Local women help support camp on Shelter Island


Shopaholics can indulge in their vices this Friday without even a twinge of guilt as three Quogue residents, all volunteers with Westhampton Beach-based East End Hospice, have organized a shopping extravaganza to support Camp Good Grief, a summer camp for children who have lost a loved one.

The special sale is being organized by friends and fellow Hospice volunteers Meredith Cohen, Elaine Saladino and Jill Kandel, and will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. at Ms. Cohen’s home, located at 7 Bay Road in Quogue. An assortment of items, including designer handbags and jewelry, will be available for purchase with a percentage of sales benefitting the summer camp that is organized each year by East End Hospice.

The camp has been in operation for the past 11 years, is open to any child between the ages of four and 15, and there is no cost to attend, according to Dave Johnson, the development associate for East End Hospice. According to the group’s website, this year’s camp will be held from July 21 to 25 at St. Gabriel’s Spiritual Center for Youth on Shelter Island. Mr. Johnson noted that 125 children participated last year.

This marks the first year that volunteers with Hospice—in this case, Ms. Cohen, Ms. Saladino and Ms. Kandell—have organized a shopping extravaganza that is oriented toward Mother’s Day. Twenty percent of all purchases on Friday will go to support the camp.

“We’re going to have three vendors,” Ms. Cohen explained this week.

She said items from Sag Harbor-based personal trainer Stacey Naglieri, which include yoga clothing and mats as well as gift certificates for Pilates and yoga classes, will be available for purchase. The jewelry of Barbara Rodolitz, the owner of Girl Rocks Jewelry that is sold in boutiques on Long Island and in Florida, will also be available during the fund-raiser.

“We’re also going to have handbags by Laura Lee designs,” Ms. Cohen said. “I saw her handbags at a kiosk at Bloomingdale’s in the city. They’re fun handbags—some are beaded, some are with snakeskin and each one is individually done.”

The prices on the items available for purchase will range from $10 to $1,000, according to Ms. Cohen.

Though this is the first time she is hosting an event to benefit Camp Good Grief, Ms. Cohen explained that she participates in the Valentine Salon, a women-only luncheon held in Manhattan each February that will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year. She also offers help at an annual shopping event held at Jimmy’s, a clothing store located on the south side of Main Street in Westhampton Beach. Proceeds from both of these events support Camp Good Grief.

Ms. Cohen noted that the success of the shopping event at Jimmy’s inspired her to help organize Friday’s shopping extravaganza. She added that the next fund-raiser at Jimmy’s will be held in late June.

“I volunteer at the East End Hospice and am a Camp Good Grief counselor,” said Ms. Cohen, explaining why she decided to open her home on Bay Road for the event. “It’s a fabulous experience for the children and myself.”

She went on to explain that she looks forward to the week in which Camp Good Grief is held and noted that working as a counselor is a very rewarding experience. Though she has not experienced personal loss like the children attending the camp, Ms. Cohen said she is empathetic to the campers. She said her husband, Bert Cohen, lost his mother when he was nine and, having heard about what he went through, she can connect with the campers.

“We help the kids deal with their problems, but help them have a good time, too,” Ms. Cohen said. “We hear their stories and help them work out their feelings, we go camping and do group therapy and art therapy. I can’t explain how I love it.”

Ms. Cohen said the campers also discuss death and, because everyone at the camp has lost a loved one, the “kids don’t stick out as much as they may in school.”

Elaine Saladino, another organizer of this Friday’s shopping extravaganza, has been a volunteer with East End Hospice for the past eight years, though this is the first time she has been involved in raising funds for Camp Good Grief. She added that she expects around 30 people to show up for the special sale.

Ms. Saladino noted that she has an easy time empathizing with children attending Camp Good Grief because she lost her husband, Michael Hammond, in 1994. Her two children, Kaylin and Michael Hammond, both of whom are students in the Westhampton Beach School District, were very young at the time and did not have the chance to know their father. Ms. Saladino noted that if her children ever wanted to talk to someone about their loss, she would be the first person to sign them up for the summer camp.

“If my kids were older when that happened and had to deal with mixed feelings, it would be something to offer them,” Ms. Saladino said. “The camp is great for the kids.”

And for those reasons alone, Ms. Saladino is now encouraging shopaholics, as well as those with a few dollars to spare to help a good cause, to stop by Ms. Cohen’s house this Friday.

“Buy something for Mother’s Day,” Ms. Saladino said. “Why not do it and give back to a great charity at the same time.”

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