April 14, 2021

Good evening, everyone – I wasn’t at the pantry today but all the other volunteers handled everything like a well-oiled machine, including my husband, Benny, who signed the clients in.  Today we served a total of 131 families, including 261 adults, 175 children and 43 seniors. totaling 479 people.  Four new families signed up.  Just about every week we have at least one new family.  And our dedicated delivery team made 47 deliveries.

I have exciting news!  Gretchen Skaggs, our own beloved volunteer, has offered to become a second pantry co-director with Vera Halpenny.  Now I can really retire!  We’re going out to lunch next week so that we can discuss all the tasks they’re going to take on.  They’ll make a wonderful team.  Thank you, Vera and Gretchen!

The pantry received a spectacular surprise today.  Out of the blue, five cars pulled up from the Scarsdale Woman’s Club and they unloaded tons of food that they had collected for us a couple of days ago.  It’s a lot of work to gather all that food, pack it into cars and drive it over to us, so my hat is off to the women (and men) of the Scarsdale Woman’s Club.  And they’re going to do it for us again in May and June.

We had a visitor today from the Elmwood Day Camp, just to see how things work.  When the camp opens for the summer she wants to decide how they can help the pantry.  Vera is in touch with them, and I believe they may do a couple of food drives for us over the summer.  The children will be learning about giving and helping others.

And every week we faithfully receive from Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings enough of one vegetable or fruit to serve our whole population.  Last night they came as always, this time bringing enough spinach for all our clients.  Special thanks to Cantor Robin Joseph for organizing this effort and seeing that it happens every week.

This past Monday Robin and I attended a zoom meeting sponsored by the Hudson River Presbytery, which oversees all the Presbyterian churches throughout the Hudson Valley.  This was a special meeting for food pantries, and there were pantries there from as far north as Monroe, Jefferson Valley and Cold Spring.  And all the pantries are struggling with the same issues we are here at South Church – occupying all the space in the church and figuring out how to house both a food pantry and an active church congregation.  Most of the pantries have seen an explosion of clients like we have.  Susan DeGeorge, Clerk of Session, suggested that a quarterly meeting of pantries may be beneficial and helpful.  I mentioned this to the volunteers today at our zoom meeting, and it was agreed that I’ll let Susan know that the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry would appreciate this ongoing support.

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April 8, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday we served 127 families with 254 adults, 165 children, and 40 seniors, totaling 459 people, and our delivery team made 47 deliveries.

We had another meeting with the South Church Session members to get a clearer idea of how the church can open and have services on Sunday mornings while the Pantry is still serving so many families.  Our team came up with two alternative plans, with diagrams and schematics included.  What an amazing crew.  You should have seen Vera explaining the plans.  She’s a skilled presenter, and we’re lucky she’s with us.

Roma and Vera are in regular touch with Erica Razek of Doin’ Good in the Hood.  She routinely scours Westchester County to find extra products that people have in order to give them to whoever needs them.  She’s given us extra food, hygiene supplies and cleaning products, and has taken extra products that we have and given them to others.  What a worthwhile effort, and what a dedicated person she is.

Every Tuesday night two of our volunteers pick up extra food, including milk and produce, from Mom’s Organic Market (83 Stanley Avenue in the Rivertowns Square mall).  Mom’s reached out to us almost as soon as they were settled in.  I’m told that Mom’s is a chain whose mission is to help food pantries wherever they are.  I don’t know if people have been to Mom’s, but they also have bins as you walk in for compost, batteries, glasses, and a couple of other things I can’t think of right now.  They’re really into recycling.  Plus they now have two stations in their parking lot for electric cars to be charged.

While students were in virtual school, a number of teens whose mothers are volunteers at SPRING Community Partners have been arriving at the Pantry on Wednesday mornings to help in whatever way they’re needed.  Ellen Crane, Co-Director of SPRING, is the mother of a teen herself, and she has been able to round up many of her son’s fellow students, who have come willingly to help until they need to get back to their classes.  We’ve also been helped by teens from the South Church Faith and Justice Lab.  Now they’re all going back to school in person this coming week and they won’t be with us.  We will miss them terribly, and so will our clients.  A huge thank you to all the teens who made life easier for us volunteers and for the families we serve.  The Pantry will seem empty without them.

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Thank-you cards from Girl Scout Troop 2305 for volunteers of Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry

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April 1, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday in the morning we served 147 families, including 287 adults, 172 children and 58 seniors, and our delivery team made 47 deliveries.  In the evening we served another 13 families, including 21 adults, 10 children and 4 seniors.  This brought us to 160 families, 308 adults, 182 children and 62 seniors, for a total of 568 people served.  This broke another record – our numbers are going up, not down.  In the month of March we averaged 144 families and 517 people a week.  In contrast, in February we averaged 133 families and in January 115.  It is our goal to help as many people as we can for as long as we can, so we’ll continue to plug along.

This past Monday we were visited by Jen Kupershlak and Kristin Javier, leaders of Girl Scout Troop 2305.  Jen’s daughter Helen was also with them as they delivered bags of hand-baked cookies and other goodies, plus beautifully-decorated thank-you cards from the Scouts to thank us volunteers for the work we do.  Our hearts were warmed by the efforts the girls and their parents made on our behalf, and the goodies and cards were quickly distributed to all of the volunteers.  There are many of us volunteers now that we’re serving so many clients, and we are so appreciative of all the caring and work on the part of the Scouts that went into this wonderful offering.  Thank you, Scouts, parents and leaders!

Last night Benny and I visited Scaramella’s Restaurant (1 Southfield Avenue, Dobbs Ferry) to thank them for providing delicious prepared meals to the pantry’s clients last week, paid for by a very generous donor from The Landing.  Owner Sal Triarsi was welcoming and gracious, and we couldn’t resist  sitting down and ordering dinner.  I might add that there were several other happy diners and a couple of birthdays being celebrated while we were there – all appropriately distanced, of course.  The pantry’s clients have been well-fed by many of the restaurants in the Villages, including Scaramella’s, and we hope we can continue this happy and nourishing experience for our clients.  Michelle Adams of On The Line has worked hard throughout the year to arrange for restaurants to bring these meals, and we are thankful for her dedication.

This is Easter week, and South Presbyterian Church will be offering a number of events today (Maundy Thursday), tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.  You can check the church’s Facebook page for all these activities.  On Easter Sunday there will be a live service at 6:00 a.m. at the waterfront, and a virtual service on Facebook Live at 10:00 a.m.  The virtual service will take place in the church sanctuary, and our volunteers were busy yesterday, clearing the front of the sanctuary so that this service could take place.  The Pantry is grateful to South Church for continuing to allow us to use the sanctuary as a work area for the Pantry, although so far it has made it impossible to have live services on Sundays.

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March 25, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday we served 130 families, including 264 adults, 174 children and 41 seniors, totaling 479 people served.  Our stellar delivery team made 47 deliveries throughout Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Irvington and as far as Greenburgh.

I’ll be retiring from the Food Pantry sometime this year.  My Co-Director, Vera Halpenny is shouldering more and more of the work of directing the pantry, for which I’m extremely grateful.  She’s already made my life so much easier.  Thank you, Vera!

One of the things she did was to come to South Church today to receive a donation of food collected by Congregation Rosh Pinah Chavurah of Hastings.  They’ve collected food prior to the start of Passover, and they’ll be bringing more food to us when Passover ends.  Thanks so much to everybody at Rosh Pinah for joining in this drive, and special thanks to Beverly Kissel and her group for bringing the food to us today.  And overarching thanks to volunteers Vera, Duke Coffey and Gretchen Skaggs for being there today to receive the delivery!

This past Saturday, March 20, was a huge one for the Pantry.  The Ardsley Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts had spent several weeks collecting food for the Pantry in the bin at Stop & Shop.  On Saturday they collected it all and delivered it to Ardsley United Methodist, where they were holding a food drive for us.  Then the Scouts stayed to help collect more food donations and to load everything into cars for the trip to the Pantry on Monday.  There was so much food that it took two cars – Ken Stahn AND Judy Whelan – to bring it all on Monday morning.  Thanks so much to the Ardsley Methodist crew, and thanks to Scout leaders Sheri, Jackie and Mary for organizing and carrying out this major effort!  We’ll have food for our clients for quite a while thanks to this event!

Yesterday our clients took home delicious meals prepared by Scaramella’s in Dobbs Ferry.  The meals were provided by a very caring and generous donor at The Landing, who has helped us many times before.  Our clients loved the meals, and the residents of The Landing have been extremely concerned and helpful to us at the Pantry.  We’re grateful to all of you.

Due to the efforts of Feeding Westchester and others, food pantry volunteers were permitted to be vaccinated due to the fact that they supply food to the public.  On Tuesday, March 2 quite a few of our volunteers got their first shots at Westchester Community College.  This coming Tuesday, March 30, they’ll all be receiving their second shots.  This has made a huge difference in the lives of our volunteers, and we’re delighted that the powers that be recognized the importance of vaccinating these volunteers.  We’ve been facing the public throughout this pandemic for over a year, and these vaccines will make a big difference in our lives.  

A quick shout-out to caterer Renee Kashuba, owner of Made By RK (www.foodmadebyrk.com) .  She’s been a friend to the Pantry since the beginning of the pandemic.  All summer long she brought fresh soup and goodies for all our clients, and currently once a month she donates 100 bags of rice and 100 bags of black beans for us to give to our clients.  All out of the goodness of her heart and in the middle of a busy schedule.  Deepest thanks, Renee.

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March 18, 2021

Good morning, everybody – yesterday we served a record 159 families, including 320 adults, 193 children and 59 seniors, bringing us to 572 people served.  Our delivery volunteers also made a record 49 deliveries.  Now that people are finally starting to receive vaccinations, maybe some will be able to go back to work, which means they’ll be able to buy their own food again.  Then our numbers won’t be so high.  That’s what we’re hoping for.  Then maybe some of those people will turn around and donate to the pantry.  It has happened in the past, and we deeply appreciate it.

Yesterday the Sharing Shelf (www.sharingshelf.org) sent individually-wrapped packages of holiday dresses, tights, shoes and even little pearls for the elementary-school-aged daughters of our pantry clients.  Last week one of our volunteers had taken down all the sizes for the girls, so each package was destined for a particular girl.  Parents  of sons were disappointed, but the Sharing Shelf had also sent some coats to donate, so those parents took something home to their sons also.  They are a wonderful organization, and all volunteer!  They reach throughout Westchester to help needy families with clothing, diapers, feminine hygiene products, etc.  If you’re looking for a place to donate children’s clothing, this is it.

Tuesday evening at South Church is when a team of volunteers collects fresh produce and puts it all into bags to be given out the next morning.  It’s amazing what a well-oiled machine they are.  And this past Tuesday was the first time that a couple of volunteers were able to pick up some donations from Mom’s Organic Market (83 Stanley Avenue, Dobbs Ferry, in the Rivertowns Square shopping mall).  They’re a brand new market and they already reached out to us to see how they could help.  Our hopes are high that they can provide us with organic produce for our clients!

This Saturday, March 20, from 11:00 to 1:00 is the Ardsley United Methodist Church’s big food drive for the pantry, together with the Ardsley Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.  The Scouts have been collecting for this drive at Stop & Shop for several weeks, and they’ll bring whatever they gather from that bin to Ardsley Methodist, so we should have a lot of food to carry us through the next few weeks.  AUMC has been our friend for years and years, and we especially appreciate the Ardsley Methodist Women for running these food drives for us many times.  A hug to you all!

Molly Rodriguez, Co-Director     Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry     914-522-1154

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March 11, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – Yesterday we served 138 families with 275 adults, 169 children and 49 seniors, for a total of 493 people.  Our hardworking delivery people made 47 deliveries.

Many of our volunteers have now had their first vaccine, and will be receiving their second shots in a couple of weeks.  And quite a few of the pantry’s clients who are 65 and older confirmed that they received their first vaccines this past Saturday at the Embassy Club in Dobbs Ferry, sponsored by the Village of Dobbs Ferry.  We’re getting there folks!

I was thinking about Easter a few days ago, and I couldn’t remember what Easter was like a year ago.  I checked the posts on our website from April of 2020, and Easter wasn’t even mentioned.  It was the height of the pandemic, and we weren’t even sure we could stay open.  On the Wednesday before Easter last year we were amazed that we served 81 families.  And we were trying to provide families with Stop & Shop gift cards every week, as people lost their jobs one after another.

We’ve come so far in one year.  And we have managed to stay open every week since then (except for one week due to bad weather) with the stalwart help of a dedicated crew of volunteers, many of whom are affiliated with Spring Community Partners.  The outpouring of help from every corner of the community has been mind-boggling.  It was worth looking back to what was going on a year ago to feel the warmth of the generosity that has kept us going all this time.  Many of the people on this list have carried us along, and hopefully will continue to follow us.

We’ve been helped by so many organizations out there.  New to us is the Sharing Shelf.  Volunteer Gretchen S. is in regular touch with that group, which is based in Port Chester, and their latest offering is to provide the daughters of our pantry clients with holiday dresses, tights and shoes.  This is another all-volunteer organization that reaches out throughout the county to find ways to help.

The pantry has a well-organized team of volunteers who are at South Church every Monday morning, waiting for deliveries and packing the boxes that we give out on Wednesdays.  And many of the same volunteers arrive early on Wednesday mornings to set up all the tables and food for the clients, who arrive a little before 10:00.  And there’s another group of regular volunteers who gather at South Church on Tuesday evenings in order to pack bags of produce to be given out the next day.  Everybody pitches in wherever and whenever they can.  My gratitude to all of you.

They’re talking about opening schools every day some time in April.  We’ll lose a crop of teenagers, mostly children of the Spring Community Partners volunteers, who have been helping set everything up on Wednesday mornings.  They then help clients by loading their food into carts and escorting them to their cars.  Those teens deserve a virtual hug, and we wish them well as they return to in-person school.  And I know other volunteers will be with us to take their places on Wednesday mornings.

Hope everybody got to enjoy this 65-degree day!  Spring is coming! 

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pantry client accepting hand sanitizing wipes provided by Peace Islands Institute – thank you, PII!

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March 5, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – This past Wednesday we served 133 families, including 271 adults, 156 children and 45 seniors, bringing us to 472 people served.  Our delivery people reached another record – 47 deliveries made to families in Dobbs Ferry, Irvington and elsewhere.

We were visited by Ken Stahn of Ardsley United Methodist again this past Monday, with his car jammed with donations from their food drive, together with $20 and $25 Stop & Shop gift cards and a check from a former Ardsley Methodist member who now lives in South Carolina.  The pantry’s reach is far and wide.  Their next food drive for us will be on Saturday, March 20, organized by the Ardsley cubs and scouts for Easter.  Put that date on your calendar and drop something off that day between 11:00 and 1:00.

Speaking of Stop & Shop gift cards, it’s a big help if people donate these cards to us because we’ve been offering gift cards to our clients as a way to ensure some modicum of client choice.  For the last few months we’ve been giving them out twice a month instead of once, but it costs a lot of money due to the large number of families we serve.  We give multiples of $20 gift cards, depending on the size of the family.  If anybody on this list decides to donate some gift cards, we’d appreciate it if they could be $20 Stop & Shop gift cards, since those are what we’ve been giving out.  Thanks in advance!

The big news is that, due to the efforts of Feeding Westchester and others, food pantry workers now qualify for COVID vaccines!  They’re constantly dealing with the public, so it makes sense.   A group of our volunteers were vaccinated this past Tuesday at Westchester Community College  (and they showed up with sore arms to the pantry the next day), and another group is receiving their vaccines today.  Volunteer Kim J. is providing us with “I’ve been vaccinated” stickers to wear to encourage people who are still leery about receiving the vaccine.

And as if that wasn’t enough, we were contacted by the Village of Dobbs Ferry, offering vaccines to any pantry clients who are 65 or older, to take place this Saturday at the new Embassy Center.  We’ve been working all week to contact all of our clients who are that age or who have someone in their families that age, and we’ve got quite a few signed up.  This is a tremendous effort on the part of the Village, together with Rite Aid, and it will make a huge difference to our clients, and everybody else in Dobbs Ferry.

The  Village of Dobbs Ferry has created a police-reform task force, similar to what other villages are doing, and they held a public zoom meeting on Thursday, February 25.  The Village had sent us questionnaires in Spanish and English to give out to the clients who live in Dobbs, to assess their relationships with the local police.  The questionnaires were anonymous and confidential, and the clients were instructed to deliver the filled-out questionnaires to Village Hall.  Several of us from the pantry were at the meeting to report experiences some of our clients have shared with us, including some negative incidents.  This will all be grist for the mill for the task force, and my hat is off to the Village residents and police who have taken on this task.  I’m glad the pantry could help in gathering information.

One last comment involves the fact that, due to the reality that South Church has been closed for the last year, and the pantry is serving so many people, the clients have no client choice like they used to (except for the gift cards).  Every Wednesday everybody receives the same pre-packed box of shelf-stable food and a bag of fresh produce.  And every Thursday morning an entire box of pre-packed food is then anonymously dropped off at the Midnight Run at 97 Main Street in Dobbs Ferry.  Obviously, the person doesn’t want what’s in the box but takes it anyway.  Dale Williams, Manager of the Midnight Run, ends up returning the box to us, since it’s not the kind of food that’s good for people living on the streets.  This is what happens when people can’t choose what they want.  We’re thinking of setting up a bin on Wednesdays and asking people to put what they don’t want in the bin instead of leaving it for somebody else to deal with (or dumping it at the curb, which we’ve also found).  Anybody have any other ideas for how to deal with this problem?

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February 26, 2021

Good afternoon, everybody – This past Wednesday in the morning we served 136 families, consisting of 273 adults, 176 children and 47 seniors, amounting to 491 people served.  Then in the evening we served another 9 families with 20 adults, 9 children and 3 seniors for a total of 32 people.  This brought us to 145 families in total, with 293 adults, 185 children and 50 seniors, totaling 523 people.  And our beloved delivery people made 44 – yes, 44 – deliveries to people who couldn’t get to the pantry. Despite the fact that we had to close on Wednesday, February 3 due to bad weather, we still averaged 133 families and 483 people a week.  My hat is off to all the volunteers, including teens, who work so hard on Wednesday mornings to get this pantry off the ground every week.  And besides that, a dedicated group gathers on Mondays to pack the boxes that we give out, and another group gathers on Tuesday evenings to pack the bags of produce for the next morning.  Talk about a well-oiled machine.

On Tuesday, February 16 the pantry was featured on the Channel 5 Good Day New York program during their “hero of the day” feature.  They described how hard we work and they showed pictures of the prepared meals we often give to the clients.  The restaurants featured in their pictures were River City Grill and Go Su, and we’re so grateful to all the restaurants around the area who make it possible for our clients to take home delicious meals.  And we’re especially grateful to SPRING Community Partners Co-Director Ellen Crane, who is a professional photographer, for providing perfect pictures to be highlighted on the show.  

We’ve received another huge donation from Doin’ Good in the Hood, chaired by Erica Razek.  She dedicates her life to providing many organizations, including ours, with whatever they need.  We were able to share with her some extra products we had, which she’ll take to another organization.  Then she finds products that we need and brings them to us.  So, it’s good karma all around.  What a hard worker she is.

The bin at Stop & Shop has taken off in a big way.  Maybe some people on this list have bought something for us and left it in the bin.  Last Saturday there was so much food in the bin that Ellen Crane enlisted the help of three Stop & Shop employees to pack everything up and put it into Ellen’s car.  They told her there had been so many donations that they had stored some in the back!  Thanks so much to everybody who is supporting us this way.

Thanks also to Coldwell Banker on Cedar Street.  They’re doing a two-month food drive for us that has generated so much food that a volunteer employee brought some to us this past week, and it looks like they’ll be bringing the donations to us on a weekly basis instead of waiting until the end of March.  Another outpouring of good will.

This coming Saturday, February 27, Ardsley United Methodist Church at 525 Ashford Avenue in Ardsley is doing a food drive for us.  They’ve done this for us even in the cold of winter.  If you’d like to drop something off for us, drop by between 11:00 and 1:00 and they’ll gladly take it off your hands!

February is almost over!

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