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INTERVIEW: Tanya Traykovski And Parisa Jaffer Ramji On Spearheading The Children’s Museum Of The East End Family Walk-A-Thon

Nicole Barylski

Alex, Reza and Rohan volunteering at the Food Pantry. (Courtesy Photo)

Children's Museum of the East End (CMEE) in Bridgehampton established several emergency initiatives in response to the pandemic - one of which was the Food 2 Play, Weekly Food Pantry to ensure that the most vulnerable community members would still be able to put food on the table. The community lifeline, which has been championed by other local non-profits, East End businesses and many donors, assists 70 to 80 families every week.

To support this vital endeavor, CMEE is hosting a month-long Family Walk-A-Thon 5K this September. Participants may select their own date, chart their course and then walk, run, or bike for the cause. And, don't forget to tag #Walk4CMEE if you share a picture on social media.

We recently caught up with Tanya Traykovski and Parisa Jaffer Ramji, who are spearheading the virtual benefit.

Could you speak about your connection to CMEE and why the Museum's mission resonated with you?

TT: My 14-year-old son, Alex, grew up enjoying everything that the East End and CMEE has to offer. I work as an art advisor, and while Alex liked art museums as a child (which he visited with us a lot), he LOVED children's museums and CMEE was among his favorites. When we heard that CMEE was running a pantry for local food insecure families - many for whom they provided after school services in pre-Covid times - we immediately volunteered to help out, packing up food and spreading the word among our friends.

PJR: I came to know about the food pantry program from a mom-friend Tanya Trakovski. She brought my two boys Reza, 14, and Rohan, 10, with her son Alex to volunteer and we were all so impressed at how much they were able to do in such a short time.

Tanya volunteering at the Food Pantry. (Courtesy Photo)

How did the Family Walk-a-Thon come about?

TT: My friend Parisa Jaffer and her sons joined us to volunteer at the pantry with her two sons, and she had ideas. With a background in events, she suggested we organize a fund-raiser to assure that CMEE would be able serve families for as long as there is a need. We wanted our children to join in the efforts, so came up with the idea of a socially distanced, anytime-in-September family walkathon.

PJR: After we volunteered, our boys were all talking about other ways that we could help the CMEE efforts in supporting vulnerable families on the East End. The kids actually came up with the idea of a walkathon, which would enable them to raise money in a socially distanced way.

Is this your first time organizing a CMEE fundraiser?

TT: No, it's not. I actually produced a Trunk Show at CMEE many years ago to fund-raise for the museum. I also hosted a similar event at my home. In both cases, all participants donated a portion of their sales to CMEE. I am optimistic that this event will be as successful as those. We were so happy so many families joined our Walkathon Committee and I hope many more will participate and/or sponsor kids who walk (or bike or scoot).
PJR: Yes. Over the years my boys have always loved visiting the CMEE, but we hadn't realized how much they do for the community until we volunteered for the food pantry.

Do you have a goal for the CMEE Family Walk-a-Thon - in terms of fundraising and participants?

TT: The more the merrier! The beauty of a socially distanced, on your own time walkathon is the safety and flexibility. Ideally, we'll be able to fund the pantry for at least a month and hopefully more.

PJR: We have been blown away at the willingness of everyone that we have approached to get involved and give both time and money. The whole thing has come together so quickly, and we have been so grateful for everyone's enthusiasm and generosity.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

TT: My son Alex is donating 20 percent of his earnings as a pod camp counselor this summer to the CMEE pantry. It would be wonderful if other kids who were lucky enough to find jobs out East this summer would do the same.

Also, because we have teens who prefer walking with friends to parents, our pod of kids will likely do a morning beach walk. Parisa and I will provide coffee and donuts and the moms can hang out while the kids do their 5K.

PJR: Thank you and Hamptons.com for your support in getting the word out. We really appreciate it!

Registration for the Family Walk-A-Thon starts at $75, which provides a week's supply of groceries for one family. $150 procures a week's supply of groceries for two families. $250 supports the purchase of books and school supplies. $500 purchases diapers, wipes, toilet paper and sanitary products. $1,000 funds one week of fruit and vegetables for the 70 families served by the Food Pantry. $5,000 completely funds the food pantry for an entire week, including all pantry items, perishables, and produce.

For more information about Children's Museum of the East End or the Family Walk-A-Thon, visit www.cmee.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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