New trustees have been inducted into the South Merrick Community Civic Association, and with them come new initiatives, including a club for Merrick’s younger residents — and, it’s hoped, an increase in civic engagement.
Tricia Sattar and Fred Jones were sworn in as the group’s newest members on Aug. 27. Their faces may be familiar to neighbors — Jones is a chiropractor with his own practice in Merrick and is involved with the Kiwanis Club and Chamber of Commerce, and Sattar, an internal auditor for a consulting firm in Manhattan, regularly attends PTA meetings at her children’s elementary, middle and high schools.
When Sattar moved to Merrick three years ago, she searched for a community forum to no avail — even other parents were not aware of the SMCCA. “I wanted to be part of something,” she said, and she became active in the organization when she learned about it.
To increase engagement, Sattar is introducing initiatives of her own: She will oversee the development of the group’s new Youth Club. “Now, it’s two-fold — we get involved and I can immerse myself,” Sattar said, “but we’ll also have kids participating.”
She said she hoped volunteering would show youth that “the world is not Merrick,” building their motivation to do good after they have helped their neighbors. She is now in talks with Gerard Owenburg, the John F. Kennedy High School principal, and said the school is on board to work with the civic group.
High school students must complete community service hours, which can be done through the Youth Club. This might include a variety of activities, Sattar said — tutoring, shoveling snow for older residents in the winter, and holding food and clothing drives.
Elementary and middle school students can get involved as well, with fun activities that will reward participants upon completion — perhaps a pizza party, Sattar suggested.
But “I want to leave it up to them,” Sattar said, emphasizing that the club will not just be for Merrick’s youth, but by Merrick’s youth. Even the name is tentative, because civic members are waiting for younger residents to get involved and pitch names and ideas.
“They are our future, especially if they live in Merrick,” said SMCCA President Joe Baker. “They could even head the civic association in the future.”
SMCCA also announced Friends of Cammanns Pond, which will charge residents with beautifying the often-littered area next to Norman J. Levy Lakeside Elementary School.
The Youth Club and Friends of Cammanns Pond are just two attempts by the group to increase community engagement, which has flagged in recent years. Fewer than a dozen residents showed up for the group’s meeting on Monday at the Merrick Golf Clubhouse, despite a public service award being presented to radio and television meteorologist and Merrick resident Craig Allen.
Baker and Vice President Berta Weinstein expressed their dismay. “People don’t seem to care anymore,” Weinstein said, recounting past support from several civic associations in Merrick and Bellmore, which boasted more members.
Sattar said she hoped to change this. “I want there to be Merrick pride,” she said.
“There’s so much potential — this community is so big,” she said. “People need to know why we should be involved.”