Every year, the Islip Bulletin asks residents of our community to identify candidates the Inspiration Award that honors one individual. The Bulletin was looking for individuals who support the South Shore community in a volunteer capacity and take it upon themselves to make a difference in the community. This year’s Inspiration Award winner is Robyn Silvestri.
Robyn Silvestri is passionate about connecting individuals and groups. As the executive director of Save the Great South Bay, she is constantly talking to different Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, schools and local beautification societies on how they can work together to keep the bay clean.
“For me, it’s really connecting the communities,” Silvestri said. “Remember those puzzles that connect the dots? That’s kind of what I look at myself as, like, really bringing things together and bringing communities together in order to achieve a goal.”
Her work as executive director is personal to her, as she spends nearly 90 nights a summer on her boat, and frequently paddleboards and takes long walks.
“My work is driven by my passions,” Silvestri said.
Silvestri became involved with Save the Great South Bay in 2017 when she was approached by their Babylon Creek Defender. At the time, she was the president of the K-6 PTA and was asked to round up some volunteers for a cleanup.
“And then I was hooked,” Silvestri said of the organization. “These guys were amazing. Their dedication and their passion to protect and preserve the bay was infectious, so I continued to volunteer for them. I’m a boater. I’m a paddleboarder. I’m a kayaker. I love being out on the bay. And anything I could do to help protect and preserve it, I was in.”
Silvestri said she loves living in Babylon because of the central “downtown” feel, something she came to appreciate during her 10 years spent living abroad in Europe. Her junior year of college, Silvestri went to Vienna, Austria, for a study abroad program, and fell in love with the experience of being abroad and being in different cultures and learning a new language. She ended up transferring to Webster University, a school based out of Missouri, but that has three European campuses. During her studies, she completed an internship at the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency and then moved to the American Embassy when that job finished. She then moved to Warsaw, Poland, and opened up the local office for an Austrian ad agency and spent eight years in Warsaw.
It wasn’t until 2000 when she came home for New Year’s that she met her now-husband while out and decided to move back to the states. But after living in Europe for so long, she was determined to live somewhere with a community feel, and found it in Babylon.
Going along with her love of connecting people, Silvestri currently runs the Babylon Village Volunteer Corps that connects residents who want to serve the community with residents in need. Earlier this month, when the area was hit with snow, Silvestri helped coordinate volunteers to help shovel out a couple dozen elderly residents.
As a trustee for the Village of Babylon since 2018, Silvestri said she is honored to run the Nathaniel Conklin House. The museum-like house is historic to the village and is an educational and community center. The house hosts art programming, cultural programs, and even a Kentucky Derby party last year. Silvestri also created a Bicycle Advisory Committee that works together to improve active transportation within the Village of Babylon.
When asked how she balances all of her work throughout the village, Silvestri said she focuses on what’s important and is a big fan of organizing her day.
“You do one thing at a time and you give it your complete focus, and then when that task is done, you move to the next task,” Silvestri said. “I have my daily planner and I plan out my day and plan out my week, and schedule time for those things that are really important to me. When it’s important to you, you find the time to do the things that are important to you.”
The time and effort Silvestri puts into her volunteer work is directly related to her love of the bay and her community.
“My work is directly related to my passions, and that’s on purpose,” Silvestri said.
Silvestri lives in Babylon with her husband and four children.
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