Willistons women from different generations honored for service

Noah Manskar

Rose Repke of East Williston and Nina McCann of Williston Park were born more than 50 years apart, but they both have a heart for giving back.

Repke, 97, said she has volunteered her entire life, but for the past 20 years she’s been a spiritual counselor at St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill.

And McCann, 46, prepares students at Hofstra University and Nassau Community College for job interviews and helps them prepare resumes, an effort to pass down her parents’ lessons about the importance of helping people, she said.

Both women’s efforts have gotten them a place on the Town of North Hempstead’s Women’s Roll of Honor, an annual list recognizing local women’s achievements.

“It’s just been a way of life for me,” Repke said. “I’ve gotten much more out of it than I’ve ever given to it.”

Repke, a Brooklyn native and 58-year East Williston resident, owned the Williston Travel agency in Williston Park before selling it about 30 years ago, she said. She worked as a travel consultant before retiring.

Repke previously volunteered for about 25 years at Covenant House, a private homeless shelter in Manhattan, she said.

About 20 years ago, she started as a “spiritual companion” at St. Francis, listening to patients of all religions who need some spiritual counseling, she said.

Repke, a Catholic and longtime parishoner at Williston Park’s Church of St. Aidan, said faith is a big driver of her dedication to serving others.

Hearing the stories of individuals she wouldn’t otherwise meet shows Repke how good people are at their core, she said.

“You don’t always see them that way, but when you’re in a position where you’re feeding the poor … you see these people that you would never really associate with, and then you have the ability to meet them, and how great they are,” Repke said.

McCann, a 13-year Williston Park resident, came to the United States from Peru with her parents as a young child, she said.

Throughout her childhood, McCann’s parents stressed the importance of education as a tool for success — “get a good education, work hard and you can achieve,” she recalled them telling her.

McCann went on to graduate from the Bronx High School of Science, get a bachelor’s degree from Queens College and get an MBA from Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business.

She now works as the director of marketing and business development for Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana, a prominent Uniondale-based law firm.

McCann has conducted mock job interviews with Hofstra students and spoken to the school’s communications students for the past six years, she said.

She is also on the Paralegal Advisory Board at Nassau Community College, helping future paralegals prepare for work at law firms like hers, she said.

Volunteering is a way for McCann to mentor students and help them make valuable connections, something she had help doing when she was a student herself, she said.

“This is what helped me, so I’m trying to help others,” she said.

McCann said she is glad her daughters, 14-year-old Mia and 10-year-old Sophia, are being taught the importance of diversity in the Mineola school district.

Sophia previously participated in the district’s dual language program, taking classes in both English and Spanish, McCann said.

McCann hopes the most recent wave of immigrants can get connected to the same resources that she accessed, even as negative generalizations are made about immigrants in the political arena, she said.

“I feel like I’m a positive role model, and if I can show that, that’s pushing it back the other way,” McCann said.

McCann and Repke, along with the 13 other Women’s Roll of Honor members, will be honored with a March 29 ceremony at Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington.

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