Last Saturday we successfully served 83 vegan chili servings and 100+ water bottles. We also gave out 3 vegan dog-food bags to homeless people with dogs in their family. This was made possible by donations made by Joanne Ehret and Diane Gandee Sorbi. A HUGE thank you to our volunteers, Ivan, Julianna, Grace, Brianna, Ruth, Hilda, Leia, Eric, Sammie, and Ollie.
Our day started by renting a zipcar ($30 for 2 hours) that would take us to the city. We packed it with chili and all our materials and our carts and the foldable table and drove to Manhattan. Ivan let us off in our usual meetup spot and drove back to return the car and then go to his job. The zipcar is pricey but is so worth it. We don’t own a car and on all of our previous distributions we have taken the subways, trying to use wheelchair accessible platforms for the elevators, but still needing to carry the carts up and down stairs. (I am so ashamed that we do not have universal wheelchair accessibility in our public transportation) With the zip car it became a lot easier to take the carts heavy with the weight of 83 chili and 100+ water bottles. I will have to look into investing in a cost-effective mode of transportation, perhaps look into seeking a used car donation, or a grant that will cover transportation costs. If you have any ideas for us, do let us know!
We started the day seeing Matthew. We met him last week, he receives a bag of bread from a bakery and distributes it among his homeless friends. He was happy to see us and insisted in trading the chili for a pair of sunglasses. They look really cute and I might wear them next weekend!
We split into two teams in order to cover more territory as we walk to Washington Square Park.
We met Lucky the dog. His guardians told us they rescued him, and warned us not to get too close because “He isn’t too fond of people. Then again, neither are we.” They were very nice and were really appreciative in particular of our dog food.
We also saw Nick and Dean again and were able to give them some of our vegan dog-food.
We also saw Chris again. We met him on one of our first chili distributions when it was still really cold out. When I approached him to see if he wanted a chili, I forgot to mention that it was a vegan. He smiled, but shook his head and said “Thank you but I don’t eat meat”. I immediately rushed to tell him that it was vegan and how we don’t eat meat either, then he looked at us intently and said “You were in the paper!” His smile and his happiness was so infectious, so warm and affectionate and kind. Ever since then we saw him weekly in Union Square and always the same loving calm exchange. A few weeks ago we stopped seeing him, and I was worried. I hoped that he was ok, but I really have no way of knowing, so when we saw him this Saturday, I was so incredibly happy. I asked him where he was, and he said that he’s been around, so we must just have missed each other. The parks are getting busier and it might be that we just do not coincide. I was so relieved and happy that he was ok that I took a selfie with him, and I did not waste the opportunity to tell him how much his positive energy means to us, how much he matters, and that he was missed.
With our friend Chris
Once we reached Washington Square Park, we set up the table, met up with some of our other volunteers and then had two teams head out in different directions, as some of us stayed behind to take care of the table, hand out occasional chili, and advertise about our services.
We have new things planned for next week, new routes. We are thinking of sending an offshoot team to Central Park and cover some of the need there. According to the New York Coalition for the Homeless, 60,484 people slept in the homeless shelters every night in February of this year. With our chili in lower Manhattan, we are barely scraping the tip of need. Next week we will gage what we can do in another part of the city.
Thank you to our volunteers, our supporters, our funders, and our community! Thank you for growing with us!