Eastern LI Hospital volunteer wins high honor

05/05/2012 7:00 PM |

COURTESY PHOTO | Toni Demeo, left, the first senatorial district's Woman of Distinction and ELIH CEO Paul Connor.

Toni DeMeo is no stranger to helping out and, this year, that’s won her some serious recognition.

The 89-year-old Cutchogue resident, who has volunteered at Eastern Long Island Hospital for more than 15 years, was recently named 2012’s “Woman of Distinction” for the 1st Senatorial District in recognition of her efforts as director of the hospital’s volunteers.

“She oversees the auxiliary in so many ways, such as managing the hospital volunteers and raising money, but most importantly she does it with great charm and finesse,” said state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson). He chose Ms. DeMeo from a pool of 10 finalists.

“Toni stood out as someone who wants to make a difference in life. She’s a volunteer, but she’s like a full-time employee,” Mr. LaValle said, “When I looked at the works she did, it showed that she actually knows every department in Eastern Long Island Hospital.”

Ms. DeMeo began her work for ELIH at Greenport’s Opportunity Shop, a thrift store whose proceeds benefit the hospital.

“Toni is amazing. She really gets a lot done in a day and she consistently comes back for more,” said Pat Kiernan, the hospital’s vice president of development. “She’s been volunteering here since 1986 and has been a fabric of the community for a long time.”

Among Ms. DeMeo’s responsibilities are meeting and interviewing prospective volunteers, assigning them to projects, keeping track of their training requirements and organizing records.

“I enjoy it, I’ve always been active,” Ms. DeMeo said. “ELIH is a very special place. People are very friendly and they serve the community a whole lot.”

She said one of her favorite recent memories at the hospital was the birthday celebration thrown for her when she turned 89, but she said she’s not in it for the parties. “I’m just interested in helping the hospital,” she said. “It’s just good to do. Someone’s got to do it, right?”

gvolpe@timesreview.com