Lakeview needed a voice — These seven neighbors stepped up

Civic association wants to celebrate, advocate for Lakeview


They get together every few months or so to plant seeds. And sure enough, after a little bit of sunshine and rain, those seeds area replaced by beautiful flowers all across the community nestled around Hempstead Lake.

They are members of the Lakeview Civic Association — planting seeds in their community, and watching something beautiful grow. And in the process, they have helped make Lakeview more beautiful, and earn their spot as the Malverne/West Hempstead Herald Persons of the Year.

“A love of Lakeview. That’s what we share,” said Doris Hicks Newkirk, one of the civic association’s founders. “Anyone sitting here will tell you — a love of the community.”

There is no Lakeview mayor. There is no Lakeview school district. There was no singular voice to advocate for the community. So, in the summer of 2020, seven neighbors — Mike Alexander, William Anders, Aisha Demosthenes, Nicole Henderson, Hicks Newkirk, Lisa Ortiz, and the Rev. Tristan Salley — took it upon themselves to be that voice.

And the Lakeview Civic Association was born.

In just three years, the civic association has become a highly active community staple. They plan biannual community cleanups. They organize a yearly Lakeview Christmas tree lighting. They partner with local organizations like the library, the NAACP, and churches to host events like Black history celebrations. They’ve hosted neighborhood gatherings like a family kickball event to honor male role models.

The Lakeview Civic Association wants to show that Lakeview has just as much community spirit and pride as any other community on Long Island.

Neighbors showing up for neighbors is a story not uncommon for Lakeview. The neighborhood is no stranger to having to make things happen for itself.

“It’s figuring out how to rebuild our own communities,” said Anders, one of the co-founders. “To really be in community with one another, and being able to pool resources in order to survive.”

And that’s exactly what Lakeview has done for themselves — and each other. It was the only hamlet of all the surrounding communities, for example, to not have a library — until neighbors came together to buy the Woodfield School building.

Now the Lakeview Public Library — colorful, locally beloved — stands proudly, and is maintained and owned not by the town or county, but by the people of Lakeview.

“I think it’s important that we acknowledge all the hard work that every resident has put forth to make sure that they can live and own a space in the community,” Ortiz, another co-founder, said. “A lot of people make a lot of sacrifices to live in this community that has such a rich history, and is made up of a community of people of color that, typically, don’t necessarily have access to everything that communities that don’t look like us” have access to.

One of those resources? A village government.

“Lakeview does not have a mayor,” Hicks Newkirk said. “We don’t really have a representative that we can go to, to fight our battles. We fight our own.”

That isn’t to say there haven’t been excellent representatives— Nassau County Legislator Kevan Abrahams and Assemblywoman Taylor Darling, to name two — but Lakeview lacks a singular voice to speak up for them.

“So, when the library’s in need, where do we go?” Salley — a pastor of St. Paul AME Church on Pershing Boulevard, and a co-founder of the civic association — said. “When our young people from our Lakeview community are going to school in Malverne, how can we make sure that they are provided for? That the money we’re sending over there supports them?

“We have a number of unique challenges as a community. The development of this cohesive team comes from the desire to see the revitalization of the Lakeview community.”

Which brings up the fundamental question that got all of this going in the first place.

“If not us,” Hicks Newkirk asked, “who?”

The civic association serves as a central organization where people can bring their ideas and concerns and know they’ll be heard.

“The work with the LCA is not any different than the work that I do with the church,” Salley said. “They work in concert — in complement to each other — because they’re about building relationships. Building trust. And letting individuals, community members, know that there are resources available. That there’s assistance. That there’s help.”

A big part of that is keeping neighbors informed, Anders said. The civic association helps neighbors navigate the ins and outs of zoning issues, small business regulations and taxes, to name a few. To ensure Lakeview residents get the quality of life they deserve, Salley said, the civic association is dedicated to making knowledge accessible and navigable.

While advocacy is central to the Lakeview Civic Association’s importance, so, too, is celebrating the loving community Lakeview is.

“I thought I was coming for a short while, but I found comfort here,” Hicks Newkirk said. She moved to Lakeview nearly four decades ago, and can’t imagine herself anywhere else.

“I found neighbors that will call on you when you’re ill,” she said. “There’s love in Lakeview. You feel it.”

“Lakeview is a special place,” Salley said. “It’s home. It’s love. It’s caring community. And it’s deserving of so much.”

“So, we talk about celebration,” Anders said. “The celebration is we wake up every day and see people, we speak to our neighbors, we look out for one another. It’s a good life. There’s no special formula. This is reality. This is where we are.”

But the highest priority of all? The next generation.

“We want our children to grow up in a community where they’re happy, where they see progress,” Hicks Newkirk said. “Where they see the fun of Lakeview, and the beauty of Lakeview. And that we care.”

“I want my kids to grow up in a community that’s safe and loving,” Salley said. “I want them to know their neighbors, and know what it means to be neighborly.”

“It means everything to be able to have a community where my kids can walk down the street and go play at the park. Or come to the library and pick out a book. Or go down to the bodega,” Anders said. “To have that comfort of having a community where we’re all looking out for each other.”

Every Lakeview Civic Association event draws dozens of families, everyone speaking to each other with warmth. Kids play tag as music plays. And there is always, always laughter.

No matter what, the neighbors of Lakeview show up for one another — and that’s what the civic association is about.

“There is a passion that we all have for this community,” Hicks Newkirk said. “It brings a life. I see people getting excited about things. Even the cleanup got bigger. People were out and enjoying it — planting flowers and seeing them come up in the spring.

“It brings a joy — to celebrate us.”