Mary Myers Bruckenstein
Mary, the oldest of 6 children of Stuart and Elizabeth Myers, attended all West Babylon Schools and graduated in 1963. After graduation, she completed the Nursing program at King’s County Hospital and worked as well as taught at the Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation. In 1968, Mary joined the Peace Corps and at her farewell party, Dr. Rusk presented Mary with the International Patient Award. After three months of training, she relocated to Ethiopia. Mary taught at the Addis Ababa Nursing School, worked in a maternity clinic, and volunteered in an orphanage where she met Berhane Daba, an abandoned 4 year old girl crippled with polio. She bartered for corrective surgery and therapy and eventually “adopted” Berhane.
In 1970, Mary returned home, resumed work at NYU Hospital and continued her education, earning an AAS in 1972 and a BS in 1975. She then worked at Visiting Nurses of New York and earned an MPA at CW Post in 1983. Mary kept on achieving higher levels in her nursing career, married, and moved to Coram with her husband, Joseph. She became active in local politics and joined the Women’s Health Board of the John T. Mather Hospital. She remained committed to the goals of the Peace Corps by becoming a member of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Long Island. In 1995, Berhane helped found the Ethiopian Women with Disability National Association (EWDNA). With Berhane as President, EWDNA, is now a national organization in 7 countries. In 2012, Mary returned to Ethiopia to see Berhane’s accomplishments. In 2015, Mary returned to Ethiopia to see Berhane receive the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. They then went to Washington, DC and met with Congressional offices, visited NGOs, and attended more ceremonies.
This fall 2016, Mary and her sister will meet Berhane in Ottawa, Canada, after Berhane completes a certification course. Mary’s (and Berhane’s) life and work can be summarized by the quote of Edward Everette Hale: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something and I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. And, by the Grace of God, I will.”