Melinda Lehman, a Larchmont resident, has been appointed president of the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Hunger Task Force by its board of directors. Ms. Lehman will replace Carol Cauley, who has held the position since 1996 and is stepping down on July 1. (See: Larchmont’s Carol Cauley in Running to Represent Mets.)
Ms. Cauley will be relocating in mid-August with her husband, Bruce, to San Antonio, Texas, where he will begin a new professional phase with his current employer.
“With Carol’s commitment and leadership, the Food Pantry has evolved from a grass-roots organization to a widely supported, well-recognized non-profit that anticipates and addresses our community’s growing needs,” said Sarah Duffy Edwards, Hunger Task Force vice president. “We will miss Carol’s passion, her dedication and her unwavering commitment to bettering the lives of our neighbors in need.”
Of her many accomplishments as president, Ms. Cauley is proudest of the Food Pantry’s ability to serve the community immediately after the flood of spring 2007. “Everything the Food Pantry had was lost in the flood – including the basement from which we distributed food,” she explained. “We were scheduled to serve food the following week. It was amazing -volunteers and donors came forward to help, and we were able to go ahead as planned. Without a formal appeal, we raised the money we needed to purchase new food, supplies and equipment. That’s when you know that the community supports you and believes in your mission. We are really blessed.”
Another highlight of her tenure has been getting to know the volunteers who support the all-volunteer organization. “Nothing the Food Pantry has accomplished is because of me,” she said. “Everything happens thanks to the more than one hundred dedicated volunteers who show up every two weeks to donate food, unload trucks, pack bags, deliver to the home-bound and assist clients who stop by.”
Ms. Cauley joined the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Hunger Task Force in 1994 when she moved to Larchmont. As president, she devoted many hours each week to the Food Pantry to make sure that every family in the community had enough to eat, and she regularly spoke in front of local civic organizations and houses of worship about its work and the local community’s many needs. Ms. Cauley received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award from the Mamaroneck-Larchmont Human Rights Commission in 2009 for her dedication to effecting “positive change” in her community. (See: MLK Celebration Has Sober Message: Hunger is Growing.)
Ms. Lehman is working closely with Ms. Cauley to ensure a smooth transition for clients and volunteers. “Through her hard work, dedication and force of personality, Carol has built the Food Pantry into a far-reaching and well-respected organization,” said Ms. Lehman. “My goal as president will be to make this transition as seamless as possible and to maintain the client services and community outreach that the Pantry provides. I can’t wait to get started!”
Ms. Lehman began volunteering with the Food Pantry in 2007. “The minute I started working here it was love at first sight,” she said. “Nowhere else have I found this combination of directly benefiting our community, interacting face-to-face with clients, and working with such a dedicated volunteer base. The more I’ve gotten to know the Food Pantry, the more committed I am to the work we do and the people who do it.”
Ms. Lehman has lived in Larchmont with her husband and three children for over 11 years. A member of Larchmont Temple, Ms. Lehman served as chairman of the temple’s Social Action Committee. Ms. Lehman worked as an attorney for Legal Aid in New York in the Juvenile Rights Division before leaving the workforce to raise her children – twins entering 5th grade at Chatsworth and a son entering 7th grade at Hommocks.
About the Food Pantry: Summer Volunteers Needed
The Food Pantry distributes groceries twice a month and currently serves approximately 310 families each distribution. Groceries are delivered to the homebound and are also available for pickup on Tuesday nights between 7 pm and 8:30 pm and on Wednesday mornings between 9 am and 11 am at the CAP Center in Mamaroneck. Overall, the pantry is serving 30% more families now than in the first quarter of 2008, and it continues to register many new clients at each distribution. In addition, the number of extra-large families served (six or more individuals in one household) has more than doubled over the past two years, to 45.
The Food Pantry greatly needs summer volunteers to pack grocery bags on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm, specifically on July 14, August 11, August 25 and September 8. Children must be at least 8 years old to volunteer. New volunteers are urged to call in advance before arriving for a shift. To volunteer or to learn more about the pantry, you can call 698-3558 and leave a message. Calls are returned in one week.