by Kate Berube
Easily the most popular spot in the entire building on any given day the John MacNamara Teen Center, located within the Bayport-Blue Point Library, is bustling with activity and laughter. According to Jennifer McNamara this is exactly how her late husband John intended it to be. “He wanted a space that kids could come and hang out,” she said of FDNY Firefighter John F. McNamara, “somewhere they felt at home. A place to keep them out of trouble.”
After working over 500 hours at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of 9/11, John was tragically diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2006. Despite the debilitating diagnosis, John continued to advocate for the first responder community until his death in 2009. He left behind his beloved wife and young son Jack, who have poured their hearts into making John’s final vision of a community center a reality for Bayport-Blue Point through the Johnny Mac Foundation they founded in his name.
While the headquarters of the Johnny Mac Foundation is housed on the opposite side of the eight arce Bayport-Blue Point Library, the Johnny Mac room, as the teen center is affectionately refered to, is a private donation from Jen and Jack themselves. A generous lasting legacy and commitment to the community John loved and proudly served as a member of the Blue Point Fire Department since 2003.
The Johnny Mac room is home to the library’s young adult department, including their YA books, video games, and graphic novels. Equally perfect for doing your homework after school or challenging your friends to a round of Mart Kart, the Johnny Mac room is forever filled with life. Designed to be both comfy and functional, there's ample charging stations, art supplies, and squishy pillows to cuddle. There’s even a quiet study room available to reserve and a host of ever helpful young adult librarians on hand for research assistance or to lend a friendly ear. “We love that so many of the kids in this community have made the Johnny Mac room their place to hang out." said Young Adult Department Head Kelly Sheridan. “That’s exactly what it’s intended to be. We are so grateful to the McNamaras for their extremely generous ongoing support that enables us to provide these amazing kids with a true homeaway from home.”
In a touching tribute to a local hero, John’s FDNY helmet sits in a place of honor inside his namesake room, forever looking over the home he made possible.