Paul Brown: Accent on the positive

paul-brown-SQ“Protein Partners” is how I like to describe the seven restaurants in New Paltz that have each been generously donating ten pounds of protein to the Family of New Paltz food pantry every month for the past two years.

It all began in early 2013 when a group of New Paltz High School students, enrolled in the Participation in Government Class, visited the pantry and learned how hundreds of families living in New Paltz and its surrounding towns, from just south of Kingston to the Orange County border, are able to receive three days of food each month for each member of their family. Determined to help, the students went out to canvass local eating establishments. As a result, the owners and managers of the following restaurants signed up to be part of the “Family of New Paltz Restaurant Support Network:” Bridge Creek Café, Main Street Bistro, McGillicuddy’s, Murphy’s, P&G’s, Plaza Diner and Shea O’Brien’s.

Thanks to the students and these restaurants, over 2,000 pounds of protein have been distributed to needy families in our area over the past two years. Expensive protein items are often the first to be lost from the diets of those experiencing financial hardship. Given the price of meat, poultry and fish, the generosity and commitment of our local restaurateurs has amounted to a helping hand worth over $15,000 being extended to those in need. Our protein partners do not seek recognition for their altruism, but perhaps a thumbs-up for their much-appreciated contribution to our community would be appreciated the next time you visit one of these local establishments. New protein partners are always welcome at Family.


Helping children in Kenya who have lost one or both parents to AIDS is the goal of the Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Family Music Festival, to be held this Sunday, May 2 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The festivities will take place at the church, located at 90 Route 32 South in New Paltz, and the family-oriented day will feature a storyteller and puppeteer, activities and crafts, delicious food and music by Dog on Fleas, Fuzzylollipop and Bright the Day. Suggested donations are $12 per adult, $5 per child or $40 per family. One-hundred percent of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Crossroads Springs Africa program, an organization that provides the majority of financial support to a school and HIV/AIDS Orphan Care Center in Hamisi, Kenya. The goal of the program is to equip the orphaned and other vulnerable children of Hamisi with the skills and knowledge to become self-reliant and responsible citizens. The vision of the organization is that these skills will enable the children, not only to support themselves, but to help others and eventually become a key source of economic and leadership strength in their communities. For more information on the Family Music Festival, call (845) 255-0051.

How pleasant it is to shop in the newly renovated Rite-Aid store. The appeal of modern merchandising, new shelving and floor covering, improved lighting, updated signage and a fresh coat of paint has resulted in the feeling of a brand new store in a familiar location. Staff members and customers seem equally delighted with the improvements. A nice job of recycling existing space and providing a more pleasant and attractive environment in which to shop in our community.

Last fall, a new business came to town — a business with a modest name but meaningful mission and purpose. The Just-A-Buck store, located at 260 Main Street in the ShopRite Plaza, is partnered with Ulster-Greene ARC, a non-profit agency providing services for adults with developmental disabilities and advocating for their rights. ARC is a value-based organization devoted to leveling the playing field when it comes to providing meaningful work for those it serves, while the retail business must earn its own way in the competitive marketplace. A majority of the staff members at Just-A-Buck are clients being served by ARC. Executive director John McHugh told me they have hired 16 people since opening and are delighted with the success of their store.

ARC’s heart-inspiring mission is clearly stated on its website: “To offer people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities opportunities to live and experience full lives” ( This is happening each and every day as this organization, founded in 1956 by a small group of parents of developmentally disabled children, positions itself to compete entrepreneurially on behalf of its clients. There are at least two other ‘dollar stores’ within five miles of the New Paltz Just-A-Buck location, so the business must work hard through its pricing, merchandising and customer service to compete and survive. From what I can see, it is doing just fine. It is a fun place to shop, a place where you can purchase a large variety of items for a dollar and feel good about it at the same time.

Lots of nice things happen quietly every day here in New Paltz which, in large part, is the reason we love our town.