Floral Park Chamber Donates Funds to Support B.E.S.T Programs


The Floral Park Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a successful dinner meeting at Bob’s Place on Nov. 4. Members of the local business community attended to hear the night’s guest speaker Paul Ruchames, the executive director of Backstretch Employee Services Team (B.E.S.T.) at Belmont Park. Ruchames discussed the progress and new developments of the organization. The chamber also presented B.E.S.T. with a check for $500 to help support the various programs they run.

B.E.S.T. is the organization in the backstretch that provides a full range of health and human services to support workers in the barn areas of the racetracks at Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga Racetracks. “Our mission is to work to promote the fulfilling of the healthcare needs of the Backstretch employees,” Ruchames explained. “We do that in several key ways. One is through the providing of free health care insurance. The second is we operate two free primary care clinics,” he said.

The organization recently appointed a longstanding Floral Park physician, Dr. Frederic Cogan as a medical director of the clinic located at Belmont Park. “It’s been great. He has brought a lot of energy,” Ruchames said, adding that B.E.S.T. also provides drug and alcohol and mental health counseling free of cost. The organization also helps employees with transportation, translation services, as well as medications and dental needs. “We exist because of the benevolence of NYRA (New York Racing Association) and NYTHA (New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association) who fund us.”

Ruchames said that over the past two years, B.E.S.T. has enrolled more than 2,100 workers in a health benefit plan. “The monies will be used for the health insurance fund and primary care clinic. Health care costs keep going up so we need all the help we can get in that area,” he said.

 He went on to express his gratitude to the Chamber of Commerce for their generous contribution to helping Backstretch employees. “Support — both financial and of the heart — is very important to this community. Your generosity shows how much you care about the Backstretch workers we serve. On behalf of those workers, we at B.E.S.T. are most grateful,” Ruchames said.

If community members are interested in supporting, donating or volunteering to help B.E.S.T. with its various programs and holiday events, contact Paul Ruchames at 516-488-3434.

In other Chamber news, members are invited to celebrate the spirit of the season with the Floral Park Chamber of Commerce, along with the Covert Avenue Chamber of Commerce and the Floral Park Lion’s Club at their 2010 holiday party. The event will be held at Crabtree’s on Monday, Dec. 13, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., at 226 Jericho Tpke., Floral Park. The cost is $50 per person in advance. The Chamber is asking that attendees bring one new and unwrapped toy per guest for Toys for Tots.

Continuing its fundraising efforts, the Chamber is purchasing 80 additional copies of Floral Park Village historian Walter Gosden’s new book, Floral Park, Nassau County. With the help of a few local merchants, (Associated, Tulip Bake Shop, Abbot Realty, Levine’s and Tulip Wine & Spirits), the chamber has already sold 159 copies. If your business would like to sell the book or to purchase a copy for $18, contact Chamber President Sal Bonagura.

It was announced that membership is currently up to 176 persons. New members who join from now until the end of the year get the rest of 2010 for free and only have to pay dues for 2011. The Chamber’s website, www.floralparkchamber.org, changes almost daily. The chamber is offering a profile-of-the-month segment to allow members exposure via audio greetings and links to their website. The November profile will be NYSACO PRODUCTS. The cost is $50. To book a future month or for more information on upcoming events, email: info@floralparkchamber.org.


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