Rachel Dalton, a lovely Harrison-based lawyer and event producer, has always believed in giving back. With husband Mark and their three children, she has been involved in individual charitable endeavors, often through the synagogues to which they belong — the Jewish Community Center of Harrison and Temple Israel of the City of New York in Manhattan.
But to her mind, WAG’s December “Celebrate the Spirit of Giving” issue took inspiration and action to another plane. Dalton, whose company Premier Parties “secures and produces celebrity talent for events,” was impressed with our section and stories on local luminaries’ work with nonprofits. One article in particular caught her eye — Ryan Deffenbaugh’s profile of Mark Bezos, a philanthropist and Scarsdale volunteer firefighter.
“I was taken with how he said doing one small thing can make a big difference,” Dalton says over tea at The Westchester in White Plains. The Bezos family spends one day a week picking up trash along the Hutchinson River Parkway.
That got Dalton thinking. Further inspiration came from a different source. She was in a favorite haunt, Casa d’Italia Sandwich Shoppe in Harrison, looking for the best bread to make panini when a worker offered her some rolls from a big bag of day-old bread that was headed for the trash. “And I said, ‘No, no, no, you cannot throw this out,’” Dalton recalls. That led her and her family to form the group Fed by Bread, which delivers bread from Casa d’Italia one day a week to Bread of Life Hope for the Hungry in Rye.
In the United States, we tend to think of hunger as an Other World problem. Recently, The New York Times carried a particularly heartbreaking front-page story about a Venezuelan boy, Kevin Lara Lugo, who died of starvation on his 16th birthday last July.
But one in five people in Westchester alone — one of the richest places on the face of the Earth — is food-insecure. Bread of Life — described as a branch of the nonprofit Giving Tree Global — strives to combat that disturbing statistic with a figure of its own, feeding almost 12,000 hungry people a week in Westchester and Rockland counties either at its site or through distributions of fresh bread, meats, fruits and vegetables to recipients ranging from the Carver Center in Port Chester to the Union Baptist Church in White Plains.
As its literature explains, “Bread of Life receives its food supplies from various sources, but one unique source is donations by local businesses of excess food that would otherwise be discarded as waste.”
Businesses like Casa d’Italia, where owners Steve and Lucy Selvaggio have also gotten their Bronx distributor into the act. Dalton calls the Selvaggios as well as Bread of Life founders Pasquale and Sherri Falco the real heroes of this story. (He was a successful contractor and stonemason, she was a Harvard-educated lawyer with a slew of degrees and an international player with Procter & Gamble before they gave it all up to start Bread of Life.)
There are, of course, many paths to heroism. Growing up locally, Dalton knew she wanted to do something with sports and entertainment. (Her brother, Mitch Marrow, played for the Carolina Panthers.) The love of sports and entertainment led her to the law and then 15 years ago to found Premier Parties, handling the legal and production side of securing talents like comedian and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Darrell Hammond and musicians Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor.
It’s a heady career whose high is matched in a different way by her work with Bread of Life.
“It feels so good knowing the food is not going to waste,” she says. “And I’m so happy that my kids can see how one small thing can grow and help so many people.”
by Georgette Gouveia