About 400 14- to 18-year-olds from 23 different youth and church groups spread out across Long Island May 7 to perform different tasks at 14 different not-for-profit organizations in the fifth annual Unity in the Community Day of Community Service for Teens sponsored by the Suffolk Y JCC in Commack.
In partnership with the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, the YMCA of Huntington and the Great South Bay YMCA, some of the youngsters took paint brushes in hand and painted the child life center at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, planted a garden at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Commack, and scrubbed down the children’s play area at the Huntington Freedom Center, a low-income day care center. In addition, they prepared dinner for the homeless at Temple Beth El in Huntington, and cleaned the bird sanctuary at the Theodore Roosevelt Audubon Center in Oyster Bay.
"Long Island is the third most racially segregated suburb in the United States," said Kelly Alpert Vest, a co-director of the program.
"This event is designed to breakdown barriers by bringing together teenagers from all racial, ethnic, religious and socio-economic communities to work in harmony."
Talia Goldman, the Suffolk Y’s multi-cultural program director, added that at a time of global unrest, Unity in the Community is "a little corner of the world displaying harmony and peace."