Localat Heart Board Members at St. Joseph's food pantry

Mission Statement

The activities of Local at Heart are to act as a fundraising group for the various not-for-profit organizations in New Paltz, NY and the surrounding area that provide food and other support for individuals and families.

Craig Shankles, President

Craig Shankles is the founder of Local at Heart and has a mission to help. Craig says, “Growing up in Brooklyn, my father worked very hard in the blue collar trades and out of necessity, we lived with my grandmother in her 4th floor walk up. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother and grandmother tending to a very small garden, in the back, between the row of buildings. It was small but important. We never went to bed hungry but the thought of being hungry, going to sleep with an empty stomach, and not being able to afford food has always been an issue that crushes my heart. We must all lend our voice and our hands so that hunger can come to an an end.”

Connie Harkin, Vice President

Connie Harkin has lived in the Hudson Valley her entire life and is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz. She has never personally faced living with true hunger but she empathizes with those who do. Through her involvement with other local non-profit organizations, she has seen first-hand the need that exists right here at home. That’s why she’s active with Local at Heart. She realizes that no matter how successful we are now, life can change in an instant and any one of us, at any time, could be facing a similar situation. That is what fuels her passion in paying it forward to others. Helping community truly changes lives.

Linda Engler

Linda Engler, Marketing Director

Being on both sides of the hunger issue, Linda Engler is very sensitive to the hunger problem in this country. She remembers, as a child there was “just barely enough” food to eat. Because of her early struggles, Linda is especially interested in helping to keep people fed and teaching the Girl Scouts that she leads about the hunger problem. Helping through education and support of Local at Heart is a way for her to make an impact on a local level. She began volunteering at Family of New Paltz when attending SUNY New Paltz and later at Family House in Woodstock. She has always found a way to give to the community by helping children, through the PTA, New Paltz Baseball and Softball Association, New Paltz School Foundation, New Paltz Karate Academy, Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson and now Local at Heart. She believes this is a cause with a cure that everyone should get behind.

Barbara Londa

Barbara Londa, Secretary

As a new resident of New Paltz, Barbara Londa was looking for organizations to become involved with to meet people and to be helpful in the community. As a lifetime member of Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson (GSHH) and reaching out there first, she learned of this organization, Local At Heart. Growing up in a family of six children, having enough food and stretching the dollars was a constant struggle. Barbara says, “We never went to bed hungry, but there was a time when we were helped through a food program. We always had fresh vegetables from the garden, that’s where I got my love of gardening!” A favorite quote from Barbara is “bloom where you are planted.” This organization and its mission is a good way for her to give back and help other people who may be struggling to afford food for their families. She is a Master Gardener volunteer with the Putnam County Cooperative Extension, a member of the GSHH Museum and Archives committee, and serves on the properties committee of the GSHH Board. She is an avid knitter, donating hats, sweaters, and blankets for children to world organizations is an ongoing hobby.