When a person spends their life giving back to the West Hempstead community, the community gives back tenfold.
Vincent Muscarella and Steven Orlando were honored as the Person of the Year, for 2022 and 2023 respectively, during a West Hempstead Community Support Association ceremony on Oct. 11 at the American Legion Hall. Both men have spent decades of their lives making West Hempstead a better place.
“We look to honor people in the community who have supported the community in various ways, and have lived in and flourished within the community,” Maureen Greenberg, president of the West Hempstead Community Support Association, said.
“These are individuals who go above and beyond.”
SUB: Vincent Muscarella, Person of the Year 2022
When Vincent Muscarella and his wife married 40 years ago, they knew West Hempstead was the place they wanted to raise their children. The community is diverse, the people are welcoming, and the atmosphere is warm, Vincent said. He’s spent his decades living here making sure the community has the representation they deserve.
Vincent has been a lawyer since 1980. He served in the state assembly for 4 years, and the county legislature for 27 years, making him among the longest serving legislators in county history. He currently serves as a county district court judge. Each experience was a different facet of service that helped him better understand people’s needs.
“I loved being in the legislative branch of the government, where I could draft legislation and see how that affected people,” he said. “I loved being a private lawyer, where you could view how those laws affected people.
“And the natural progression was to be on the judicial side of the legal process, where you get to interpret and apply the law to keep our community safe and strong.”
Vincent was the chairman for the county legislative health committee, and worked to keep the community healthy and safe. He was the author of the first smoking ordinance in Nassau County, which limited where and when someone can smoke cigarettes in public places, and was heavily involved in the transformation of the county medical center from a county hospital to a public benefits corporation.
Though his extensive career of service is impressive, Vincent views it as his natural responsibility as a community member.
“I grew up in a family that always believed in public service,” he said. “It gives you a purpose to share whatever talents any individual has, to share with the community, to make that community better.”
No matter the role, he worked tirelessly for the benefit of his West Hempstead community and listened to their needs. He was responsible for getting the playground at Halls Pond installed, and coordinated the building of the West Hempstead Public Library. Although his accomplishments are substantial, he said the one he is most proud of is raising three beautiful, independent daughters with his wife.
“I believe that all of us are put on earth for a reason,” Vincent said. “And that reason is to serve others. To be the best we could be, in being a part of something.”
SUB: Steve Orlando, Person of the Year 2023
To Steve Orlando, photography is about more than getting the perfect shot — it’s about creating a cherished memory for someone that will last a lifetime.
Steve has had people come up to him and thank him for a picture he took 40 years ago, telling him that it’s their favorite memory of a loved one since passed, or a cherished memory on their mantle.
“The idea that my pictures last, and carry those memories, is really important to me,” he said.
Steve started out as a guitarist, and though he remains a talented instrumentalist, his love of music took him in a different direction — music photography. Over the years, Steve has taken thousands of pictures for record companies, photographing the likes of Billy Joel, Harry Chapin, Chuck Berry, and “just about everybody under the sun that comes through Long Island or New York,” Steve said.
Though he is renowned in the music industry for getting the best shots in the business, Steve still wanted to give back to his community in West Hempstead, where he’s lived for nearly 70 years. He’s been taking pictures for the high school since he himself graduated. He takes special care that most others would not — it’s important to Steve that he takes a picture of every kid, whether it’s a small play or a graduation with hundreds of people. To Steve, it’s not about popping in and out to get the assignment over with. It’s about every kid and their families who will cherish those pictures forever. No one deserves to be overlooked.
“I just think because it’s what I would have wanted with my family,” Steve said. “To have those memories.”
“Now that my father’s passed, I have all these great shots of myself playing guitar with my dad,” he said of the importance of memories. “And it means a lot to me.”
Steve said that since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, the community has continued to rally around him.
“I’ve had the blessing of living in this town, and unbelievably supported by so many people,” Steve said. “And everybody’s just treated me so kindly. So generous.”
Thousands of West Hempstead homes have cherished pictures on their walls, on their mantles, in their phones, that exist because of Steve’s dedication. The warmth and care that exists in every snapshot is representative of his modus operandi:
“I take pictures with my camera,” Steve said, “but more than that I take them with my heart.”