New York City may be a long way from northern New Hampshire, but the mountains and miles did not deter North Country folks from supporting their friends in the big city.
Last February, when New York celebrity Chef Millie Peartree visited the area to host a tasting event at Chang Thai Cafe in Littleton, she made some new acquaintances, including members of the Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, Inc. team. Flash forward a couple of weeks, and a pandemic later, and the new friends would work together to help essential workers in need.
ACHS Community Relations Director, Jill Kimball, was one of the attendees of the tasting event and remembers being “blown away” by Millie’s delicious food and engaging personality. Chef Millie who hails from the Bronx, NY, and owns Millie Peartree Catering pivoted her business to help with the #COVID19 crisis afflicting her community and began an Essential Meals Initiative.
The Initiative uses donations to provide meals for New York’s essential workers – firefighters, delivery drivers, health care workers, and more. So far, Millie and her team (with the help of Audi USA), have delivered over 4,000 meals in the city. When Jill heard about the program on Good Morning America, she knew ACHS would want to be part of the project. “It would be a great way to pay forward the goodness we’ve received from our community,” she said.
Paying it forward – from NH to NYC!
Over the last few months, the local Littleton community has made masks, donated food, supplies, and baked goods to ACHS to help ensure their essential workers were cared for. Organizations, like Garnet Hill Inc., Burgeon Outdoors, Spit and Shine Detailing, Upstage Players, Gold House Pizza, Reklis Brewing, Chang Thai Café, and more rallied around the ACHS team. “Their generosity was amazing, and we were looking for a way to pass that kindness forward,” Jill said.
She contacted Emshika Alberini, owner/chef at Chang Thai Cafe, and asked if she wanted to partner to support Millie’s efforts and sponsor a sister Community Health Center in Millie’s neck of the woods. “Emshika is such a key supporter of the community, and Millie’s, so of course she said, yes!” Jill stated.
Community Health Centers stick together – show support
They reached out to the Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center (BSFHC) in Brooklyn, NY. As a Federally Qualified Community Health Center (FQHC) with 130 employees, they were similar in size and services to ACHS. “BSFHC has been on the front lines of the pandemic and I was sure their team could use some TLC.”, said Jill. Thomas Weir, BSCHC’s Director of Clinical Services was quickly onboard. “It really is support and comradery like this that gives us the buoyancy we need to stay afloat during such difficult times,” he said.
On Wednesday, June 10th, Millie, and her team delivered 130 meals to the health center. Greeted with delicious soul food including, Millie’s New York Times-acclaimed Macaroni and Cheese, green beans, and fried chicken, the BSFHC team was thrilled. With support from friends afar they were able to get a much-needed break and some love and support from NH’s North Country.
“We hope to foster a continued relationship with BSFHC. As one of just 1,400 FQHCs in the nation, we need to stick together. There is much we can learn from each other”, said Jill. The two organizations plan to share ideas and concerns related to community health both urban and rural.
BSFHC has plans to pay it forward with another community health center – Brooklyn Plaza Medical Center. They’ll be donating 100 meals with Chef Millie – proving once again, kindness has no boundaries.