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Long Island mayor named head of McDonald House

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In his new role, Weitzner oversees the day-to-day operation of the house, manages its $1.5 million budget and seeks out fund-raising opportunities. While the support the house receives from communities on the Queens-Nassau border is strong, Weitzner said, he is hoping to get greater support from Nassau and Suffolk."I do believe there is a slight disconnect in the community," he said, noting that the New Hyde Park house is the closest one for families in Suffolk to stay.Weitzner is pulling double duty now since he is also the mayor of Port Washington North, a Long Island village under the hamlet of Port Washington. The elected position is part time.After appearing on the Long Island cable talk show "Meet the Leaders" about a year ago, Weitzner was taken out to lunchby a friend and they talked about the possibility of his getting involved in a not-for-profit organization.Weitzner, 47, said he was not sure he had the skill sets to operate a non-profit, so about seven months ago, he began to pick the brains of executive directors of local organizations.One of those discussions was with the executive director of the Ronald McDonald House, who was unaware that the job would soon be open."This was fate," Weitzner said."'I don't know what you don't have,' is basically what they said," Weitzner said about these meetings, referring to his status as a certified financial planner, his 22 years of experience in the financial service industry and the additional non-profit experience on his resume.In fact, he credited his involvement in the non-profit Residents For A More Beautiful Port Washington for helping him be elected mayor in 2005.Weitzner said he joined the board of the Port Washington non-profit 14 years ago and later became its vice president of fund-raising."I have taken a pro-active approach toward giving to my community," he said. "I just had a tremendous amount of gratification and with that a great deal of success."Weitzner then ran for trustee of his village, Port Washington North, and later went on to become deputy mayor within two years, running unopposed after his predecessor chose not to run.Now known as "Mayor Bob" in his village, Weitzner also teaches community volunteering and local government in nearby schools.Weitzner beat out 59 others who were vying for the executive director job at the house, which is said to be 350 steps away from Schneider's Children Hospital and serves as a home away from home for the families of sick children."The mission and the reputation of the organization speak for itself," Weitzner said about his decision to apply for the job. "If (the mission) was to save the opossum of Long Island, to me that (isn't) really a lifelong cause."Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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