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 didn’t think I would be starting a job so late in my life, but, you know, here I am.’

Rockville Centre

“I didn’t think I would be starting a job so late in my life, but, you know, here I am. I started Love, Nana about a year and a half ago in my house. We weren’t called Love, Nana back then, but I was making bundles of clothing and giving them to charities from my house. It changed my life because my husband died about a year and a half ago, right when I made my first bundle. After I made about 1,000, it got too much in the house. I have 28 grandchildren, so I’m a very busy grandmother. I’ve always written cards for them all these years and always wrote ‘Love, Nana’ on the card. So it was just a very easy drop to make it Love, Nana. I think that it’s really like home.

The clothes that I don’t use I can give to the thrift shop.

“My daughters said, ‘Mom, maybe we better put it into a bigger space so that you could have room to go around, and then maybe the Backyard Players & Friends could come and help you.’ They’re an inclusive, arts-based Long Island nonprofit for those with special needs. All the participants are Backyard Players. They get paid. They work for a two-hour shift, and that works out great.

“But there’s a lot that maybe can’t work just yet in the field. What we do is teach them life skills. I have washing machines and dryers. We fold. We iron. We do everything possible and help them prepare for being on their own — and at the same time prepare them for a job. And there’s always plenty of work to do because I’ve been getting an unbelievable amount of donations. I get clothing for 0-24 months, but sometimes I do start to collect little for toddlers because some of the babies have siblings and people ask me for toddlers.

“It’s filled my days. It doesn’t make me tired. The clothes that I don’t use I can give to the thrift shop. I don’t want any strings hanging off. I don’t want any zippers [unzipped]. I don’t want any stains or anything.

“But if it’s really got any marks or anything on it, I give rags to Sister Barbara over at Our Lady of Peace. She sells the rags and puts the money into the food pantry. So, it’s like everybody’s helping everybody else. We’ve only been here [the storefront] a couple of months, but we’re moving along so fast. It really came out of nowhere all at once, but I’m very happy to do it.”

‘Since my husband and I have been together, we have largely been celebrated and accepted by both of our church’s communities.’

Rockville Centre

“My husband and I met on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, in Israel, which is an important place for Christians because it’s where Jesus lived most of his life. We were both leading pilgrimages from our respective churches, and they put us on the same bus. There was a connection, so God definitely has a sense of humor!

“Pilgrimage has been a large part of our ministries and our lives together. Our careers as rectors in different parishes are about sharing the faith with people and we get to do this in neat ways. I grew up in a Christian family, but I didn’t start going to church regularly until I was in college. It was when I was doing a summer term at Oxford when I fell in love with the Anglican tradition.

“I’ve worked in hospice and in hospitals; it has been rewarding work. You get to be with people during momentous times in their lives, and I never had to question whether what I did was worthwhile. Now I have been an Episcopal priest in Rockville Centre for nine years. Since my husband and I have been together, we have largely been celebrated and accepted by both of our church’s communities.

I never in a million years thought that I’d be celebrating the sacred rites of Holy Week and Easter in my dining room with just my husband and dog!

“When COVID hit, our situation was unique in that we’re both priests, married and living in the same home. A lot of clergy were scrambling when we went into the lockdown, wondering how we were going to continue to minister to our congregations. We set up a makeshift altar/television studio in our dining room, and immediately started filming masses. One week, he would say the Mass and I would preach, and then we would switch.

“We’d send the recording to both of our congregations. I never in a million years thought that I’d be celebrating the sacred rites of Holy Week and Easter in my dining room with just my husband and dog! It was a way to continue to give our congregations encouragement and hope when we couldn’t see any of them face-to-face.

“Worship is such a fundamental part of our lives; however, we rarely get to do it together because, on Sunday mornings, he’s at his church and I’m at mine, so that was great for us. Ultimately, I think there’s so much joy in our faith. It’s challenging sometimes to share that but getting to share it is a wonderful part of the job.”