ALLENDALE, NJ - Allendale Mayor Liz White and Councilwomen Liz Homan and Amy Wilczynski, put on gloves, took a place in the food prep line at Christ Church and got set to package the hot meals prepared by The Valley Hospital for clients of Community Meals Inc. Their first special delivery was to longtime CMI client and Allendale resident, Cathy Favaro-Maimone, 89.
"I started getting the meals after my first hospital stay four years ago," Favaro-Maimone said on April 18. "I couldn't drive any longer to buy groceries or cook. I heard about Community Meals through a friend that lived in Ho-Ho-Kus."
Community Meals Inc. (CMI) is a private non-profit "meals-on-wheels" organization serving Allendale, Glen Rock, Ho-Ho-Kus, Midland Park, Ridgewood, Waldwick and part of Saddle River. The healthy hot and cold meals are prepared by Valley Dining, The Valley Hospital's Food and Nutrition Department and delivered to CMI for packing and distribution. In 2017, the organization's volunteers delivered nearly 25 thousand meals.
Though today's delivery was made by White, Homan and Wilczynski, Favaro-Maimone was quick to point out that "all the volunteers are special. Sometimes they're the only people I see during the day."
Loneliness isn't something Favaro-Maimone likes to think about. She'd led an exciting life and was a working mother for most of her career. The daughter of Italian immigrants, she grew up in Little Italy in New York City and later lived on the Upper West Side. She started working in the music business in 1946 as a stenographer or "Gal Friday" for Signature Records. Her love of music and ambition served her well despite the music industry being a male-dominated business that often didn't value a woman's advice.
Favaro-Maimone recalled how she discovered singer Eydie Gorme ("Blame It on the Bossa Nova") but couldn't get her label, Capitol, interested. She fared better when she went to work for producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, known as Hugo & Luigi, who produced for Sam Cooke, The Isley Brothers and Sarah Vaughan. The duo scored big as co-authors of Elvis Presley's hit "Can't Help Falling in Love".
Favaro-Maimone discovered a hit singer for the producers, 15 year-old Margaret Battavio, while listening to unsolicited demo records. Renamed Little Peggy March, the singer's 1963 debut, "I Will Follow Him" was the first of several Top 40 hits.
In 1964, Favaro-Maimone married Capitol Records promotion executive Joe Maimone. "I married late. I was 35. Like today's women, I had a great career," she remarked. "So I waited for the right man. Joe was the love of my life. We only had 12 years together when he died."
Fortunately, Favaro-Maimone had returned to the business in 1969 as an album coordinator for Crewe Records. Though she said opportunities for women hadn't improved much, she managed to rise to be one of the first female executives in the music industry while raising her two young boys as a single mother.
A longtime resident of Bergen County, 52 years by her count, she lived in Teaneck, Dumont and Bergenfield before settling in Allendale. Favaro-Maimone acknowledges that her life has been mostly wonderful, though she worries at her age about money, food and her health. Not one to dwell for long, she shakes her head and breaks into her trademark smile.
White, Homan and Wilczynski, shared a few stories with Favaro-Maimone before going to their next delivery. All strongly support the mission of CMI. They participated in Mayors for Meals, a campaign of the Meals on Wheels America Association to raise awareness of the growing number of seniors facing hunger and isolation in Bergen County.
Wilczynski added, "It's a wonderful program which my loved ones have benefited from, as well. The meals are affordable and delivered at the same time each day so residents can adjust to the routine."
According to Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA), the largest national organization supporting community-based senior nutrition programs across the country, in 2017:
- Nationally, 1 in 6 seniors struggles with hunger
- In New Jersey, the number of seniors struggling to stay independent and healthy is growing:
- 430, 275 are isolated or living alone
- 233,975 are threatened by hunger
- 404,298 are living in or near poverty
In addition to providing nutritious meals, CMI volunteers provide a safety net to seniors like Favaro-Maimone, who want to age in place. The CMI volunteer may be their only contact for the day. MOWAA reports that nationally, clients who get meal delivery report fewer falls, which cost our nation $31 billion each year.
They estimate that the cost of meals for a senior for one year is roughly the same cost as one day in a hospital.
CMI has served the local community since 1971 and depends on donations to keep meal costs low. Learn more about CMI on their website: www.communitymealsonwheels.org
About COMMUNITY MEALS, INC.
COMMUNITY MEALS INC. is a private non-profit "meals-on-wheels" organization established in 1971. Volunteers deliver nutritious hot and cold meals prepared by Valley Dining, the Food and Nutrition Services Department of The Valley Hospital to the homebound Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm. CMI depends on private donations to keep meals affordable and to subsidize those in financial need. For further information, call 201-447-8295, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.communitymealsonwheels.org. CMI is a member of Meals on Wheels America Association.
About Meals on Wheels America
Meals on Wheels America is the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country that are dedication to addresses senior isolation and hunger. This network exists in virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America's seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, research, education and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org