Town honors 2 Mineola, 2 Albertson women for community work

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Mona Ng, upper left, Paula Groothuis, upper right, Lillian Barnola bottom left, and Helene Harris, are four of 12 women North Hempstead is honoring next Wednesday. (Photos courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead)

North Hempstead is honoring four women from the Mineola area who have given back to their communities.

Their backgrounds and charitable work vary, but they all share one thing in common – surprise in being recognized.

“I’m really very honored to have this distinction. I do volunteer work but I don’t expect this type of stuff,” said Mona Ng. “I do it because I do it, that’s just it. Just to give back.”

Ng is a resident of Albertson, where she has lived for almost 30 years. Her volunteer work spans a few organizations, including the Chinese Center on Long Island, North Shore University Hospital and the AARP.

Another Albertson resident, Paula Groothuis, is also being honored.

As are two women from Mineola, Helene Harris and Lillian Barnola.

The women are four of 12 the town is recognizing on the 25th Annual May W. Newburger Women’s Roll of Honor. The women will be honored at a breakfast next Wednesday at the Clubhouse at Harbor Links in Port Washington at 8 a.m.

Ng, who worked at a Fortune 100 company for 35 years and decided to retire early because of the long commute and to spend more time with her children, said volunteering is a way to give back.

She currently serves on the board of the Chinese Center on Long Island, and served as president from 2013 to 2015.

“It’s about community brotherhood and solidarity, so more people understand about the Chinese culture and there’s less discrimination and embarrassment of any kind, of any culture,” Ng said. “The more you understand, the more you’re open to it.”

In 2013 Ng received the Nassau County Asian Pacific American of Distinction award, she said.

Ng is also an outreach lead volunteer for the AARP.

She also volunteers at North Shore University Hospital, where she does arts and crafts with patients.

“I get a lot of satisfaction when I’m at the hospital and working with a patient and talking to them and see their faces light up… nothing replaces that, it just makes you feel good,” Ng said.

Groothuis is a speech therapist, children’s book author and self-described “rhymer.”

“In this world today, I just want to get out all good feelings,” Groothuis said on the goal of her work.

She first got involved in the local community when she saw Councilman Peter Zuckerman at the Albertson train station, where he handed her a flier about running for office.

It was around the time Groothuis was releasing her first book, “Peace in Our World.”

“He said he’s running for office because he wants to be a helpful person and help the world,” Groothuis said. “I said, ‘I want to help the world too.'”

Groothuis said Zuckerman has been helpful at supporting and promoting her work, and she feels honored by the town’s recognition.

Harris, who said she usually likes to stay in the background, said she was pleasantly surprised when she found out about the recognition and was certainly not expecting it.

Harris is involved with Kiwanis and other charitable organizations.

She said she does a lot of volunteering for Cystic Fibrosis and is also a director for Warriors for a Cause, which raises money for a number of Long Island-based nonprofit organizations, charities and foundations.

Barnola, who has lived in Mineola for 65 years, said she was honored and pleased when she found out about the recognition.

Barnola is active in different clubs, including the Mineola Golden Age Club, the leisure club and Mineola AARP.

She worked for 27 years in the Mineola School District as an administrative assistant to the assistant principal at the high school.

When she retired, she said, there was a “little void” that her involvement filled.

“You want to do something worthwhile … you want to give back to the community,” Barnola said.

Barnola said she knew Newburger when she was town supervisor.

“She did a lot for the community and Town of North Hempstead,” Barnola said. “She was a very active person so I’m honored be on the honor roll in her name.”

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