No one was more surprised than Dorothy Walsh when she received an award at the annual in January for her years of dedication and service to the community. She'd been told ahead of time that owner and President of the Chamber Flemming Hansen was going to receive it.
"It was a total surprise," Walsh said. "Afterward I kept saying, 'But what about Flemming?'"
Walsh is quick to praise Hansen and others who have helped her during her past 30-plus years serving the Northport community as a businesswoman, clothing drive organizer, and now Corresponding Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce.
Operation Warmth, the clothing drive which she started 10 years ago, is clearly a cause dear to her heart. Walsh credits the efforts of Hansen and board colleague Mary Sullivan with getting the word out, which made this year's event hugely successful.
"We filled the back of Flemming's huge pick-up truck three times," she noted with satisfaction. Donated items went to the Family Service League in Huntington, an outreach group in Wyandanch, the Tri Community and Youth Agency (Tri CYA) in Huntington, and the Huntington Interfaith Homeless Initiative (HIHI).
Walsh is keenly aware of the need for the items. She disagrees with those who say that the drive, which happens in January, is held too late. "The first year when we went to the Family Service League, I said, 'I hope this isn't too much,'" she recalled. "The woman looked at me and said, 'These clothes will be gone tomorrow.' That shows you the need."
After running a clothing store on Main Street for 13 years, Walsh retired but remained an active member of the Chamber of Commerce.
"They asked me to stay on," Walsh said.
She had a guiding hand in the creation of the popular nearly five years ago, which is held by the harbor from June to November. "This past year we had 20 vendors," she said. "Everyone's so nice. Everyone helps each other."
Walsh and Hanson are looking to enhance the market this year with new vendors such as a winery, as well as more activities for children and opportunities for student volunteers to earn community service hours.
Walsh, who jokingly had municipal parking lot No. 4 named in her honor at the holiday party, is clearly driven not only by compassion but also by a love for Northport.
"Look at that view," she said, pointing to the harbor which is clearly visible from the Chamber's office above Copenhagen Bakery. "How lucky are we to live here?"
*Editor's Note: The Huffington Post has chosen Dorothy Walsh as their "Greatest Person of the Day." Visit the Huffington Post to see the feature and check out others around the country who have been honored with the title.