FTK Black Tie Gala Celebrates 15

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Celebrating its 15th anniversary, East Islip's For the Kids Foundation held their annual Black Tie Gala at Land’s End in Sayville, providing a focal point for their unprecedented fundraising efforts to benefit students in East Islip School District. This important milestone in this acclaimed organization’s history was recognized by the Town of Islip, who deemed the event’s March 10 date as “FTK Day.”

This year's Gala, whose theme was “The Crystal Ball,” honored three remarkable women in the East Islip community. Danielle Naccarato, the principal of Ruth C. Kinney Elementary, was named Educator Advocate of the Year, while Nancy Irace and Susan McGovern were chosen as Community Advocates of the Year. All were honored for their substantial contributions and selfless dedication to FTK and the East Islip community.

“Our honorees this year embody all that FTK stands for,” said Nancy Goldfader, who is in her first year as new president of FTK. “They are truly committed to FTK and the students of East Islip schools. You will also find these women volunteering their time to assist at the FTK events such as the carnival and the golf outing. Through their leadership roles in the community as principal and PTA members, they have brought awareness to the community about FTK and its mission.”

Calling RCK the “Happiest School on Earth” in a nod to Disney, Naccarato is renowned for not only her positivity and commitment to her students’ capacity for learning, but her proud participation as a mother in the local community, actively supporting the Boy Scouts, Little League and competitive cheerleading. A Syosset native and teen member of the globe-trotting musical group the Long Island Chorale, she attended Miami University of Ohio. Naccarato began her career at Alleghany Elementary School in Lindenhurst, teaching kindergarten and third grade. She moved to East Islip in 1998 after marrying her husband Frank Naccarato. Obtaining a graduate degree in education at Adelphi University and school district administration certification at Dowling College, she next served as the assistant principal at Arrowhead Elementary in East Setauket. Eight years ago, she became principal of RCK.

Nancy Irace, the new treasurer for FTK, has served at every possible Parent Teacher Association position during her 19 years in East Islip, earning the NYS PTA’s Distinguished Service to Children Award and Honorary Life Award for Service to Children. She was the East Islip PTA Council’s president and treasurer, the Timber Point PTA’s president, treasurer and corresponding secretary, and treasurer for both the high school and middle school PTA. Irace also found time to serve as a Cub Scout den leader and finance chairperson at her church, and to participate in numerous district committees, including the Budget Advisory Committee, Common Grading Committee, Communications Committee and Excellence in Learning Committee. Originally from Bayport, Irace holds an accounting degree from SUNY Albany and a CPA license, and has worked as a project manager for Citicorp and an auditor at the Arthur Young & Company accounting firm. She and her husband Greg Irace are the proud parents of three sons, including current East Islip High School junior Kevin Irace. 2010 graduate Scott Irace is studying economics at the University of Maryland, College Park, while Boston College grad Bryan Irace, a member of East Islip’s Class of 2004, works as a software engineer for Tumblr. She resides in Great River.

Susan McGovern is celebrated for her caring service as both a nurse and community advocate. An alumna of Lindenhurst High School, where she was raised, McGovern graduated from Stony Brook University in 1985 with a degree in nursing. She and husband Andrew McGovern moved to Great River 17 years ago, where she quickly became involved in the East Islip PTA. She has served as president of the PTA Council, the Timber Point PTA and the Parent Teacher Student Association, and has been honored with the NYS PTA’s Honorary Life Award for Service to Children. In her professional life, McGovern has worked as a registered nurse at Stony Brook University Hospital and Brunswick Hospital Center, focusing on the mental health of adolescents. At her current position at substance-abuse treatment center Outreach House, she was presented with the 2009 Building Healthy Lives Award for her client commitment. Like Irace, McGovern has three sons who have attended East Islip’s schools, including current senior Aidan McGovern. AJ McGovern obtained an environmental science degree at the University of Maryland, while Alex McGovern is studying environmental engineering at the University of Delaware. McGovern’s two older boys are both Eagle Scouts; Aidan is an Eagle Scout candidate.

At Land’s End, the sophisticated beauty of the setting was in perfect harmony with the stunning dresses and sharp tuxedos worn by the 291 guests, who included educators, parents and local residents and business owners. During the cocktail hour, a band comprised of East Islip High School music students performed classical works, providing a lovely backdrop to lively conversations, fine dining and auction basket browsing. Much of the event’s success can be attributed to the organizational efforts of Gina VanDenburg, who served as event chairperson, and FTK Vice President Pat Blair, who was co-chairperson, as well as the many selfless, dedicated volunteers of the Black Tie Committee.

Serving as a model for similar organizations across Long Island, FTK has donated over $60,000 this year to enrich the educational experience for the district’s schoolchildren and close to $1 million for scholastic programs over the last 15 years. Events such as the Black Tie Gala remind East Islip just how special the group’s work is, and how valuable it is to the six schools in the district.

"As president of FTK, I was overwhelmed by the amount of support and generosity of the East Islip community,” said Goldfader. “It truly was a magical night.”