West Hempstead residents team up for networking breakfast


The Long Island Breakfast Club, in collaboration with Blue Ocean Wealth Solutions, wants its inaugural Friendsgiving Networking Breakfast, on Dec. 5 at Blue Ocean’s headquarters in East Hills, to promote togetherness.

“This event is all about people helping people that want to work,” Valentina Janek, of West Hempstead, one of the club’s founders and its current president, said. “We want to empower people to find jobs. In order to do that, these types of organizations have to be supportive to each other.”

Keeping families and middle-aged workers on Long Island is one of several goals for the club, which has roughly 50 members, including residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties. The Breakfast Club provides employment and career counseling, workshops, interviewing classes and referrals, among other assistance, to help those seeking employment after losing jobs in middle age. The club also hosts meetings each month, which include sessions at which attendees can discuss job interviews and listen to motivational speeches.

Jacqueline McDermott, talent acquisition director at Blue Ocean, is also from West Hempstead. Blue Ocean provides local resources for clients to build financial strength and stability. With the Breakfast Club, the company hopes to make a difference for older workers.

“We would like [to] bring together like-minded professionals while being a resource to them,” McDermott said. “At the event, we want people to walk away with [a] family-oriented mentality, and for them to spread that kind of collaborative mentality in their careers.”

McDermott also said that the Blue Ocean has promoted diversity and inclusiveness for more than a decade with its annual Thanksgiving luncheon. The event features food items from their staffs’ home countries.

“We’d like to mirror what New York looks like,” said Frank Scalese, general agent at Blue Ocean. “Part of building strong working relationships is constantly trying to network within the community.”

Scalese, who has known Janek for many years, said that in order to create more job opportunities for middle-age people on Long Island, local businesses must be more open to giving them a chance.

“That’s the only way to keep the middle-aged community from leaving,” Scalese said.

“The possibilities are endless,” said Janek, whose club relaunched earlier this year. “Why can’t businesspeople wake up and smell the coffee? They have to realize the middle-aged community is overlooked, and that we’re doing something to support them in the long run.”

Proceeds for the inaugural Friendsgiving Networking Breakfast will go towards the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. For more information, email Janek at vjanek@optonline.net or McDermott at jmcdermott@blueocean.us.com.