POUGHKEEPSIE — Ken Crusie’s smile on a recent morning confirmed that CSEA members in Dutchess County did something extra special.

Crusie, who serves as president of both the Dutchess County Local and the Village of Wappingers Falls Unit, met up with Jim Mullen, who heads the veterans food pantry at the nearby Castle Point VA Medical Center.

Crusie and Mullen then emptied the entire Dutchess County Local office of non-perishable food donations that CSEA members from bargaining units within the local donated during the local’s second annual food drive for veterans. The donations filled Castle Point’s transit van to capacity.

Feeding local veterans in need is a cause that Dutchess County Local members rallied behind. To Crusie, the project holds a special place in his heart.

“My older brother died in Vietnam and my parents dedicated the rest of their lives after that to everything veterans-related,” said Crusie. “My dad was an active volunteer at Castle Point and my mom was very active in Gold Star Mothers. Being involved in helping in some way has been part of my life since I was a kid.”

Crusie spearheaded the local’s first food drive last year, something he said was a way of unifying the local after prolonged separation due to the pandemic. Local and unit officers were excited to assist, spending time this year delivering collection boxes to worksites. As always, CSEA members came through in a generous way.

“People were pretty happy and excited that we were doing this again this year,” said Crusie. “It means a lot to me for us to be able to help the veterans in our community.”

Mullen noted that the timing of the food drive was particularly helpful. Organizations tend to hold food drives primarily around Thanksgiving and Christmas, which can leave them running low on supplies during the summer months.

Crusie said local officers hope to make the food drive an annual tradition.

— Jessica Ladlee

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Jessica Ladlee

Jessica Ladlee is the communications specialist for CSEA's Southern Region. A graduate of Boston University, Ladlee is an award-winning journalist who worked as a newspaper editor before joining the CSEA communications team in 2004. She is passionate about the opportunities unions provide for people to join the middle class, something her grandmother did as a Rockland County CSEA member over 50 years ago.

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