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.

‘What’s important to me is knowing that I made a significant effort to have a positive influence on the lives of others.’

Arthur Dobrin, Westbury

“When my wife, Lyn, and I joined the Peace Corps after graduating from college in January of 1965, there were only two places in the world that were taking Peace Corps volunteers — Kenya and Thailand. I was very interested in Africa because I had been a history major and thought that I would continue with African studies. We were in Kenya for two years, and our son was born there. Later we led educational safaris and sponsored a school. I was involved with farmers cooperatives — people who grew coffee — and Lyn was involved with women’s empowerment initiatives.

“What most impressed us was how people who can be very different from you fundamentally are also very much like you; it’s appreciation of good people who can be found anyplace, anywhere, anytime. Beyond the cultural differences, there are things that make us all human. We all seek to be respected, and we all desire to have lives that are filled with happiness. When we moved back to America, I became the leader of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, where I served as a minister. For many years, I was also a teacher at Hofstra University.

“What’s important to me is knowing that I made a significant effort to have a positive influence on the lives of others. Writing has always been central to everything that I do. I’ve published 30 books ranging from fiction to poetry to philosophy to children’s books. ‘Westbury Imagined’ is my latest; it’s historical fiction with a bit of poetry included. We have lived in the same house in Westbury since 1969. Our children also live in this town, our grandchildren grew up here, and we are still very involved in community organizations such as Westbury Arts.

“I started writing ‘Westbury Imagined’ about all the people who have lived in the houses on my street, and it quickly expanded to across the street, down the block and further. I think there is value in recognizing wherever you are it is really infinitely interesting and full of very human stories.”

Interviewed by Meagan Meehan