When Nancy Moniodes arrived at the Bellmore movie theater Monday night, she thought she was there to help set up for a Christmas party. That was the cover members of the local chamber of commerce used to get Moniodes and her husband, James, there. But when they stepped inside, the couple was greeted by more than 100 people showering them with applause.
"I didn't know what was going on," said Moniodes, 53, a 13-year Bellmore resident who has run the bakery Nancy, The Cupcake Lady in the downtown area since 2009.
But when Pastor John Gravagna, of Bellmore's Connect Church, stepped forward with a enlarged foam check, he informed her that the church would be paying her store's rent for January.
"We try to give in all ways, shapes and sizes," said Gravagna, of the nondenominational church, which was founded last Easter. “Sometimes a person just needs a smile or hug, but sometimes they need a check.”
Gravagna said he wanted to do something nice for Moniodes because she's always helping others.
For instance, last month when he asked her if she could contribute anything to the church’s Thanksgiving program, which provided meals to 100 families, Moniodes whipped up 600 cupcakes.
"So many times people like this don't even want acknowledgement, they're just doing what they do, but those things should be celebrated and rewarded," he said.
After learning that business had been slow for Moniodes, Gravagna started sending parishioners to her store to buy out her day's supply of cupcakes. Then, in December, he reached out to her landlord to discuss paying her rent for the following month. Gravagna could not to disclose the exact amount, but said it's more than $1,000.
Moniodes said the church's donation is already having a positive chain reaction. She's noticed an uptick in customers as the news spreads, and she's optimistic about 2014.
"I think next year is going to be a good year for me," she said. "I hope to be here forever."