Local seventh grader doing his part to keep boaters safe

Southold 12-year-old Miles Eisenberg has been building life jacket stands Sea Tow that will be distributed around the country. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

The Sea Tow Foundation is continuing to make the boating community a bit safer thanks, in part, to the help of a 12-year-old from the North Fork. 

As part of the community service requirement for his Bar Mitzvah, Miles Eisenberg has been helping to create life jacket stands for the organization’s foundations Life Jacket Loaner Program.

“It’s basically helping the world become a better place,” Miles said of the goal for his community service project.

In May, the foundation announced the opening of its new local stand located at its Southold headquarters at 700 Hummel Ave., which was put together by Miles, whose mother, Kate, works for Sea Tow. The stand provides free life jackets that can be borrowed for the day. There are two other stands on the North Fork, one at 2700 Hobart Road in Southold and one at 469 E Main Street in Riverhead. The stands have jackets that vary in sizes, from infants to adults.

“This life jacket loaner stand will be popular with local boaters who forgot to pack their life jackets or realize that their kids have outgrown their old life jackets,”  Sea Tow Foundation Executive Director Michael Wesolowski said in a press release. “We are thrilled to have Miles helping us with this issue.”                            

Miles, a seventh grader at Southold Junior High School, has always been interested in boats. His family purchased one when they moved to Southold from the city and since then Miles has spent a lot of time on the water each summer. He sails and his father, David, works on tugboats.

“Boating is very fun and if you’re unsafe it can be very dangerous,” Miles said. “Wearing these life jackets can help save a lot of lives.”

Life jacket safety is a relevant topic right now. Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard state that 85 percent of drowning victims in 2015 were not wearing a life jacket even though New York State requires anyone operating a watercraft to do so.

The life jackets for the loaner program are purchased through grants from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, as administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. In 2014, the foundation also implemented its Life Jacket Drive, collecting new and gently used life jackets from boaters to replenish its stands. Since its creation, the Sea Tow Foundation has administered over 35,000 life jackets to boaters across the U.S., according to the foundation’s recent press release.

So far this summer, Miles said he has already created about 50 life jacket stands that he has sent out to other states like Florida and California. He plans to make about 50 more.                     

Ms. Eisenberg is very proud of all of the hard work her son has put into his Bar Mitzvah and this project.

“I think the whole point of the project is to think of other people and to heal the world and to make it a better place for everybody, not just you and your family,” she said. “So I think he is doing a great job.”

Ms. Eisenberg said her son would come to the Sea Tow Foundation right from school and work for hours on the life jacket stands. He is the only student from the North Fork Reform Synagogue scheduled to receive his Bar Mitzvah in the near future and she said he has been working very hard at Hebrew school for years.

The seventh grader, who wants to be a pharmaceutical engineer when he grows up, has always been driven. He said he’s proud of what he is doing for his community service project. “There’s not a lot of projects like this,” he said. “I would like to see a lot more community service here.”

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Photo: Southold 12-year-old Miles Eisenberg has been building life jacket stands Sea Tow that will be distributed around the country. (Credit: Krysten Massa)