When the call went out to celebrate Kay Porter’s 98th birthday with a car caravan, the response was quick. The Sayville Rotarians started it, then the Sayville Chamber, the Sayville Garden …
When the call went out to celebrate Kay Porter’s 98th birthday with a car caravan, the response was quick. The Sayville Rotarians started it, then the Sayville Chamber, the Sayville Garden Club, Sayville Village Improvement Society and then others who just loved Kay agreed to join in. Fifty cars, and a couple of bicycles, wound through Sayville’s Main Street to honor the woman who helped make this hamlet a beacon on the south shore.
They passed her house with signs, honks, dogs, trailing balloons, yelling cheers last Wednesday, Earth Day.
All because it would take at least a 10-episode mini series to portray her largesse.
Porter was able to view the cavalcade from her front porch.
Sayville Chamber president and Rotarian Eileen Tyznar remembered when Porter drove up to her house in a sports car 21 years ago. She knocked on the door and introduced herself after hearing that her son Matthew needed help.
“I was very ill with cancer, Matthew was diagnosed with autism and I was struggling with the school,” Tyznar recalled. “She came in, sat at my kitchen table, and asked if I would be embarrassed if Rotary would throw an event for him with a Fidler on the Roof show.”
It was at Creative Ministries, now the CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale. Tyznar said yes; the performance was a total sell out.
“We raised about $2,500 that night,” recalled Fred Notter, Rotary president at the time of the fundraiser. “Kay was always a behind the scenes person and wasn’t a headline grabber. And she sponsored more members than anyone else.”
There were other events urged by Porter including a car wash. “It paid for therapies for Matthew and also a trip to Disney World,” Tyznar said.
Matthew is now 25, completely healed, and works for TEACH Consulting Services Inc., Tyznar’s business, an advocacy firm for children with special needs. “He also runs a pet sitting business and a lot of my businesses hire him too.”
You don’t get beloved by sitting on your hands in this volunteer mecca. Whenever Porter heard of a need, she’d jump in. The organizations who participated in the drive by are among her long list of involvements either as president or officer. (Woman’s Club of Patchogue member and The Colony Shop owner Lari Fiala was also in the caravan. Porter, also a Woman’s Club member, was Fiala’s teacher in Patchogue. She’s well known even there.)
Besides visiting the residents at Good Samaritan Nursing Home she led fund-raising campaigns for quality of life purchases like the wheelchair accessible bus for its residents so they could attend events like the concerts at The Common Ground.
She even led the way as a fashion icon. Porter always wore a snappy outfit with her hair and makeup perfect and her nails done.
Tyznar, recalled one of Porter’s sage comments.
“Kay told me you always have to have lipstick on,” she said.
Kind of a mantra for can-do women.