Paying It Forward One Basket At A Time

PATCHOGUE, NY – Since 2015, Maureen Mantesta, her family members and friends have spent the holidays giving back to clients of Community Housing Innovations, a local nonprofit providing housing and human services across Suffolk and Nassau Counties. In 2014, CHI case managers contacted Maureen, whom they knew from working with the nonprofit organization Birthday Wishes of Long Island. There was an issue: the supportive housing program was short ten turkeys for their clients’ families at the holidays. At the time, Maureen’s brother, John Galvin, was in the end stages of lung cancer and it was difficult to coordinate the donation. Two months later, Maureen’s brother passed away. In 2015, looking to make the holidays a feel good time again, Maureen and her family started creating baskets for CHI’s clients in honor of her brother, who was a donor to Meals on Wheels in New York City. They started with a small list of basic needs and a list of some optional items. Since that time, the effort has grown. When her friends learned about the project, it became a group effort. “I can’t even imagine not doing it anymore,” said Maureen Mantesta. “It’s become such an important part of my holidays. The volunteers are amazing. If people know what you need, they give it to you.” And give they did.  This year Maureen, her family and friends put together 34 baskets filled with all the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal, including, most importantly, the turkey. And lots of people play a part. A friend, Beverly, stores 19 turkeys in her extra freezer. Maureen’s son, Joe Mantesta, is an assistant basketball coach at New York Institute of Technology. This year he spread the giving spirit to his team and others at NYIT including the men's and women's soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, baseball, softball, volleyball, cross country and men's basketball teams. Each of the athletes took some money and bought items for the baskets, putting together 11 of the 34 meals for formerly homeless families. “It’s truly a community effort and we are so grateful to be the recipient of such a wonderful tradition,” said Alexander H. Roberts, Executive Director of CHI.   About Community Housing Innovations Founded in 1991, Community Housing Innovations, Inc. is a nonprofit affordable housing and social services agency serving Westchester, the Hudson Valley and Long Island. CHI provides housing and human services that support social and economic independence. Programs include emergency and transitional housing, permanent housing, homeownership counseling, education, and down payment assistance, foreclosure prevention education, and development of fair and affordable housing. For more information on CHI, visit     ###