Calling All Angels: Retired Nanuet Teacher Looks for Student Volunteers at Nyack Soup Angels


Dana Reynolds (left) and Valerie Mondesir (right) prepare food for those in need at Nyack’s Soup Angels.

While some spend their retirement checking off exciting goals from their bucket lists, former Nanuet middle and high school orchestra teacher Katherine Rife dedicates her time to giving back to the community.

Since her retirement, Ms. Rife has been hard at work running the Nyack Soup Angels soup kitchen, of which she is the co-founder. Her dedication to this cause for over fifteen years has been a very motivating and inspiring experience. Ms. Rife started Soup Angels with two other women; one was a social worker and the other a person who had been homeless and wanted to see struggling people fed freshly-prepared, healthy food in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. 

By providing fresh groceries and free, home-cooked meals to anyone in need, Soup Angels is a valuable resource to many families and individuals facing difficult times. 

“Soup Angels began by serving many freshly- prepared, nutritious hot dinners twice a week on tables with tablecloths, china dishes, silverware, candles and music to anyone who needs a meal, no questions asked on Mondays and Wednesdays,” says Ms. Rife. 

One of the top values of Soup Angels is treating all guests with dignity and respect, according to Ms. Rife.

Even during the precarious times of the recent pandemic, Soup Angels has been determined to help as many people as they can. At the beginning of the pandemic, they created a “to-go” outdoor setup, and as the situation improved they have returned indoors, serving hot takeout meals and managing a massive food pantry, she explained

Now, one of Ms. Rife’s goals for Soup Angels includes creating a Nanuet student team of volunteers. In the past, other high schools, such as Clarkstown South, had a group of students led by school faculty to help out at the soup kitchen at fixed dates during the year. According to Mrs. Rife, it would be a great connection to have a group from Nanuet High School. She feels as a whole that volunteering at the soup kitchen would be greatly beneficial to both the students and the guests being served. Truly, a great partnership!

“Student volunteers provide a wonderful experience for our guests,” says Ms. Rife. “We love your energy and commitment, your willingness to work with one another and with people you don’t even know well. There is a feeling of connection you feel with our guests as you help them ‘shop’ for groceries they really need.”  

Students can choose to hand out groceries and meals directly to guests, or help run the set-up and organization in the background, according to Mrs. Rife. 

“If any of you are studying Spanish, that can be a huge help to some of our guests,” adds Ms. Rife. “They really appreciate your translation help, plus you learn the names of a lot of fruits and vegetables in Spanish at the same time!”

Just recently, Soup Angels set up a GoFundMe to support the influx of guests during this coming season. Even if you cannot donate, it really pays to spread the word to friends and family to help with such a charitable cause, according to Ms. Rife. 

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Students can keep an eye out for upcoming school fundraisers and other opportunities to help Soup Angels. In the meantime, you too could consider helping out at the soup kitchen. If you’re interested, either contact their volunteer coordinator Judy Heim at [email protected] or Ms. Rife at [email protected]

“Nanuet students may want to get together and consider joining Team 3 or Team 5 at Soup Angels with me,” says Ms. Rife. “We have fixed dates to serve meals on Wednesdays throughout the year, and it’s ok if you can’t make a date; we have a  large team of floater volunteers to sub for you. Being a floater volunteer is another option, and that is entirely on your own schedule; come at the assigned date, or receive emails about teams that need help and decide if you can make that date to help out.”

For more information, also check out their page at