RSHM LIFE Center Celebrates 25 Years with 12,000 Meals

News Article from Patch.com

Anniversary plans make way for providing food for families affected by shutdowns.

Staff member Ryan Cassermere makes sure families get the food they need during the 3 months food was distributed by the LIFE Center to residents affected by New York State PAUSE. Area restaurants, funded by community donations, fueled the distribution.

Though the New York State PAUSE put an end to large celebrations, Sleepy Hollow’s RSHM LIFE Center marked their 25th Anniversary on a scale no one could have imagined. Since March 26, over 12,000 meals were distributed and delivered to vulnerable families, along with 14,000 pounds of groceries and fresh produce, from the organization’s headquarters on Beekman Avenue.

The LIFE Center has been a trusted source of accurate information and assistance for low-income, immigrants since 1995, keeping them abreast of the changing immigration landscape and protecting the stability of families, focusing on the learning needs of the entire family. When New York State stay-at-home directives kept many parents from their place of employment, the LIFE Center switched gears and used their community connections to provide Life Center and other local families in need a resource for nutritious food.

Meals and produce boxes were provided by local restaurants including; J.P. Doyle’s, Tarry Tavern, Horsefeathers, Bridgeview Tavern, Grass Roots Kitchen, The Flavor Vault, Stone Barns Center, RiverMarket, Capri Pizza, Sunset Cove and Los Andes Bakery and funded by donations, with the assistance of the Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns.

“The Life Center staff has made a Herculean effort since March to make sure those hit hardest by this pandemic had food for their families, a task that is especially amazing considering the many new processes put in place, given providing food has not been the LIFE Center’s primary mission,” said Sleepy Hollow Village Trustee Rachelle Gebler. “This most recent service to the community crowns a 25 year span of providing a safe place for families and children to learn and grow and ultimately make better lives for themselves.”

Volunteers, staff and clients of RSHM LIFE Center managed an anniversary surprise for Executive Director Sr. Susan Gardella, inviting the LIFE Center community to send video greetings. Compiled by LIFE Center Assistant Director Andrea Carson, the video gave clients the opportunity to show their appreciation for the organization and staff.

In the video, Mrs. Rodriguez summarized the feelings of many of the LIFE Center families, “Thank you for opening your doors for me and my family when we first came from our country, trying to accomplish the American Dream. Because you were there for us, things were easier. Today I feel proud of my children for all of their accomplishments, but we didn’t do it alone. We did it because you were in our lives making things possible.” The video is available on the LIFE Center Facebook page.

The LIFE Center kicks off it’s Summer Fun Program this week, offering families the opportunity for safe, structured and supervised care for their children so parents can return to work. Instructors are modifying games and activities to build in distancing as well as other accommodations to meet New York State guidelines. Space week and Shark week will be among the themes for games, crafts and STEM activities for children in grades K – 5. Because months of online learning took its toll on academic achievement and English language fluency for many students, Summer Fun will have an enhanced focus on learning while still providing the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and renewing friendships safely.

“We had planned to gather our grant funders, donors, alumni, families, staff and volunteers to celebrate together on The LIFE Center’s 25th Anniversary June 5th,” explained Sr. Susan, who was one of the founding members of the organization in 1995 and has been Executive Director since 2001. “It is fitting that the activities of the day, instead, are geared to meet the current needs of our families, and focus on planning for summer camp to provide our children with structure, academic support, and fun.”

The LIFE Center relies on private funding to provide services to more than 1,100 people per year.

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