BY BARRY WARNER
Our Unsung Hero this week is Kevin Lynch, a restaurateur and businessman who goes above and beyond to give back to his community without seeking recognition or calling attention to himself.
“A restaurant meal is an extravagance when there are other urgent monetary needs. When I was down on my luck as an alcoholic, I would go to a restaurant run by my sister Diana plus another restaurant managed by my good friend Jay O’Buck and they were kind enough to pick up the checks. I never forgot their generosities and I was inspired to repay those gestures of caring,” Lynch told the Rockland County Times.
“I place a certificate addressed to my customers on each table in the restaurant which states ‘help us to help others.’ If any of the customers know people in need, they were asked to tell server Cindy. A signed copy of the certificate would be sent to people with the hope of making their day better and to enjoy the meal on us,” he said.
“Everything is taken care of, including the tip and this is our little act of kindness that would enable those individuals to cope with the difficulties they were having. If they were unable to come into the restaurant, then we would make arrangements to bring the meals to the families. Privacy is very important and the meals are given with the best of intentions. During the year, we provide free meals to all active military personnel, who tell the server their names and branches of service. On this Veterans’ Day November 11, 2017, we will serve a free meal to all veterans. It’s our small way of thanking and honoring them for their service.”
Server Cindy M. said, “Kevin and his wife Denise have raised five children including fun-loving daughter Tara, who is developmentally disabled. Kevin is very generous and donates to many causes and charities such as Jawonio, The Center for Safety & Change, The Rockland YMCA, The North Rockland Rotary, The North Rockland Lions, The Leo Laders American Legion Post 130, Food Banks, Project Possible and The Association for the Visually Impaired. The restaurant intends to be a good neighbor and hosts a weekly ‘Dine and Donate Tuesday.’ Every Tuesday a local charity is featured and 10 percent of the evening’s food purchase is donated back to the charity.”
Dina Nejman- Ciaramella, president of the North Rockland Rotary Club, which holds its monthly breakfast at Lynch’s restaurant, said, “Kevin Lynch is the kind of person who gives from the heart and expects nothing in return. He is the kind of man who is humble and will praise others without taking credit for the amazing things he does for family, friends and the strangers whom he has never met. Kevin will never say no, unless it is something he truly cannot do. He looks at life as something to be cherished and to always cherish those who are special to you, close at heart.”
Rockland County Clerk and Past President of North Rockland Rotary Paul Piperato said, “I have known Kevin for over 40 years and while we followed different paths over the years, he has become a true friend and a hero in my eyes. He has endured his own heartbreaks in life, but has taken those times and experiences and grew into the person he is today. The word ‘no’ is not in his vocabulary when it comes to assisting others. The Rotarian motto, ‘Service Above Self’ is a daily way of life to Kevin and his family.”
Nieces Amanda and Kelly Casey of ‘Project Possible’ agreed that “Kevin is such a generous, kind person and a great pillar in our community. His philanthropic way of life brings happiness and joy to so many people. He has always been involved in serving people, whether it be through the restaurant, the ‘Come, Sit, Stay’ doggy day care center or donating his time and effort. We are lucky to have him in our lives.”
Come, Sit Stay is an animal-friendly “hotel and day care” for dogs that Lynch and his wife opened in West Haverstraw earlier this year.
Commander Don Joachim of Leo Laders American Legion Post 130 also had accolades for Lynch. Joachim said, “My Women’s Committee, headed by Lisa Jacobson, approached Kevin to see if he was willing to let us use his restaurant for a Post fundraiser ‘Pocketbook Bingo.’ Not only did Kevin say yes, he volunteered to give every participant a free buffet dinner for over 100 people! Every time Kevin is asked to help our American Legion Post, he goes out of his way to do so. He not only helps us, but all who ask him, such as the Boy Scouts and fundraising groups. You name it and Kevin is there. He is a true pillar of the community in every sense of the word. I do not have enough kind words to say about Kevin Lynch.”
Tracie McLee of Center for Safety & Change said Lynch has helped her organization house the pets of domestic violence victims while they are in transition. She said, “About two years ago, Kevin Lynch saw the community need for this program continue the climb through the agency’s Paws for Safety Walk. He answered the call by not only serving as a Paws for Safety Walk sponsor, but also offering free, emergency shelter at Come, Sit, Stay Animal Hotel for any pet who comes through our doors.”
Elizabeth Santiago, executive director of the Center for Safety & Change said, “We see victims using the Paws for Safety Program frequently. Pets can be included in Family Court Orders of protection, keeping the victim and pet safe. Kevin Lynch is one of our guardian angels, who believes along with the Center, that no one deserves to live in fear of violence. Whether it is you and/or your pets being abused or threatened, we encourage anyone to call our 24 Hour Hotline and speak to a live person at 845-634-3344. In the US, 71 percent of domestic violence victims reported their abuser had threatened, harmed and/or killed the family pet. “
Diana Hess, Jawonio’s chief development officer, said, “Kevin Lynch is a Jawonio treasure. When I first started at Jawonio in 2000, one of the first people I met was Kevin. I was taking pictures of our end of summer production and my eyes were fixed on a father’s love for his child clapping, smiling and singing with her peers. It took me about three seconds to ask Kevin if he would say a few words on camera for a Jawonio video.
“Thankfully, Kevin said yes then and he has been saying yes to Jawonio ever since. In support of our events, Kevin continues to donate his beautiful and accessible ‘Tara House’ in Greenwood Lake as a prize to bid on and win every year. Another example of Kevin’s generosity and charitable nature was donating a night at Lynch’s Restaurant where we received 10 percent of the proceeds for the evening. Another great example of Kevin flying below the ‘recognition radar’ is when we asked him to be one of our honorees at our Jawonio Kidz Express fundraiser. He was very reluctant at first, but we really knew he and his family were the perfect choice. And while he finally agreed, his response was, ‘we will do it if it helps Jawonio.’ Kevin truly is a hero for children, his own children and the larger community.”
Chuck Maze, CEO of the Rockland County YMCA said, “Kevin Lynch sets a great example as a servant leader who quietly helps those in need and supports many of our community organizations here in Rockland County. As owner of Lynch’s Restaurant he hosts many fundraisers and gives back a generous portion of the proceeds to local charities. As an active member of the North Rockland Rotary Club, he volunteers and contributes to many of his clubs service projects, which benefit the children and families in the community. We appreciate the way in which he supports the YMCA’s events and programs throughout Rockland County.”
Lynch also revived a North Rockland tradition when he opened Lynch’s on 79 S. Liberty Dr., Stony Point in 2012. The Lynch family had operated a Lynch’s for many years at the current location of Sheeran’s, 337 N. Liberty Dr., Tomkins Cove, before closing around the turn of the millennium.
Lynch concluded, “My motto is ‘we don’t serve food-we serve the community.’ I am celebrating 25 years as a recovering alcoholic and I love what I do every day, because it is an amazing feeling to share. It’s not about providing the free meals, it’s about caring for others. God pays you back.”