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Year in Review: Community Heroes of 2011

Here are your nominations for 2011’s ‘People of the Year.’

We asked, you answered. Here are the people you’ve recognized as the North Fork’s “Community Heroes of 2011.”

Norman Wamback: Several nominations came in for Norman Wamback, the longtime curator of the , ambassador for the history of Mattituck and walking expert of local historical knowledge. Wamback was instrumental in overseeing the recent restoration of six historic buildings on the corner of Route 25 and Cardinale Drive: the Ira Tuthill House, circa 1841, the Jesse Tuthill House, circa 1799; the "Out-Building" with 19th century farm equipment; the Milk House, circa 1850; Mattituck's first school house, circa 1780; and the west Mattituck school house, circa 1845.

Craig Richter: Richter belongs to the and is a board member of the association. Richter volunteers for John's Place, a new local homeless program, where he purchases the food and prepares it once a month. He's helping out with all the fundraisers for and participates in doing some of the work himself. He heads up the clean up crew for Moores Lane. He brought in the Greenport boy scouts to help clean up Sterling Cemetery after the Hurricane and then served the kids hamburgers and hotdogs in the cemetery, and he brought his grill. “If you need a volunteer you can always count on Craig to lend a helping hand,” said one Patch reader.

workers Raymond Eble, Mike Bernat, and Jeff Clark: These employees of the hospital’s support services “As I sat in the ELIH waiting room during the height of hurricane Irene, I was amazed as I watched three employees work to remove about two feet of water from the back of the hospital,” said one Patch reader. “Those three men deserve recognition — they saved our hospital and prevented the storm waters from entering the building.”

Dawn Bennett: This local dog trainer and owner of the spends countless hours working to make local shelter dogs more adoptable. executive director said of Bennett: “She initiated a canine good citizen program here at the shelter for our dogs. She advocated relentlessly for improvements at the dog park, and she just joined our board of directors, volunteering even more of her time to improve the lives of the homeless and needy animals in our community. She is great!”

Mary Osarczuk: Like Bennett, Osarczuk is an animal advocate who goes above and beyond as a volunteer for , a local program to help stray cats. According to one Patch reader, she has trapped hundreds of cats and arranged for and transported them for spaying and neutering, then afterward keeps them in her home. She then nurses them back to health until they can be released back into their colonies, or if they are kittens, she socializes them and gets them homes. Though SAVES supplies her with dry food, she supplements their diet with canned food, which she buys herself. “She has no special titles, just a mom with a big heart,” said the reader. “She gets up at 5:30 a.m. to care for her three feral colonies before going to work each day, in the heat of summer, torrential rain, or knee deep snow. She is an amazing, unselfish, and caring person and I am proud to be her sister.”

Joseph Corso: Corso is the current president of the and is the owner of in Cutchogue. He has always been an active voice in the business community and this year helped organize well-attended events such as parade in March and a “He is a great peacemaker within the Chamber of Commerce (not always an easy task), and he is hands-on about promoting the North Fork and its businesses,” said one Patch reader.

Joanne Dougherty: Dougherty is the branch manager for who is also very active in arranging networking meetings, talking to business owners one-on-one to determine their needs and offers great referrals for anyone that needs one. “She’s great at doing the little things to help all business owners,” said one Patch reader.

Carol Worth, the school nurse at : Worth initiated and did most of the work to create the new , the labor and materials for which were donated in part by a fence company, a lumber company, and a $5k grant from the local chapter of the slow food organization. She also got onboard. “Carol says she did this garden to help educate the kids about healthy food choices,” said one Patch reader. “She sees the problem of childhood obesity every day and thought this would be a way to help. She has done a TON of work on this project!”

All members of In an era when it is increasingly difficult to become a firefighter in New York State, one Patch reader wanted to nominate everyone who participates in local fire departments: “I have long been an active member of a North Fork Fire department, and in the course of my years serving the public, I can honestly say that the local fire departments consist of the most caring, compassionate, highly trained and motivated people that I have had the pleasure of serving with.

“Fire personnel, including everyone in the chiefs, officers, rescue and fire police squads, dive teams, marine divisions, and rank and file members, have taken upon themselves the duty to serve their friends, neighbors, and visitors, and have offered up a huge chunk of their lives in the ever-increasing demands in the process of training. This is done on a strictly volunteer basis, with no expectations except making a very real difference in someone's day — and oftentimes in their lives.

“Firemens’ families also offer up a great deal, especially when family events are missed or often-times delayed, due to emergencies. It is becoming increasingly difficult to meet the state and federal standards to become a firefighter in New York State, due to the huge amount of time necessary to satisfactorily complete the ever-expanding requirements, while still working and supporting a family. We are very grateful to those who voluntarily enter our ranks, and stay the course. For these reasons and many more, I would like to nominate all members of the North Fork Fire departments as ‘Community Heroes of the Year.’”

Have a picture of one of these community heroes? Feel free to upload to this post.

paula didonato January 02, 2012 at 12:16 PM
What a spectacular group of neighbors! I have personally witnessed Dawn Bennett's passion and enthusiasm and I am grateful for her good works!
Erin Schultz January 02, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Scott Hunzinger said on Facebook: "Great people! I'm especially happy to see Norman, Joe Corso, Joanne Dougherty and Dawn Bennett's names!"
Erin Schultz January 02, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Joe McCarthy said via email: "Happy New Year Erin! Thanks so much for your article, naming all members of the North Fork Fire Departments as Community Heroes. There are truly a wonderful group of unsung heroes who live amongst us and work their magic on a daily basis. Thanks for the recognition, it is appreciated! I have just posted your article on the Southold FD website for all to read. Have a magnificent New Year, and keep up the good work! Peace, Joe McCarthy"
North Fork School for Dogs January 02, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Wow. Thank you! (not sure what to say) and that's a first for me.....LOL Love and Peace!

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