“Life is a journey, and if you fall in love with the journey, you will be in love forever.”
– Peter Hagert
I’m sure you must have seen her on her way to the post office, one of the friendliest people in Sag Harbor, with a sunny smile that seems to light-up Main Street, and a warmth that spreads like butter. She’s always happy to see you as well, happy if you return her smile, and if you stop to say hello, you leave that tiny interchange feeling brighter, more hopeful, and a little more optimistic about life. I have often wondered and asked what fuels that inner joy, and Cheryl responded, “My deep faith in God: that we’re all put here to get along with each other, and everything happens for a reason. I’m just loving life! I have two great kids, a wonderful family, and I live in a beautiful place!”
Cheryl Rozzi works in the village as an office manager and legislative aide to County Legislator Bridget Fleming. Her days are busy keeping up with Bridget’s calendar and trying to help people who call with a variety of needs and requests. “I love to go to work every day. Bridget is so honest and focused on doing what is best for the people she represents. It’s great to have a job where I really get to help people.”
Sag Harbor has been Cheryl’s home all of her life. A daughter of Frieda and Jim Renner, Cheryl is the oldest of six children. Her family, while she was growing up, lived in a three bedroom-one bathroom ranch house on Forrest Street: four girls sharing a room with two double beds, and the two boys in the other. In this day and age, with all of the rambling McMansions, it’s hard to imagine eight people sharing one bathroom, rather than one person having eight bathrooms. But somehow, just as in my own family, we all had to make it work. I imagine it has helped to keep us all close. “My Mom and Dad taught us how important family is and how important it is to visit and keep in touch,” says Cheryl.
“We all got along;” remarked Cheryl, “we weren’t allowed not to. My sister Gretchen and I were closest in age, and sometimes we’d quibble because she’d borrow my clothes without asking, but when I needed a kidney transplant Gretchen was the first in line to volunteer.
“I feel very blessed to have come from a big family and to have grown up in a neighborhood that was full of kids. When I wasn’t babysitting for my younger brothers and sisters, there was always something to do. We had the freedom to get on our bikes and go wherever we wanted.”
Cheryl married her high school sweetheart, Bill Rozzi, and has two children: Tony Alice, who is a special education teacher and Aaron, who is a local bayman. “Being a mom is the best thing in the world,” Cheryl says. “It has been an honor and an amazing responsibility to raise two young lives. It’s not easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing.” Soon Cheryl and Bill will be celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary.
Cheryl and I played on many sports teams together at Pierson High School. Back then it never mattered who won the game; it was more about being together and learning to work as a team, and then, of course, there was the all-important singing on the bus. Cheryl’s mom always came to our games with a bag of freshly sliced oranges. Yes, it was all about being together. Cheryl and I were also Girl Scouts together which launched her long-standing commitment to the organization.
You probably have seen Cheryl down at Long Wharf with the Girl Scouts selling burritos, popcorn and helping with face painting to raise money during HarborFest. As her mother before her, Cheryl became a Girl Scout leader when her daughter was young, and even though her daughter is grown, Cheryl continues to be active in the organization. “I’ve been the treasurer for our service unit for 20 years now. I do the camp training for adult leaders, and I plan the encampments which happen twice a year.” Cheryl continues to live by the Girl Scouts laws, which seem to guide her daily. “When I go out walking in the morning, I always bring a garbage bag and pick up the trash around my neighborhood. I think they call it ‘palking’. I was in Ocean City, Maryland last week, and I saw some trash on the sidewalk, and I wondered, why can’t I just walk by the garbage? And then I thought, I know, it’s the Girl Scout law — to leave a place better than you’ve found it.” Cheryl feels that the most rewarding part of being a Girl Scout leader is “empowering girls and helping them to see their potential.” It was inspiring for me to see the longstanding value in the Girl Scouts laws and how they have withstood the test of time.
The St. Andrew parish also holds a special place in Cheryl’s heart. “It’s where I received the sacraments. I feel at peace there; I feel comfortable; it’s like home.” Cheryl is a member of the parish Council, serves as a Eucharistic Minister, sings at mass and helps with the youth choir. She was very active in the Youth Group there and continues to help bake pies for the holidays, which are sold or donated to local food pantries. “Helping others makes me feel fulfilled. It feeds an inner desire to make the world a better place. Like they say in Brownies, ‘do a good turn daily’.”
Some of Cheryl’s hobbies are crocheting, hiking, and feeding the birds. “We have turkeys and deer, woodpeckers and songbirds in our yard; it’s all a gift.” In the summer, she spends time at the ocean, swimming, walking, and socializing. “I also love to go canoeing. Sometimes we canoe down to the Tuesday night community band concerts where my dad plays the tuba.” Cheryl is also a member of the Chelberg & Battle American Legion Auxiliary Post 388.
When the winters start feeling too long, I get this urge to run away to somewhere warm for a month or two. I asked Cheryl if she ever feels that way. “Oh no, I like the winters here. Things slow down and get quiet. You can find a place to park. I love to go snowshoeing. I love all of the seasons.”
Sag Harbor is where Cheryl hopes to spend the rest of her life. “The Village Boards and Chamber of Commerce have kept Sag Harbor quaint. The people are loving and friendly. When I go to the Post Office, and run errands in town, it is so nice to see people I know. I like it when I smile, and people smile back. It’s like the Girl Scout law: be courteous, be kind.”
With love always in her heart and in her smile, with a commitment to helping others and keeping the earth clean, with appreciation for life’s simple pleasures, it is people like Cheryl Rozzi who continue to make Sag Harbor a wonderful place to call HOME.