Molly and Sal Ferro are both just getting over Covid now!
John: I’m John Dowling for Model Citizen Magazine here with Sal Ferro who is just recovering from Covid. Sal, how are you feeling?
Sal: I’m doing OK I’m feeling a bit better
John: Tell me about what it was like.
Sal: It was two weeks of really feeling terrible.
John: Did you go to the hospital? Did it get that bad?
Sal: My symptoms were mainly stomach related and because of that I was dehydrated badly. So yes I had to make a couple of trips to the hospital.
John: My niece had it and had a very lite experience.
Sal: It was really bad. I started back to work yesterday, and I’m working but I just can’t seem to catch up.
John: So, we will try to finish quickly so you can rest. This month’s issue is an important issue for you because you and Molly are our Model Citizen Couple of the year. This is the issue where you are both being recognized for all you do for Long Island charities. So many people agree that you and Molly are very caring and philanthropic people.
Sal: Molly is very philanthropic, she takes care of me, and that is a charity case.
John: That is right! Thank God you have had her through all of this.
Sall: I know.
John: Why do you guys do so much philanthropic work? What is it that motivates you?
Sal: First it comes from a place of feeling blessed, of appreciating what you do have in life. Many people will look at what they do not have, I tend to look at what I do have. I’ve always felt a commitment to give back to the community especially the one you live in and prosper in. I think it is something good for my family also. Giving back was instilled in me from childhood. My family went through challenging times, I lost my dad when I was a young kid. I know there are many families who go through challenges like that. I always thought that if there was ever a time in my life that I could do something to help others then I am going to do it, and Molly feels the same way.
John: You just said something that moved me because my father lost his father when he was eight years old. His father was run over by a train and my father never really recovered from that, not until very much later in life. What happened to your father?
Sal: My father was killed when he was 53 years old. I was 18. It was 1981. Just nine years earlier we lost my older brother when I was nine. So, I saw firsthand what it was like to lose the breadwinner and a sibling. My mom had to take care of the three of us who were at home. It was not easy. I quit college and worked full-time helping my mom support my siblings and basically putting the family first.
John: You grew up as a philanthropist in that lifestyle. It was your way of life.
Sal: I hate to use the word philanthropist because it makes me think of people who are mega-millionaires, big donors that give millions and millions and millions of dollars.
John: Yes, but none of those people matter right now. You have the Sal Ferro Foundation where you give out scholarships. I see you donating to families and helping people and also making sure the Huntington Hospital has the supplies they need. You are always giving back.
Sal: I am a local guy and I want to give back locally. I want to help others. This is how I see myself and my wife, we are local people. I love Long Island. I love this community and I believe we have far too many people who are not getting the help that they need.
There are those that may say that people make bad choices, but it is not a person’s choice to be homeless. It is not a person’s choice to be cold. It is not the choice of a veteran to come home and not have enough. It is not a senior’s choice to live in a home with a leaky roof and not be able to fix it. These are not choices, these are life circumstances and if I can change one, if I’m able to help one person, that’s the most amazing thing.
After that, it is another person and you just do the best you can. I’ve been part of some great organizations, I’ve aligned myself with the Sal Ferro Foundation, I’ve been on many not-for-profit boards. One of the best is the Interfaith Nutrition Network, which helps the homeless and with family services. There are so many different charities, an example would be the Clark Gillies Foundation, and all the work they do in the community. I also think it’s important to help Huntington Hospital. It is about helping one family at a time.
John: Like the Long Island Fight For Charity.
Sal: That’s right, the Fight For Charity and the Long Island Community Chest. These are the different organizations that I have become involved with over the years. Even small ones you may not have heard of, they help families throughout the year, families that are struggling with medical bills or similar unfortunate circumstances. Sometimes it’s just the smallest little thing and it’s such a fulfilling feeling to go out there and really make a difference. You don’t have to be a millionaire of a wealthy person to do it, it can be done easily, you just have to make the choice to do it. in my family we all help each other, it is just what I grew up knowing.
John: You mention Molly, can you tell our readers about her? They say behind every great man is a great woman.
Sal: She is an awesome woman and an incredibly dedicated wife, mother, and daughter. She puts 100% of her herself into everything she does. She gives one hundred percent of herself to each client. That is just the person she is, she gives of herself and is selfless. That is what really attracted us to each other, our personalities are similar in that way. The two of us both have a heart for giving and caring. Having somebody next to me that is a dedicated and supporting wife, makes it so much easier for me to do the things I do. We do it together.
John: It’s beautiful. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time with you and Molly, even at your company Holiday Event and I can see how you don’t have employees, you have a big giant family who loves you both.
Sal: I’m very fortunate. That is the culture I’ve always wanted and it’s the culture I strive for. Molly is the other half of it, she works with me.
John: This is a pretty tough year, and this issue is not only the holiday issue, but it is also kind of the year in review. How would you sum up this year, 2020, in a couple of sentences?
Sal: I would say in many ways it’s been heartbreaking, eye-opening, and somber, but there is also the incredible perseverance and determination people have shown this year. and the people in of those in your life Like my employees, they just jump in and do what they have to do. I see some people are reinventing themselves around the circumstances of the pandemic, the whole environment, and what’s been going on for 2020.
I want to make a point that I have seen so much around me that gives me optimism and hope for the future. Society has persevered considering the tragedies and heartache that we’ve experienced. Many people were lost, like my father-in-law, so many have experienced losses and financial devastation, but still, people persevere. That is the human spirit that shows itself during crises. Based on much of what I’ve seen, I’m hopeful that 2021 will be an incredible rebound year. All the hard work and dedication that was put into staying safe and focused on the big picture to save lives, that we all stick together, and keep the economy going will pay off and be rewarded in 2021. Once we are through the pandemic we can focus on recovery.
John: Now you are ending 2020 on a challenging note. You just got through Covid which put you out of commission for a couple of weeks. Shat a way to end the year!
Sal: Yes, I got hit with Covid hard. I didn’t intend to tell many people about it.
John: I think sharing your story is important because you made it through and survived. We hear so much about the losses, but when people fight and get through it, that is encouraging for others who are fearful or who have it.
Sal: My wife and I both had it, and she had virtually no symptoms whatsoever. I had far more symptoms and I dealt with it for two weeks. Even though it was challenging, I was confident that I’d be fine and that I’d get through it. Statistically, it’s not typically a death sentence, but you have to be careful. You don’t know if you’re going to be that one that it takes away. Having lost love ones, we are fully aware of that. But I got to see firsthand that it’s not an easy sickness. I do have some friends that went through it with little to no symptoms. It is different for a lot of people. I also am grateful to see how amazing our frontline workers are in healthcare and the hospital systems.
John: You were hospitalized a couple of times over the last few weeks, weren’t you?
Sal: I got some chest x-rays and check-ups. I wasn’t in such horrible shape that I needed to stay in the hospital overnight luckily.
John: Was it dehydration?
Sal: Dealing with the frontline workers and the hospital workers, their approach is amazing. The people that I spoke to in the Health Department in Suffolk County, New York State, and the CDC, all had a genuine concern. So, for all the negativity that you hear out there, it was such a positive to see the real human spirit and true concern and caring for one another.
John: I believe healthcare workers are very dedicated.
Sal: I was thrilled, and I learned so much about the support network that is out there to help you understand what you’re going through and what your options are. I was worried and did want to make sure everything was okay. It was an unfortunate two weeks, but now I felt better. My wife had virtually no issues, so I was glad about that.
I also know there are very sad and heartbreaking stories. I don’t want to make any assumptions on this disease, I’m not a medical professional and I’m not in the science field, and can only tell you my experience. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Everything I read says that we have better treatments than we had in March, April, May, or June, so the survival rate is much higher. They told me to rest and hydrate, that is the answer.
John: I want to congratulate you and Molly again on your award for the Model Citizen Couple of the Year for 2020. It is very well deserved. I love the fact that you always do what you say you’re going to do. You are always there for people. I’ve heard the stories of the single mom’s who had their houses destroyed during hurricanes, and you fixed it, and many others like that about such nice things that you do for others. Our other Model Citizens chose you two because it is very well deserved. I can hear in your voice that you need some rest so I hope you get some rest.
Sal: I’m doing great now. We are very honored to be mentioned in the group of Model Citizens that you have in Model Citizens Magazine. Having seen all the names of the people and knowing some of them, it is truly an honor. Thank you.
John: Rhonda Klch was voted Woman of the Year, and Robert Zabbia Man of the Year, so you are in a very small group of four as the Model Citizens Couple of the Year.
Sal: They are such wonderful Long Islanders, who have done so much for Long Island. We are very proud and privileged to receive the Model Citizens Magazine Couple of the year award and are very proud of both Robert and Rhonda as well, two very deserving and philanthropic individuals.
John: As always my sincere pleasure and I look forward to continuing to share your story in 2021 with the launch of Designing Long Island the series, that is going to be a great deal of fun.
Categories: Sal Ferro