Lillian McCormick has lived in Port Washington since 1953 and knows something about social action. Her biography is included in the book, Unfinished Business: Social Action in Suburbia, by Paul M. Arfin. The book tells stories about activists who saw the need to take a stand and work for positive change in their own communities from the 1950’s until today. Dolphin Bookshop is hosting a book signing on July 14 at 6:30 p.m. Arfin, as well as McCormick and several of the other activists profiled in the book, will be on hand to tell their stories. “Many of the profiles in the book are about people from the North Shore of Long Island,” said McCormick.
McCormick is a community activist who has done much to positively impact Port Washington. “Upon moving to Port Washington more than 60 years ago, I began volunteering in the community. I volunteered at the Community Chest to raise money for local nonprofit agencies,” she said.
McCormick was instrumental in helping to organize the Port Washington community to purchase the Landmark Building and create a nonprofit organization to ensure that the building would be used as affordable housing for seniors and also for other community groups. If McCormick and others didn’t take action, the building would have most likely been demolished and condos would have been built. “My three children went to the Main Street School and I loved the old building. It was a part of my Port Washington and when the school board no longer needed it to educate our children, they decided to close it and sell to the highest bidder,” said McCormick. “I went to the North Shore Universalist Unitarian Church and requested a feasibility grant to determine if it was possible to buy the building and use it for affordable senior housing. I received the grant and hired a firm to do it. They came back with the answer…possible but not probable. That was all we had to hear. Another group in town needed a community center so it was obvious that we get together as one to ask the school board to sell it to us. A lot happened and after a referendum to the Town for a vote, we won. We then had to put together a pie that consisted of local fundraising, monies from the Town of North Hempstead, county, state and federal dollars. It took ten years but look what we got. I am so proud and pleased and my song to sing is …it is just wonderful!”
According to the Landmark on Main Street website, “the Landmark is the product of more than ten years of visionary planning and dedicated work by the citizens of Port Washington. .. A unique model of community development, Landmark is a collaboration of civic-minded individuals, government, business, and not-for-profit organizations all sharing the belief that a community’s commitment to a richer cultural, recreational, civic, educational and social life and the celebration of diversity benefits the quality of life for all. Landmark on Main Street opened in November 1995. The 87-year-old former school was converted into 59 units of affordable senior housing, a two-acre park and a 25,000 square foot community center. The Community Center provides affordable space for not-for-profit organizations for both long-term and per diem usage.” McCormick was one of the visionary residents who foresaw the need to preserve the historic building and use it for the benefit of the community.
McCormick has moved six times within Port Washington, most recently to Sand’s Point. “I won’t leave Port Washington because I love it here,” she said. McCormick has three sons and eight grandchildren. She graduated from the University of North Carolina and has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. For information about the book signing, go to www.thedolphinbookshop.com.