Updated: Jul 13, 2021
by Liz Leamy
This past spring, it was truly memorable to watch the Giving Tree Global (Bread of Life) team as they worked in tandem with the Emmy Award-winning show, George to the Rescue as the show’s amiable star, George Oliphant, came in with his crew to restore the Bread of Life food pantry on Orchard Avenue--an experience that generated incredible results and wonderful memories on all fronts!
Initially, when I first learned George to the Rescue, the top-rated NBC show known for renovating homes and work spaces for individuals and organizations who have dedicated their lives to helping others all over the U.S. had selected the Rye-based Bread of Life pantry for an episode, I was excited, but really didn’t know what to expect.
Big Changes thanks to George to the Rescue
Right from the start, it was clear big things were happening when I showed up on a Monday morning in early May to help assist Pastor Sherri Falco, founder of the Bread of Life organization, and her dedicated team with their bi-weekly pantry at 65 Orchard Avenue.
This initiative, one in which hundreds of individuals are provided with food, clothing and most importantly, prayer, support and encouragement from Sherri and her husband, Pasquale, a pastor who also helps run and operate the Bread of Life, along with their organizers and volunteers, is always a great and inspirational experience.
On this particular day, while working in and around the Bread of Life’s busy tented area helping to organize and pass out dry goods, vegetables, fruit and meat, the hustle and bustle of the George to the Rescue camera people, contractors and designers at the Bread of Life’s Orchard Avenue site made this already hopping environment even livelier than usual.
It was particularly interesting to see George Oliphant work in super-focused fashion as he could constantly be seen chatting up his television crew members, designers and contractors to make sure the plans in regard to the redesign of the basement pantry (where all the food and other items donated to the Bread of Life organization are stored and kept) would be executed and carried out in optimal fashion.
For Sherri Falco, the committed, generous and benevolent pastor who serves as the acting head and engine behind the Bread of Life organization (in conjunction with Pasquale), being involved with George Oliphant and the whole George to the Rescue operation was incredible in every way, especially when both groups were at the pantry site together.
“Some of my favorite moments were on pantry days when there was a seamless intermixing of camera crew, plumbers, carpenters and food recipients,” said Sherri Falco. “All of the activity, encounters and opportunities to meet new people and touch their lives had the effect of making our lives so much richer.”
Since its establishment in 2013, Bread of Life has played a major role in combating hunger in southern Westchester County. This is due to the Herculean efforts of the Falcos, Sue Wexler, the organization’s Director of Community Outreach, their dedicated crew of volunteers, and the generosity of their food and financial donors. The Bread of Life team and their partners provide thousands of individuals with food and clothing assistance on a monthly basis.
George Oliphant Gives Big Cheers to the Giving Tree Global- Bread of Life Organization
For Oliphant, it was a memorable and moving experience to have been involved with the Bread of Life team and its directors.
“This is a wonderful organization. I just had such a great time,” said Oliphant. “Sherri and Pasquale are so terrific, as is Sue Wexler. They are all truly about goodness and the idea of thinking globally and acting locally.”
For Sue Wexler, a longtime Rye resident who has also served a major role in the success of the Bread of Life, Oliphant’s efforts signify a new and exciting chapter of promise and hope for the organization.
“This represents more than just [an incredible] renovation for the Bread of Life, it signifies the start of a whole new and exciting chapter for us,” said Sue Wexler. “The dedication of George and his crew and seeing the involvement of everyone in the community here with this endeavor has been so moving and inspirational. You can really see the power of God working.”
Certainly, the excitement and hope due to this experience seemed to be felt among so many, especially Oliphant and his crew.
“Sherri is awesome. She is the salt of the earth and is the inspiration and motor behind the whole organization,” said Oliphant. “She is a force to be reckoned with.”
Oliphant, who said he is hoping to return again to the Bread of Life to participate in a pantry effort if he is in the Rye area, also lauded the efforts of Pasquale Falco, who drives around every single day picking up and dropping off food to individuals as well as area food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.
“I would love to go for a ride with Pasquale,” said Oliphant. “He’s such a great guy.”
Oliphant also elaborated on the high-charged and upbeat atmosphere at the Bread of Life pantry.
“I loved going there on pantry days. It’s a real strong community there and there is such a bond among everyone,” said Oliphant. “I love that energy of people working together to help someone else. It’s all about a greater need for a greater good.”
Renovation another Vital Step forward for the Bread of Life
This nearly month-long endeavor was quite something that was especially cool to watch from the sidelines.
As someone who has been involved with the Bread of Life for nearly 10 years, I was thrilled for the Falcos, Wexler and the whole organization, as this whole renovation took place.
At the start, it was exciting to see the blue George to the Rescue official truck (painted with the show’s logo on the side doors) as well as some of the show’s vans parked in front of the Orchard Avenue locale, indicating big stuff was happening.
Meanwhile, all the time Oliphant and his contractors and designers were working, the Falcos were not permitted to see the pantry until the entire project was completed so as to make the big ‘reveal’ moment a real surprise for everyone.
“It was so moving to see Sherri and Pasquale’s reaction,” said Oliphant, who credited Sarah Touijer of Rye-based Toujier Designs who was the designer of the project and Damien Amodeo of Amodeo Contracting Inc, its contractor, for their tremendous effort and skills. “It’s all about taking action to make things better and to put smiles on people’s faces.”
As this work was happening, those individuals involved with the Bread of Life pantry organization, including myself, would watch and wonder exactly what Oliphant and his team were doing, knowing it was all going to be incredible since his show is known for its beautiful and functional restorations they have done for so many hundreds of people and organizations over the years.
“We are a grass roots show,” said Oliphant. “It’s all about doing what we say we do.”
The Big Reveal-- a Golden Moment
Leading up to the big reveal (which took place in late May), many members in the Rye community became increasingly involved with the show, as the children, parents, teachers and staff of Milton Elementary School were filmed cheering on the Bread of Life organization for their vital role in the community, a moment at which Wexler, Oliphant and his staff were also present.
“It was amazing to hear everyone cheering for the Bread of Life, especially the children,” said Sue Wexler. “It really showed the heart, dedication and involvement of everyone here in the community. It was such a moving experience and to me, signified the start of yet another important chapter for the Bread of Life.”
Finally, on Friday, May 21st, it was go time as George Oliphant and his crew showed Sherri and Pasquale Falco the fruits of their labors in ‘the big reveal.’
This heartwarming finale of the show, in which Sherri and Pasquale were shown the renovated pantry was a golden moment, as they could be seen afterward smiling and teary eyed.
The Falcos, who were joined by their son, Zachary, 21, a senior at Yale University, along with several dozen of their dedicated Bread of Life volunteers and supporters, including Sue Wexler and her son, Colin, a Fordham University senior, all collectively seemed to be thrilled and blown away by the efforts of Oliphant and his talented team.
“It was so exciting to be there with Sherri and Pasquale and everyone when the big reveal took place,” said Sue Wexler. “It was great to see their expressions, gratitude and appreciation for all the hard work and efforts of George and his crew. There was such heart put into this whole project and they did such incredible work.”
According to George Oliphant, the experience of meeting and renovating the Bread of Life pantry was just as fulfilling.
“This was a great experience,” said Oliphant.
Once the Falcos had seen the big reveal, everyone else then went in to see the renovated pantry and had a similar emotional reaction.
They oohed and ahhed over the newly built and painted turquoise and yellow shelves, entryway with the beautiful Bread of Life logo on the wall, throw rugs and the lovely sitting area complete with chairs and a coffee maker, among other things.
Everyone also seemed to enjoy looking at the pictures of the Bread of Life volunteers doing pantry work over the years as well.
This was a Win-Win Experience for Everyone All Around.
According to George Oliphant, it was also about getting the news out about the importance of what the Giving Tree Global-- Bread of Life organization represents in terms of their impact with providing food and clothing for individuals and groups.
“I hope the show helps bring eyeballs to what the Bread of Life does and I hope it brings further attention to all pantries across the country,” said Oliphant. “That is the biggest thing.”
The projected airdate for the episode is Saturday, September 18 at 7 pm on NBC