Volunteerism and civic engagement, often passionate, are alive and well in our little corner of the Hudson Valley. Our Gardiner Day and Senior Resource Committees, library, fire department, town boards and political committees attest to a robust civic life. Inarguably, another model of caring and shared commitment to one another is former Gardiner resident and restaurateur Garvan McCloskey.
Garvan, with his wife Leonie, a private duty nurse, is a native of Ireland and has been doing what he does best—enthusiastically engaging with the public and supporting a host of charities—his whole life. He’s a physically fit person (he’s run the NYC Marathon in 3 hours and 16 minutes) and used that skill to raise $500,000 for charity in a relay event in Donegal, Ireland. At his recently opened new restaurant (Garvan’s on Huguenot Street in New Palz) 10% of food receipts on Tuesday and Wednesday are divided equally among Family of New Paltz, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Washbourne House, a domestic violence shelter for women and their children, and Sparrow’s Nest, an organization that provides meals to the families of caregivers diagnosed with cancer. Garvan, himself, is a cancer survivor. And, he says, “I treat my staff like my family and look after them. I take that responsibility very seriously.”
Garvan’s parents, both in their 80’s, are his role model and inspiration. Former schoolteachers in Ireland as well as the parents of eight children, they worked tirelessly with the poor and sick throughout their lives and continue to do so. In Garvan’s words, “They are people of faith. No work of charity for them is too big. Charity isn’t a nice thing to do. If we want to be part of a community, it’s the wages of belonging. My parents love the underdog, and I do too.” People who are drawn to community and giving back find the messenger, as well as the message, irresistible.
Feeling grateful for the outpouring of support for his new restaurant venture, Garvan feels “truly blessed and excited to be here.” His intention, “in the fullness of time,” is to invest more in the community, not less. “The least I can do is give back to the less fortunate in our community. I get far more out of it than I put into it and I’m humbled by the things that I see.”
When visiting Garvan’s, you won’t find shamrocks or leprechauns. What you will find is a generous, thoughtful man who, in addition to offering people excellent food and drink, provides many of us an outlet for our better instincts.