Retire? Not Judy Pockriss

Freeporter leads planning of Long Island volunteer fair

Judy Pockriss, right, at a training session with fellow Association of Professional Volunteer Administrators board members Anna Lyons, left, and Janet Romeo.  
Judy Pockriss, right, at a training session with fellow Association of Professional Volunteer Administrators board members Anna Lyons, left, and Janet Romeo.  
Courtesy of Long Island Volunteer Center

At 79, Judith “Judy” Pockriss, of Freeport, just isn’t ready for retirement — no way, no how. For the past 25 years, she has been recruiting volunteers as the volunteer coordinator for the Nassau County De-partment of Parks, Recreation and Museums.

“I’m absolutely terrified of retirement,” Pockriss said with a laugh. “When it’s time to retire, I’ll know.”

Part of her work involves recruiting volunteers throughout the county for the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a 209-acre, 19th-century living museum village. She also recruits volunteers for the Falaise Museum at the Sands Point Preserve and the Gold Coast Mansion in Huntington. When she’s not recruiting, she’s often ordering costumes for the Bethpage restoration.

Pockriss is also active in the Oceanside Chorale. “It’s more than singing,” she said, smiling. “We host spring and winter concerts for the community and visit patients at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside.”

She was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Rockville Centre and has lived in Freeport for more than 40 years. She has an English degree from the University of Vermont at Burlington and was an assistant editor at McCall’s magazine in the early 1960s.

Eventually, she married and stayed at home with her two sons, whom she raised in Freeport. Before going to work for the county, she was a secretary in the Baldwin School District, and later a tour guide at the Village Restoration.

Over the years, she has worked with thousands of volunteers from Nassau and Suffolk counties, of all ages — “too many to count,” she said. This year she has also had a hand in the planning of the 10th annual Long Island Volunteer Fair, scheduled for Nov. 20 at Nassau Community College. Over 40 nonprofit agencies will be on hand, and more than 300 potential volunteers are expected to take part.

“The opportunities to contribute to our communities are endless,” Pockriss said. “This fair is just one way for people to find a way to get involved.”

The fair will include volunteer positions with a number of Nassau and Suffolk nonprofits, including animal shelters, youth agencies, senior centers, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and hospitals. Volunteers are also needed to join an emergency preparedness group, become an advocate for special needs or protect the environment.

Dianna O’Neill, the former executive director of the Long Island Volunteer Center and a board of directors member and treasurer, said this year’s fair will include more opportunities for high school students to get involved with organizations to help them earn community-service hours for college applications and build their resumes.

“Engaging and targeting youth introduces them to the impact and power of volunteerism, Pockriss said. “We need their passion and desire to contribute to the common good.”

Simone Leo, the volunteer center’s current executive director, said the fair is a collaborative effort by Nassau Community College, the Association of Professional Volunteer Administrators and the Long Island Volunteer Center to provide support for State University of New York applied learning initiatives, and increase community service and opportunities for service learning and internships in a one-stop place to address community needs.

The NCC Mascot, Leo the Lion, is expected to appear. A book drive to benefit The Book Fairies, a Freeport-based literacy organization, will also take place during the fair, along with a food drive for the NCC Food Pantry.

Pockriss said she looks forward to planning for the volunteer fair, which she described as an excellent opportunity to collaborate with nonprofit organizations that, like the museums she works with, also rely on volunteers to help run events.

She added that the responsibilities that come with volunteering are like having a second job, because nonprofit organizations really rely on volunteers. “You can’t just show when you want to,” Pockriss said. “We have a schedule, and we depend on that person to do a certain job, and skipping out can be challenging because we were depending on that person.”