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Bay Shore charity Pronto of LI honors late director Nilda Alvarez

Jaime Marcos, left, a board member at Pronto

Jaime Marcos, left, a board member at Pronto community outreach center in Bay Shore, is seen with volunteer Manny Vidal Jr. as they hold a plaque of Nilda Alvarez. Pronto renamed its food pantry in honor of Nilda, who died exactly a year ago at 79. (Nov. 23, 2013) Credit: Steven Sunshine

While Nilda Alvarez led the Bay Shore's Pronto community outreach center she never turned away a hungry person, and Saturday its food pantry was dedicated to the former director.

"That's my mother. Her claim to fame was turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was all about giving back," said daughter Belinda Alvarez-Groneman. Alvarez was Pronto's executive director for nearly 15 years. The ceremony was held on the first anniversary of her death.

Pronto of Long Island provides food, clothing, furniture and health and education services to tens of thousands of families a year, mainly in Bay Shore, Central Islip and Brentwood.

Under Alvarez, the charity grew steadily and opened a $1.5 million center in 2005.

About 100 people, including Alvarez's five children and many of her grandchildren, attended the unveiling of the dedication plaque.

Angie Carpenter, Suffolk County treasurer, called Alvarez a visionary for helping to secure Pronto's new building.

"So her legacy lives on," Carpenter said. "To be here -- in this incredible, humble, respectful place -- that was Nilda's home."

State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), who had known Alvarez for more than 20 years, saluted her dedication -- and warmth. "When I think of her, I think of smiles."

Posthumous citations and proclamations from the state, Suffolk and the Town of Babylon were presented to Alvarez's daughter, now Pronto board president.

The board came up with the idea of naming the pantry in her mother's honor, she said. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I miss my mother dearly," Alvarez-Groneman, of East Islip, said.

Granddaughter Alexandra Feliciano, 29, who brought her 5-year-old daughter, said: "She wasn't looking for accolades. What she did was from the heart." Feliciano, a student teacher, lives in Yonkers.

The plaque was paid for independently. Alvarez-Groneman, 54, said the extra $400 donated for the plaque will buy gravy, stuffing and yams for the pantry.

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