The Merrick Chamber of Commerce’s annual installation and awards dinner was held on Jan. 23. The board recognized five individuals who have shown a dedication and commitment to the community.
Man of the Year
John Fabian moved to Merrick from Coney Island in 1961. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1974, and later joined the Friendship Engine & Hose Co. of the Merrick Fire Department.
Over the years, he has served his company in numerous capacities, including corresponding secretary, lieutenant, captain and on the Board of Directors. Fabian has been the chief of department three times: in 1986, 1989 and 2001. He is also active within the 6th Battalion, and used his extensive experience while chairman of both the Mutual Aid Chiefs and the 6th Battalion Chiefs.
Fabian is a member of multiple firemen’s associations. In 2013 he was appointed to Merrick and Bellmore’s New York Rising Committee by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and in 2016 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Nassau County Francis X. Pendl Firefighters Museum.
Fabian and his wife, Maura, have been married for more than 40 years. They have four children, Meredith, Kelly, John and Rachel, and seven grandchildren.
Woman of the Year
A Merrick resident for 53 years, Anne Ruvolo-Guercio became involved in the community at an early age — coming from a family who served Merrick, it was easy.
Ruvolo-Guercio first became involved in her church, and was a cantor and member of the choir at Sacred Heart. She also volunteered with the PTA at the North Merrick School District and the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, and served as a trustee on the North Merrick Board of Education.
Working as the Key Club adviser at Calhoun High School for the past six years has been one of her most rewarding activities, Ruvolo-Guercio said. As adviser she became involved with the chamber and the Merrick Kiwanis, where she helped local families and completed community service alongside student volunteers.
Ruvolo-Guercio is a teaching assistant at Calhoun, and works per diem as a social worker at New Horizons Counseling Center. Ruvolo-Guercio has two children, Catherine and Vincent, and a son-in-law, George.
Merchant of the Year
Sisters Cathy Boddy and Lorraine Castanio have been a very positive influence on the business community in Merrick. Their quaint specialty clothing store, Cathy’s Touch, on Merrick Avenue, has been a commerce staple for nearly 20 years.
Specializing in event apparel for both boys and girls, Cathy’s Touch is the go-to store when looking for ensembles and accessories for a First Communion, Christening, baby-naming or wedding party. Two generations of Merrick families have sought their beautiful merchandise, outstanding tailoring and customer service.
Boddy and Castanio participate in many community and charitable functions, including, school Christmas fairs, festivals, Halloween parades, the SEPTA fashion shows and breakfast with Santa at Sacred Heart Church. They also provide gift cards, raffles and prizes for the American Legion, Lions Club, temples, nursery schools, and all the PTA groups.
Professional of the Year
Dr. Chantal Santos graduated from Adelphi University in 2008 with an undergraduate degree in biology. She moved from Westbury to pursue a chiropractic degree at Palmer College in Port Orange, Fla., and graduated with her doctorate in 2013. She is a certified Graston Technique provider, and applies various chiropractic techniques on her patients.
Santos is an active member of the New York Chiropractic Association, and has volunteered at the Merrick street fair, CSEA health fairs, golf outings and health fairs for Nassau Community Medical Center and NYU Winthrop Hospital.
Her focus is on restoring the body’s natural mobility and balance. She stresses the crucial nature of properly functioning musculoskeletal, nervous and immune systems to achieve optimal health. Santos gives her patients the confidence and knowledge necessary to take an active part in their recoveries and injury prevention. She approaches her visits with an emphasis on pain reduction and restoring the body’s biomechanics, and focuses on the patient as a whole.