2003-05-23 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter
On The Beach With Beverly Baxter

Mary Dever Kelly always brings to my attention the most intriguing ideas on the "spiritual front". Anyone who has ever been engaged by Mary has felt her contagious energy and enthusiasm for life and her relentless devotion to God. Mary, along with her twin sister, Sister Peggy Tully, have befriended and have been working with Belle Harbor resident, Debbie Mandel, a fitness "guru" who has been working out with nuns from parishes from all over the New York area.

What makes this "threesome" so fascinating is that both Mary and her sister Peggy are nuns. Mary left the convent many years ago; however, her dedication to her faith is just as unwavering. Debbie, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, was born in a Catholic convent in Rome, then raised in Brooklyn as a Jew! "I like to mix it all up", states Debbie.

In the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center, many have turned more to their faith for answers and solace. Nuns have had to rise to a capacity of giving that they were not prepared for. Many of the Sisters are in their sixties, seventies, and even eighties and their energy resources are limited. Even if you’re a "Mary Kelly", and there are few, rising to the occasion of giving is eventually draining for the giver. "We are not cloistered nuns—we are caregivers up the gazoo!", said Sister Peggy Tully. "We get e-mails, voice mails, people asking to see us, and we are expected to be signs of joy and hope—but I cannot be joyful without energy, so I work out."

Welcome to "Changing Habits", Trainer Debbie Mandels exercise class designed for nuns. Mandel is working on a book called, "Changing Habits: The Sisters Work-Out". She is confident that her fitness routine will catch on and help nuns, as well as people from all faiths and professions. Look for this soon-to-be released book in local bookstores. Thank you, Mary for this very interesting piece.

***The complexion of Beach 116 Street has been showing signs of change. The Clothesliner recently redesigned their storefront in a "beach peach". It looks wonderful! I also welcome the new owners of the Dragon’s Den Florist. They have certainly hit the ground running and are eager to be community-minded. They clearly understand that to do well in business in a small town like Rockaway, proprietors are often called upon to go that extra mile and "give back" to the community that supports them. Obviously, the corporate Executives at Duane Reade have not a clue as to how to integrate big business into a small provincial town such as ours. Intimidation, bullying, lawsuits that attempt to crush OUR neighbors and purge their right to Freedom of Speech will not work in this town. Duane Reade has shown little sensitivity to our residents who have endured so much loss. Their gross lack of respect and compassion for our Tribute Park, and to its designer, Artist Patrick Clark is something that we should not stand for. Although the A.C.L.U has taken Patrick’s case and will defend him against this Goliath, I extend a personal request to my neighbors to support Patrick by boycotting this store. We would retain our sense of a small town with decent values if we patronize local storeowners.

***My deep condolences to Sally and her family on the profound loss of Johnny McGonigle. He will be missed.

***Congratulations to the Woods and Whalen families on the engagement of Margaret "Peggy" Woods to Chris Whalen. Peggy is the daughter of Kathleen and Michael Woods of Belle Harbor and of Irish Circle fame! Chris is the son of another renowned local family. He is the younger brother of beloved Firefighter Eugene Whalen, who perished in the WTC attack. As a tribute to his fallen brother, Chris opened a restaurant in Rockville Center, Long Island called Gene Michael’s. Best wishes to both the Woods and Whalen families.

***Looking for that special gift for the "little ones" in your life. Visit Rosie’s on the Boulevard at B. 114 Street. Rosie is a piece of "the rock" and you will be sure to find something unique and dazzling. In addition, Rosie will entertain and engage you in great conversation about what is happening in the community she loves so well!

***See you...On the Beach!     

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