The St. Anthony chapter is off to the races! Incredibly, over seventy people came out in sub-20 degree weather at our last Outreach on January 10 to distribute 150 comfort bags. We had busy single Manhattanites, we had retired parishioners from our church, we had families, and we even had some spectating babies! It was awe-inspiring. We’ve come a long way in just a year, and see no signs of slowing down soon. There are so many people contributing generously with their time to drive this organization forward, especially our core committee, the volunteers who have been at every single one of our outreaches, and everyone who has helped us secure items and donations for these events.
The big news today is that we’ve finalized our 2015 Outreach Calendar, so please mark your calendars and come out to join us! We just ask that you let us know if you’re planning to attend ahead of time.
The dates are as follows:
- Saturday, March 21, 2015
- Saturday, May 16, 2015
- Saturday, July 11, 2015
- Saturday, September 12, 2015
- Saturday, November 14, 2015
- Saturday, January 9, 2016
Our short term goal at St. Anthony is to distribute 200 bags. To have any luck, we need more volunteers and donations from our parish and community. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to help us get the word out! These may sound like big numbers, but we’re barely making a dent in the homeless problem in New York City. We could distribute 500 bags within Lower Manhattan on any given Saturday and still not have nearly enough.
On the other hand, the dent we’re making in our local community and in the individual lives of volunteers and recipients is immeasurable. I can speak from firsthand experience. I’m not going to say it was easy for me to walk up to someone I don’t know and engage in conversation, but when I did it, it was very rewarding. My favorite person was Anthony – he said he did odd jobs but didn’t have luck in getting work – he was so appreciative for the bag and the conversation, he cried a bit and gave me a hug. My daughter Danielle and her friend (ages 15) also found it incredibly rewarding.
Here’s what another volunteer had to say: “For me, the best thing about this experience was the refreshing change in perspective. Like a lot of New Yorkers, I often unconsciously ignore anything or anyone that isn’t a part of what I’m doing, which of course is very dehumanizing. The actual giving part of this activity was amazing, whether it was the three guys in Chinatown who acted like they won the lottery or the guy in the subway station who was asleep and looked like he really needed the bag. I’ll remember those, but more importantly, just learning about these guys and their lives directly from them helped me to see outside of that NY shell of efficiency. Now the real challenge is maintaining that perspective.”
Our chapter is based out of our parish, but the program is open to everyone. Please come out and join us at our 2015 Outreaches and beyond!