The Mineola-based nonprofit Family and Children’s Association has been around long enough to navigate its way through the Great Depression and World War II building boom in Levittown, President and CEO Jeff Reynolds said at the group’s anniversary event on Friday.
The organization celebrated its 135 anniversary at the Mineola Athletic Association’s baseball field.
On the field before the ceremony, “Long Island’s largest quilt” was unveiled. The quilt was created for the association’s Safe and Warm, LI’s Largest Quilt Campaign, Mastin said. The 45-by-81-foot quilt, she said, is to raise awareness about teenagers who grow up without stable families.
“Last night, close to 2,000 Long Island teens slept in a park, near the boardwalk, or sought warmth and shelter in an LIRR station or a bus terminal,” Mastin said. “Because everyone deserves a place to sleep, FCA created Safe and Warm, LI’s Largest Quilt Campaign. The Safe and Warm campaign brings Long Islanders together as they demonstrate compassion and unity by way of the creative arts. ”
Mastin said the quilt was signed by the likes of musician Billy Idol, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and actor Ralph Macchio.
According to FCA spokeswoman Lindsey Mastin, the baseball field where the ceremony was hosted is where it all began for the organization in 1884, when it was founded as a home for orphaned children.
“There are very few things in life that last for 135 years and very few organizations or companies or clubs that manage to hit 135 years steadily,” Reynolds said. “I think one of the things that carried us through is our commitment to helping others.”
Reynolds said that the field was given to the Village of Mineola in 1950 on the condition that it would continue to use the site for the establishment of a children’s park, playground, recreational center or any similar type of establishment for the benefit of local children.
The nonprofit organization celebrated its 135 birthday one week late due to rainy and windy weather Sept. 6 and if the event had been held on the original date the quilt would have become “Long Island’s largest kite,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds said that the organization’s major objectives recently have been caring for refugee children and people affected by the opiate crisis.
“I will say as the debate rages on nationally about immigration policy and walls and borders and everything else like that,” Reynolds said, “we know there’s a whole bunch of kids and families sometimes who have been separated who have landed right here in Nassau County who need our help, regardless of the politics.”
The organization has grown far beyond its original purpose as an orphanage in Mineola with Mastin saying, “Our offices are in Mineola, but we’re a Long Island nonprofit.” The association also offers help for addiction prevention, senior assistance, family services, residential services, and mental health and wellness, Mastin said.
In a speech at the ceremony, Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said that there is “nobody more engaged in the war on opiates” than Reynolds and the FCA.
The ceremony was attended by various Long Island leaders including Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss, who gave the organization a proclamation, and County Comptroller Jack Schnirman, who gave a speech.
The ceremony ended with the FCA’s Lynn Vanderhall Nursery Co-op children singing “Happy Birthday.”