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Project Hospitality Spring Brunch Celebrates Devoted Service

We, as a community, are only as strong as the weakest among us.

 

 

Without courageous people to confront the structures of poverty and oppression, we would all struggle to rise. Without volunteers to share their hands and hearts, Project Hospitality would struggle to feed, shelter and serve our most vulnerable neighbors.

 

Project Hospitality’s Spring Brunch at the Hilton Garden Inn honored four stand-out community members for their devoted service and ethical action. Two honorees have given thousands of hours to volunteering, serving tens of thousands of meals between them. Two honorees push against the core issues of poverty, including street violence and the fact that people are not accepted as neighbors.

 

Peter Tesoriero received the Sophie Matthews Memorial Award. A longtime volunteer with the YMCA, the Union of the Holy Name Society, Seamen’s Society for Children and Families, Urban Hope NYC and many other causes and organizations, Peter has loyally supported the mission of Project Hospitality for over 15 years. His steady commitment and joyous preparation of turkey dinners during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season allow us to provide thousands of  hearty and hot celebratory meals to families and individuals in need.

 

Stuart Cohen received the Bishop Patrick Ahern Achievement Award. The Director of the Council of Jewish Organizations (COJO) Food Pantry is as tireless as he is tenacious getting food to Staten Islanders who would otherwise be hungry. Stuart works hand in hand with city and borough partners to provide kosher and emergency food to impoverished families, individuals and seniors. The pantry even makes available pet food – an essential support for economically struggling families, so they can enjoy quality of life.

 

But it is not just about putting food on the table, or food in the refrigerator, or food in the cupboard. It’s not just about churches opening their doors so we can have a cot there and people can put their head down. It’s also about stopping the pipeline of poverty and injustice.

 

Tanisha Franks received the Reverend Roland Ratmeyer Founders Award in appreciation and gratitude for her work as founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings Staten Island. She inspires women to walk through some of our most fragile communities, encouraging people to get help – that’s the kind of change we need to see in our community. We are grateful for her example. She understands poverty on the streets can lead to all sorts of situations where people find themselves in violence. Her witness, and the witness of those women around her, changes lives.  She is a beacon, spreading the word about resources like Project Hospitality, where those who are hurting can find a pathway toward peace and self-sufficiency.

 

Rabbi Michael Howald of Temple Israel Reform Congregation of Staten Island received the Rabbi Marcus Kramer Humanitarian Award in recognition of the tremendous work he has done bringing people from diverse racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds together. He speaks and creates the space where others can speak when any life has been injured or dismissed or destroyed on Staten Island, or elsewhere in this country or in our world. Rabbi Howald has stood up passionately for the rights for people facing the criminal justice system, has eloquently responded to attempts to deny immigrant rights, refugee rights, and organized an amazing vigil of people who came out to say we respect our neighbors.

 

The Spring Brunch honored longtime volunteers and leaders who act on a moral commitment to care for their neighbors, and from a faith perspective that it is imperative to serve the poor and voiceless.

 

Project Hospitality welcomes more than 600 volunteers a year across the agency. Our volunteers fill needs in office work, in IT, in social media, accounting, in records. They work in our food pantries and work on our mobile food pantry, where volunteers to distribute food from Tompkinsville to Tottenville. They cook and serve food to help in our shelter…

 

There is a place with us for anybody and everybody who has an open heart and willing hand. Project Hospitality was founded 35 years ago as an all-volunteer, interfaith effort, and volunteers continue to carry out our core mission.

 

We offer our profound gratitude to the guests who celebrated with us at our Spring Brunch. We also thank our Lead Sponsor Mutual of America, Fellowship Sponsor J.P. Morgan Chase, Patron Sponsors Carol & Denis P. Kelleher, Macy’s and Ashkar Corporation, and Member Sponsors Una & Roland Ratmeyer, Jane, Eva & Melina Bartels, Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, N. Cheng, Enexia, RUMC, United Activities Unlimited and Metro Plus.  Without their generous support, we would accomplish far less on Staten Island.

 

Let us resolve to continue to do good for our neighbors until all of us can one day be at the table of bounty together.

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