Ahead of Father's Day, these Long Islanders reflected on what fatherhood...

Ahead of Father's Day, these Long Islanders reflected on what fatherhood has taught them and how they hope to celebrate the holiday. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Americans will spend an estimated $22.4 billion this year on Father’s Day gifts for Dad.

But in a recent poll, almost one-third of the dads surveyed said they would prefer no gift at all other than to spend time with those they love. That's according to the global public opinion research company YouGov.

This sentiment was echoed by some of the new dads and grandfathers Newsday spoke with ahead of Father's Day.

While these Long Islanders and their loved ones prepare to celebrate the holiday, they also reflected on the meaning of fatherhood and the intangible gifts they have received from the most important men in their life — and from their children.

Being a dad means everything to Johnny Pierre, 28, of Hempstead.

As a father of three, Pierre has learned to cherish his time nurturing his children: Lucius, 1, Gabriel, 3, and Marcellus, 5.

“Being a father is taking care of the little ones and enjoying life with them,” Pierre said.

On a recent shopping trip with his family at Roosevelt Field mall, Pierre stressed that it is vital for parents to appreciate the time they have with their children.

“Growing old and watching your kids grow is very important,” he said. “You don’t know how long you are going to be on Earth, so you have to take care of the kids more.”

For Father’s Day, Pierre said he is looking forward to going to a local park to play with his kids.

Fairly new to the father role, Ryan Sperin, 39, of West Islip, says that being a dad to his 18-month-old daughter, Addison, has given his life new meaning.

“It's made my life much deeper. It's helped create a sense of priority,” Sperin said, noting that he has quickly learned the stories he had heard from other dads about the feelings and virtues of fatherhood are all real.

“All the cliché things are true that you’re told from other generations — like how beautiful it is, how much depth it adds to your life,” he said.

Amanda Sperin, Ryan’s wife, says watching her husband become a parent increased her love for him. 

“You thought you would marry someone if you fall in love with them, then they become a parent and you realize, ‘Oh my God, I love you so much more,’ ” she said.

As a father of three and a grandfather of three, Steve Atlas, 72, of Westbury, says his children and grandchildren have given him the best gifts already.

“The love is great, the kids, the grandkids, you just thrive on the love,” Atlas said.

He has experienced this through their mannerisms, Atlas said, their tone and how they express themselves.

That affection he receives from his kids and grandchildren gives him a sense of motivation too.

“It's made me feel worth being on Earth, to be there for them … it just gives me a reason to be on the planet,” he said.

On Father’s Day, his only request is that his family is together under one roof. 

At 36 years old, Zviadi Rekhviashvili, of Bay Shore, will be celebrating his first Father’s Day with his dad. 

Rekhviashvili said he moved to the United States about a year ago from the Republic of Georgia and recently learned about the holiday.

“I heard of it from the radio, and I like [it],” Rekhviashvili said during a recent shopping trip for gifts for his father.

“I already bought shoes for my father,” he said while holding his shopping bags outside the mall.

He emphasized that others, too, should celebrate their dads.

A father is someone you can always count on, says Jeffrey Defilippo, 54, of North Babylon.

Defilippo said his parents divorced when he was young, but he remembers, starting around age 7, his father became more involved in his life. Regular visits from his dad, Nicholas, helped foster a strong relationship with him.

“What a dad means to me is someone that cares about you, that's always going to be there for you when you need something to be answered,” he said. “It's been really amazing the kind of relationship that we share.”

Defilippo said his father, now 85, is remarried and lives in Florida. Despite the distance, they talk regularly.

“My father continues to answer my phone call … we’re very close,” he said.

Although he is not a father himself, Defilippo has considered adopting a child. Right now, he's focused on taking care of his mother. 

For Father’s Day, he jokingly said getting gifts for his father is tricky because he can be hard to please. Instead, Defilippo said, greeting cards mean the world to his dad.

As Janine Curran, 57, of Floral Park, was growing up, Father’s Day never carried much meaning for her since her father was not in her life.

Now as a mother and wife, Curran said she cherishes Father's Day, which took on new meaning for her because of her husband, Brian Curran.

“With my kids, Father’s Day is a big thing, because he’s an amazing dad,” Curran said.

She said she appreciates that her husband has always been hands-on with her children — Madison, who is now 25, and Hunter, 23 — and thinks sometimes mothers get more of the attention.

She added, “Father’s Day should be every day, because fathers aren’t that much noticed.” 

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Janine Curran's name.

Americans will spend an estimated $22.4 billion this year on Father’s Day gifts for Dad.

But in a recent poll, almost one-third of the dads surveyed said they would prefer no gift at all other than to spend time with those they love. That's according to the global public opinion research company YouGov.

This sentiment was echoed by some of the new dads and grandfathers Newsday spoke with ahead of Father's Day.

While these Long Islanders and their loved ones prepare to celebrate the holiday, they also reflected on the meaning of fatherhood and the intangible gifts they have received from the most important men in their life — and from their children.

Spending quality time

Johnny Pierre, 28, of Hempstead, said he cherishes spending time with his three children: Lucius, 1, Gabriel, 3, and Marcellus, 5. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Being a dad means everything to Johnny Pierre, 28, of Hempstead.

As a father of three, Pierre has learned to cherish his time nurturing his children: Lucius, 1, Gabriel, 3, and Marcellus, 5.

“Being a father is taking care of the little ones and enjoying life with them,” Pierre said.

On a recent shopping trip with his family at Roosevelt Field mall, Pierre stressed that it is vital for parents to appreciate the time they have with their children.

“Growing old and watching your kids grow is very important,” he said. “You don’t know how long you are going to be on Earth, so you have to take care of the kids more.”

For Father’s Day, Pierre said he is looking forward to going to a local park to play with his kids.

'All the cliché things are true'

Ryan Sperin, 39, of West Islip ,with his 18-month-old daughter Addison, said becoming a dad has given his life new purpose. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Fairly new to the father role, Ryan Sperin, 39, of West Islip, says that being a dad to his 18-month-old daughter, Addison, has given his life new meaning.

“It's made my life much deeper. It's helped create a sense of priority,” Sperin said, noting that he has quickly learned the stories he had heard from other dads about the feelings and virtues of fatherhood are all real.

“All the cliché things are true that you’re told from other generations — like how beautiful it is, how much depth it adds to your life,” he said.

Amanda Sperin, Ryan’s wife, says watching her husband become a parent increased her love for him. 

“You thought you would marry someone if you fall in love with them, then they become a parent and you realize, ‘Oh my God, I love you so much more,’ ” she said.

Thriving on the love

Steve Atlas said the love of his children and grandchildren give...

Steve Atlas said the love of his children and grandchildren give him "a reason to be on the planet.” Credit: Rick Kopstein

As a father of three and a grandfather of three, Steve Atlas, 72, of Westbury, says his children and grandchildren have given him the best gifts already.

“The love is great, the kids, the grandkids, you just thrive on the love,” Atlas said.

He has experienced this through their mannerisms, Atlas said, their tone and how they express themselves.

That affection he receives from his kids and grandchildren gives him a sense of motivation too.

“It's made me feel worth being on Earth, to be there for them … it just gives me a reason to be on the planet,” he said.

On Father’s Day, his only request is that his family is together under one roof. 

A first Father’s Day

The Father's Day holiday is new to Zviadi Rekhviashvili, of Bay Shore. Credit: Rick Kopstein

At 36 years old, Zviadi Rekhviashvili, of Bay Shore, will be celebrating his first Father’s Day with his dad. 

Rekhviashvili said he moved to the United States about a year ago from the Republic of Georgia and recently learned about the holiday.

“I heard of it from the radio, and I like [it],” Rekhviashvili said during a recent shopping trip for gifts for his father.

“I already bought shoes for my father,” he said while holding his shopping bags outside the mall.

He emphasized that others, too, should celebrate their dads.

Someone who’s always there

Jeffrey Defilippo said his father, now 85 and living in...

Jeffrey Defilippo said his father, now 85 and living in Florida, taught him that a father is someone who always cares about you. Credit: Rick Kopstein

A father is someone you can always count on, says Jeffrey Defilippo, 54, of North Babylon.

Defilippo said his parents divorced when he was young, but he remembers, starting around age 7, his father became more involved in his life. Regular visits from his dad, Nicholas, helped foster a strong relationship with him.

“What a dad means to me is someone that cares about you, that's always going to be there for you when you need something to be answered,” he said. “It's been really amazing the kind of relationship that we share.”

Defilippo said his father, now 85, is remarried and lives in Florida. Despite the distance, they talk regularly.

“My father continues to answer my phone call … we’re very close,” he said.

Although he is not a father himself, Defilippo has considered adopting a child. Right now, he's focused on taking care of his mother. 

For Father’s Day, he jokingly said getting gifts for his father is tricky because he can be hard to please. Instead, Defilippo said, greeting cards mean the world to his dad.

‘Father’s Day should be every day

Janine Curran said Father's Day took on new meaning for her when she watched her husband become a father. Credit: Rick Kopstein

As Janine Curran, 57, of Floral Park, was growing up, Father’s Day never carried much meaning for her since her father was not in her life.

Now as a mother and wife, Curran said she cherishes Father's Day, which took on new meaning for her because of her husband, Brian Curran.

“With my kids, Father’s Day is a big thing, because he’s an amazing dad,” Curran said.

She said she appreciates that her husband has always been hands-on with her children — Madison, who is now 25, and Hunter, 23 — and thinks sometimes mothers get more of the attention.

She added, “Father’s Day should be every day, because fathers aren’t that much noticed.” 

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Janine Curran's name.

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

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NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

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