This is the first of a series of brief profiles of fellow citizens of the rivertowns whose actions, while not necessarily obvious, reflect the best of human nature at a time of crisis. If you know of others who fit this description, please nominate them by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org, using the headline “Heroes.”
By Bob Kimmel
Anne Richards hasn’t left her Tarrytown home for almost three months, but during that time she has become immersed in humanitarian activities. Richards is the community organizer coordinating the work of On The Line, a group of restaurant owners and volunteers who are providing meals “for the hungry and vulnerable,” made so mainly by the coronavirus pandemic.
What she describes as her “self-quarantine” is based on Richard’s concern for and care of the youngest of her four children, her 26-year-old son, confined to their home as the result of injuries he suffered in a near-fatal accident in 2007. She wants to be certain that he doesn’t contract the virus. The support she and her family received at the time of the accident, from “strangers who stepped into our world and supported us,” is what led Richards toward her benevolent pursuits going back to her volunteer work following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Richards became involved with On The Line when she responded to a Facebook posting by Chris Vergara, co-owner of Harper’s Restaurant in Dobbs Ferry, who was among local restaurateurs who initiated the concept of providing meals to those in need in a way that also helped keep restaurants’ operating and their staffs employed.
What Richards brought to the enterprise was her community organizing experience. Among her other endeavors, she is the overseer of 10591, the communal Facebook group she was asked to take over six years ago. Under her guidance, it has become, with its thousands of participants, the largest online community in Westchester. “I worked really hard on this,” she says, “And I love it.”
These days, much of her time is absorbed by her work for On The Line. Since March 20th, the network has distributed over 5,000 meals to those in need in Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Yonkers and New Rochelle.
“Anne was integral in identifying where there is need in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow,” said Michelle Adams, one of One The Line‘s founders. “She organizes volunteers to get hundreds of meals from restaurants to distribution points. She also introduced us to restaurant owners in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow who wanted to get involved.” Adams acknowledges that Richards “is organizing a lot— We are only a piece of what she does for the Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow community.”
Richards’ logistical work includes coordinating distribution at Tarrytown’s Losee Park with Westchester County and Tarrytown on separate projects to provide meals to those in need, working with the RSHM Life Center in Sleepy Hollow, and making food available “for hungry oncology nurses at Westchester Hospital in the middle of the night.”
“She is truly one of the rivertowns’ unsung heroes, and we should be proud to have her as a neighbor,” restaurateur Vergara commented. “She sets an example of selflessness and what it means to be of service to the community.”