Evelyn “Evie” Ramunno and the volunteers of the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry were named the recipients of the Sag Harbor Partnership Community Service Award early this week.
Members of the Partnership presented the award to the volunteers on Tuesday, December 8, in the basement of the Sag Harbor Old Whalers’ Church on Union Street, where volunteers meet weekly to package food for nearly 100 families in need. New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni also attended the morning event, presenting volunteers with proclamations from the town and state for their efforts aiding families in greater Sag Harbor. Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming also issued a certificate of recognition to the food pantry in honor of their volunteerism.
“The Sag Harbor Partnership voted unanimously to honor Evie and all the volunteers that she so cutely has nicknamed ‘The Corona Crew,’ and we think it is so incredible that each week you have put your own selves at risk to care for this in our community,” Partnership Executive Director Molly Bishop said during the Tuesday morning gathering. “We are so honored to honor you.”
“The Town of Southampton, your community, we want to present this proclamation to you for all the good work you do and to the volunteers at the pantry,” Mr. Schiavoni said. “These are challenging times and we certainly appreciate everything everyone does here. You are one of the reasons we have a fantastic community and a great country, so thank you.”
This is the fifth Community Service Award presented by the Partnership since 2016. Past recipients — honored with a certificate and also a glass sculpture modeled after April Gornik’s breaching whale painting created for the Partnership’s audio tours — include Ms. Gornik, landscape architect Ed Hollander, Wharf Shop owner Nada Barry and Gregory Ferraris, a CPA and owner of GN Ferraris and a former Sag Harbor Village mayor and Planning Board chairman.
Ms. Ramunno was born in Bridgehampton and has spent her life connected to Sag Harbor, working at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory, where she met her late husband, Jim. The couple, who married when Ms. Ramunno was just 19 year old, would raise their five children in Sag Harbor, where Ms. Ramunno enjoyed a 28-year career in the Sag Harbor School District. She began volunteering at the food pantry in 2000, two years after her retirement. In 2009, after Lillian Woudsma stepped down from the role, Ms. Ramunno became the pantry’s executive director. She was honored by The Sag Harbor Express as its “Person of the Year” in 2013.
The Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry serves about 100 families each week, offering fresh food and essentials every Tuesday out of the commercial kitchen in the basement of the Old Whalers Church. In addition to offering three bags of groceries weekly, pantry volunteers also offer social services. Volunteers who have helped from time to time with the clothing drives and winter coat distributions include Caroline Cassa, Valerie Cuyjet, Muriel Falborn, Dawn Margolis and Kate Robertson.
“The food pantry creates a feeling of togetherness, neighbors helping neighbors, everyone working together,” Ms. Ramunno said in a release issued by the Partnership on Tuesday.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a committed group of volunteers have shown up week after week to assist in the bag preparation and distribution, despite many being older and in a vulnerable demographic should they become infected by the virus. Those volunteers include MaryAnn Bennett, Gloria Brown, Tom Buckley, Jim Burns, Gregg Churchill, Joe Holder, Michi Ikeda, Pam Kern, Marilyn and Pat Knowles, Deanna Lattanzio, Judy Lattanzio, Nahir Nieves, Robyn Obler, Eden Sargent, Jean VanErk and Dianne Youngblood.
And Ms. Ramunno says, “Those who cannot participate are our best cheerleaders.”
Recognizing the financial impact COVID-19 has had on families and the increased pressure placed on local food pantries, the Sag Harbor Partnership has offered two community relief grants to the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry in 2020 and its board encourages community members to continue to ensure the most vulnerable members of the greater Sag Harbor community are supported during this crisis.
To donate to the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry, visit sagharborfoodpantry.org/donations. To support the Partnership’s mission to offer community relief grants for organizations throughout Sag Harbor, visit sagharborpartnership.org/donate.