There was wine, oysters, music and more during the first-ever Taste North Fork event this Veterans Day weekend, but the merchants on Love Lane in Mattituck never lost sight of the real meaning behind the holiday.
Amid the festival activities, local businesses owners were also busy collecting funds for the construction of the Strongpoint Theinert Ranch, a center that will enable veterans to reintegrate, reconnect and plan their futures after returning home from war.
There is a personal connection for the business owners on Love Lane, as many are longtime friends of Chrystyna Kestler, who began the effort to build the ranch along with her husband, Frank, in honor their son First Lt. Joseph J. Theinert, who died in Afghanistan in 2010 protecting his troops from explosive devices.
The Kestlers are donating the land for the 1,100-acre ranch in Magdalena, N.M.
On Tuesday, a group of eight Love Lane businesspeople presented Ms. Kestler with a check for $1,300 for the project. The money is a portion of the proceeds from the Taste North Fork weekend and will go toward the design of the ranch, Ms. Kestler said.
“I’m overwhelmed, these shops owners are my friends,” Ms. Kestler said. “When Joe was killed they showed up at my house and were so supportive and they still are. It was unexpected and a lovely surprise because we’re trying to build this rehabilitative ranch and this will really help.”