Broad-shouldered philanthropy

Theresa Fall (file photo by Lauren Thomas)

Even though it opens at its south end to a natural amphitheater with a tiered hillside for spectating and a bulbous widening of the patio seemingly designed with performance, not merely congregation, in mind, nothing ever assured that New Paltz’s Water Street Market would become the multipurpose community hub that it has. In fact, smarter money would have been on boutique tourist attraction only, a destination exclusively for the entrapment of day-tripping metropolitans who feel in New Paltz much like I feel in, I don’t know, Barnstable, where you can even fool yourself into thinking the root beer tastes more historic. “You wanna know where they THE BEST Atomic Fireballs?”

No. It was for the most part Theresa Fall who assured that Water Street Market would fulfill its community potential. The owner of the Jar’d — the market’s adorably micro pub — and a stakeholder in the wildly popular restaurant The Parish, Theresa founded and still curates the market’s Monday movie-night series, its summer-long Tuesday night concert series in which I am privileged to perform, the winter chili festival, and a variety of one-off art and theater programs over the years.

One imagines it was her curatorial proof of concept that set the stage for the triumph of the new Denizen Theatre, the first new purely cultural institution to clear the Nimby hurdles for which my hometown is dubiously famous in quite some time, quite some time.

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Like us all, Theresa’s got some time on her hands. That’s a dangerous thing if apathy is your bag.
Along with deputy mayor KT Tobin and Bianca Tanis, Theresa has seen to it that a novel, win-win-win county program known as Project Resilience has gained strong buy-in from New Paltz. Go, Hugies. (All three women are simply synonymous in NP with broad-shouldered philanthropy, organization, and compassion, so all of this is about as surprising, here at least, as the forsythia blooming again this year).

Ulster County’s Project Resilience gives business to restaurants to feed people in need, paying the establishments to make food and then bringing in volunteer leadership like Theresa, KT and Bianca to coordinate meal delivery. Funded by donations and United Way, the program operates on volunteer energy three days a week, and at present is delivering upwards of 225 meals a day on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, probably keeping a few kitchens open and solvent in the process.

Hometown pride. I has it.

Read more installments of Village Voices by John Burdick.