From atop the village’s scenic beach pavilion, rolling waves seem to give movement and energy to the shore along Sea Cliff Beach. Some waves, however, crest above the rest as they break onto the sand, going above and beyond. Much like these whitecaps, the efforts and talents of certain residents add to the village’s own vibrancy.
This imagery inspired the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s annual White Caps Awards, which this year celebrate 50 years of dedication to the village’s most exemplary individuals. This year’s ceremony was held June 12 at Metropolitan Bistro.
Each year the association seeks nominations for those who have demonstrated a selfless level of commitment and dedication to the village through volunteerism and public service. “Whitecap is a nautical term — it’s the wave that breaks out over all the other waves and crests over,” said Sea Cliff Civic Association President Ann DiPietro. “These people being honored are our ‘cresting folks.’”
This year, four residents were honored with the award: Mimi Leipzig, Charlie Weinstein, Estelle Moore and the late Sea Cliff Fire Department Chief Michael Hallquest, who died in January at age 34, and was honored posthumously at a street naming on June 9.
As soon as she moved to the village over 50 years ago, Leipzig got involved in the community, she said, joining organizations like Landmarks Preservation, the Friends of the Library and Sea Cliff Beautification. The antique stores, art galleries and bookshops that populated the village in the past sold Leipzig on living there in a matter of moments.
Her nominator, Geri Reichgut, described Leipzig as “someone to count on, with an eager smile.” “She’s an integral part of the artistic community with a one-of-a-kind wit and humor that is colored by her wisdom,” Reichgut said.
As an active member of Landmarks, Leipzig, 94, was responsible for helping to identify 28 homes in the village that were viable for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Homes, her own included.
She admitted she was a little shocked to be honored as a White Caps recipient, but said the experience was heartwarming. “It was really very lovely and sweet,” she said. “It felt like everybody was putting their arms around me.”
Leipzig considers it a greater honor, however, to live in such a loving community as Sea Cliff. “I am really very lucky to live here, and I think everybody knows that,” she said.
For the 32 years he has lived in Sea Cliff, Weinstein, 70, has seldom been seen in the spotlight during many of the village’s notable events. He has been responsible, rather, for the magic behind the scenes, according to nominator Christine Abbenda-Hughes.
“He’s lent his sound talents to so many community celebrations that you can always tell when he’s not the sound guy,” Abbenda-Hughes said, causing a stir of laughter in the audience.
As the owner of an AV rental and staging company, Weinstein has volunteered his sound services for village events ever since he moved there. “I had the gear, and I love being able to do something for the village,” he said.
In addition to making sure Sea Cliff sounds its best, Weinstein is a board member of the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor, which works to identify and eliminate environmental threats to the waterfront, and advance public interest in protecting and restoring the local environment.
But Weinstein doesn’t just protect the harbor, Abbenda-Hughes said. He also dives in every New Year’s Day during the Sea Cliff Polar Bear Plunge.
His daughter, Jessica, also offered a few words about her father, whom she calls “a giver.” She shared with the crowd a handwritten note he gave her on her 24th birthday, in which he assured her that her “Good is more than enough.”
It is a sentiment she seemed to have inherited from him. “In my usual fashion, I was not quite feeling like I deserved such an honor,” he said, “but what little I can do, and I am happy to continue to do it.”
After retiring from a 30-year career in human resources, Moore, 83, began to cultivate her “volunteer spirit,” as nominator Gwynne Lennon put it. Over the past 15 years, Moore has volunteered for La Fuerza Unidad and the North Shore Soup Kitchen in Glen Cove, among other organizations in the village.
“I find that people who volunteer are wonderful people, and in many ways I get more than I give,” Moore said. For the past nine years she has headed the soup kitchen’s Steering Committee as president, managing the operation and overseeing an 80-person staff.
“She doesn’t waste any time on small talk if she’s focused on doing something,” said nominator Beth Greenberg, who works with Moore. “She was born with the gift of giving, volunteering tirelessly with endless energy to do whatever’s needed for the good of the village.”
Greenberg ticked off a list of Moore’s attributes: intelligence, an impeccable work ethic and a gracious etiquette courtesy of her Massachusetts roots. She described Moore as a “pillar of the community, and someone to celebrate.”
Moore was also surprised to receive the honor. “I was really touched by it, and I certainly appreciated knowing how much [my nominators] cared about me,” she said. “Sea Cliff is a very special place, and everybody cares about so many causes, so it means a lot to me.”