The bright open warehouse of Soleil, a custom furniture shop in Roslyn, gave off an attractive glow that stood out against the darkened skies and torrential rains. Inside, guests mingled among the collections of teak tables, velvet couches and decorative artwork that lined the deep gray walls. Some of the extravagant items were up for auction, too; the winning bids would benefit the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor as well as Save the Great South Bay.
“We’ve partnered with another environmental [group] from the South Shore,” said Carol DiPaolo, who sits on the board for the coalition, “and the idea evolved about trying to bring the shores together for an event that could help support both organizations.”
On Oct. 11, board members from the coalition and Save the Great South Bay invited guests to a joint-fundraiser event, “Soleil Soirée.” While being treated to food, music and an artful atmosphere, visitors from both sides of the island’s shoreline were able to meet and greet in an effort to save Long Island’s waterways.
“Water is our natural surrounding, and that’s always of the utmost importance,” said Soli Malekan, the proprietor of Soleil. Malekan saw an opportunity to support what he called “a great cause” when his client, Frank Piccininni, suggested he hold the fundraiser in his store.
Piccininni is a board member for Save the Great South Bay, and has worked extensively with the coalition through his firm, Simple Consulting. He, like DiPaolo, felt it was important to support the efforts of both organizations.
“We wanted to get people to coalize together and recognize that this is a regional issue,” Piccininni said. “I care deeply for the environment, so I wanted to make it possible for these organizations to do their important work.”
DiPaolo said the soiree was the first event of its kind, and said she looks forward to holding more fundraisers that initiate greater conservation efforts to improve local environmental conditions.
“Since the initiation of the coalition we’ve tried to establish partnerships, and when we first began we realized there are no boundaries in Hempstead Harbor, so that’s why we had to get all the stakeholders on the same page,” she said.
DiPaolo said the group is also involved with organizations that address Long Island’s aquifer and groundwater. Events like “Soleil Soirée,” she said, help connect those stakeholders and extend conservation efforts beyond the coalition’s confines.
“We’re fighting a common fight,” said Marshall Brown, the executive director of Save the Great South Bay. “The bays face the same issue, which is pollution from septic waste, and if we don’t raise awareness we could lose what makes Long Island a beautiful place to live.”
Brown said that maintaining a healthy mainland would keep contaminants from running off into surrounding waterways. The group’s mission is to educate residents on growing “bay-friendly yards” with native plants that don’t require pesticides or fertilizers. Restoring local habitats, he said, would ultimately help make a difference.
“People need to see that this is really a local issue and that the whole island is at risk,” he said, adding, “We’re reliant upon local media to cover the issues that matter to communities.”
Soleil is located at 1464 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn.