BY BARRY WARNER
People to People is a nonprofit 501 C3 organization that works to help struggling Rockland residents through difficult times with dignity. For decades, People to People (PtoP) has been assisting the community’s most vulnerable families, anxious seniors and worried veterans. The organization is Rockland’s hunger relief organization that provides food and other services to more than 4,000 Rocklanders every month.
Executive Director Diane E. Serratore told the Rockland County Times, “Dale McGovern was one of the first volunteers to welcome me when I became People to People Executive Director in 2008. Since then, Dale has taken on more responsibilities as PtoP’s efforts to help our neighbors in need have expanded. I can’t say enough about the contributions Mrs. McGovern has made as a PtoP volunteer. Dale is always willing to take on new challenges. She cares deeply about the work that PtoP does and the people that we help every day in so many ways. People to People could not do what it does without our volunteers and I am very grateful that Dale is one of them.”
Volunteer Dale McGovern said, “I retired after working for 26 years and was wondering what I could do to keep busy and give back to the community. I was given a list of volunteer opportunities by the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and chose to give my services to PtoP three to five hours a day, starting in 2006. I am involved in the following programs that include The Dress Barn Clothes Closet, Back to School with Dignity, Project Joy!, It’s in The Bag! and The Food Pantry.”
. The Dress Barn Clothes Closet provides the clients the opportunity to browse the area while picking up their monthly food package. Clients can take several gently-used clothing items per family every month.
. Back to School with Dignity provides essential school supplies to at-risk Rockland students and makes it possible for these students to start the new school year on the road to success. Backpacks are filled with school supplies including scientific calculators for high school students.
. Project Joy! enables thousands of children to have happy holidays, thanks to PtoP and its supporters. Families in need were ‘adopted’ and toys were purchased based on the child’s Wish List.
. It’s in the Bag! is a feeding program that supplies weekend food packages to children from low-income families who participate in after-school programs at the Haverstraw and Nyack Centers. These children receive a nutritious breakfast and lunch at school. On Saturday and Sunday schools are closed, but they still need breakfast and lunch.
. The Food Pantry supplies food to thousands of Rocklanders every month who struggle to put food on their tables. Open five days a week and one evening, the Food Pantry provides non-perishable items such as pasta, cereal, rice, canned goods, meat, poultry dairy products as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Clients must meet eligibility requirements including Rockland County residency and income guidelines supplied by the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.
According to the website www.rocklandhunger.org , ‘Rockland Community Against Hunger (RCAH) brings together a network of food pantries and feeding programs, the local Food Bank and social service agencies. Its primary goal is to provide information about food sources and food-related services, raise awareness of hunger in Rockland County, mobilize support among public and private resources and educate the community about food and nutrition. Hunger or ‘food insecurity’ is defined as the lack of dependable access to enough food to sustain a healthy life.
People who are food insecure are often forced to choose between paying for food and everyday necessities, such as rent or health care. Children without adequate nutrition are more likely to have cognitive and behavioral development issues. There are 43,000 people living below the poverty line in Rockland. Almost half of the people getting food do not qualify for federal nutrition programs and must rely on charitable food assistance.’
People to People provides assistance to thousands of Rockland households that need help in meeting basic needs. Anyone who walks into PtoP in search of immediate food assistance will receive an emergency food package will receive three days of non-perishable food items. Those in need of additional assistance and who could benefit from PtoP programs, as described above, are encouraged to register for services by calling 845-623-4900, ext. 209.