PATERSON, NJ -  CUMAC, Passaic County’s central food pantry, will hold its 13th annual HELP (Hands Extending Love to People) Dinner on Monday, November 1 at 6:00 pm at the Tides in Haledon, NJ. This year’s Bessie Simes Award, which honors an outstanding staff member at CUMAC who has made a real difference to the organization, will be awarded to Paterson resident Shirley Flythe. The dinner will also honor Andrea Mateo of Wyckoff, and the organization Table to Table.

Shirley Flythe came to CUMAC in April of 1996, and was assigned to work at the agency’s thrift shop through aWelfare to Work training program. She was hired after only a month of volunteering.  Shirley helped to transition the Thrift Shop into its temporary home at the Paterson Avenue United Methodist Church, and later took over as Manager when SadieColvin, who trained Shirley, retired. As a member of the managerial team when CUMAC searched for a new building, she was awed to see the new space that she would run the Thrift Shop from when we moved into 223 Ellison Street.

  Since that time, Shirley, along with Assistant Manager Wilma Richardson, has helped the Thrift Shop out grow that new space.  Her favorite part of the job is simply helping people: from giving a winter coat to a child who comes in on a cold winter day without one, to offering shoes to a homeless man walking by our building barefoot.  Unfortunately, Shirley has been out of work since the end of August on disability leave.   She has been greatly missed by the entire staff, and the regular Thrift Shop shoppers.  The staff of CUMAC unanimously selected Shirley for this award. The Bessie Simes award itself is named after a long-time employee whose passing was greatly grieved by CUMAC’s staff.

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  Andrea Mateo of Wyckoff will be honored as this year’s winner of the Banfield-Coxe Award, named in honor of two Henry’s who were founding Board members of CUMAC – Henry Banfield and Henry Coxe.  Said Mateo when she learned of this award, “Upon becoming a mother I instantly learned how horrible it must be to not be able to feed your children. I have one. Working with my husband and with blessings galore I am in position to help others. Helping CUMAC has been and easy and rewarding way to use my good fortune!” She has been organizing food collections for CUMAC in grocery stores all over Bergen and Passaic Counties.  To date, Andrea has been responsible for the donation of hundreds of pounds of food as well as cash donations. 

Table to Table will win the President’s Award, named in honor of former Board President Ethel Smith. Table to Table is a community-based food rescue program that collects prepared and perishable food that would otherwise be wasted and delivers it to organizations that serve the hungry in Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Passaic counties. In 2009, Table to Table delivered enough food for more than 6,000,000 meals. With four refrigerated vehicles and dedicated drivers, Table to Table picks up food that is unable to be sold, but still of good quality, from a wide range of food establishments each day.

CUMAC has been serving the Passaic County community for more than 30 years. It began in the late 1970s when then Paterson school teacher, Hugh Dunlop reached out to a local Methodist Church to help him collect food for his obviously ailing students. As they met that need, a greater need in the city of Paterson became obvious, and a small pantry was born to provide emergency food to the local community. In 1985, CUMAC was

incorporated as the Center of United Methodist Aid to the Community Ecumenically Concerned Helping Others (CUMAC/ECHO) – a name meant to show that, while we are an urban mission of the United Methodist Church, we serve all people in need without discrimination. As the largest food distribution program in Passaic County, CUMAC regularly feeds about 2,600 low-income people a month. About one in three of its clients are children; one in five are disabled and one in seven are Senior Citizens.

Tickets for the event are $60, and may be purchased online atwww.cumacecho.org Donors can also become sponsors or purchase journal ads. For more information, please call Bonnie Sirower, Event Coordinator (Liaisons for Funding, LLC) or e-mail bonnie@cumacecho.org