Accolades, appreciation and applause defined the recent Plainview-Old Bethpage (POB) Chamber of Commerce’s annual Membership Dinner. It is the chamber’s night to bestow a collective thank you to its valued members and to recognize several individuals and groups for their outstanding efforts over the past year. And, of course, it is always an occasion to have some fun.
Held at the Heritage Club in Bethpage, a steady stream of guests arrived to the dinner beginning at 6 p.m. A mix of veteran members and “newbies” mingled and happily supported the chamber’s current charity partner, The Garrett Kassler Memorial Fund, at the raffle sales table. Most of the raffle prizes were generously donated by member businesses.
The chamber thanks them and the dedicated chamber volunteers who helped make the evening a success: Sangeeta Ahuja and Jim Baker, and dinner committee members Sherri Gillespie, Asher Allweiss and Lindsay Covello.
Providing all with some of life’s “best medicine,” two top comedians entertained the almost 70 in attendance. John Zeigler and Joe DeVito told relatable jokes that had everyone laughing. When a technical glitch silenced the microphone several times, the talented duo found the funny and worked it into their routines.
Once seated and treated to a delicious meal, guests were attentive when it came time to recognize some special chamber members and events. Francesca Carlow, former chamber president and long-time board member, who notably helped shape the organization in its infancy, was honored with these inscribed words: “With heartfelt gratitude, for your decades of tireless dedication and service to the Plainview-Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce.” Applause erupted as Carlow accepted the award.
“Thanks to Francesca’s relentless drive and indomitable spirit, the chamber was firmly rooted and has continued to thrive for decades,” POB Chamber President Andrew Lamkin said. “As an energetic and effective president and board member, and a highly successful small business owner, Francesca showed us all how to get things done here in Plainview-Old Bethpage and we are all grateful for her indelible efforts.”
Two other very important chamber members were also spotlighted. Elan Wurtzel of the Law Offices of Elan Wurtzel and Richard Leshaw of the TD Bank in Plainview, the chamber’s 2019 Fall Festival presenting platinum-level sponsors had the opportunity to speak to the audience about their respective businesses and the benefits of their high level of participation in the chamber’s largest annual event. Without these supportive anchors, and that of the dozens of other sponsors, the growing community event would not exist. Home to the festival since its inception eight years ago, the POB Library was also recognized for its key role in the event’s success. Program director Lois Buonagurio was presented with a ceremonious check for the library by Lamkin and the festival co-chairs, Ned Marzigliano and Ben Alssid.
At the festival and other key events throughout the year, including the membership dinner, the chamber’s charity partners are featured. The goal of the charitable alliance is to increase awareness for a local organization within the community, as well as help raise necessary funds, largely through raffle sales at chamber events. Monies go directly to support the charity’s mission.
During the dinner, Lee Kassler, director of the Garrett Kassler Memorial Fund, offered his appreciation to the chamber.
“As we continue to share our story and educate the community about the tragic disease of addiction and how it affects the addict and their families, we are grateful for the additional donations we have received so far,” Kassler said.
He explained that they are able to directly help an addict or the family of an addict in several ways, with transportation to a meeting or therapist, a medical copay or job preparation (resume work), or tuition for education or training. If you know of someone who could benefit from this type of assistance, go to www.glkassler.org. All inquiries are completely confidential.
Editor’s note: In a previous version of this article, the photo of Francesca Carlow was incorrect.