More than 100 people joined Supervisor Anthony J. Santino and members of the Hempstead Town Board to recognize 11 women who live or work in the Town of Hempstead for their contributions to the community at the town’s annual Pathfinder Awards ceremony on March 7. The ceremony celebrates the victories and contributions of women in a variety of categories. Women who work and live in Oceanside were honored at the event.
Oceanside resident Marsha Cilento was honored for her work in the Senior Pops Ochestra of Long Island, where she plays violin. The orchestra performs free concerts year round to both senior citizen groups and the community at large. She also helped organize a benefit concert raising more than $9,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Oceanside High School senior Sarah Romanelli — nominated by her peers — is a high achieving and versatile young woman. As co-head of the school’s thespian troupe, she has a deep-seated love for the performing arts and spends most of her afternoons rehearsing for whatever the group’s next performance will be.
Additionally, she was inspired to do medical research into pediatric leukemia after a fellow performer mysteriously stopped coming to rehearsals. She later learned that he had been diagnosed with the deadly blood cancer and was forced to undergo treatment. She spent two summers at Columbia University working on the project and her research gained national recognition when it was named a 2016 Siemens Competition semifinalist.
Kerri Wagner, a family and child life specialist at South Nassau Communities Hospital, was nominated for the award by a co-worker who described her as having a “warm smile, honest nature, communication skills and a calm and reassuring demeanor that helps families through very difficult times.”
She also plays an important role at the South Nassau affiliated SIBSPlace in Hewlett, which offers therapy and counseling to children with parents or siblings who have with severe or terminal injury or sickness.
Laura Maier, an entrepreneur who owns three Dairy Queens on Long Island, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony. Maier, started out in healthcare, but in 2013 she opened Long Island’s first Dairy Queen in her hometown of Massapequa. It was so successful that she went on to open stores in Levittown and Huntington with a fourth Long Island location scheduled to open soon. In the last three years, Laura’s three stores have helped to raise $15,000 from Miracle Treat Day, where a portion of “Blizzard” sales go to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
When talking about taking the chance of starting her own business as a woman, she used a famous quote from Lucille Ball. “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”