Slurping spaghetti for home renovation project

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04/14/2012 5:00 PM |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Greenport resident Harry Lewis, right, works with his boss Matthew Okerblom, to clear some of the overgrowth in the front yard.

The Greenport Rotary Club and Claudio’s Restaurant will hold the second annual Locals for Locals spaghetti dinner Tuesday, April 17, from noon to 8 p.m., raising funds for The Harry Project to help Greenport resident Harry Lewis Jr. stay in his own home.

Mr. Lewis was born with cerebral palsy. His house needs modifications so he can more easily manage living on his own. The Harry Project will bring community members and businesses together to get the work done.

When the Rotarians first met Mr. Lewis, they were impressed with his positive can-do attitude, his determination and his willingness to help others. A 1995 graduate of Suffolk County Community College, he has worked as a student aide in the student support services department at the college’s Eastern Campus in Riverhead. He relies on a wheelchair to get around but remains totally independent.

The Harry Project, sponsored by the Suffolk Community College Association, came to the attention of the Greenport Rotary Club through Gwendolyn Branch of Riverhead, an assistant professor at SCCC. Both Mr. Lewis’ parents died in 2009, and he has since been living alone in the house where he grew up.

Even though the house needs considerable repair and modification to accommodate him, Mr. Lewis makes the best of each day, according to Rotary Club members. Because his wheelchair does not fit though the doorway, he has to drag himself into the bathroom. Cooking is also a challenge because the kitchen counters are not at his level.

With the backing of the Greenport Rotary Club, contractor and Rotarian Craig Richter visited Mr. Lewis in December to replace a broken door to keep out the wind and cold. Mr. Lewis responded to this effort with a heartfelt note: “I would like to thank all involved with getting me a new door for Christmas. Your generosity of spirit truly touches my heart. Thank you for caring enough to do this.”

The Harry Project is working with local architects, contractors and suppliers — who are donating much of their services — to make more modifications and improvements at the Lewis house. Greenport Rotary members will help with whatever labor they can provide.

“For a guy faced with the challenges he has, his attitude is unbelievably good,” said Mr. Richter. “We really need to help this guy.”

Rotary Club president Eileen Solomon said, “Claudio’s Restaurant is a great venue for a great cause. I hope the whole community will come out and join us as we put our resources together to create a safe environment for Harry.” All funds raised will be used to support The Harry Project.

Tickets are $18, $12 for senior citizens and children under 12. The full-course dinner includes salad and dessert. Seating begins at noon and continues until closing time, approximately 8 p.m. Takeout will be available.

For tickets, contact Robin Walden, 631-987-5264; Mr Richter, 516-443-6005; or Ms. Branch 631-548-2520; or visit

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