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Long Island Red Cross honors longtime volunteers for service

Long Island Red Cross CEO Neela Lockel, Manhasset

Long Island Red Cross CEO Neela Lockel, Manhasset High School students Jared Gudino, Jai Nanda and Michaela Ryan, and Travis Tam of the Red Cross. The students accepted the Outstanding Red Cross High School Club award at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Credit: David L. Pokress

The Long Island Red Cross honored longtime volunteers and local organizations for their contributions to the group’s humanitarian relief efforts in an award ceremony Saturday.

About 120 people gathered at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury for the annual event, which highlighted the work of 13 local residents and organizations, ranging from a Manhasset High School student group to individual Long Islanders with more than a decade of volunteer service.

The diverse crowd of honorees shared an outsized commitment to helping others when they need help the most, Red Cross officials said.

“They drop everything at a moment’s notice,” Neela Lockel, CEO of the American Red Cross on Long Island, said after the ceremony. “We can’t do this without them.”

The local chapter of the international humanitarian organization relies on more than 1,000 volunteers, Lockel said. Those Good Samaritans step in after emergencies large and small, she said, from superstorms to house fires, offering food, shelter and other vital services.

Volunteers responded to nearly 200 emergencies on Long Island in 2016, Lockel said.

Salvatore Montoro was there for dozens of them.

Montoro, 52, works full time at a Queens lumber company and part time at a restaurant in Roslyn, but the Syosset resident has still found about 10 to 15 hours every week to devote to the Red Cross since 2002.

He received an award for his service Saturday.

Montoro managed 23 Red Cross emergency shelters on Long Island after superstorm Sandy while his own home was without power for two weeks.

“It keeps me grounded,” he said of his altruism. “It reminds me of how incredibly blessed I am.”

Linda Krilov agreed. The Bellmore resident was honored Saturday for her work overseeing the Long Island Red Cross’ health services volunteers.

Krilov, 60, had little time to relish her award, however. Shortly after the ceremony, the adjunct professor of nursing at Molloy College drove to Rochester to join Red Cross relief efforts there after a storm left tens of thousands without power this week.

“The service of others is what gives my life meaning,” she said.

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