On February 8th some classmates from Ben Frisch’s statistics class and I went to PS41 to participate in the HOPE Survey. HOPE is an organization that one night a year in the middle of winter goes out onto the NYC streets to count and survey the city’s homeless population who are not sleeping in shelters. This is done in association with the Department of Homeless Services to provide an accurate picture of how many chronically homeless people there are in the city. Though this initiative takes place all over New York City, including the five boroughs and subways, our involvement only had us survey a few residential streets in the Greenwich Village area. We went out late at night between the hours of about 10:00pm and 2:00am, which is a rather cold time in the middle of winter and unsafe for anyone to be sleeping outside in those conditions. However, our group did not encounter any homeless people in the section that we surveyed. Though we didn’t come across any, the other group from our school did. Even though we didn’t see any ourselves, we still collected important information regarding statistics of where there are homeless people in the city, and areas where they are not found as often. This relates to the work we do in class because it looks at proportions of where in the city are larger concentrations of homeless people. I found the timing of the annual survey to be interesting because it occurred during the part of the year when it was hardest to be outside because of the cold. Being out in the cold for even a few hours was harsh and made me more aware of what some homeless people have to struggle with living on the streets. However, there may have been fewer people on the streets for this reason, so I think it would be interesting to see what the statistics for homeless people on the streets are at another time of the year.
Over the summer, I helped clean the beach with the organization, Imagination Nature. While considerably unpleasant, it was worth noting the kinds of things people had left on the beach, and for what reason. The places which had the most trash were locations where people had organized a party on the beach the night before. There were a significant number of cigarette butts littering the sand, as well as items of food which had been left behind and forgotten about. I think that the reason people left so much food on the beach is because they assume it will decompose, and it will, eventually, but not fast enough for it to avoid harming the ecosystem. It was slightly alarming to come back the next week and see how much garbage had returned to the same places we had just cleared of plastic bags and orange peels seven days before. This emphasized to me how important it is for beach-atendees to use the easily accessible garbage cans located in the beach parking lot.
Imagination Nature’s Website: http://imaginationnature.com
My group wanted to address children’s education as our social issue because a child has a higher chance of being successful and not falling into poverty later in life if they receive a good education. The less people living in poverty, the closer we are to breaking the cycle so many people in New York City have become a part of. I think my group made a good decision when we chose The Children’s Aid Society as our non-profit organization. Although we focused on their Early Education services, Children’s Aid also provides 14 other programs allowing children and families to get the help and support they need. During this project I learned not only about Children’s Aid and how they help the community, but also about how important education really is to children. When we visited Children’s Aid I was informed of how easily influenced children are during the rapid period of brain development in first years of their life, as well as Children’s Aid’s methods of teaching, and building cognitive functions and organization skills. The knowledge I acquired over the course of the project has made me much more aware of the social issue and poverty in New York City as a whole.
I found the project rewarding in several respects. I not only had the opportunity to learn about a chosen non-profit and share with others what I had learned, but was made aware of other social issues and the organizations that address them by the presentations from the rest groups. Perhaps what I think was most rewarding about working with the Youth Philanthropy Initiative was knowing that regardless of whether my group won or lost, an organization was being funded to help eradicate a worthy issue in society.