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, the family had to rely on food stamps to stock their pantry. The stigma and sometimes despair that accompanied being in need, as a child have stuck with McCarthy. 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’s 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.
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.
With a background in the educational field, Sue Kelly brings her skills in administration and leadership to the Harmony Cafe board. As a long time, clerk and assistant for the Center Moriches School District, Sue was also the president of the CMOSA Union. Her career began as a clerk and she gained skills and experience as she worked her way up through hard work and dedication. After twelve years, she was promoted to Confidential Assistant to the Superintendent and managed multiple confidential administration projects. As the CMOSA President, Sue negotiated contracts, settled disputes, and filed grievances on behalf of the Union. She is motivated by helping others and making a difference and shares the vision of the Harmony Cafe to be a force for change within the community. Married happily for forty years, Sue enjoys time spent with her two children, live music, and traveling.
Advisory Board Member
Patricia Odusami is an adept business professional with extensive IT Project Management and Business development experience. She has over 20 years of significant accomplishments in the areas of project management, strategic technology planning, enterprise systems implementation, and business development. Having lived and worked across three continents, Patricia has a diverse background and international working experience in both the public and private sectors. She believes organizations should leverage diversity to power innovation and growth. Her life passion is ending world poverty one step at a time even If this means changing just one life.
Patricia is an alumnus of Birkbeck College, University of London, UK, and has undertaken an executive program in leadership from the University of Oxford, UK. She is a member of Women in Technology, Lean In, and the Project Management Institute, PMI. Patricia served for years as the Vice President, Education, Global Expression Toastmasters NY.
Having learned the importance of service from a young age, Luz Merced has dedicated her professional life to helping others. As one of eleven children, her parents placed immense value on acts of service and this has followed her into her adult life. Earning an Associates Degree in Business Administration and currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Human Resources, Luz has worked as the Donations Coordinator for a well-known profit while continuing her studies. She believes deeply in social responsibility and hopes to use her skills in administration to further the work of service within the non-profit sector. She prides herself on her ability to streamline processes and strategies, allowing employers to focus energy on creating a core value of social responsibility. With excellent communication and cooperative skills, Luz places great importance on connecting with employees and coworkers and helping the entire team succeed. As a Sayville native living in Patchogue, she is honored to be a member of the Board for Harmony Cafe. She is encouraged by Harmony Cafe’s mission to eradicate food insecurity within the local community and brings valuable skills to support this endeavor.
With over a decade of experience in customer service, Annamae Russo prides herself on being able to serve and communicate with respect and authority. As a former Frontend Assistant with Shop Rite, she worked her way up to the position for over eleven years and created a culture of professionalism and exceptional service. Annamae also has experience in the restaurant industry, having taken culinary classes and a few years as a partner of a cafe in the town of Bellport. This experience in communication skills and restaurant management has led her to become the Secretary of the Board for Harmony Cafe. She has volunteered with Harmony Cafe for four years, and it has given her a great sense of purpose. Volunteering through the pandemic has motivated her to continue to serve others and to promote Harmony Cafe’s mission to provide nutritious meals to the community, no matter what their circumstances may be. She is called to serve others by a deep love of family and enjoys her time as a mother of four daughters and a grandmother to ten....