When the pandemic began last March, it didn’t take long for the Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns to take action. Inspired by the Meal Train for Phelps Hospital that organized meals for health care workers, the Club wanted to take the idea of providing meals for first responders but expand their service beyond Phelps. “It was obvious that the first responders were under tremendous stress, and restaurants were struggling to retain their staff,” said JoAnne Murray, Treasurer of the Rotary Club. This idea led them to initiate a program that worked with local restaurants to provide meals every week to the Tarrytown Community Opportunity Center (COC) and the RSHM Life Center in Sleepy Hollow. “As the number of people requiring hospitalization lessened, we were able to turn our focus from first responders to those with food insecurities,” JoAnne continued. They have raised over $140,000 and served approximately 17,000 meals.
Founded in 1921, The Club will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year. President, Richard Slingerland, said, “The Club’s main mission is to offer opportunities to provide service that will benefit others who are in need, advance better understanding of the world, promote integrity, goodwill and peace through fellowship for all of our members from local businesses and the community.” The Rotarians provide scholarships and grants to the community, and have spent the last year focused on the impact of Covid-19. Through web-based donations and contributions from Westchester County Table Partnership Grant, Kendal on Hudson, the Jacob & Eugenie Bucky Memorial Foundation Grant, Rob & Kristen Clarfeld, and Rotary International, they raised over $140,000. That money was applied towards the contributing restaurants, which received a nominal fee for the meals they delivered every Wednesday to the COC and the RSHM. When the number of people in need of a meal surpassed the amount available, C-Town, Esquina Latina, and Los Andes Bakery provided gift certificates to supplement. On average, 450 meals were delivered each week, and there was never a week with leftovers.
Orchestrating the delivery of hundreds of meals every week couldn’t have happened without the community’s support and strength. “We didn’t raise $140,000 without a community that cared about everybody,” said JoAnne. 36 Rotarians are serving Tarrytown, Irvington, and Sleepy Hollow, but it was a combined community effort that achieved the feat of serving 17,000 meals.
While their food donation program concluded as of March 24, they are prepared to step back in if the COC and RSHM reach out in need of more meals. They are hopeful that more people will be returning to work and are now shifting their efforts to the Annual Duck Derby which will take place on June 27. The Duck Derby is their most important fundraising event of the year, and it suffered in 2020, so the Club has begun its preparations to ensure a successful 2021. To become a sponsor of the event, please visit www.tarrytownrotary.org. Duck sales will go on sale soon, but they are still accepting donations for food. Checks can be mailed to:
The Rotary Club of Tarrytowns
P.O. Box 2
Tarrytown, NY 10591