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.

‘My goal is to be able to continually give back to nurses because I don’t want people to forget what nurses did.’

Ronkonkoma

“I was an actress for many years before I became a nurse, but I always had this push to go into medicine. I’m Shinnecock, and my great-aunt was a World War II nurse who founded the first aid station on the reservation, so I just felt a connection to that and knew I wanted to do something medical.

“I went to Nassau Community College, became a nurse, and then started my career in a hospital. Most of the groups on Facebook were general nursing across the country—I couldn’t communicate with anybody who was from Long Island. My friend, who is an LPN, and I decided to make this Facebook group: Long Island Nurses. We started at 100 people, then 500, 1000, and it really started to ramp up. I noticed more recruiters were coming in and people started getting jobs, communicating, and I wanted the group to continue and not die out. I started to say, ‘You know what? I have this gift card … I’m going to put it in the group and give it away to someone.’ I love giving away stuff! So, every couple of months I would do a giveaway.

We need people to say, ‘We’re here for you. Here’s a scholarship. Here’s a car for two years. Here’s something to take the burden off you so you don’t have to worry about that one thing.’

“Then, during the pandemic, I had a surgery that didn’t go well and became very ill. I ended up in the hospital and saw the nurses and how hard they were working. Once I started to heal, I went around to different locations, like restaurants, and asked, ‘Would you be willing to donate a gift card to my group?’ And I got all these gift cards. Thousands worth. It was really fun. We raised $500 for a scholarship and the person who got it was going for her bachelor’s. So, then I was like, ‘Why don’t I go nonprofit?’

“I finally got my charity designation, so now my goal is to be able to continually give back to nurses because I don’t want people to forget what nurses did. They’re the ones who are having PTSD, who are crying. We need people to say, ‘We’re here for you. Here’s a scholarship. Here’s a car for two years. Here’s something to take the burden off you so you don’t have to worry about that one thing.’ That’s what I’m trying to do. I would love to see this take on a life of its own. It really makes me excited because I feel like we could grow in the future, get to more nurses, and continue giving to the people who deserve it the most.”