Our Saturday Distribution started off heavy. We packed 76 vegan chili portions, three cases and a half of waters, and some vegan dog food bags into three carts. The carts had never been heavier. We want to sincerely thank Ivan for all he does. He sometimes becomes the invisible hand, but his work for Chilis on Wheels is greatly appreciated. He strategically packs the bowls into bags, as I serve them, and then the bags into carts. Ollie and I could not carry those heavy carts down two flights of stairs. He then helps us take the carts into the city, then heads back to Brooklyn to go to work. So although we do not say it enough, thank you Ivan!
Julianna met us at the apartment and helped us with the carts in the train (they are becoming so hard to take that we are considering renting a Zip Car on Saturday mornings to take us to the city.) While in the train, a pregnant woman comes into the car and asks for help, food, or Avon products that she sells to support herself and her family. We talked to her, and offered her a chili which she sat down immediately to eat, and which she said was delicious. Her name is Beatrice b. Williams, and we took her Avon information. If you are interested in any products, please help her out. She is facing hard times but she has a strong spirit and she just needs a little help. You can go to: http://www.YourAvon.com/bbwilliams and she will receive the commission. You can also call her at (360) 530-5322 or email her at [email protected] We did not get a picture with her, the train was crowded and it wasn’t appropriate, but we hope you can help her out. It dawned on me that we can try to use our platform to not just to provide emergency relief meals but also to help those that are seeking opportunities. Beatrice wants to provide for her family, let’s help her by ordering some products! (NOTE: Avon does not test on animals, and they have some vegan products, you can visit this link for a list of them: here )
When we got off the train, as Julianna was trying to find the volunteers she had recruited from Edward Murrow High School Key Club, Ivan spotted Jim, a regular customer, and went to give him a chili. Jim is an Army veteran, and a plumber by trade, but he is willing to do any type of work. Every week he asks me if I have any jobs for him. I have posted on Facebook before about his job quest, but I have not been successful in finding him any gigs. He told Ivan that he managed to get a construction gig and it required him to buy a hard hat, which he collected enough money for and purchased. However when he showed up to work, they told him he needed to have a harness too, and that they would not provide that, and Jim did not have enough for a harness. Ivan came back and told me the situation, and I said, let’s go get him the harness. I gave Ivan my card and told him to go to the Home Depot on 23rd street and get it. Alas, Home Depot was out of stock. Which could have been a blessing in disguise, since those harnesses are priced at around $50! (a little steep for me!) Here’s a link to it in amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Guardian-Fall-Protection-1703-Velocity/dp/B008LXRB7S/ref=cm_sw_em_r_dpcod_MUapvb10FVZVN_tt If you can purchase it for Jim, you can either send it to us and we will deliver it to him (get in touch at [email protected] ) or you can give it to Jim directly. He hangs out in 17th street and Park Avenue South. THIS is how we can make a real difference in people’s lives.
We met up with the amazing and eager high school students. We split up into two teams and hit the streets.
They distributed the chili and connected with people, and were gracious and kind, hard working and a joy to be around. I am in awe of participartory youth. They are such an inspiration! Chilis on Wheels, and the world is lucky to count on such amazing young people!
We met Matthew, a young man who although faces hard times himself, also helps out. He says a bakery gives him a large bag filled with their leftover bread, and he takes it to the park and distributes it. He told me of Franccesca, the Patron Saint, who visited him a few months ago and told him he needed to help those in need as well. Matthew was kind and funny and a pleasure to talk to. Thank you Matthew for what you do! He wanted us to take a picture of his back tattoo:
We saw a homeless young lady with her dog. We gave her a chili and a bottle of water, and a bag of dog food. She did not want to be photographed, but allowed us to take a picture of Charlie, a sweet boy. She was very appreciative of the dog food, as she was almost running out of food for him. She said he was her companion and her protector and she took better care of him than she did of herself.
We finally made it to the park and met up with the other chili runner team. We spent some time at the table and met up with our new volunteers, Karla and Rodrigo. They are vegan dancers, and really lovely people. We look forward to further collaborations in the future!
Soon after, we divided into teams again. Two teams of chili runners and the team that stayed behind at the table.
The teams came back. We reunited, we had a little talk, some of the students want to come back and volunteer. Julianna and I continued by ourselves. We met Antonio:
Antonio is a vegan, and we had a great time talking to him about veganism and about bringing it to our communities, to our inner cities and he said: “if people change their diet, it will change the way they act”. He talked about kindness and positive energy and a life free of violence, starting with a diet free of violence. By the end of our conversation, I had goosebumps, he said “That’s positive energy right there. We are brother and sister now.” I gave him a hug. Our day was coming to a great close but it was not over just yet.
We continued on our way and met Italian Ice, a rapper (who said he one time played with Brazil’s national soccer team, but alas I don’t know soccer).
As we were handing him out the last of our chili, a man heads over to us and says “I see you doing a good thing. Here.” He handed me some folded up bills. “Thank you. Keep doing nice things.” His name was Chris and he was a tourist from Germany who apparently had watched us for a little bit as we handed out the food, and was touched by our work. Thank you, Chris! Kind words do keep us going, and you went out of your way to appreciate our work!
And that was our day. It was filled with hard work, but also filled with an amazing gratitude and satisfaction, and a full heart. Thank you to our volunteers: Ivan, Ollie, Julianna, Erin, Hannah, Gretta, Jeadelle, Riley, Karla, and Rodrigo. Thank you to to the contributions that made this possible: Martiza deJesus, Freddy Rivera, Denise Washington, Jamison Ba. All in all we gave out 76 chili servings, and 78 water bottles, and 2 dog food bags. And at the same time, Chilis on Wheels Puerto Rico was doing their own monthly distribution. It was great knowing that across the ocean, we were also doling out compassion! (Stay tuned for a special report from them, coming soon!)
I hope that we can continue to do good things for/with our community! That we can help, not just with the vegan meals that we give out, but by rounding up our contacts and making sustainable change for some of the people we encounter, like Beatrice with her Avon selling, and Jim with his construction harness. Do consider helping them directly, or through us.
For a just, more compassionate world for ALL!