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December 07, 2016
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Soul food

Heron's Eye Communications co-founder Sandy Long attended the Sullivan County Food Raiser at the Catskill Distillery in Bethel, NY, one of several venues where events were held simultaneously across the county.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox

Living on a restricted diet is annoying. One would think that I’d be accustomed to it by now, since it’s been almost two decades of reading labels, asking the right questions and following rules, but still, I have my moments. Seeking a simpler, less stressful way of life, I moved to the Catskills. I’m unsure what effect I thought this change would have on my intestinal tract, but my gut instinct directed me toward the Upper Delaware Valley, and lo and behold, my health has improved. While it’s certainly true that I have greater access to farm-raised foods (www.sullivancountyfarmersmarkets.org), and I’ve learned a lot about how what I eat affects my body, the real surprise has been how the region I now call home feeds the soul.

Nutrition comes in many forms and literally means “to feed and nourish,” which I’ve come to realize includes my mental state as well. Aside from the benefits of fresh air, organic food and living in harmony with nature, being an active member of the community has nourished me in countless ways, and I’m more grateful for little things that I took for granted in the asphalt jungle; things that were eating away at me, one neuron at a time. “It’s a simpler way of life” I explain to my friends, who still question my decision, “but that doesn’t mean that there are no problems. The difference is that I feel less alone when the going gets tough.”

Big city living is (IMHO) just not as conducive to lending a helping hand, while here in the country it’s a way of life. This past weekend exemplified the spirit of community in the form of the fifth annual Great Sullivan County Food Raiser (www.facebook.com/SCCommunityUnity), sponsored by Sullivan County Community Unity and the Catskill Distillery’s Stacy & Friends benefiting food pantries throughout the county, raising money, awareness and spirits for those in need. The event, which takes place in multiple locations simultaneously, enriches the soul, while entertaining the masses and raising much needed funds.

While keeping a constant vigil on my intake, calories are never the issue, and therefore dessert is always on the menu. To serve my sweet tooth, I’ll be heading out to the United Methodist Church of Monticello (www.monticelloumchurch.org) on Saturday, February 9 for “Shorts and Sweets for Sweethearts,” which will provide dinner (that I may not be able to sample), entertainment and “delectable homemade desserts” (which I definitely can). That’s all I need to know, but for those of you with questions, call 845/262-2376 for reservations and information.

Speaking of reservations, I’m experiencing some on a personal level while preparing to (quite literally) help serve the community on a slightly different level. The fifth annual Sullivan County Celebrity Dinner is approaching at lightening speed, and I’m a little nervous. On Friday, March 8, the Villa Roma Resort (www.villaroma.com) will be hosting the four-course dinner and a night of entertainment benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sullivan County (www.bgcorange.org). Multiple teams of servers will be on hand and I’ve been asked to represent The River Reporter this year, along with teammates Paul Ciliberto, Michelle Semerano (www.thunder102.com) and Town of Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini, as we serve the diners along with Sullivan County Partnership’s Allan Scott and Michelle Klugman-Resnick.

This year’s theme, “Music from Your Youth,” is our inspiration, and 20 teams of local celebrities will be on hand, costumed and at your service, while competing for the largest collection of tips, which will be determined by how much we entertain (hence my reservations). It’s not my cohorts that concern, but my own ability to pull off what is currently still a secret. Naturally, the Wonder Dog will be at my side and undoubtedly an advantage, since her very appearance is entertaining and (if advance sales are any indication), it’s clear that many of her fans are looking forward to hobnobbing with Her Highness. I’m praying that attendees will be laughing with (rather than at) me, but either way, it’s for a wonderful cause. Fully prepared to be a good sport, my competitive streak is in full force, and since the event is always sold out, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their county.

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to boss me (or them) around for a night, call 845/342-8833 and let the powers that be know that you need to be seated at our table (Team Italian Stallions). As mentioned, an incredible dinner will be served, so leave the rotten tomatoes at home. Surely there will be something on your plate to throw in my general direction. Whatever your motivation, come on out, support the cause and have a great time. It might just feed your soul.