The Town of Hempstead has recognized 11 women who enhanced the community through volunteer work, education and health services, presenting each with a 2018 Pathfinder Award, in honor of Women’s History Month, at the Merrick Golf Course Clubhouse.
On March 29, Town Supervisor Laura Gillen spoke about each honoree’s contributions before presenting the 2018 Pathfinder of the Year Award to Malverne Mayor Patti Ann McDonald. McDonald spent much of her life caring for her husband, Steven McDonald, who was shot and paralyzed while serving for the New York Police Department. She helped him tell his story of forgiveness — even after his death in January 2017.
“I accept this for all women out there — for all women who have to take care of their husbands and their families,” McDonald told an emotional crowd.
New Nassau County Sheriff Vera Fludd, of East Meadow, was one of the three Pathfinder Award winners for community service. The other two were Joan Hugues, a Baldwin paralegal who fought for choking-prevention education in the state, and Millie Jones, a past East Meadow Chamber of Commerce president who runs a teddy bear giving program that benefits children and seniors.
Lynbrook High School Senior Ashley Cegelski won the High School Senior Pathfinder Award because of her volunteer work at Camp ANCHOR, a Hempstead program for disabled citizens, where she has worked since ninth grade.
Rene Klein, of East Rockaway, won the Humanitarian Pathfinder Award due to her volunteer efforts with the visually impaired and charity contributions to organizations such as Camp ANCHOR.
Eileen Mahler, of Oceanside, won the Health Services Pathfinder Award. Mahler, the director of nursing at South Nassau Communities Hospital, was recognized for taking over and improving the graduate nursing training program.
Heidi Felix, of Wantagh, won the Volunteer Pathfinder Award for her leadership roles in the hamlet’s Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis club, as well as on other Wantagh community projects.
Kristi Detor, of Port Washington, and Allison Ruffrano, of Garden City, were both given Education Pathfinder Awards. Detor overhauled the East Meadow School District’s athletic curriculum, while Ruffrano teaches at Nassau Community College and has a summer workshop in Italy for aspiring photographers.