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Squaws president: ‘It’s more than a charity, it’s a sisterhood’

Michele Tyrrell, of North Shirley, is president of

Michele Tyrrell, of North Shirley, is president of the Moriches Paquatuck Squaws, which raises funds throughout the year for Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck in Center Moriches. (Sept. 17, 2012) Credit: Erin Geismar

Michele Tyrrell, North Shirley

Community association: President of the Moriches Paquatuck Squaws, which raises money for Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck in Center Moriches.

How did you get involved in the Squaws?
I knew about the camp and I think it is a wonderful thing. If you have a child with special needs, it gives the parents the time for a vacation, and the care they get here — the parents know they can relax and the children really enjoy it.
I just became president in January, but a lot of these women have been doing this for a lot longer — 30 years or more!

Tell me more about what the Squaws do.
We do fundraising for the camp. We have a Chinese auction with a complete dinner every year, we throw card parties, volunteer at all of the Rotary events and we are the official people behind Spooky Walk.
We have been organizing the Spooky Walk for more than 20 years. Over the years, we’ve probably raised more than $1 million for the camp, and we try to make it larger every year, trying to improve the exhibits every year.

Spooky Walk seems like a huge endeavor. How long does it take to bring it all together?
It’s monumental. The chairwoman is Marcella Weiss, she’s local, they run Weiss nursery. But we are all involved. Basically, from the time we finish, we are starting again for the next year. And we are always looking for more volunteers to help out.
There are a lot of people who come to Spooky Walk who have no idea what it’s for or who does it. They ask us how much we get paid to do it and we say, ‘Not a dime! It’s all for the camp.’

How did the Squaws get started?
There was a Rotarian in 1972 who decided there should be a group of women to get involved fundraising, because the Rotary was mostly men at that time.
We have about 30 women now and we meet once a month.

What keeps you involved?
It’s a wonderful group. It’s more than a charity, it’s a sisterhood. And every summer we do an ice cream social for the kids at the camp, we do that every summer. That’s great. That kind of brings us back and we remember why we’re here.

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