Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I love to paint, and I find it’s been really de-stressing and she and I do that together.’

Medford

“I started a boutique at the beginning of the pandemic when I had more time. My daughter Zoe is a kindergartner and she’s super creative and artistic. While arts and crafts has never been my thing, I was thinking, ‘What can I do to spend time with her?’ and really grow our relationship. No matter what I wanted to do, she’d say, “Maybe we can do this art project” and I’d say, “I don’t know if I’m good at that.

“But I feel like I was really able to find my niche with shirts and wooden signs. I love to paint, and I find it’s been really de-stressing and she and I do that together. She has a little area in the craft room that I created and while I’m doing crafts, she also does crafts.

“Lucy, who’s three, also wants to do whatever we’re doing, so she squeezes herself into one of her little spots. I named it after them because they’re my motivation. It lets me spend more time with them and show them you can help support your family and you can do something you love.

I never want the business to replace the job I have. I love teaching, that’s my passion.

“Zoe loves doing this stuff and I said to her, ‘Why don’t you think of something and you can sell it for a charity.’ Ten percent of the proceeds right now go to Together We Rise, a non-profit for foster children. I said to Zoe, ‘Think of something that you really love and you can sell something and your money can go to that.’ I never want the business to replace the job I have. I love teaching, that’s my passion. I love it as a side business, as something to bring in a little extra income and to promote creativity with Zoe. I feel like it’s helpful for her.

“The pandemic has been hard for her. Originally, we weren’t seeing our family at all, her grandparents. I really saw an increased anxiety in her, she was really sad about things and it just wasn’t who she is. This was a way for us to make sure that we get time together and give her that outlet and what she needs right now. She sees that maybe she can sell something, and she was really open to helping someone with it, which is what I really want to instill in her and in my students. It’s always how can you make a difference wherever you are, even when you’re a kid, you’re never too young.”

‘I’ve been able to live my life as though I was able to see.’

Medford

“They found out in second grade that I couldn’t see well. They gave me a special kind of desk that was on a slant so I would be able to comfortably look at any kind of reading material or test.

“My visual impairment is genetic — the optic nerve didn’t form normally so I believe I’m not getting the whole picture of what I look at. The way to explain it is I’m not getting all the pixels. There’s no way to fix it, but I’m happy about what I can see, I can see flowers, I can see people. Because of different organizations on Long Island that helped me out, I really didn’t have to struggle with my visual impairment.

“When I was 10 or 11, the local Lion’s Club found out that I was visually impaired, and they helped my mother pay for my glasses because they were expensive. My father left us when we were young, so it was my mother who raised me and my siblings. Then the Department of Vocational Rehab paid for my college, and also worked with me when I was an adult and I got a job with the Internal Revenue Service in Holbrook in 1975. They purchased for me a device that could read books, so I was able to look at tax returns and see if there was any missing information. Toward the end, everything was more or less done on the computer with software that made everything larger.

There’s no way to fix it, but I’m happy about what I can see, I can see flowers, I can see people.

“When I retire 37 years later in 2013, my team gave me money to buy a Kindle and I can enlarge the letters. I read a lot, I read the Bible a lot but my eyesight has gotten worse as I got older and I was no longer able to read even the giant print. It was perfect timing that I got this Kindle with lighted lettering. For getting around, I was using public buses with a reduced fare, so I could take a bus for 75 cents. But the problem was I couldn’t see where to get off.

“Now I use the Suffolk County Accessible Transportation – they take me from door to door, any place I want to go in the county for $4 each way. So that’s a real blessing, it’s allowing me to be very independent. Even though I have a handicap, I’ve been able to live my life as though I was able to see. I go to church and I’m able to attend more events and meetings than the rest of the congregation. It’s amazing how I’m able to get there.”