Kiwanis president reflects on the pandemic


Mike Graham, owner of Flowers By Mike on Merrick Road in Oceanside, has worn the hats of business owner and community leader during the Covid-19 pandemic. Between his business and service as the Oceanside Kiwanis Club president, Graham got to see the community find a way to care for one another during tough times.

The Kiwanis Club had to shut down all activities and in-person meetings, pivoting to Zoom meetings. The club has since resumed its Summer Readings program at Schoolhouse Green with the rising vaccination rate.

“We look forward to a complete slate of events and the return of the Super Bowl Sunday Pancake Breakfast,” Graham said. “Most importantly, having Kamp Kiwanis open and being able to send deserving kids to camp is our mission.”

Graham was impressed and encouraged by the Oceanside community’s response to the pandemic.

“It was amazing to see the community come together to support the efforts of our health-care community at Mt. Sinai South Nassau” hospital, Graham said. “Also, good to see was how the community supported local business as things started to open up.”

Projecting the fallout from the pandemic, Graham said, “I think we will see continued outreach by businesses to work in this community and help continue the social and emotional recovery that is ongoing. It’s just as important for our community to support their local businesses.”

The return of large-scale, in-person events will provide plenty of opportunities Graham’s business to flourish again, especially when the East Rockaway location gets its long-awaited grand opening.

As a non-essential business, Flowers By Mike could not open during the lockdown. The timing of that was difficult given their recent addition of East Rockaway Florist on Atlantic Avenue. The lack of large, in-person events like weddings did not do the business any favors either.

“We had just purchased a second florist and were just getting rolling when the shut down happened,” Graham said. “All we could really do is wait out the process and reopen as things allowed.”

With vaccination rate rising to 80 percent of adult residents in Nassau County, non-essential businesses, including Flowers By Mike, have begun to recover.

“Our businesses have started to bounce back, so our goals are for that growth to continue. We still owe the East Rockaway community a grand opening event for the store we bought last year right before the pandemic,” Graham said.