For nearly five months, from July to November, anyone entering Rockville Centre Village Hall was greeted by the visage of Whitney Houston intricately painted on a mannequin. The artwork was not only a tribute to the late singer’s unique talent, but a reminder of the cruel hold alcohol and drugs had on Houston, and the role they played in her death. Other mannequins, representing actors, artists, musicians and athletes who died before their time, have been displayed throughout the village, serving as reminders of the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.
It is those hazards that Beth Hammerman sought to diminish with the creation of the Rockville Centre Youth Council — whose members organized the mannequin program — and because of her vision, persistence, dedication and vibrant energy, the Herald has named her the 2012 Person of the Year.
Hammerman, 59, spent most of the first 30 years of her life in Cincinnati, where she was born. She earned an MBA from the University of Cincinnati in 1978 and a master’s in hospital and health administration from Xavier University the following year. She met her husband, Neil Hammerman, a native of Rockville Centre, while he was attending medical school. They married in 1978 and moved to the village in 1983.
As the director of community health and planning at Mercy Medical Center, Hammerman puts her organizational and coordination skills to good use while promoting the hospital and its goals for the future.
“She is generous with her time and her talent, and she has a consciousness regarding the needs of the poor and underserved,” said Sister Mary Alice Aschenbach, vice president of pastoral care at Mercy. “She’s dedicated to doing what she can to make it better.”
Hammerman’s role at the hospital and in the community led her to join in a brainstorming session in February 2008 with other community leaders, including Art Rosenthal, the director of Confide, a counseling organization, and the village’s senior services coordinator, Cyd Charrow. They met to discuss how life in the village could be improved, and from those discussions came the idea for the Rockville Centre Youth Council.