The Chi Rho chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity who...

The Chi Rho chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity who have gathered for the fraternity's "Men Who Cook" yearly fundraiser for college scholarships, organized and hosted by the brothers of Omega Psi Phi's Suffolk County Chi Rho chapter and held in the basement of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Church in Wyandanch. (March 3, 2012) Credit: Johnny Simon

Across Long Island, men are coming together -- at fraternal organizations, senior centers and clubs -- to celebrate their heritage, make and solidify friendships, raise funds for causes they support and just have a good time. At the Caesar Trunzo Senior Center in Brentwood, 22 countries are represented on Thursdays and Fridays, when members older than 60 gather to celebrate their Hispanic heritage, play dominoes or bingo, and visit with one another, said Sergio Colon, president of the Brentwood Senior Club.

There's dancing, too, says member Ernesto Alvarez. "We're Latins. When we gather, we dance," he said with a laugh. "We have to make exercise for our hearts."

The Sons of Italy and Sons of Norway have clear ties to members' ancestry, although the membership net can be spread fairly wide -- anyone of Scandinavian background may join the Sons of Norway. The groups share the culture of their ancestors with special dinners, holiday sales and cultural events, and the Sons of Italy group offers scholarships for students studying Italian.

The members of Shriners International, all Masons, support the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Members wear their group's distinctive red hats, called fezzes, and get to explain what their group is about when people ask about the hats, or the minicars or scooters they use in parades.

"They recognize the fez but don't necessarily realize what it stands for," said Russell Magidson, a Shriner for 10 years and this year's potentate, or president, of the Kismet Shriner Temple in Hicksville. "That gives us a chance to explain that we're here to have fun and help kids."

In Wyandanch, a group of black men formed the Chi Rho chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in 1965. Members raise money for scholarships through a yearly dinner and last year held a walkathon to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Members' ages range from 21 to 80, said Jason Callahan, chapter basileus, or president. "People hear fraternity and think 'Animal House,' " Callahan said, "but it's not that way at all."

Latest Videos