Kiwanis Club honors local volunteers at ‘Breakfast of Stars’
About 100 people turned out Saturday for the Kiwanis Club of Greater Riverhead’s annual Breakfast of Stars during which the club honored six individuals and a volunteer group for being role models to the youth of the town.
Held at the Birchwood Restaurant, the breakfast was in honor of NYPD officers Peter Cybulski and Hamid Armani, Kimberly Pokorny, Vinny Payton, Larry Williams, Marie Dunleavy and the Friends of the Riverhead Library. Harry Wilkinson emceed the event.
Each honoree was presented with proclamations from Rep. Lee Zeldin, Leg. Al Krupski and the town board, represented by Jody Giglio and John Dunleavy. In addition, it is Kiwanis’ tradition to register every honoree with the International Star Registry which issues every registrant a certificate naming a star after them. Each one receives a map of the night sky so the star can be located easily.
Cybulski and Armani were introduced by Zeldin who praised their bravery and cool-headed reaction to having what appeared to be a bomb tossed onto the dashboard of their patrol vehicle in Times Square last July 20. The partners disregarded their own safety as they raced the bomb away from the crowds in the heart of the city. Most people, Zeldin said, “would have had ‘let’s get out of here, as far away as possible’ as their first instinct.”
Pokorny was lauded for her civic involvement with the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps, where she’s served as a corpsman, assistant chief, board member and board chairman. Mai Hennessey, one of Pokorny’s colleagues spoke about her “fervent advocacy to her patients and crew as well” and described to the guests how she had seen her leave “significant sums of money on a patient’s kitchen table” when she saw that the family was in need.
Payton sat in front of the front of the room as the guests learned about his many years of volunteer work as a member of the Riverhead Moose. Payton has served as a trustee, governor, the junior governor and junior past governor. He served as a cook at the Wednesday night family dinners at the lodge for many years, a waiter at the Tuesday night family dinners and bingo chairman, for more than 19 years of community service in all. His participation enables the organization to raise funds which are passed on the community in its philanthropic outreach.
Williams, the recently retired assistant director of Calverton National Cemetery, was praised for his involvement in the local Democratic party and his part in starting the annual Stop the Violence basketball tournament which draws hundreds of spectators to watch players from all over the tri-state area compete. Williams is also a co-chair of the East End Voters Coalition which sponsors the Juneteenth Essay Contest for fifth-grade students at Pulaski Street School.
Dunleavy was commended for her many civic activities including being a founding member of RVAC, training many of its EMTs and serving as its first captain. She’s a past president of Riverhead Lions Club and currently serves as the chairman of its eyeglass collection program which distributes 2,000 pairs of eyeglasses a year to third-world countries. “This person just loves to work, but doesn’t want to get the name recognition,” her husband said.
The Friends of the Library were the last of the honorees at the breakfast. Louise Wilkinson spoke highly of the group’s value of its volunteer work in staffing and running the Yellow Barn and financially sponsoring one-third of the programs given at the library. She termed the organization “amazing — a gem of our community” as she recounted her family’s personal use of the Yellow Barn’s inexpensive supply of books.
The RBS singers, led by Dhonna Goodale, serenaded the group with two selections — one a gospel hymn and the other a rousing rendition of Love Train, which had guests all over the room clapping and dancing in their seats.