Meet the Founder
When Rosemarie McCarthy happened upon a mention of the One World Everyone Eats café model in a magazine, she went looking for a cafe to volunteer. The idea of a donation-based cafe, servicing a diverse socioeconomic range and providing nutritious and delicious meals, sounded like something to which she wanted to donate her time and energy. But to her surprise, there was nowhere to volunteer in the Long Island region. With grit and determination, she decided to start Harmony Cafe in her community of Patchogue.
McCarthy grew up in a working-class family, where money was tight and food insecurity was a cause of stress at times. When her father was diagnosed with heart disease and suddenly unable to work, it was a struggle to make ends meet. She hopes to create a place for people that are struggling a service that has dignity and no stigma attached to it and the food is fresh and healthy, and with no prices on the menu, you just pay what you can.
With a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management from St. Joseph’s College, an Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies, and a NY State Real State license, McCarthy had the organizational skills and knowledge to found a non-profit that has gone on to feed thousands of people across a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Mccarthy lives in Patchogue and has one daughter that lives in Germany with her husband and both are Neuroscientist. Rosemarie is also a grandmother to two small grandsons, Sam and Ben.
Since it’s beginnings in April of 2016, Harmony Cafe has been a welcoming, judgment-free space for everyone to pull up a chair and feed their bodies and souls. McCarthy envisions Harmony Cafe eventually having a bustling storefront cafe, where neighbors can socialize and eat in a judgment-free atmosphere. She hopes to provide a sense of pride and comfort to those in need, where food and community go hand in hand.
Meet the Team
Mary Ellen Grimes
Advisory Board Member
Mary Ellen Grimes is a Registered Dietitian who has worked in many areas of dietetics. She currently teaches Nutrition at SUNY Farmingdale and also holds a K -12 certification in Family and Consumer Science where she developed curriculum and taught nutrition and culinary classes. Mary Ellen’s past experiences include work as a clinical dietitian in acute care and long-term care. She also worked in community nutrition at Island Harvest Food Bank which has provided her the opportunity to work with food insecurity and hunger on Long Island – helping to bridge the gap between food insecure individuals and access to healthy food. While there she created and coordinate nutrition programs for agencies served by Island Harvest Food Bank, she also cooking demonstrations at shelters, food pantries, soup, and other places where people can get access to food demonstrating how to cook healthy meals easily. Mary Ellen obtained her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in nutrition from Queen College. She also has a certification for teaching yoga, which she is passionate about. She has also recently worked with the LIAND board (Long Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) as a co-chair for one of the committees. Mary Ellen enjoys outdoor activities including cycling, running, and gardening.
Secretary Board Member
Leah Lopes has always had a passion for volunteering and non-profit work. She volunteered for 10 years at the Nassau County Games for the physically challenged, followed by a mission trip to Portugal with Habitat for Humanity in 2017, building houses. It was this trip that led Leah to wanting a career in community development/philanthropy. A Long Island native, Leah returned home after college and currently works for Capital One, where she participates as a volunteerism committee member, handling outreach and organizing events for fellow associates.
Leah attended University of Vermont, majoring in political science and minoring in economics. Throughout her coursework, she was intrigued by environmental politics, sustainability and community development. In her free time, she likes to ski, watch soccer, play guitar, and study Spanish and Portuguese.
Leah is excited to take on the role as Board Secretary at Harmony Cafe, highlighting her attention to detail, organization, and strong operational skills. She looks forward to recording board meeting minutes, reviewing agendas, and ensuring key policies and procedures are followed. Leah wants to make a lasting impact on her community and is eager to join Harmony Cafe in culminating an environment that fosters access to nutritious meals, wellness, and support.
Advisory Board Member
Maria McGiff is a Private Chef and owner of Garden Gate Kitchens. Her passion is creating Mediterranean style dishes with acidic notes and fresh herbs, using the finest local produce and seasonal ingredients. She has an intimate knowledge of food and is well versed in the traditional practices of food such as making jams, pickling, fermenting, mushroom foraging, and preserving. In the fall she explores the forests of Long Island in search of mushrooms, having an eye for spotting the edible ones. She has worked for, and catered, dinner parties at villages in the east end like East Hampton, Water Mill, and South Hampton. Even being photographed in the cookbook R.S.V.P by Nan Kemper.
Growing up in rural northern Portugal during the reign of the corporatist Estado Novo, Maria adapted foraging skills and brought up livestock to feed her family. This developed a sixth sense for ingredients and what they evolve into. As a teenager, she left her hometown in 1976 to work as an au pair in Germany–later traveling to England before settling in the United States.
Through her travels she had the opportunity to dine at extravagant restaurants and even serve food for her upscale families she worked for. She blossomed when she was employed in the Hamptons and later went on to work as a cook in restaurant such as The Cuban and The Oar in Patchogue, NY.
Maria started volunteering with Harmony Café back in 2016 as a chef for their meal events at the VFW hall in Patchogue. Now she is embarking on her new venture with Harmony Café’s founder Rosemarie, creating Maria’s Soul Soups. They aim to serve seasonal soups and savory baked breads as a new program, buy 2 soups, give one to a person in need. Maria believes in giving back to her community and serving those in need of wonderful healthy dishes. She understands all people deserve to have great food, regardless of their situations. When not cooking a private dinner for a client, she spends her time foraging and taking photos with her children Sara, Glenn, and Augustus and babysitting her daughter’s dog Koda.
As a dependable and committed volunteer at Harmony Cafe, Veronica Sablich is a valued and admired team member. Her outreach now includes the role of Board Treasurer where her 20+ years of bookkeeping and accounting experience serve as her foundation and support her position perfectly.
Focusing on financial management and oversight, Veronica will assist with the budgets, fiscal reports, policies and internal controls that guide the decision-making process which upholds the cafe's mission and financial goals. She is incredibly responsible, conscientious and detail focused.
Being a Long Island native, Veronica was born and raised in Copiague and has considered Patchogue her hometown since 1996. With her daughter now grown and independent, she has been able to dedicate more time to her community and Harmony Cafe. Having experienced the benefits of community assistance firsthand, Veronica has vowed to give back and make a difference, honoring those who once helped her. Knowing the importance of a thoughtful and supportive community and the positive impact it has on those in need, Veronica considers finding and collaborating with Harmony Cafe a true blessing that she is deeply grateful for every single day.
As a spiritual person who revels in quieter times, Veronica’s hobbies include gardening, reading, and spending time in nature.