Shelter Island’s world was shaken last week with grim reports of an elderly resident victimized by a home invasion, left tied up for two days and airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries.
As today, Reverend Paul Wancura is still in critical condition being treated in the intensive care unit of the hospital. The prayers and thoughts of the Shelter Island community are with him.
What has shaken us is that what happened to Reverend Wancura is not supposed to happen here. We are a safe community that always seems to live up to its name, providing shelter from the shocks and depredations of the outside world. This is not self-delusion or not having access to all the facts, but true. Shelter Island Police Chief Jim Read was asked if there had ever been a similar incident on Shelter Island.
“I’m not aware of one,” he said.
And perhaps even more telling was the statement made by Suffolk County Acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron: “Shelter Island is an extremely safe area. That’s one of the reasons this is so shocking. This incident is shocking to me even if it occurred anywhere in the Suffolk County police district.”
Both police departments were quick to alert the public that the attack on Reverend Wancura was not a random incident and that he had been specifically targeted. That doesn’t put much balm on the wound we’re all still suffering, but it means that the Island remains a safe place.
It’s often been said that you can judge a society by how it treats its youngest and oldest members. Shelter Island scores well with the latter judgment, with several town services that are active resources for our seniors. One in particular, in light of the details of last week’s horrific crime, is the Telephone Reassurance Program (see story, page 4). This outreach from the town’s Shelter Island Senior Services is for older folks who live alone, or are homebound for periods of time.
The free-of-charge program makes daily phone calls to elderly residents Monday through Saturday to check in on them, ensure that everything is all right and follow up if they fail to make contact. As the town stated in a press release, addressing elderly Islanders: “There is no need to worry that you will be left alone and out of contact.”
This service, along with the multiple programs for the elderly and their family members that the town offers, is just one of many. Others are dedicated to providing a community gathering place; producing events and activities; planning for long-term care or retirement concerns; hospice referral and coordination; entitlement counseling on Medicare, Medicaid, Supplementary Health Insurance; and many more.
For more information about any of the services offered by the Senior Center please call them directly at (631) 749-1059 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.