2000-08-26 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter

If ever there is a worthy local cause to take on and support it is the
work of the Claddagh Inn. Owen and I attended the annual fete this past week held at the Beach Club. This is one benefit for an organization that is so spiritually motivated that I very much look forward to supporting its
functions and I always feel so uplifted after having done so. Rockaway is a
community that is so very good at celebrating itself and the people who
achieve great accomplishments on behalf of the community; however, the Claddagh Inn and the people who run it, are a humble group who do "god's work" on behalf of those in dire immediate need. It is an organization that rises every day to the occasion of helping those who live and walk among us who are unable, for a myriad of reasons, to help themselves. "Everything we do we do with God in front; and with that as our sincere focus, we can achieve any mission we put forth" stated Mistress of Ceremonies Jacqueline McMikle.

The Claddagh Inn first opened its doors in 1988. Under the guiding light of Zandra Myers it met the challenges of providing hot meals, canned goods, clothing, diapers, formula, and services for those in need. One doesn't have to know Zandra Myers personally to know and feel the essence of this very courageous and inspiring woman. Although she has moved on in her life, having been chief of staff to Assemblywoman Pauline Cummings and now the managed care specialist at the Jewish Community Council, Zandra's mark on the Claddagh Inn is profoundly legendary. She addressed the audience and spoke candidly about a path that brought her to her service at the Claddagh. With faith and conviction, she believes it was God's grace that brought her and challenged her to rise to the service of the organization. Through mandated community service, she soon found a
"calling"; and when her community service ended, she decided that there was a special purpose there for her; and thus, she stayed on as executive
director. "I was there not because I wanted to be; but there was something on the inside that compelled me to stay. When God opens a door for you, you must go through that door. The people whom I was serving, they were "me". It is because of certain bad choices that I made that I found the Claddagh Inn; and through the opportunity of meeting its challenges, I found myself. Despite the fact that I hadn't a college education, I was given a 10-year education in humanity. I saw the best and the worst in the community. Drug addicts, homeless, and people who have been good enough to answer the call of our needy and less fortunate."

Ms. Myers acknowledged the tireless efforts of people like James Conway Sullivan, whom she referred to as a "man of God" for his fundraising efforts over the past 10 years. Ms. Myers thanked the "goodness" of the Good brothers, Yvette Glasgow, Jackie and Jimmy Stillwell, Tom Tobin, Connie Taylor, Mrs. Pruitt, John McLoughlin, Mrs. Rosemary Sullivan, Owen Baxter, John Baxter, and Lew Simon of whom she said, "Now I don't care who doesn't like him. Lew is my friend!" Although Lew wasn't in attendance, she thanked him for his generosity in carpeting the soup kitchen and stated how grateful she was to him.

James Conway Sullivan, who along with Jacqueline McMikle and Kevin
Pruitt co-chaired the benefit, explained the meaning of the Claddagh, a celtic design that means, "With these two hands, I give you my heart." Among those in attendance were Chris and Mary Bowles of the Blackwater Inn, Rosemary Sullivan Murphy, Harold Cornell, Liz Sulik, Janet Brady, Peggy Page, Sandra Berger, Ann Bejian, Cathy Woods, Republican State Committeewoman Joann Ariola, Queens County Conservative Party Chairman Tom
Long, Eddie O'Hare, and Republican candidate for the State Assembly Anthony Stasi.

The evenings highlights included an auction of wonderful African art and poetry readings by local poet Cecilia Parker, who read three poems which
she authored entitled, "Issues", "Finally", about the birth of her
daughter, and "The Rain".

***A note to James Conway Sullivan: Thank you for introducing us to the work of the Claddagh Inn and to the inspiring people who give of themselves to help others. I can think of no other worthier cause but to engage one's efforts, time, and attention in the spirit of helping those in need.

***Happy Birthday wishes to Amanda Palagonia who turns 18 years old this week!

***So great to run into Sylvan Klein at the bicycle shop on 129 street. He
looks absolutely fit and fabulous!
See you On The Beach!

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