The Freeport Chamber of Commerce held its premiere business celebration on April 12 at the Coral House in Baldwin, attended by hundreds of the village’s business executives, civic leaders and elected officials.
The event was, in part, a tribute to outgoing chamber President Ivan Sayles, owner of Rachel’s Waterside Grill and the Nawlins Seafood Company. Sayles headed the organization for two years, and was instrumental in launching the Fourth of July fireworks. He also worked with the Nassau County Chambers of Commerce and partnered with the village on a number of events, including annually welcoming the U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen.
“This was a fantastic experience,” Sayles said. “I’ve always been involved in the village, but this opportunity introduced me to so many people and I did a lot of great things for our community.”
The dinner-dance was also a party to welcome the new chamber officers, including President Jenny Jorge, First Vice President Ben Jackson, Second Vice President Kendrick Dookram, Third Vice President Gregory Ingino, Treasurer Thomas Dipolito and Executive Secretary Jacques Butler.
County Executive Laura Curran installed the new officers. Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen installed the new directors, Jennifer Jerome and Chris Hirschberg
“It’s an honor to be able to lead the Chamber of Commerce,” Jorge said. “It’s an organization that has great value in my eyes for the growth and development of [our] community and its businesses.”
Jorge also said she was excited to follow her father, Francisco Jorge, as chamber president. The elder Jorge led the group eight years ago.
Jenny is vice president of operations at Gala Foods. The Nassau Council of Chambers recognized her as the Freeport Business Person of the Year last October. She grew up in Malverne, graduated from Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale in 2001 and went on to earn a degree in psychology from Fordham University in 2005.
Many local business owners and their families enjoyed an evening of dinner and dancing. There was a standing ovation when Sayles presented the Business Person of the Year honor to Barbara Jagnow of Otto’s Sea Grill Restaurant. Jagnow is a native of the Nautical Mile and is often referred to as the “heart of Woodcleft Avenue.” Otto’s is celebrating its 90th year in business.
“I guess you can say that I’m a clam-digger at heart,” Jagnow said through tears, referring to the early days of Woodcleft Avenue, when residents dug clams on the canal. “Thank you so much for this wonderful honor.”
Freeport Police Detective Patrick Franzone was recognized as the Citizen of the Year for his law enforcement work and his dedication to the Freeport Toys for Tots, an event at which he and fellow officers and members of the Freeport Police Benevolent Association give away tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of toys to local children.
Franzone’s efforts to support local families started with toys for 75 families. Now the giveaway attracts more than 600 families each year.
“Toys for Freeport Tots is a Freeport program,” Franzone said. “The main goal is to provide assistance to families during the holiday season. This builds a positive relationship between police officers and families in the community we serve.”