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By Georgetta L. Morque

Last month, under a hazy August sky, music, food, and community spirit filled the parking lot at St. Peter’s Church in Port Chester. The occasion was Caritas of Port Chester’s celebratory cookout to thank its many volunteers and community partners.

Caritas has much to celebrate. Last year they moved from Don Bosco to the roomier St. Peter’s at the corner of Pearl Street and Westchester Avenue, and, under the leadership of Bill Cusano, coordinator of services, the nonprofit has expanded its services and evolved into more of a community center.

“It’s like a hub and spoke,” said Terence Linehan, Rye resident and newly appointed board president. Caritas, which was incorporated as a 501(c) 3 in 2012, planted its roots back in 1995 to provide food, clothing, counseling, and education to the needy of Port Chester.

While continuing its mission, the organization has now partnered with

local organizations, including: Score, to provide job mentoring; the Rye YMCA, which offers blood pressure screenings; The Capitol Theater, which collected food in lieu of admission at Garcia’s Sunday Shakedowns; restaurants that donate food; and the Food Bank for Westchester, which offers classes in how to prepare dishes from the Caritas food pantry.

“We want people to have the best experience they can here,” said Cusano, who is happy when he sees people move on to better things. “We’re fostering hope. It’s really a positive place and people get recharged here.”

This past summer, Caritas introduced an internship program to teach students about running a nonprofit. Rye Country Day seniors were charged with a project for the homeless, which was made possible by a Greenwich Hospital grant to provide personal hygiene products. The students came up with a plan to find the most cost-effective items, package them, and tailor them to individuals’ needs through a signup sheet so that no one had to wait on a line and feel self-conscious.

“The kids get to learn, own it, and then take it back to their schools,” said Cusano, who formerly ran a marketing company and is a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese, serving at St. John’s Wilmot in New Rochelle. He loves having local schools involved. Port Chester Middle School students have delivered food that they’ve grown, nursery school children have assembled snack bags, and others have held successful food drives.

Caritas aims to do more. “There is definitely a need in the area to provide more food,” said Linehan, noting the increase in Port Chester families this past summer. From January through mid-August, the soup kitchen served 23,567 lunches, and the food pantry, which operates Wednesdays and Saturdays offering meats and fish, as well as produce and packaged goods to provide quality meals, served 2,423 households.

Even in the new space, the kitchen operation is at capacity. Ideally, Caritas would like the pantry to be open more frequently and to be able to provide meals beyond lunch. Cusano says they are up to the challenge, with help from the community. Donations and volunteers are welcome. For information, call 305-3967 or visit www.Caritaspc.org.

Maria Vega in the Caritas kitchen with student volunteers

Bill Cusano with Stella Marroquin and Marisol Juarez at the Caritas cookout last month

Every year, as the first signs of fall appear, the Children’s Philanthropy branch of The Woman’s Club of Rye offers families the opportunity to have a photographic portrait taken in a natural setting, at the Rye Nature Center or Rye Town Park. The event helps you get your holiday card photo done way ahead of time and raises funds for the children of Rye.

A non-refundable sitting fee of $110 includes your choice of an 8 x 10 color or black-and-white print. For a complete schedule, visit womansclubofrye.org.

By Arthur Stampleman

I have enjoyed chamber music for many years, attending concerts in private homes in Westchester and various New York City venues. But only in the past few years have I become familiar with an outstanding concert series offered close to home. I have enjoyed the series offered by The Westchester Chamber Music Society so much that I want to be sure all local music lovers are aware of it.

The Westchester Chamber Music Society is celebrating its 67th anniversary this season. Led by its president, Dr. Caroline Bauman, it has been bringing first-rate artists to Westchester, including the Tokyo, Emerson, and Brentano string quartets. “We have many longtime subscribers and newer members who enjoy the unique experience of listening to chamber music in a space similar in size to the ones in which Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven originally performed,” said Bauman.

The Society hosts five concerts each year Sunday afternoons at 4 at Congregation Emanuel-El of Westchester on the border of Rye and Harrison.

Audience members, myself included, and performers have found that the hall has excellent acoustics and is well suited for chamber music. After each performance, concertgoers are invited to meet the musicians at an informal reception at which refreshments are served.  

A first-rate program is lined up this year:

October 15: The Ariel Quartet. They have performed throughout North America, Europe and Israel. Program: Mozart, Bartok, and Brahms.

November 19:The Dover String Quartet. In 2013-14, they became the first Quartet-in-Residence of the venerated Curtis Institute of Music. 

December 10: The Walsh-Drucker-Cooper Trio. Comprised of Eugene Drucker of Emerson Quartet fame, his wife cellist Roberta Cooper, and pianist Diane Walsh.

March 18: Amerigo Trio. Features former New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow. 

April 22: The Frisson Ensemble. A nine-piece chamber ensemble featuring young classical musicians and showcasing a myriad of rarely performed masterworks. 

Season subscriptions or individual tickets are available, and students are admitted at no charge. Information is available at http://www.westchesterchambermusicsociety.com.

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Celebrating Women

The Osborn is hosting a “Women Who Make a Difference” luncheon September 26 at 11:30. The guest speaker is award-winning author Florence Williams, who will discuss her book, “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.”

The afternoon’s honorees are Angel Morris, past president of the Rye Garden Club and the Rye Nature Center, Hilary Forman, senior vice president of HealthPRO-Heritage, and Dr. Catherine P. Isaac, a physician at Scarsdale Medical Group.

Proceeds will support The Osborn Charity Care Program and the expansion of The Adams Library. Tickets start at $100. For more information and to make a donation, visit theosborn.org/giving.

Angel Morris & Hilary Forman

 

Dr. Catherine P. Isaac

 

Celebrate grandparents and their contribution to our lives at the Westchester Children’s Museum Sunday, September 10 from 10-4. Free admission for grandparents!

On September 23, head to the WCM Book Nook for a kindness-themed book reading and discussion followed by an art educator-led good deed project.