Every week I go to three different stores to buy the ingredients for the chili, chasing the sales. Every week I start soaking the beans on Friday mornings, and stay up til midnight making 100-200 chili. Every Saturday morning I wake up early to pack that chili into individual bowls and insulated bags, and go up and down the stairs in my apartment building taking everything down to the lobby. Every week I get rained on or when it was winter, snowed on. Every week my partner goes to pick up a zip car, and drives us to the city, drives back to Brooklyn to return it and goes to work until 11pm. Every single week. Last weekend, when everyone was having fun at the beach, I was sweating in my kitchen where my AC does not reach.
I am on the brink of burning out. But people need to eat. It’s hard finding the $250 dollars a week it takes to make and transport all that chili (not to mention the funding for the other chapters too). It’s hard having to stay up so late cooking. It’s hard not having a weekend, working so hard for no money. I myself barely make ends meet. But you know what’s harder? Not having something to eat. And that is what sustains me: the people we meet week after week, who come looking for us, knowing that we will be there, rain or shine, to offer them some respite. The relationship is not one-sided, we both lighten each others life a little by having an analog human connection in a world that is so digitized and sanitized, and alienating, and hard.
This last Fourth of July we had the fantastic folks from Evolve for Animals join us on the distribution. They also did an amazing job offering vegan education to the park goers. Thank you for your time and effort and for rallying up vegans to care about people too. Even under the rain, you came out and rocked! If we are serious about having a vegan world, we need to infiltrate it at every level. Animals don’t have a voice, but neither do the most marginalized and oppressed people of our society.
We had two new volunteers, Jimmy and Kean. They were amazing, incredibly helpful. Both are vegan and both live in a homeless shelter uptown. They came specifically to help us out. Jimmy has a heart that lights up the whole room, and I’m really looking forward to our collaboration this summer. Jimmy confirms what we have been hearing, that in soup kitchens in the city, there are no vegan options, sometimes not even in the side dishes. Our presence is needed, and we need to grow, as much as I myself am frayed at the edges.
It was a rainy day, but we warmed up some minds, bodies, and hearts. Our distribution this week was made possible by donations from Joanne Ehret, Amanda Fields, and Ronald Manning. Thank you for your generosity!
And thanks to our Veganteers, Julianna, Grace, Dave, Jimmy and Kean, and the amazing Evolve for Animals Crew!
After the distribution we headed over to V-Spot Organic where we had a late lunch and celebrated the holiday in vegan company. Their Seitan Steak Brunch is amazing!
I leave you now, four days before I have to start doing it all over again, resolute in my convictions, knowing that although I may be tired, this is my life’s purpose, and there is no other reason for me being alive, other than to help my fellow humans while spreading the vegan message. Using my light to strengthen others. Like the Dalai Lama said: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others”- I wish more of us took his message to heart.