want to continue their studies in business,” Green said. “This year, we are raising money for the food pantry at St. Edward the Confessor Church and the Rudman Food Pantry at the Mid-Island Y JCC, including from items being raffled off tonight.”

When attendees of the gala walked in, they were met with the opportunity to enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, as well as a chance at luck through the gala’s raffle. The charity raffle sponsors included Butera’s Restaurant, Chocolate Works, Coliseum Kitchen, George White, Halal City, HeadShot Rescue, Home Sweet Home, Hurricane Grill & Wings, The Maidstone 1845, Mario’s Pizzeria, MRG Marketing Corp., Spice Hub, Stellina Bakery & Cafe, Stretch Zone, Sushi Vogue and Legislator Arnold Drucker, Legislator Josh Lafazan, Assemblyman Steve Stern and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino. Prizes with the elected officials include a round of golf with Drucker, breakfast with Lafazan, an Islander game with Stern and lunch with Saladino.

Once attendees took their seats, they were greeted by a gala booklet, filled with sponsors from local businesses. Then, after some light chatter, the attendees heard from Goldberg and Racaniello, who’d introduce Green. Green invited the Board of Directors amid the crowd to stand up and be recognized. He then went on to describe how when he received a call asking if he would succeed past president Maureen Nickel, he was playing golf with his brother. He said he thought it was a joke at first, but he felt honored that the chamber, with a history of strong leadership, would consider him for this role.

“I called up [past president Charo Ezdrin Barker] that night, and after spending an hour on the phone with her, I decided I would accept the honor,” Green said. “I’m very honored to be put on this list with all these past presidents, many of whom are still active in the chamber.”

Green then called up Frank Urso (founding president from 1998 to 2000); Jerry Siegel, who was not in attendance, (president from 2001 to 2002); the late James Tinnelly (president from 2003 to 2005), who was represented by his wife Claire; Michael Biggiani (president from 2006 to 2007); Kevin Allison (president from 2008 to 2009); Danielle K. Delgrosso (president from 2010 to 2011); Lisa Predmore, who was not present during the ceremony, (president from 2012 to 2013); Kenneth Robinson, who was not present, (president in 2014); Chanbir Kaur (president from 2015 to 2016); Ezdrin Barker, who was not present, (president from 2017 to 2019); and Nickel (president in 2020). Finally Green (present president from 2021) was introduced by his daughters Kacey and Crystal, and his wife Lori.
“I am so proud of the chamber when I reflect back to where we started and where we are now,” Urso told the Syosset Jericho Tribune.

When he was asked why business owners should come to Syosset, he said “If you had to start a business, the opportunities are here. The demographics are great. We got people here who are highly educated… The people in this community are very close knit and want to help each other. We’ve had some vacancies in our downtown area. I think most of those are occupied now.”

After the past presidents were called up, Saladino, Drucker and Lafazan were summoned to say a few words and present citations.

“This is an amazing chamber,” Drucker said. “I’m a member of a few chambers as part of my legislative functions, but this chamber as Supervisor Saladino says, ‘rocks.’ It really does. And what a beautiful venue to have this dinner in. It really shows how majestic and how worthy this chamber is.”

Next up, Gail Warrack, the director of Volunteer Services at the Mid Island Y JCC, and Rev. Michael T. Maffeo of St. Edward the Confessor Church were called up to talk about the pantries they work with. All the proceeds from the gala’s raffles, as well as 10 percent of sponsorship revenue, would be going towards the Rudman Food Pantry at the Mid-Island Y JCC and the pantry at St. Edward the Confessor Church.

“We opened up the pantry eight years ago to help address the needs of Long Islanders experiencing food insecurity and poverty,” Warrack said. “We distribute 4,000 pounds of food a month in direct support of over 100 homes.”

Just that week, Warrack went on, the pantry provided assistance to a local homeless man, seniors living on fixed income, Holocaust survivors, people living in a motel, a woman who, with her children, escaped domestic violence and a single mother.

“We’re so proud to be in the community we’re in that supports the work we do with donations,” Warrack said. “We proudly support over 16 different agencies and food pantries on Long Island with food, toiletries and household cleaning supplies [which are not always covered by government benefits].”

Rev. Maffeo said St. Edward the Confessor Church’s pantry does much of the same work.
“There’s a great need in the Syosset/Woodbury area,” Rev. Maffeo said. “A lot of people don’t think there is… If anything brought it out, it was certainly Covid. We would have people driving up who never, ever, had to use a food bank before. Fortunately, most of them were able to get back on their feet. But not everybody did.”

Rev. Maffeo added that he’s thankful for the volunteers who donate their time to facilitate the pantry, as well as all the community support.

Checks in the amount of $2,100 will be presented to each food pantry.

All in all, what shined through the glamour of the The Mansion at Oyster Bay was the unity of the Syosset and Woodbury community.

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