Andrew’s Experience w/ the HOPE Count

On February 9th, I along with several of my classmates participated in the HOPE Count. Each year, the NYC Department of Homeless Services conducts its annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE), in order to get an accurate estimate of the number of unsheltered homeless living in NYC. The HOPE Count is held during the winter in order to get an idea of the number of homeless who do not have a place to sleep for the night even on one of the coldest nights of the year. After an hour long training at PS41, various groups were assigned districts throughout lower Manhattan. The survey relies on volunteers asking every person they encounter whether or not they had a place to sleep that night. My group consisted of myself, Ben Frisch, Philippe Noisy, and Liam Cook, and we had a total of five districts to survey, including a subway station. After hours of scouring the streets and asking dozens of people questions, our group ended up with the highest number of reported homeless. Statistics is very important in a project such as this because the NYC Department of Homeless Services is reliant on the data that we accumulate throughout the night. We provide them with a statistic that allows them to paint a picture of  homelessness in the city.

In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, lawyer Atticus Finch imparts wise words to his daughter, Scout, saying, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”. Homelessness often feels like a myth. People know that there are people without a home, but I feel that not many people are aware of how much of a problem homelessness really is. After doing the HOPE Count, I was confronted with homelessness face to face. I met various homeless people throughout the night and had to ask them several questions, some quite personal. To be honest, it was kind of depressing. However, the biggest takeaway is knowing that I was able to help the city and its efforts to help homeless people. There was also the option for a van to come and pick up any homeless person we encountered and bring them to a shelter (although none I encountered accepted this offer). I believe that we all need to become more aware about homelessness in the city and what we can do to help those in need, especially since homelessness is on the rise.

Andrew’s Service Reflection

For my in-school service this year I decided to help set up and run the Spring Fair.  The day before the fair, I helped setting up tables and chairs and moving books and other items that would be used for the fair. Although setting up the tables was fun, the real fun came the day of the fair. It was cool seeing the transformation that had taken place in just a day. What seemed like a bunch of tables and chairs turned into a wondrous event filled with life, fun, and excitement. On the day of the fair I began manning the high striker game, where kids showed off their strength, trying to hit the bell the highest. I then rotated my way around different events, seeing where I was needed, and then finally settled in the outer courtyard, manning the drink station. It was fun getting to meet new people, and the weather was beautiful that day, adding an even more lively atmosphere to the event. Somehow I even ended up getting my hair sprayed pink (it’s a shame there are no photos of that…which may have been on purpose)! All in all I am glad that I was able to participate in such a fun event, where the whole Friends community gets to come together and enjoy good food, fun games, and lively entertainment.