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St. Camillus Boutique Serves Mission




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Lori Bernstein shows off a flexible necklace as part of her hand-made jewelry collection.

Lori Bernstein shows off a flexible necklace as part of her hand-made jewelry collection.

St. Camillus Chruch believes that its Catholic social teachings are made manifest by the activities and services offered to both the parish and the Rockaway community. That philosophy was in evidence last weekend in preparation for the holidays ahead, as the church hosted the annual Christmas Boutique in Springman Hall. Packed with local vendors and crowds all day on Dec. 10 and 11, the auditorium was the place to steal a deal during this season known for tight wallets. Sheila Smith Gonzalez, Principal of St. Camillus Catholic Academy, made an appearance to ensure the logistics were running smoothly from Saturday morning until Sunday night. It was a social activity, too. Beyond the sales of vendors like Danny of Rockaway Woodworks, visitors learned details about the handmade crafts and the artisans themselves. Danny sold tiny wooden surfers on wave-shaped cut wood and Whalemina-like signs, but his top seller was what he called “a political statement.” A plain hand-sized box shaped like a coffin, it’s multifunctional and can be used to store very small items, like a jewelry box. But the black letters atop the box spell out, “Waiting for Build It Back,” a message with which nearly everyone in Rockaway can identify.

With each grade donating a basket to be raffled off, the St. Camillus mission was, once again, manifest. There were scratch-offs, bake ware sets, Legos, movie and treat sets, holiday décor assemblages, gift cards, “Locals only” packages, game night packages, and sets of gift-wrapping.

“It was an extremely organized event, no doubt,” vendor Lori Bernstein shared with The Wave. Owner and designer of handcrafted jewelry under the name Baubles ‘n Bows, Bernstein said the auditorium was packed right after weekend Mass and that “if you needed help, like making a bathroom trip or with a question, the organizers made sure to step in.” The moment Bernstein walked in, she was helped. Students from the school also helped vendors carry supplies back and forth to their cars. Bernstein began making jewelry as a hobby and side gig 30 years ago. It happened “organically six years ago that she wanted to keep her hands busy and the former hobby turned into an independent business. “A lot of people asked me for business cards,” she added, after her successful show. Formerly a production coordinator with a Fine Jeweler in Manhattan, she no longer receives customers’ orders for another, but for herself. With her tool set with her at the weekend boutique, Bernstein made small adjustments for customers on the spot, such as changing a clasp of the pearl and emerald pieces. It can take Bernstein anywhere from a half hour to a few days to make each piece and she has customers as far away as California and Maryland.

“My business is done mostly through word of mouth,” Bernstein added. St. Camillus was successful in merging their ecclesiastic, educational, community, and social missions last weekend.

St. Camillus is located at 185 Beach 99 St. in Rockaway Park. For more information, call 718- 634-5260.


LouLo (left) and Michael (right) outside of St. Camillus’ Holiday Boutique shouting, “Snow!”

LouLo (left) and Michael (right) outside of St. Camillus’ Holiday Boutique shouting, “Snow!”

Danny of Rockaway Woodworks, shows off a message for Build It Back.

Danny of Rockaway Woodworks, shows off a message for Build It Back.

A few popular wreaths by Sera’s Creations.

A few popular wreaths by Sera’s Creations.

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