Sabrina Navaretta’s family made sure that her short yet impactful life, would leave an everlasting legacy.
Sabrina, a graduate of Syosset High School, passed away in a car accident on April 28 at just 19 years old while attending the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware. Her plan was to pursue a career in real estate, just like her mom, Mara Navaretta, who owns Homes By Mara Realty.
But beyond being driven in her career and studies, Sabrina was generous. She took the time to volunteer as an advocate for kids with autism and with dog rescue groups and environmental clean ups on local beaches. And, after a devastating house fire in the community, Sabrina, at age 15, and her father, John Navaretta, spent their free time sorting clothes that were donated to Homes By Mara for the purpose of helping the families who lost their homes.
Sabrina was very close with her family. Since her siblings were older and had already moved out of the house, Sabrina spent a lot of time with her mom and dad. They enjoyed spending time on the boat, barbecuing and going out to dinner. And while she was in school, Sabrina would take the Amtrak home as often as she could so that she’d never miss out on any family gathering.
All around, Sabrina was an excellent young lady with a bright future ahead of her. And while she’s no longer here, her life continues to make an impact on her community through her memory and a scholarship fund that has been established in her name.
John and Mara, with their children Nicolle and Andrew, established the Sabrina Navaretta Scholarship Fund to give high school graduating seniors who are in need of financial assistance the ability to achieve their goals.
Andrew Fazzolari was the first recipient of the scholarship award. The scholarship was $5,000, but the Navarettas are hoping to give more to recipients in the future.
They chose Andrew because he is a lot like Sabrina. Similarly to Sabrina, Andrew worked in a restaurant (Sabrina worked as a hostess at Butera’s while she was in high school). He also enjoys spending time with his family, and has displayed an interest in real estate. Andrew took the real estate course that John and Mara teach one day a year at Syosset High School. The Navaretta family hope to continue benefiting students and causes Sabrina cared about, through fundraisers such as the upcoming High School Hockey Night.
“Upon our daughter’s passing, we wanted to keep her legacy alive and strong within the community because the outreach and support we received from family, friends and the community as a whole was just extraordinary,” John said. “We were just so overwhelmed by the generosity and the kindness. And we decided to keep her legacy going and started a foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to give a Syosset senior a scholarship for college. And what’s developed in the six months since we started this, it’s morphing into something bigger and better, because we want to help other kids with Sabrina’s characteristics that are in financial need. That means kids who are involved in the environment, dog rescuing, autism, anyone who needs help, as our fund grows we’re going to help other kids in Sabrina’s name.”
John explained that the family foresees supporting groups that participate in dog rescuing, environmental awareness or other causes Sabrina was passionate about.
Already, the Syosset High School Dog Rescue Group has renamed their walkathon, which took place on Oct. 28 at HBT Middle School, after Sabrina.
“We want to expand it beyond just giving a student a straight scholarship,” John said.
The Syosset Braves will be facing off against the Massapequa Chiefs at the Bethpage Hockey Rink, 1001 Stewart Ave. in Bethpage, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10. Tickets can be purchased through Venmo @SabNavScholarship (save receipt for admission) or at 30 Berry Hill Road in Syosset.
“We are happy to support our conference mates as they honor a cherished alumni and we look forward to a friendly, competitive match between Massapequa and Syosset,” said Shannon McEntee, Massapequa’s director of physical education, health, athletics and recreation.
John has connections in Long Island hockey. In fact, he used to play with the Suffolk County Police Department.
“I used to be their attorney, so they made me an honorary cop to play on their team for many years,” John said. “I played in many benefit games. The thought came to me, ‘Let’s have a benefit game for Sabrina.’ So that’s how this whole thing evolved. The support in putting this whole thing together has been extraordinary. Everyone has been jumping in and helping out. It’s been great to see.”
John explained that approximately 1,000 fans are estimated to attend the event. And he said the community has already provided “tremendous” support for the journal that is going to be passed out at the game.
“The reason why we wanted to have it the Saturday after Thanksgiving is, many of her classmates who she graduated with will be home from college,” John said. “We’re expecting a large participation for those students who are now in college. And between Massapequa and Syosset school districts we’re anticipating a big turnout.”
According to John, there’s always been a competitive rivalry in athletics between Syosset and Massapequa.
“We thought this would be a good hockey game,” John said.
John said his family began organizing the hockey night back in August in order to get commitment from the Syosset and Massapequa school districts.
“We finally got the two teams to commit and then we had to get the ice time,” John said. “And that was an effort.”
John said Town of Oyster Bay Councilman Louis B Imbroto, Town of Oyster Bay Parks Department Commissioner Joseph Pinto and Syosset High School Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante have been instrumental in getting this event to happen.
“The kids are getting psyched,” Mara said. “This is a big rivalry, Syosset vs. Massapequa. They’ve been rivals in every sport forever, so we’re going to rock Bethpage Ice Rink.”
John said in addition to the game, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in great raffles.
“We have this motto for Sabrina, which is spreading kindness and smiles because that’s what Sabrina was all about,” Mara said. “She was one of the most grounded people. In the beginning I called it normal. My words were, that she was the most normal person I know. But after all these months, I realized that really the word is grounded, the most grounded person I know. There was no drama associated with her. She was just a love.”