Every night, once the soup kitchen wraps for the evening, the Coalition's GCFP sends out three food vans from St. Bart's. One van heads uptown, as far north as Harlem. Another heads downtown, as far south as South Ferry. And the third heads to the Bronx. Between the three vans, they make 23 stops in all - bringing soup, bread, fruit and milk to hundreds of men, women and children. They do this 7 nights a week, 52 weeks a year. In its 30 year history, they've never missed a single night of operation. To me, that's remarkable.
But even more remarkable - for some of these men and women, this warm but modest meal is their only meal of the day.
Last month, I did two ride alongs in the downtown van - camera in tow. It was a moving and humbling experience - with acts of kindness and moments of connection I will never forget.
BEHIND THE SCENES...
VANESSA GRECO, FERNELL HIGH, ROBERT LARKINS, MARGHERITA MIRABELLA, MIKE O’HAGAN, NICOLE PITT, LINDSEY SCHNITT & ISSAC SIMON - Volunteers, GCFP
Let's hear it for the volunteers! They can be an invaluable part of any non-profit or outreach program. But in this case, they are the lifeblood. Whether they're handing out food at St. Bart's or distributing food by van, sometimes they're the only point of contact for those seeking a hot meal.
I got to spend two nights in a van with several of these volunteers. In between stops and general van business, conversation ranged from the Double Big Gulp, to the pros and cons of microbreweries, to the best place to find a Black Widow Avenger costume. What does that tell me? They're "regular Joes" - which is probably why they connect so easily and genuinely with the people they're greeting.
I’m truly in awe of these men and women. The only thing greater than their positive “can do” attitude - is their complete respect for all humankind.
A heartfelt thanks to everyone at the Coalition for allowing me to spend as much time as I did behind the scenes - and to all who lent their faces, energy, and good nature to the cause. From my favorite Harlem chefs, to the team at St. Bart's, to everyone involved in the food van program - it was truly an honor getting to know you.
An equally big thanks to all of my campaign sponsors - as well as my FB friends and followers who clicked "LIKE" - and got others to follow suit. An enthusiastic THUMBS UP right back at ya'!
And finally, for more information about volunteering with GCFP and other vital programs, please visit the Coalition website, http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/take-action/volunteer/