Local Women Net Honor

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The Old Bethpage Village Restoration hay barn played host to 400 people honoring Women’s History Month, with two Massapequans earning praise.

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Yvonne Dagger (far right) stands with her family in Old Bethpage.

Dubbed “Just Desserts,” the event took place under a canopy of twinkling lights wth rows and rows of tables filled with beautifully prepared desserts all donated by Nassau County bakeries. Thirteen extraordinary women were being honored in different categories for their contributions to Nassau County. Linda Mangano milled about warmly greeting and congratulating the honorees and their guests.

“This is our second annual ‘Just Desserts’ event where we are honoring 13 women of distinction in honor of women’s history month, but a great benefit also is that this has become a fundraiser for the Nassau Hurricane Recovery Fund,” she said. “Unfortunately there are still some people who are displaced and not in their home after Superstorm Sandy, so we are really trying to help out with that as well.”

Mangano, along with a dedicated committee of Nassau county workers and volunteers, came up with the idea of Just Desserts.

“We thought women and chocolate, that’s a combination,” she said. “I know I love chocolate and dessert and it is all about that tonight. There has been an outpouring of residents and merchants who came together, we have 130 raffle prizes, our basket auction and all of the food is donated so it is a win, win.”

Each honoree was greeted by the selection committee, Kim Collins, Eden Laiken and Ray Thomas, with corsages of pink carnations as they entered the hay barn. Calypso music played by “Steel Margarita,” added to the festive moment while pink ballon hearts bobbed in the air around tall vases filled with pink and white carnations. Many of the honorees had a connection to Superstorm Sandy.

Massapequa resident and honoree, Yvonne Dagger, who had also been honored by Town of Oyster Bay as artist of the year, was thrilled by the event.

“This is unbelievable,” said Dagger. “I am so honored to be here. It is such a celebration of life and desserts. The desserts are fabulous. I hear they are calorie free.”

She recalled those dark days of Sandy when her house was inundated with water.

“My studio was under water and a lot of my works were destroyed, but they were things,” she said. “Life is precious and that is what is most important. We can always replace the things, but we can’t replace life so we are fortunate to be here to celebrate.”

Surrounded by her family, Dagger, who is past president of the Long Island Chapter for Canine Companions for Independence, came with her dog Dagger, a puppy in training who will graduate this May and go on to be an assistance companion. Her husband, Dennis Dagger, was beaming with pride.

“Besides this fabulous occasion, it is an honor,” he said. “Things happen to you along the way in life and this is something that is memorable. She deserves it and I’m very proud of her.”

Linda Mangano introduced Father Gerald Gordon of St. Dominick’s Church in Oyster Bay who is the police chaplain with the Nassau County Police Department. After a short prayer, County Executive Ed Mangano was introduced and called each nominee to the podium for a citation. The honorees included Zefy Christopoulos of Glen Cove, Jenny Clavin of Baldwin, Yvonne Dagger of Massapequa, Ann DeMichael of Woodmere, Lillian Dent of Roosevelt, Marnie Hazelton of Roosevelt, Hali Herman of North Merrick, Jaime Liedtke of Long Beach, Sonia Meyer of Levittown, Kalpana Patel of Plainview, Arlene Pottash of East Meadow, Joan Rondinelli of Massapequa and Jenny Sommermann of Freeport.

Nassau County Legislator Michael Venditto commented about the two honorees from his district of Massapequa, Yvonne Dagger and Joan Rondinelli.

“I have known both for quite some time and they are doing wonderful work in the community,” he said. “When you talk about Yvonne and Joan, you talk about two women who fit that bill completely so it is an honor to be here to represent them tonight and I look forward to seeing the work they are going to be doing in the future for Massapequa and for Nassau County.”

The county also honored 27 additional women in a recent smaller ceremony. They included Simja Bezalel of Roslyn, Brenda Blackman of Hempstead, Donna Ceravolo of Freeport, Ann Ciccarelli of Valley Stream, Tara Marie Coyle-Hawes of Oceanside, Ann DeSimone, Anne DiPrima of Farmingdale, Bonnie Duran of Port Washington, Cheryl Eisberg Moin of Great Neck, Audrey Hadden of Hempstead, Jacqueline Rose Hott of Great Neck, Soh Young Lee-Segredo of Freeport, Barbara Levine of Roslyn, Josephine A. Maietta of Plainview, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Rachelle Ocampo of Levittown, Cynthia Paulis of Massapequa Park, Eileen Petruzollo of Manhasset, Jinah K. Shin of Old Westbury, Jenn Sommermann of Freeport, Nellie Taylor Walthrust of Hempstead, Dawn Tortora-Morici of Valley Stream, Katharine Ullman of Sands Point, Yesenia Vasquez of East Meadow and Arlene Wishnew of Port Washington.

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