New Riverhead BIDMA member seeks to reach out to Latinos

The newest member of the Riverhead Business Improvement District hopes to bridge the gap with the Latino community in downtown Riverhead.

Felix Andino, an outreach specialist with UnitedHealthcare on West Main Street, was appointed last Wednesday to fill the BID Management Association position left vacant by the resignation of longtime member John Mantzopoulos.

Mr. Andino, who lives in Shoreham, said he’s also a pastor at Medford Assembly of God church, a musician, an information tech specialist on the computer and a Spanish-speaking Latino.

“Being part of Riverhead for about a year now, I can see that there’s a lot of Latinos in the area,” Mr. Andino said. “I kind of want to show a face and help out in the community. Latinos are like this; if they don’t see a Latino, they’re often scared to come out.”

BIDMA executive direction Diane Tucci said she met Mr. Andino at Alive on 25 last year.

“He shows such enthusiasm toward the downtown community and continuously offered to help with everything and anything,” she said.

Mr. Andino is already a member of BIDMA’s arts and cultural committee board for Alive on 25.

“I’d like to reach out to the Latino business owners and people in the BID district that I’m not connecting with,” Ms. Tucci said. “We were talking about having Felix be able to help me bridge the gap when we go door-knocking because I don’t speak a drop of Spanish.”

“I think the board in general, when it comes to filling vacancies, is interested in getting people who are active in helping out,” BIDMA president Steve Shauger said. “There’s a lot of different events and programs we’ve put in place.”

Mr. Andino is not the only BIDMA member who can speak Spanish. Incumbent Isabelle Gonzalez of Riverhead speaks English, Spanish and Italian.

“I like Riverhead,” Mr. Andino said. “So why not help out wherever I can?”

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Photo: Felix Andino. (Credit: Tim Gannon)