Man of honor
Distinguished Citizen Gregory Proce.

Photo provided by Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore

Man of honor

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
5/18/2017


BAY SHORE—On the evening of Friday, May 19, the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore will hold its 17th annual Bay Shore-Brightwaters Distinguished Award Dinner honoring longtime Brightwaters resident Gregory Proce at Captain Bill’s on Ocean Avenue.

“A favorite neighbor and business owner, [Greg] is admired and appreciated by all who know him,” said chamber president Donna Periconi, who referred to Proce as a man “larger than life.” “Greg likes to think of himself as an agent of change, but he is far more than that. He is truly one of our unsung heroes – an agent of the greater good [who] works for causes greater than himself. He pauses to help the most vulnerable, and he encourages those who are falling behind.”

Born in Rockville Centre and raised in Brightwaters, Proce is a member of the Bay Shore High School Class of 1987, who later attended Southern Connecticut University. Upon his return to Bay Shore-Brightwaters in 1991, he immersed himself into the surrounding community, becoming president of the Bay Shore Lions Club and a member of numerous other local boards and committees, including the Brightwaters Village Planning Board and the Bay Shore Summit Council.

Proce spoke of his reaction upon receiving the news of his award.

“I was very humbled and taken aback,” he said. “I don’t do anything with the idea of awards or recognition in my head. I believe people need to be taken care of, and you can’t expect anyone to take care of your neighborhood but you. [If you do that], it will be a better place.”

Proce has an unwavering, steadfast commitment to the Bay Shore Lions, and he remains a director on its executive board. He is the founder of the group’s annual “Taste for Sight” benefit that raises money and awareness for causes, nonprofits, and the needs of the surrounding community. For three decades, he has donated equipment, materials and laborers from his company – Sit Back & Relax Ground Maintenance – for the completion of projects and initiatives designed to benefit the town, particularly those involving beautification. Over the past 20 years, Proce and his crew have hung and removed 750 wreaths on lampposts throughout the hamlet of Bay Shore as his personal holiday gift to the community.

Proce had nothing but positive things to say about the Bay Shore-Brightwaters community, citing multiple times how lucky he’s felt that his parents moved into his current Brightwaters home back in 1973.

“Bay Shore is a true neighborhood – one of the few on Long Island,” said Proce. “It’s the only place I’ve ever seen where if one person steps up to help, 100 others do [also]. It’s just a very, very happy and comfortable place to live.

“Even if there are bad times, there are no bad people in Bay Shore-Brightwaters,” he added. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what area you’re from – everyone knows everybody, accepts one another, and supports and looks out for each other. It’s the true heartbeat of Long Island.”

Proce married the love of his life, Jennifer, in 2014. They have five children – Caitlin Proce, Gregory Proce Jr., Hayley Little, Taryn Pena and Justin Pena.

Periconi added, “An ambassador for his community, in his mind and heart it’s all about making Bay Shore and Brightwaters a premier place to live, work and play. A man of action, he energizes all around him to get involved, lend a hand, and get it done. We are proud to have Greg Proce in our community, proud to honor his leadership, his spirit of generosity, and his service and advocacy for our town.”