By CLOEY CALLAHAN
Two Newburgh residents, Melanie Collins and Michele McKeon, were honored and presented with Senator James Skoufis’ Commendation Award, which is reserved for individuals who have gone above and beyond to help their communities.
Collins and McKeon co-founded the Newburgh Mutual Aid community group in coordination with local nonprofits, LYNC and the Regional Economic Community Action Program (RECAP). In doing so, they were able to coordinate getting 400,000 pounds of produce and healthy foods to families in need.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the City of Newburgh’s already-existing food shortage, but Collins and McKeon wanted to do something to tackle the problem at hand. They partnered with the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley and several volunteers to organize food deliveries throughout Newburgh.
“Food insecurity is not new to Newburgh,” said Melanie Collins, who is also President of LYNC Community organization. “COVID-19 exacerbated the deep need that already existed in our community, but it also motivated us to take collective action to help our neighbors like never before.”
“Food insecurity does not only occur during a pandemic but daily in our cities and rural communities,” said Charles Quinn, CEO of RECAP. “It is the part of the work RECAP will continue to do throughout the county and as a partner in Newburgh Mutual Aid.”
Food preparation takes place at the First United Methodist Church, where Collins and McKeon direct and organize the deliveries.
“Melanie and Michele stepped up in a selfless and tireless way during the pandemic that no one will ever forget,” said Senator Skoufis. “Make no mistake - these two women are always behind the scenes helping on a number of initiatives in Newburgh, and the Newburgh Mutual Aid group is just one example of the work they constantly do to empower the lives of the people who live here. I’m honored to know and work with them both and look forward to continuing to support their ever-important work.”
Senator Skoufis and his staff assisted in a number of deliveries. Collins and McKeon will continue to expand their work as LYNC transforms the First United Methodist Church into a new community hub called High Point, which is set to open in early 2022.
For more information on Newburgh Mutual Aid, visit the Facebook group facebook.com/groups/collectivelyhelping. Contact them at 845-419-8321 or firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, family size and phone number if you are in need of food, as they are still distributing food to families in need.