East End Strong

From food pantry workers to front-line health care providers, farmers to fishermen, friends and family, Purist celebrates the people working so hard to help each other out in this time of need.

Photography by Mikey DeTemple    Interviews by Ray Rogers

“Max and I walk twice a week together. It is a valuable time for me, because we always make each other laugh. Now more than ever, being with a friend or speaking with a loved one has the power to keep me positive.” —Lilly Hartley, seen here with her schnauzer, Romeo, and Max Bonbrest with her shiba inu, Gus. Gerard Drive, Springs, East Hampton


Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Nurses


Megan Long, Post-Anesthesia Care Unit
Valerie O’Neill, Obstetrics Department
“At the core is always the patients—they come first. But the hard days, the long days, the injuries or illnesses that you never want to see again…I get through that with my work family.”  –Devon Montalbano, Emergency Department 
“I love my job. I work with an amazing team and we all have the same goal: to make our patients great!” –Erin Grismer, Radiology/Cardiac Care Unit
“Nursing is not just a job—it is a calling. I have been called to care for patients during some of the most difficult and fearful times of their lives. I view my job as a way of life—nursing never stops when the shift is over.” –Emily Nemecek, North 3
“Health is a spectrum. Every one of us will need care in some form, at some time. Being the nurse that I would want caring for my loved ones is my constant motivation.” –Danielle Epstein, Operating Room
Lilyah Yardley, Medical Surgery Telemetry Department

Dr. Christopher Travis Koke, Family Medicine, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital

What has your experience been like working during this period?
When I got the call that the ICU was expanding its capacity due to rapid incline of COVID-19 related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and need for mechanical ventilation, I was eager and excited to be able to help out, but at the same time anxious and fearful about what was to come. Fortunately, I was greeted with overwhelming support by my co-workers, who were there by my side to help me along with everything that needed to be done. The physicians, residents, nurses, medical assistants and house staff all eagerly worked together as a team to provide the safest and best care possible.

What gets you through the toughest days?
My wife, also a family physician, has been working with COVID patients as well. I couldn’t imagine going through this pandemic without her.

What are you doing to take the best care of yourself?
Getting enough sleep and eating nourishing meals has kept me grounded. Thankfully, I have still been able to surf throughout this pandemic, which helps me to be the best version of myself. With social distancing in place, I have done more video calls these past few months than ever before. Relationships are like your personal garden: The more love and nourishment you give, the more fruit and love it gives back—and love is essential for a healthy life.




James Ryan, DJ Wölffer Wine Stand Rosé Drive-thru on Mother’s Day, Sagaponack

“I live in Amagansett. I’ve been DJing events with Wölffer for a few years now. For Mother’s Day, they set up the DJ booth in the bed of this old classic Chevy pickup truck, and it was totally rad. The mood was very fun. I could see the love and relief of those who came through. It was such a breath of fresh air for all of us.” –James Ryan


Sag Harbor honored each of its graduates with posters.

Dalton Portella, Drive-by Art Show, at his home, Montauk

Portella displays his works during the Drive-by Art Show

How have your creative endeavors helped you deal with these uncertain times?
My art has been my coping mechanism throughout my life. I’ve used it to deal with depression, addiction, love, hate, lust, joy and sadness, the environment and politics. Sometimes it’s music, sometimes photography and sometimes painting, but I don’t feel good unless I create on a daily basis. I’ve been playing a lot of music all along and shooting pictures. The isolation and stress are normal for me, the threat of catching or spreading a deadly virus is extra. I haven’t figured out a way to express that in my work. Or maybe I have: I painted a couple of rhinos and they’re facing extinction. And they’re all alone on a white background, isolated.

How did it feel to participate as one of the artists in the Drive-by Art Show?
Saturday morning I got caught up in the challenge of installing art outdoors in 40 mph winds, and then when I looked up, I was rewarded with smiles and gratitude.



A show of Montauk’s community spirit.

Charlie Weimar, fisherman, Montauk 

“I work on my father’s boat, the Rianda S, which was built here in Montauk by John Steck in 1980. Growing up in Montauk, and on the water, a fisherman’s life is all I know. And while these times are scary, feeding New York and providing for my family keeps me motivated. My job has always been supplying people with the freshest seafood, and we’ve been lucky enough to still have a demand for some types of fish. To be able to work in general, especially here in Montauk, I am grateful and lucky.” —Charlie Weimar

Frank Trentacoste, aka “Farmer Frank” Bhumi Farms, East Hampton

“Working on the field has deepened our sense of community. It was never in our plans to open the roadside stand and offer produce from the field so early. Our town was in need. When most transactions and conversations are happening in space somewhere, it is profound to farm and offer a product that tethers us locally. Our food that we offer at our stand can be measured in feet, not miles, and grows from a tiny spot on Earth that is sharing the same experience as the people eating it. That closeness cannot be replicated with trucked-in food. Our farm stand has been donation-based. We harvested three days a week and put the harvest on the stand for people until it ran out—usually by 1PM it was gone. It’s no secret the socioeconomic continuum out East has bookends that sit very far apart. Our donation-based honor system lets people help others, quietly and conveniently, a few dollars at a time. It’s a beautiful way of one customer helping another they never met, and we provide the platform for that.” —Frank Trentacoste


Hilton Crosby, Heart of the Hamptons, Southampton

Tell us about the work you are doing for the community.
Heart of the Hamptons provides a food pantry to the Town of Southampton. During January, we distributed enough nonperishables, frozen meats and produce (donated by HAPCO Farms, a fourth-generation local farm) to create 7,331 meals for 259 households. Last week, in just two hours, we distributed prepacked bags with enough product to create 7,879 meals. Another statistic that may help understand the magnitude of need: In 2019, from April 14 and May 14, HOH spent just $292 on food. Between the same dates in 2020, HOH spent $52,750. That’s just on food.

How can others help out in support of your efforts?
Donate money and volunteer at your local food pantry. People could also help us to find a space that is on ground level, to be able to help our community more efficiently. Currently, roughly 25,000 pounds each week comes through a small window and is then physically carried out of our basement on the other side.

Purist photographed you on delivery day.
We received three deliveries that day. The final one was a truck and driver, volunteered from Sabrosa Mexican Grill, who drove to The Clubhouse in East Hampton, where the nonperishables and produce were loaded into the truck by Jon Bon Jovi—true story. He and his wife have been very active in understanding how the East End is moving food to the people who so desperately need it now.


One of the 250 boxes filled with 20 pounds of produce taken in that day at HOH.
East Hampton village shows its heart.