Last Saturday on Wades Beach was a clear fall day with good visibility and volunteers as far as the eye could see, restocking the food tables, and eating at picnic tables, serving beverages and consuming them, thanking volunteers for their service, and being thanked.
Scores of Shelter Island volunteers came out in force to enjoy the first Hometown Heroes BBQ sponsored by Shelter Island Lions Club, the Shelter Island Action Alliance, and the Town of Shelter Island. Many Island businesses donated their tastiest picnic fare, including The Pharmacy, Marie Eiffel, Vine Street Café, Maria’s Kitchen, The Islander, The Lettuce Lady, Stars Café, and impressive baked goods ‘from the women who play mahjong.” It was a genuine beach party with all the considerations of sand in the sandwiches and airborne umbrellas you’ve got to love. Police Chief Jim Read reported high winds at set-up on Saturday morning, leading to the decision to locate a large tent a little off the beach, where it was more stable, a call he was second-guessing once the winds dropped and the beach was filled with volunteers.
As Sophie, a local beagle worked the crowd, Sharon Donno and Cristina Peffer were taking a moment off from volunteering to catch up. Peffer had an emergency appendectomy a few weeks back. Her hospital roommate — a woman in her 80s — asked Peffer how she was doing; they bonded and Peffer ended up losing an appendix and gaining a good friend.
Leah Friedman, and her brother-in-law Seymour Bilgray stopped by to pour some love on the music of Chris Tedesco as he launched into a fiddle solo of the Hall & Oates 1980 hit, “You make my dreams.”
School Superintendent Brian Doelger, Laurie Fanelli, Director of Senior Services and Town Supervisor Gerry Siller each stepped up to thank the volunteers.
Doelger, ever the educator, defined what it means to volunteer, “I believe that community means that members will sacrifice what is good for them personally to be a part of a greater good. That to me is what this day is about,” he said. “People sacrifice things — money, time with their family, talents — to try to make the lives of others in the community better.”
Siller thanked the volunteers of Shelter Island, and make note of what an extraordinary year it had been with two mass vaccination events and the sudden cessation of in-person school. Fanelli exhorted the crowd to “Enjoy one another.”