SAYVILLE—This year’s Inspiration Award goes to Barbara Fitzpatrick, a longtime resident of Sayville. She has been a dedicated volunteer for years, working to better her community while inspiring others to do the same.
“This is amazing,” said Fitzpatrick regarding winning the award. It wasn’t something she expected.
Most of her volunteer time has been spent quietly, while providing important services to others in her beloved hometown. Though she hasn’t always lived in the area, she noted, “I feel like a native of Sayville.”
A native of Brooklyn, Fitzpatrick grew up in Queens and attended school in the Bronx. She and her husband Barry – a teacher at Sayville High School and an athletic coach – moved there from Medford in 1982. They raised their four children in the hamlet. She said it was the “quintessential Main Street” and the “strong sense of community” that enticed the family to move there.
Although Fitzpatrick worked at a number of jobs over the years, including real estate, in 1997 a major life change took her on a different path. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said. And while undergoing traditional treatment, she was introduced to alternative medicine as well. “Someone suggested I go to a reiki [session],” she noted. “I found it to be calming and it intrigued me. I had to learn more about it.”
Fitzpatrick began taking classes in the healing art of reiki and eventually rose to the pinnacle of reiki master. “Reiki gave me the opportunity to participate in my healing,” she said. Once in good health, Fitzpatrick began offering those same opportunities to others. Although she is the owner of a reiki business, Infinite Fountain Institute, she has donated her services to veteran and breast cancer groups. She also brings reiki to the public every month in warmer weather during monthly sessions at the Common Ground.
In addition to reiki, Fitzpatrick leads visitors to the Common Ground on monthly walks on the labyrinth located there, which provides a mystical, ancient form of meditation. “People come to the walk from all over…honoring a ritual, keeping the tradition,” she explained.
A former Girl Scout leader, Fitzpatrick said she’s hosted scout troops and school groups at the labyrinth as well.
Over the years, she has been an active member of the Sayville Village Improvement Society, a group that continues to make significant changes that enhance the community, and currently serves as that group’s first vice president. She said the organization is “near and dear to my heart.”
She’s donated time to the Sayville Library’s 2014 Centennial committee and even arranged for a fly-by from the Bayport Aerodrome during an old-time baseball game that was played on the library grounds during their anniversary celebration.
For years, Fitzpatrick dedicated her free time to volunteering for the Guide Dog Foundation in Smithtown as a “puppy walker.” She’s also spent many hours helping to feed the hungry at Sharing A Meal (formerly Having Friends INN), located in the Sayville Congregational Church of Christ, and was co-vice president for a time serving as a liaison to Long Island Cares, which supplies food for the soup kitchen.
“It’s at least 5,000 meals a year [served there],” Fitzpatrick said, noting that the need is great in the immediate and surrounding area. In fact, before clients arrive, she leads tours of the soup kitchen for scout troops “as a lesson about hunger in our communities,” she said.
Fitzpatrick said she began volunteering in the community because “I wanted to give back to Sayville what it has given to me. I wanted to find a way to make a difference, to be a catalyst for a [positive change]. We’re all in this together.”
The grandmother to eight remains optimistic about the future and the fact that the next generation will continue to serve their community.
“Volunteerism is so important,” she added. “It’s good for the soul, the spirit.”
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