He’s a Joe of all trades

Pontecorvo honored by Oceanside Kiwanis


Joe Pontecorvo’s extensive involvement in local organizations and his commitment to his community have made him a well-known figure in Oceanside, Island Park and Long Beach. His decades-long contributions were honored by the Oceanside Kiwanis Club at its meeting on May 1, when “Ponte,” as he’s affectionately known, and other members were awarded the Legion of Merit commemorative lapel pin and certificate.

“Joseph Ponte is always a familiar face in the community,” Hempstead Town Councilwoman Laura Ryder said. “If Kiwanis or another organization is hosting a charitable event, there are two things you can be sure of: One, it will be a huge success, and two, Joe Ponte will be there. Our community is fortunate to have a thriving Kiwanis organization, and it’s all thanks to the volunteer members who work diligently in serving the community.”

Pontecorvo, 76, was one of three Kiwanis members recognized for 15 years of service at the meeting — in his case, for his combined service with the Oceanside and Island Park clubs.

“Joe Pontecorvo being awarded the Legion of Merit commemorative pin comes as no surprise to me,” State Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “After 15 years of dedicated service to Kiwanis, his contributions have not gone unnoticed. He has significantly enhanced, enriched and positively impacted the youth of Oceanside and Island Park, as well as all of us in these remarkable communities. His leadership reminds us of the profound impact we can have when we commit ourselves to serving the next generation.”

Pontecorvo was born and raised in Long Beach, and his first job at age 12, delivering newspapers for Newsday, marked the beginning of his connection to community affairs.

“I enjoyed it, except for the winter,” Ponte recalled of the experience, which, he said, shaped his work ethic.

He attended East Elementary School in Long Beach, where he shared classrooms and a friendship with the future comedian and movie star Billy Crystal — who mentioned Pontecorvo in his Broadway show “700 Sundays.” Pontecorvo eventually served as a Long Beach building and fire inspector and in the city’s parks department, as well as with the Nassau County Department of Minority Affairs.

“Working in government gave me an insight into how I could help people,” he said.

Pontecorvo found his calling in real estate, working for Coldwell Banker American Homes, which has offices in Long Beach and Oceanside. He is still a busy real estate agent.

“I enjoy meeting people and trying to place homebuyers and homeowners, to help them, because the hurdles today are much more than yesteryear,” he says, emphasizing his commitment to helping to ensure his clients’ financial stability.

And Pontecorvo’s community involvement is extensive. He serves as Long Beach’s historian, preserving the history of his hometown. He is certified by the Nassau County Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, trained to respond to emergencies or disasters. He is president of the Island Park Library Board, and has been a member of Library board for 20 years.

He has been active in a number of chambers of commerce, including those in Oceanside, Island Park, Long Beach, Baldwin and Freeport, and has held nearly every leadership position in the Island Park chamber, including president. Now, in the Oceanside chamber, his focus remains on supporting small businesses and fostering economic growth.

“I was a small-business entrepreneur and a government worker, and when I got started working with the government, part of my assignment was working with chambers as outreach,” Pontecorvo said. “It was interesting, because the chambers are “made up of” small entrepreneurs and mom-pops, and I enjoyed helping them with a Q&A, or if there’s an elected official there to talk to them, and I tried to intervene to help them understand. There’s no profit, but it’s very rewarding.”

In 2003, the Oceanside/Island Park Herald named Pontecorvo its Person of the Year. Over the years he has volunteered for the Long Beach Historical Society and the Oceanside Knights of Columbus, and always made a point to promote activities at local businesses, libraries and organizations.

“Joe’s a huge supporter of the JCC,” Jackie Ruiz, director of wellness and membership for the Friedberg JCC, said. “He’s always looking for ways to get us new members, and to draw attention to our programs. He was one of our sponsors for our 5K run. Overall, Joe is a great guy, and always looking out for the JCC and all of our members.”

At the core of Pontecorvo’s extensive community work is the philosophy of helping others. Despite his extensive commitments, he shows no signs of slowing down, and said that being involved allows him to pursue a calling he never followed: local reporter.

“We need the media, and we need local publications,” he said. “Community papers are a vital source to a municipality. The news is 95 percent positive, but the negative has to be there also — but the media is a very important asset to our communities. The community should know what’s going on, and we have to keep everything alive.”

He encouraged others to take participate in local meetings and events, emphasizing the long-term benefits of staying informed and involved.

“I try not to slow down because that’s my energy,” Pontecorvo said. “I’m a people person. Every time I slow down, I get a call to come to a meeting. But I advise others to make the time to go to local organizations. If it’s a town, city, school or library meeting, go there and see what it’s about, because you’ll learn something, or you can bring something to the table. I believe in building bridges and working together.”