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Shelter Island Lions Club honors Don D’Amato

Gardiner’s Bay Country Club was the setting on Thursday, May 25 for the presentation of the Citizenship Award to Donald P. D’Amato by the Shelter Island Lions.

In giving him the award, the club saluted his many years of service to this community, both through the Lions’ projects and the other Island nonprofit organizations he has helped over the years.

Two guest speakers who had been tapped to speak about Mr. D’Amato, Nanette Lawrenson and Tim Purtell, said they were initially told by him that the dinner would be a “roast,” and they should feel free to deliver barbed jokes at his expense.

Both said they found it impossible to make unflattering remarks about him, and they were glad when Master of Ceremonies Dr. Frank Adipietro told them it was not a roast at all.

“That’s so Don,” Dr. Adipietro said.

The speakers expressed relief at not having to poke fun at a man who, as a nuclear physicist, was consistently the smartest person in the room. What’s more, they agreed, he embodied the definition of a volunteer. Free to speak the truth, Ms. Lawrenson told of the countless hours Don D’Amato had contributed to the Historical Society, establishing a database for their entire archives, not to mention their email and phone systems.

She said both Don D’Amato and his wife Janet had no hesitation about pitching in for hard work, including cleaning and setting up tents for events — and staying around to take them down afterwards.

Tim Purtell spoke of the many causes and projects he had worked on with Mr. D’Amato, from the town’s Green Options Advisory Committee to the Dark Skies Initiative. “Volunteering has opened up and changed my life,” he said, and he thanked Mr. D’Amato for pointing the way.

Among the other projects where Don D’Amato has left his imprint are the Great Peconic Race, an around-the-Island paddling event; the Senior Citizens Foundation bus; the Wades Beach Pavilion; raising funds for Camp Quinipet, Mashomack Preserve and more.

Given his turn at the podium, Mr. D’Amato gave the audience a laugh by delivering remarks he said were written by the Artificial Intelligence tool Chat GBT. He used the rest of his time to encourage his fellow Lions to continue their efforts on behalf of the many causes that benefit the people of Shelter Island, coming up with new fundraisers and novel ideas to keep serving the community.