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.
Sadly, funds for staffing those homes have been slashed and now, with a new governor, we must educate her about the people we serve and their needs. The fight for people with developmental disabilities and those who are on the autism spectrum is never done.
We must help make sure that the people living in our group homes are getting support for the critical and powerful life-changing services they need.
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. A good breakfast is my launchpad to a packed day filled with action, work and play.
But dinner is quite different.
Since the kids have left home, there seems little need to cook. 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 never good at math, and following all the measured ingredients required in most of the recipes always felt like an enormous task. If there were more than three items to the recipe, I passed it by. That 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. I brought that book with me as I moved from house to house over the years.
Gertie used her palm and fingers for measurements. If a dish called for half a palm of flour and a little sprinkle of salt and pepper, her fingers did the task. I found that much easier to follow than the traditional measurements.
But most evenings, Stu preferred to take me out for dinner so there were no distractions and we could be together after a busy day. I loved those quiet evenings together.
Fast forward to today and my life is filled with dinners out. Now that I live part time on the East End of Long Island, I’ve developed some favorite spots. What better way is there to get to know new friends and refresh old relationships in a relaxed environment?
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. Behind each of these terrific restaurants are their unique 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. The eatery is known for its American cuisine, juicy hamburgers, highly stacked and delectable pastrami sandwiches and my favorite: crusty salmon 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. Our uninvited, but welcomed guest was the big, bright, glowing moon that lit up the warm night sky.
The next evening, I dined at one of my other favorite restaurants. 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 on Sunday, but as the sun set, a chill filled the air on their 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 juicy and succulent and the sushi fresh and tasty.
How great it is to have nights filled with good friends and 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. And there she was!
Rushing through the Parrish, where the films were showing on the outdoor patio, Minerva and I had a moment to chat and meet.
The short that started the festival brought tears to my eyes as I heard the stories of the struggles of immigrants being here in America. They talked about working hard and paying taxes, yet finding no path to citizenship.
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.