“There is no waste in this Household”

A Special Mother's Day Spotlight on Joanne Valentine and Her Daughter Laura Romeo Sobel

Over three generations of weaving community and philanthropy into their family values.

Joanne Valentine is always looking for a way to make a difference in the lives of others. She loves to make connections between peoplefind creative solutions and has always cared about feeding people. Joanne would ask grocers for donations or discounts on food that might go to waste and then donate extra food to her church or other places where it was needed. 

"It was first about being a mother and stretching the food budget, but I always wanted to feed others. Instead of buying one chicken just for us, I'd shop where I could get two for one and give one away." - Joanne

Making the most out of a dollar has always come naturally to Joanne. Growing up, she had a large extended family, and nothing would go to waste – including food. Her mother, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were always able to stretch a meal to feed everyone at the table. Food waste didn’t even cross her mind back then because it simply didn’t exist! She remembers leftovers seamlessly turning into new meals, everything being used, and nothing wasted. 

"People thought I was crazy when I'd ask why they weren't taking leftovers home, or why they ordered food they weren't going to eat when we'd dine out. But, it just made sense to me." - Joanne

It is no surprise that Joannes’ three children share her resourcefulness and passion for helping others because of this. Growing up they participated in church food drives and penny drives for the soup kitchen, volunteered at senior centers with scouts, and so much more. They’ve all helped give back in their own ways and continue to carry on the family motto: there is no waste in this house.

"We were a family that finished all of our meals; if they were not finished, they were packaged and eaten later. Even if I have a very small portion of food left at a restaurant, I will absolutely be the person wrapping it up and then bringing it for lunch the next day!" - Laura.

Joanne also believes that anyone can make an impact on the community and encourages others to get started where they already go; community centers, schools, places of worship and ask for what needs to be done. “Even if you walk down the street and smile and they smile back. That’s an opportunity to say hello or get started on something!” 


Most closely following in her mother’s footsteps, Laura has become a beacon of public service volunteering throughout high school, college, and beyond. In March of 2023 Laura started Dance For a Difference. Almost every Saturday, Laura hosts a “donate-what-you-wish” Zumba dance class in which each class’s funds are contributed to a different local nonprofit. 

Dance For a Difference

Get moving with an energizing Zumba class – any levels of fitness and all ages welcome (children need to be accompanied by an adult). Whether you exercise or dance weekly or just like to dance by yourself around the house, the dances are varied so there is something for everyone! 

May 11th – 10:00am-11:00am at Dobbs Ferry Library 55 Main St, Dobbs Ferry

“Pay what you wish” with all donations benefiting Second Chance Foods. 

Follow Laura to see this group in action and learn about future classes @Dance4ADifference

"This passion project of mine has evolved into a beautiful outlet for creativity and joy outside of my day-to-day routine and has built awareness for some exceptional nonprofits and connections between participants."

Building Connections and Community

Another natural ability of Joanne is how she builds on connections and opportunities. After years of financial consulting, she took a position teaching at Project Transition. This experience illustrated to her that hunger can come from out of nowhere. Project Transition helps teach job skills and other services to people who are unemployed and need help entering the workforce. Many students were transitioning after a significant life event like being a single parent, going through a divorce, or taking care of an elderly parent. 

"Many of these people didn't know where their next meal was going to come from; these big transitions drop the walls around you and impact everything." - Joanne

Joanne currently works as the Treasurer for the Somers Fire District. She utilizes her skills to manage their budget efficiently while doing what comes naturally to her- stretching every dollar.

As the White Plains Hospital’s Director of Ancillary Programs and Volunteer Services, Laura also works with volunteers daily, demonstrating her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. Most recently, Laura was honored with Volunteer New York! Quality of Life Award for her years of dedicated service. 

Laura is keenly aware of how her mom’s work in the community made her feel and works to be a similar model for her son, Henry. Even at 5, Henry is thinking about others – requesting Laura bring his leftover Valentines to the Hospital to share with the patients. Laura even mentioned Henry in her remarks at the Volunteer New York! Spirit Awards. 

"I want him to remember the good things he felt when everyone clapped for him when hearing about how he also thinks of kind ways to help others. My mom was able to create those experiences for me, and I hope to be able to do the same for him. I was a quiet kid, and it felt good to receive positive responses from being known as 'the helper' and specifically her (mom's) helper. I want Henry to also experience something similar - if he's receiving attention, I'd like it to be for something that also gives back to the world." - Laura

“A legacy of kindness and giving will live on even when you are no longer here. It is such a gift and I’m glad my kids understand so that the next generation will have role models to emulate. What we do today does matter for the future.” - Joanne

Creating a legacy through the Hungry Heart Fund.

As the first generation in her family to have accumulated wealth, Joanne started thinking about the legacy she wanted to leave. Not in wealth but how she could impact her family, the community, and the people experiencing hunger. At first, Joanne thought about starting a nonprofit, but many organizations were already working to address hunger. So, instead, she started the Hungry Heart Fund through the Community Foundation of the Hudson Valley. She uses creative ways to fund the project and sees it becoming a way for her family to take over her history of giving in the future as a charitable trust. 


The Community Foundations of Hudson Valley introduced Joanne to Second Chance Foods, and she has been an incredible long-time supporter and advocate for our mission since. More than donations, she has helped us expand our network to meet new people and make connections in the community. Laura has hosted two Dance for a Difference fundraisers for Second Chance Foods and loved how Martha spoke at the first event so much that it became the model for how she has nonprofits participate in the classes. 

Happy Mother's Day to both of these inspiring women we're so honored to be a part of your community! 

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Looking for food?

Though we wish we could nourish everyone in need, Second Chance Foods does not directly distribute meals or groceries to individuals at this time. We utilize existing programs in the community and supplement their food with our meals and groceries. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please refer to our resource page here for our partnerships and local options.

Mailing Address:

P.O.Box 93
Carmel, NY 10512

Kitchen Address:

120 Marvin Ave Brewster, NY 10509

*please note we do not keep "hours" at the kitchen at this time. If you are looking to donate food please contact Kathryn@SecondChanceFoods.org or call 845-723-1302


General Questions please contact Associate Director Stephanie Purcell 845-723-1311

Volunteer Questions contact Volunteer Coordinator Heather Marinelli 845-723-1309

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Second Chance Foods is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

EIN# 81-0996695