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Apr 20, 2018 4:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association Names Sarah Huneault As Vice President

Sarah Huneault, 20 year old resident of Flanders. ELSIE BOSKAMP
Apr 24, 2018 5:31 PM

When 20-year-old Sarah Huneault returned to her hometown of Flanders in 2016 after studying at Baptist Bible College in Pennsylvania for a year, she had dreams of uniting and restoring her community. As the youngest member of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, she now can pursue those goals.

“Even in the meetings, I was generally the youngest person, and it makes me really excited to be able to put my name out there,” Ms. Huneault said. “I hope it encourages other people my age to want to join. It’s really nice to think that the newer generations are going to come side by side with the current people that are also in love with the community.”

Having lived in Flanders all her life, when she came back from college, she embarked on a mission to portray the hamlet in a new light, highlighting the natural beauty and close-knit aspects of the community.

She contacted young community residents on social media, kept in touch with youth groups that she had been involved with as a student at Riverhead High School, and had conversations with residents in which she stressed the value of the Flanders community.

With the encouragement of her mother, Angela Huneault, the younger Ms. Huneault soon began attending the FRNCA monthly meetings at the David W. Crohan Community Center in Flanders. FRNCA aims to improve, unite and engage with the hamlets of Flanders, Riverside and Northampton.

“I could tell from the start, by the way she interacted with guest speakers, by the way she engaged with our members, that she had a genuine interest in the community,” said the recently reelected president of the group, Ron Fisher, who is also Ms. Huneault’s boss at Fisher Signs and Shirts in Southampton, where she performs administrative duties, as well as screen printing and embroidery on T-shirts.

Mr. Fisher had stepped down from his position as president in August 2017 after being appointed to the Riverhead Board of Education. However, after contacting the attorney general’s office to ask if that was necessary, he was informed that holding positions on both boards did not pose any conflicts of interest. “I’m happy to be able to do both,” he said. “I grew up in Flanders and am dedicated to serving the community.”

After joining FRNCA, Ms. Huneault attended every meeting for more than a year and a half and embraced the association’s commitment to engage with residents and beautify her hometown.

This year, she solidified her involvement with FRNCA by running for a position on its board.

During the election process, Ms. Huneault had hoped to fill a general board position, so her main focus would be growing FRNCA’s membership, a responsibility given to general board members. It wasn’t until the days leading up to the election that she spoke with Mr. Fisher and saw a need to fill the vice president position.

On Monday, April 9, Ms. Huneault was elected to serve as FRNCA’s vice president, the same night Mr. Fisher was reelected. At just 20 years old, she is the youngest board member to serve since the association’s founding in 1999.

Although only elected earlier this month, Ms. Huneault has already started working on ways to engage with younger people in the community. She founded the association’s Facebook page about a year ago, securing a following of more than 260 people, and is now working to supplement her social media posts by making personal connections with the community’s youth.

“I know a lot of people that I grew up with, they don’t want to live here, they want to move to other states, and I want to portray the value of the area that I grew up in,” Ms. Huneault said.

Part of that work to highlight the area’s value will include scheduling regular events to bring the community together and allow for FRNCA members to engage with residents who may not regularly attend their civic meetings.

Ms. Huneault’s hope is that events like FRNCA’s Food Truck Festival, which made its debut last May, will “bring people a little bit closer to our home so they can see that this area is gorgeous and we love it.” This year, the festival will be held the weekend beginning Friday, May 18, on the grounds of the Truth Community Church on Flanders Road.

Mr. Fisher noted that the association will continue organizing similar local events, especially now that Ms. Huneault “has connected us with youth volunteers that can really help with manpower at events.”

Ms. Huneault’s volunteering experience began at a young age, participating in church programs on Friday nights in elementary and middle school and later joining a youth group and youth camps, through the Christian organization Word of Life, in high school. She was also involved with Girl Scouts and often volunteered at soup kitchens and cleanups at local gardens through Calvary Baptist Church of Riverhead.

After graduating high school, she continued her work with Word of Life, attending Word of Life Bible Institute, in Pottersville, New York, before transferring to Baptist Bible Institute to continue bible-based classes. Now, Ms. Huneault is a part-time, online student at Suffolk County Community College, where she studies business management.

As an active, young member of her community, Ms. Huneault’s hope is to be a force of change.

“Flanders, Riverside and Northampton aren’t always looked at as these beautiful places full of such great life, so I’d really like to change the perspective of the people who grew up side-by-side with me because I look at Flanders and I love it, I love how close the community is,” she said. “I don’t know anywhere else to be home.”

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Good for her!
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Apr 21, 18 10:18 AM
Bravo
By Infoseeker (264), Hampton Bays on Apr 21, 18 5:51 PM
You are our future Sarah and you and other young people will make Flanders great again.I wish yoy well
By watchdog1 (477), Southampton on Apr 21, 18 10:54 PM
Ditto to all the above. Sarah Huneault is one of those all-too-rare young people we need so badly in public life. All good wishes to her, and to Ron Fisher for encouraging her.
By Turkey Bridge (1856), Quiogue on Apr 23, 18 12:52 PM
Fresh Young Blood To Reinvigorate The Community, Kudos!
By The Crow's Nest (63), Red Creek on Apr 23, 18 12:58 PM
Maybe she can get the county to open up the water views along 24 the way it was when it was consider a beautiful beach community back in the 1930's. And, before they decimated it by straightening the coastal country lane it once was into the ugly Route 24 its become. Do that and I believe it could be the beginning of a revival by unveiling the natural beauty hidden and overlooked along the road way.. This is a blighted beach community that has tons of potential if the stigma was lifted from it ...more
By lursagirl (179), southampton on Apr 23, 18 9:35 PM
Maybe she can get the county to open up the water views along 24 the way it was when it was consider a beautiful beach community back in the 1930's. And, before they decimated it by straightening the coastal country lane it once was into the ugly Route 24 its become. Do that and I believe it could be the beginning of a revival by unveiling the natural beauty hidden and overlooked along the road way.. This is a blighted beach community that has tons of potential if the stigma was lifted from it ...more
By lursagirl (179), southampton on Apr 23, 18 9:35 PM
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