One 2020 Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce honoree is an educator. Another is the coordinator of a nonprofit charity. One is a health care provider. And another is a community leader. Together they have contributed in countless ways to the village, chamber officials said.
The four were recognized on Jan. 30 at the chamber’s annual Evening of Excellence at Temple Am Echad, where the organization’s 2020 officers were also installed. Honorees included Educator of the Year Steven Freifeld, Volunteer of the Year Shannan Pearsall, Business of the Year Northwell Health Physician Partners and Carol Burak, who was honored as a distinguished Chamber of Commerce president emeritus.
“These four entities have given hope to children in need, fed the hungry, helped our students to be intellectually and socially aware, made newcomers feel welcome and made quality health care more accessible,” Chamber President Stephen Wangel told the 149 attendees. “We should all be grateful for what they’ve given to our community.”
Freifeld has taught first through fourth grades at Marion Street Elementary School for 42 years. As part of his civil rights unit, he organizes an annual district-wide assembly, at which Joseph McNeil, a member of the “Greensboro Four,” explains how he and the three others sat at a whites-only counter at a North Carolina Woolworth’s in 1960, helping to usher in the ’60s integration movement.
Freifeld said he was first inspired to teach by his mother, Barbara Freifeld, an elementary school teacher for 47 years, and Dr. Alfred Solomon, a former Marion Street principal.
Freifeld also directs the district’s teen center, and volunteers as an adviser for Marion Street’s annual chess tournament. He formerly directed the school’s summer playground program, and was the faculty adviser for the school newspaper, Chatterbox. Under his guidance, the paper earned a first-place certificate from the Columbia University Scholastic Press Association.
Freifeld has also received the PTA’s Distinguished Service Award and the Marion Street PTA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He grew up in Cedarhurst and has also lived in Oceanside and East Meadow, but Lynbrook is dear to him, he said.
“I hope that I planted in my students a few seeds that will enable them to grow up and live lives of which they can be proud,” he said. “While I’ve never owned a house in the Lynbrook community, the relationships that I’ve built here will always make me consider Lynbrook my home.”
Pearsall, a lifelong Lynbrook resident, lives in the village with her husband, Nick, the Lynbrook Fire Department chief, and their two sons, Aidan, 11, and Nolan, 9.
An emotional Pearsall shared the story of when she was pregnant with Aidan in 2008, and she and her husband learned that he had a severe heart defect. He underwent multiple surgeries in the first three years of his life at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in Manhattan.
Aidan was eventually able to lead a normal life, but his mother was inspired to do more. In 2011, she helped create Mended Little Hearts of Long Island, a nonprofit that supports children, families and caregivers affected by congenital heart defects. Through the foundation, she works with children and adults living with heart issues and helps spread awareness. One of every 110 babies is born with a heart defect, Pearsall said, and Mended Little Hearts helps families cope.
“This is what Mended Little Hearts is all about,” she said. “We’re about finding and connecting with families who are traveling the same path. And I say that we’re blessed.”
Northwell Health Physician Partners
Northwell Health Physician Partners is at 733 Sunrise Highway and 444 Merrick Road in Lynbrook. The Sunrise location offers an array of services, including cardiology, family medicine, gastroenterology, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, as well as general, urological and vascular surgical services. The Merrick Road location provides neuro and spinal surgery. Northwell also offers health education, lecture series, and career introduction programs for children and adults.
“It’s near and dear to my heart that Northwell is extending its services on the South Shore,” Executive Director Ira Nash said. “. . . One thing that I think is characteristic of our organization is the philosophy of bringing services to communities. We’re deeply invested in becoming partners in your community.”
Burak has been a Lynbrook resident for more than 50 years. She has taken on many roles in the community and its organizations. She is an active member of Our Lady of Peace Parish, for which she spent many years as a Eucharistic minister, religion teacher, Voice of Peace magazine editor, and Meal in a Minute program leader, serving the homebound who cannot cook for themselves.
Burak has been a chamber member for more than two decades, including as secretary and president, and noted that she was pleased to see its progress over the years.
“Today we are growing [by] leaps and bounds and beautifying our village,” she said. “My thanks to the chamber for allowing me to be part of this organization for more than 25 years, and giving back what small contribution I could have made.”
Notable attendees at the dinner included Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach, State Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, Schools Superintendent Melissa Burak — Carol’s daughter — and many business owners and residents. Pearsall’s Station catered the event, and the Sweet Peace Bakery donated dessert.
Herald Community Newspapers Vice President Rhonda Glickman chaired the event. “My husband and I are Lynbrook residents for 48 years,” she said. “We raised our daughters here, and they’re now living here and raising their families here. We have the best schools, Fire Department, Police Department, [Department of Public Works] and village government. There’s no town better than Lynbrook, U.S.A.”
“I just want to congratulate everybody that’s receiving an award tonight,” Mayor Beach said. “Thank you for being part of the village. This is a great village because of people like you.”