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New C.H.O.P. Leader Looks to Keep Serving Peekskill's Neediest

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – New executive director of Caring for the Homeless of Peekskill (C.H.O.P.), Donna Besteiro, has been at the job since the beginning of May but said she is ready to keep serving Peekskill's neediest residents.

Besteiro spent 15 years as an attorney and headed a legal team for Danone North America, a large international food product company with four divisions including Dannon yogurt. However the Mount Kisco native has also been involved in nonprofit and volunteer work for many years with her family, she said.

"We've done volunteer work with several organizations for cerebral palsy and the Westchester Coalition for the Homeless,” she said, adding “my family and I had done cooking and serving on rotations in the Mount Kisco area," Besteiro said. "I've also worked with the Blythedale Children's Hospital and senior citizen centers so I've always been interested in work that benefits those that need it most."

Besteiro said she's still learning all the roles that C.H.O.P. plays in Peekskill, such as the Jan Peek House homeless shelter and the Fred's Pantry food pantry, and will then look to making improvements going forward, such as increasing capacity of the services where there is a need. She said that possible cuts to federal social services funding may cause a rise in the need of their services.

The staff was recently able to help a Jan Peek House resident get a home in public housing in the city, and Besteiro said they can repeat that result with others.

"I envision working with the C.H.O.P. board, the city council and looking at organizational capacity growth and targeting any of the needs that are not currently met for the homeless in this community and neighboring communities that could use our assistance," she said.

One of the first events Besteiro will host as executive director is a talent show held at the Jan Peek House on Friday evening.

"The thought was to help them achieve confidence in themselves, to recognize that they have talents and allow them to focus their minds on producing something they can be proud of," Besteiro said of the Jan Peek House residents.

C.H.O.P. is hosting a luncheon June 2 at 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the neighborhood center on Nelson Avenue for all the volunteers who help make C.H.O.P. run, but Besteiro said they are always looking for more.

"There are certainly volunteer opportunities for Fred's Pantry and other ways as well in terms of donating toiletries of office supply items or gift certificate to local grocery stores, Besteiro said. “They can donate goods and services or coordinate a food drive to stock the shelves of Fred's Pantry or bag groceries."

Anyone looking to volunteer can call (914) 736-2636.

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