Civic Organizations Gather At UPTC’s Meet And Greet

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Mimi Hu
Mimi Hu

Great Neck’s United Parent-Teacher Council (UPTC) Total Community Involvement Committee organized a Meet and Greet for Great Neck civic organizations on April 11.

Founded by delegates of Great Neck PTAs in 1943, UPTC has coordinated dialogues between parents, teachers and Great Neck school officials over the years.

Youngsoo Choi, Great Neck Korean American Civic Association board member, speaks about his organization.
Youngsoo Choi, Great Neck Korean American Civic Association board member, speaks about his organization.

Close to 30 people from more than 10 organizations attended the meeting, which included Great Neck Public School officials and leaders and volunteers from Community Organization for Parents And Youth (COPAY) Inc., Great Neck Chinese Association (GNCA), Great Neck Clergy Association, Great Neck Korean American Civic Association (GNKACA), Great Neck Village Officials Association, North Lakeville Civic Association and Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc. (SHAI).

Speaker Rebecca Sassouni, SHAI vice president, UPTC Legislative Committee cochair and Great Neck North High School Shared Decision Making Committee cochair
Speaker Rebecca Sassouni, SHAI vice president, UPTC Legislative Committee cochair and Great Neck North High School Shared Decision Making Committee cochair

The representatives from each organization introduced its history and explained its mission.

Maria Cuadra, executive director of COPAY Inc., talked about the outpatient treatments and counseling services it provides for drug and alcohol addiction, mental health and relationship issues to Great Neck residents, especially teenagers.

Luci Legotti, ENL teacher at Lakeville School, discusses ENL programs.
Luci Legotti, ENL teacher at Lakeville School, discusses ENL programs.

Luci Legotti, an ENL (English as New Language) teacher from Lakeville School, discussed school programs for students who speak English as a new language. Most of Legotti’s students are from immigrant families who just settled in the school district. She wanted to connect with the cultural organizations in Great Neck to which she could refer the immigrant families in the future, an idea applauded by all.

Rev. Joseph Pae reads a letter written by Rabbi Micahel Klayman president of the Great Neck Clergy Association.
Rev. Joseph Pae reads
a letter written by
Rabbi Micahel Klayman
president of the Great
Neck Clergy Association.

Rabbi Michael Klayman, president of the Great Neck Clergy Association, could not attend the meeting but sent a statement, which was read by Rev. Joseph Pae.

Nathan Fong, GNCA Education Chair, speaks about the Great Neck Chinese Association.
Nathan Fong, GNCA Education Chair, speaks about the Great Neck Chinese Association.

Lori Beth Schwartz, chair of UPTC Total Community Involvement, initiated and organized this event. To some in Great Neck, the name Lori Beth speaks louder than the many titles and distinctions she holds. Lori Beth came up with the idea in March because she found it imperative that our community come together at this difficult time when our school district faces a steep budget deficit. She confessed her love of introducing passionate, committed individuals to each other.

Lori Beth Schwartz (standing) presided over the meeting.
Lori Beth Schwartz (standing) presided over the meeting.

“Synergies exist all around us, perhaps the spark of friendship can ignite them and some good can come of it,” said Lori Beth. “If I could help make one connection through this meeting, such as the ones Luci (the ENL teacher) was trying to establish, I would find my efforts worthwhile.”

But the meeting certainly achieved much more. It was the first time that many attendees met face to face, though their names have become familiar to different quarters of the Great Neck community. Youngsoo Choi, board member of GNKACA, acknowledged that his organization was founded recently, but the meeting provided a great opportunity for the group to get to know other organizations and learn from their experiences.

School Superintendent Dr. Teresa Prendergast discussed her job responsibilities.
School Superintendent Dr. Teresa Prendergast discussed her job responsibilities.

I once spent months trying to schedule a lunch date with four lady friends, and I couldn’t help wondering about the magic Lori Beth used to organize all these busy people, getting them to sit down together at a table in such a short period of time. When asked, Lori Beth beamed with her signature wide smile and revealed her secret, “I just spoke to them from the bottom of my heart. You will be amazed by how willing people are to make a commitment.”

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