There they were, on a Thursday night, standing in an elegant dining room at the Courtyard by Marriott in Ronkonkoma, all of them chief executive officers of Long Island companies, large and small. They all were blue aprons as they stood behind steaming bowls of pasta, potatoes, lettuce and rolls.
These CEOs are generally the kind of people who are accustomed to sitting at large round tables, being waited on, and served. But not on this particular Thursday night at the Marriott in Ronkonkoma. This time, the CEOs were serving people who had paid to dine at the hotel to help raise funds for Angela's House, an organization that supports families who need care for their medically-fragile children.
For that worthy cause, these CEOs were willing to play the role of server and waiter. And they did it all with pride and a sense of joy. One of the CEOs, Douglas King, is wheelchair bound, having been afflicted with spina bifida, a spinal disease, as a child. King runs Wheels in Motion, an Amityville-based advocacy group for the handicapped. He has two employees, but his business is growing. "It's good to give back," said King, just before serving dinner rolls to some of the approximately 60 people who showed up at the event, called CEOs Serve for Charity. "Whatever we're doing here goes back to the community to help," King said.
George Resch is chief executive of Mr. Clean Long Island, in Smithtown, a company that dispatches its five employees out to scrub down offices and buildings. Resch is used to directing his staff. But on Thursday, he donned the blue apron. "I have a good idea of what service is," said Resch, who had worked for a decade in the restaurant industry. "I like serving. I can provide a little happiness. It's my George Bailey moment," he said, referring to the Jimmy Stewart character in the 1946 heart-warming hit film "It's A Wonderful Life."
A.J. Caro, who runs several Long Island businesses, spooned out heapfuls of potatoes, looking as if he had been doing just that all of his life. His wife, Karin Caro, an organizer of the event and head of Bluchip Marketing in Bohemia, talked about the need to raise money for Angela's House. "We're here for the kids," she said.
The founder of Angela's House, Bob Policastro, got a round of applause when he announced that the organization is building its third house, in Stony Brook, to provide housing for children who need care they cannot get a home.
"This is where a lot of the donations will go, to the kids," Policastro said.
Patricia Marcin, an attorney for Uniondale-based Farrell Fritz, one of Long Island's largest law firms, proudly put on her blue apron as the evening began. So did Jimmy Carchietta, chief executive of The Cotocon Group, energy consultants in Smithtown. "I serve my son and my husband," Marcin said "This is fun. It's an opportunity to meet new people."