There is so much to be cynical about in American politics these days, whether nationally, at the state level or even locally. Thankfully there are exceptions, and we are glad to highlight those all too rare examples that demonstrate the good in people and in our communities.

In last week’s Suffolk Times, we profiled the Southold Senior Services center in Mattituck, which has served more than 2 million meals in its 50-year history.

You’d have to look far and wide to find a town-based organization that has provided so many needed services to so many residents. We spent parts of a couple of days with center director Jacqueline Martinez and two of its cooks, Bob Grippi and Devon McKnight. 

They happily talked about their work on behalf of the town’s senior citizens, some of whom come to the Mattituck center for its five-days-a-week lunch program. Others regularly drive into its parking lot for takeout and still others have lunches delivered to their homes. 

“Our focus is to help seniors get a nutritious meal, and to help them any way we can,” Ms. Martinez said. “The overall goal is to help them stay in their homes.”

In so many ways — especially if you measure success by counting specific accomplishments and how they serve individual residents — the center is the very best part of local government. Its heroes — including former director Karen McLaughlin — work hard to get grants to augment the center’s services and reduce the need for town funding, all the while providing critical services to the elderly.

When we attended a St. Patrick’s Day-themed lunch there on March 15, music was provided and more than 70 meals were served in-house. Nearly double that number were picked up to go or delivered to clients’ homes. On, March 20, another 30 or so residents at the center enjoyed a lunch of roast beef, mashed potatoes and red cabbage.

For Mr. Grippi and Mr. McKnight, the hard work of running the kitchen comes down to preparing healthy meals five days a week, using as many fresh ingredients as they can get and making it all from scratch. They even made individual Irish soda bread loaves for the March 15 lunch.

“We think we stack up to any restaurant in town,” Mr. Grippi said. Mr. McKnight agreed.

For those two, for Ms. Martinez and for the entire staff at the center, this is what public service is all about.

The same can be said for staff and volunteers at the Riverhead Senior Center and dozens of other organizations across the North Fork that serve segments of our society that need and deserve help. We applaud them. 

We also want to acknowledge the congressional leaders of a past generation who created the Older Americans Act of 1965, groundbreaking legislation that freed up federal grants to better serve and support U.S. seniors at the state and local levels. That legislation paved the way for the founding of the Southold Senior Center and scores of others like it nationwide. 

On March 22, the Southold center hosted town and Suffolk County officials at a celebration of its 50th anniversary. The town is fortunate to have this center and its dedicated staff. While government leaders on the North Fork debate a host of issues, from affordable housing to land preservation, the goal at the Mattituck senior center is bit more straightforward: Serve a great lunch to our seniors.

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