This column is a continuing series by Chef Peter X. Kelly of Xaviars Restaurant Group which runs every Thursday.
This past week I was humbled to be honored by Lifting up Westchester, an agency that caters to the most vulnerable among us.
As a chef catering to guests that make choices of where to eat rather than having to wonder if they will eat, I am acutely aware of the need to keep my industry in perspective. Though eating is one of life’s unavoidable necessities, dining has always been one of life’s great luxuries.
For many years, Lifting up Westchester, formerly known as Grace Church Community Center, has been acting as an umbrella agency working to address many of the major social issues here in Westchester County.
Poverty, homelessness, health, education and hunger.
Here, in a county more known for its wealth than for the nearly 25 percent of our population that is currently living under the poverty level, bringing attention and funds to these concerns is truly a challenge.
It often seems to me that it's easier to solicit donations and support for the arts council, the preservation of our parks, and the homelessness of our pets than it is to feed our hungry residents or to provide shelters for residents recently evicted.
Caring for the homeless and hungry may not be as sexy or glamorous as endowing our higher learning institutions or establishing an international film center, yet it's critical and part of our social responsibility.
The Westchester residents that Lifting up Westchester is helping more often than not are our working poor. In many instances, they are victims of domestic abuse, corporate downsizing and, increasingly, foreclosures. Many are working two jobs and supporting children.
With the current political climate and a series of budgetary cuts in funding resources, Lifting Up Westchester has never been more in need.
John Kennedy once said “that to those whom much has been given much is required." Supporting Lifting up Westchester must be more than just answering a once a year appeal, we must do as St Dominic did as the Founder of an order of preachers: We must reach into our community and preach the importance of the work of lifting up Westchester.
I encourage you to mail a donation or call with a credit card offering to: Lifting Up Westchester, 35 Orchard St., White Plains, NY 10603 or (914) 949.3098, ext. 9740, www.liftingupwestchester.org/.
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