SAYVILLE

Recognizing Kay Porter during Women's History Month

Sayville resident, educator, counselor, benefactor and civic leader recognized during National Women’s History Month

Elaine Kiesling Whitehouse
Posted 3/12/20

 

In 1987, the United States Congress passed Public Law 100-9 designating the month of March to forever be rec- ognized as National Women’s History Month.

As Rob Calarco, presiding …

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SAYVILLE

Recognizing Kay Porter during Women's History Month

Sayville resident, educator, counselor, benefactor and civic leader recognized during National Women’s History Month

Posted

In 1987, the United States Congress passed Public Law 100-9 designating the month of March to forever be rec- ognized as National Women’s History Month.

As Rob Calarco, presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature said recently, “[Women’s History Month] is an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of incredible women from our past, pioneers of our present, and trailblazers in training.”

Therefore, in March 2020, it is appropriate to recognize one remarkable woman’s contributions to our local history. Educator, counselor, benefactor and civic leader Kathryn “Kay” Valenti Porter, who on April 22 will be celebrating her 98th birthday at her home in Sayville, is still contributing.

Thirteen years ago, on March 23, 2007, the Assembly of the State of New York issued a citation congratulating Porter for her many years of dedicated service to the Sayville community.

It said in part: “Her serene, ladylike, elegant and regal stature conceals to those who are unaware, her tenacity, strength, and ability to ‘get the job done.’ Kay is a deeply caring and loving woman and a loyal friend to many. No accolades are enough for someone who has so unceasingly given of herself for the betterment of her community. Leaders are those who stand for a cause, not merely because it may be popular, but because they believe in it enough to risk their character and their position in the community to meet the challenge of making that cause a reality. Kay has served as an exemplary role model for New York State.”

The citation goes on to describe briefly some of Porter’s contributions up to that time. So, what has Porter done for her community since her 85th birthday in 2007? For starters, everyone in town benefits from Kay Porter Park. It is the Islip Town-owned property on Railroad Avenue named for Porter at the park’s dedication on Aug. 16, 2011. Porter had envisioned, then championed and funded the elegant little park. She led the way with a significant donation of her own money to make the park a reality. Today, Girl Scout Troop 2332, Keep Islip Clean and members of the Sayville Village Improvement Society help Porter keep the park clean.

The Sayville Village Improvement Society is Sayville’s oldest civic organization, formed in 1914. Porter twice served as president, the first time from 1993-1996 and the second from 2011-2014. SVIS is a dynamic organization dedicated to beautifying Sayville, engaging in community projects, providing money for Sayville student scholarships and, by personal example, encouraging young people to support their village through meaningful service. Porter still keeps abreast of SVIS activities and contributions through visits with current SVIS members.

In the 1980s and 90s, Porter spent a lot of time as a volunteer at the Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Sayville. Former director Michael Quartararo said, “She’s there every day. She bakes for the residents and the staff. She sits in the lobby and socializes with them. She also brings flowers for the residents’ birthday parties. She sits on the quality-of-life committee to work through problems or complaints at the home. It was through Kay’s efforts we came up with the idea for the bus.”

Porter headed up a fundraiser that raised $60,000 for a wheelchair-accessible bus for transport of the residents to outside activities that have included professional sporting events and visits to public parks. In addition, Porter also helped raise money for a 650-gallon fish tank and a serene garden with a waterfall, and has never stopped supporting the residents and staff at the Elm Street facility.

Porter was president of the Sayville Garden Club, an office holder in the Sayville Rotary Club, and a member of the Woman’s Club of Patchogue. She served on the board of the Sayville Chamber of Commerce, where she implemented the chamber’s project of installing the many hanging flower baskets around town. She was also instrumental in the establishment of the pedestrian crosswalk on Main Street near Cricket’s Restaurant.

Always interested in young people’s welfare and education, Porter worked from 1944 to 1984 as a teacher, guidance counselor and admissions officer in schools and universities in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In 2009, she donated furnishings to the children’s department of the new Sayville Library, where she had served as deputy treasurer for more than 25 years.

Porter was the 2005 Suffolk County News Inspiration Award winner. Author Mandy Hale wrote, “There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.”

Porter is not only an inspiration; she is also a beautiful person, both inside and out.

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