Around Thanksgiving, the New York Common Pantry provides a full Thanksgiving dinner to each of their clients. As NYCP serves many people, they had quite a task ahead of them, and needed help in order to actually be able to provide the dinners in a timely manner. Since many items would be provided in bags, and turkey would have to be wrapped in twine, we were put to the tasks of pre-openning bags, so the Pantry employees would not have to do so themselves, and cutting lengths of twine for the turkey wrappings. This experience made me consider the impact of being able to have a Thanksgiving dinner with family when food is often not available. I realized that by doing these small tasks, I was helping to speed the process of households becoming more food secure. This made me thankful for the experience as a whole.
This summer I volunteered at the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation. It is a wonderful center that helps people overcome their housing problems. I have heard the stories of people that are struggling to maintain their housing finances, and have received helped from the advisors at Cypress. However, there was a lot of work to be done without a sufficient amount of people to finish the tasks. I volunteered with my sister. We helped organize files, take phone calls, and log information on a computer. The work environment itself was very friendly and welcoming. I am glad to be apart of something that helps the community and will continue to volunteer throughout high school.
For my teams YPI project we decided to bring attention to the issue of homelessness. At first I found it difficult to enjoy the finding information and even found myself wanting to change the subject. Then as my group and I started going into depth with the issue we all started to gain a sense of awareness of those serious our issue was. Once we went to visit our site, I was amazed to see that they are located inside of an elementary school. Seeing all the men in the building smile and focus on work, I found it hard to believe that they were once homeless. Having now finished the YPI project, I leave with views on homelessness. I now realize how much of a problem homelessness is in NY. However, it makes me happy to realize that despite this issue being a big problem, there are wonderful organization such as The Doe Fund that can help individuals that need help. Not only do they gain a shelter at the Doe Fund p,but they gain a sense of independence which I consider to be a very beautiful thing. All in all I hope that other people will check out how important the Doe Fund is and am glad I could participate in the YPI project.
For my group’s YPI project, we decided to research Homelessness as our social issue. Through this project, I furthered my understanding of how homeless men, women, and children are forced to live and what various opportunities exist to help bring them out of homelessness.
My eyes were opened to a different life where gifts aren’t easily granted and people are very much left to fend for themselves because our society has been trained not to help them out of fear or ignorance. Our group chose the DOE Fund as the organization we were aiming to help during the course of this project. The DOE Fund offers help to all who need it and connects many to a better fitting organization for their needs. The DOE Fund targets men of color who receive the least amount of care from our society and are not easily offered jobs or a helping hand. This organization takes men who are willing and able to do work and puts them through a training program which readies them for college or jobs in the real world.
Before I began my research for this project, I knew only what media had told me about the homeless population. I would pass by homeless people on the streets and think little of them because I was taught they are uneducated, bad decision makers, and “bums of society.” However, after having done this project I feel a new appreciation for those who have jobs such as cleaning the streets, and those who are desperately trying to find jobs or housing and better their lives through hard work. My attitude has especially changed relating to homeless veterans because our government treats many veterans unjustly even though they risked their lives to help our country. They aren’t given equal job opportunities, especially when dealing with disabilities given to them from war.
The most challenging aspect of this presentation for me was choosing what was the most important information to share during our presentation, and creating a presentation that was informative but still engaged the audience. We acquired so much information about homelessness and issues relating to it, and deciding which facts or observations were most worthy of sharing during the presentation proved difficult. Also, it was difficult to create a presentation which both informed the audience of our issue but wasn’t simply throwing facts at people. Over the course of this project I feel I have gained public speaking skills, as I was very unsure of myself when public speaking previous to doing this project. I now feel more confident showing my work to many people, especially having worked so hard on my topic and knowing so much about it. I found knowing how hard I worked and presenting a presentation I was proud of most rewarding during this project. Also, seeing how these men were changed going through the DOE Fund‘s Ready Willing and Able program was quite rewarding as I knew that even if we didn’t win, these men were still being helped and could better their lives. I may continue to reach out, along with my group members, to the DOE Fund’s organization as I have seen them help so many in need and will definitely pay more attention to how I can better help the homeless population.
This image shows some of the men who benefit from the DOE Fund‘s “Ready Willing & Able” program which gives men work around the city, which both benefits the city and the men who build a bond with each other and physically see the changes they can make upon such a big city by simply cleaning streets.
For my group’s YPI Social Issue, we chose teen suicide. Teen suicide
is an issue that has been around for many years. Statistics have shown
suicide is the third leading cause of death ages 15-24 and the fourth
leading cause of death for children 10-14. 19.3% of high school
students have seriously considered suicide and 14.5% of them made
plans to commit suicide. We thought this social issue was something
important that needed to be talked about and addressed. Some of the
related social issues closely connected to teen suicide are bullying,
cyber-bullying, and acceptance of others’ sexual orientation.
The organization we chose was the Samaritans.
The Samaritans was first started in 1953 in Europe, and over the past
42 years has expanded to America. The idea came from the founder, a
clergyman who found that people who came for his help opened up to
volunteers who would serve coffee in his office. Today, there are over
100 volunteers working to help those in need of their counseling.
Because of confidentiality, we were not allowed to visit the center
but met with the Director, Joy Savola at Friends. She told us the call
center consists of four desks and phones in a room. The space may
sound simple, but everyday lives are being saved.
When I first started working on this project, I had a fair amount of
knowledge of teen suicide, and as I continued to do more research my
passion to get word out of this issue soared. Part of this growth was
also from family. While we were working on the project, one of my
father’s cousins passed away by suicide. This greatly devastated my
family because we’re all so close knit. With this loss, I became more
and more determined to tell people about teen suicide and how it can
be prevented and how lives can be saved.
Over the course of the project, I learned many new things about timed
presentations. I learned how to condense information correctly and
limit text. One of the challenges was memorization. Often, if I don’t
know a script by rote, I can’t relax and present my slides; I had to
work hard to remember what I needed to say and be sure not to take too
long. It was very rewarding to know so much about such a sad issue and
to have such a passion and drive to tell people about it. I hope to
give donations and promote awareness about the Samaritans.
For my YPI social issue, My group and I chose unemployed veterans. We chose this issue because it is a root cause of numerous other issues, such as suicide, crime, homelessness, addiction, and mental illness. For our nonprofit organization we chose I.A.V.A., which stands for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
One thing in particular which affected my views on unemployment of veterans was the Wall of Why at the I.A.V.A. Headquarters. This was a wall covered in messages and pictures to remind the people who work there what it is that they are fighting for. At first, I thought of unemployed veterans as just a subset of unemployed people who sometimes had slight disadvantages due to injuries. But as I researched the issue more and more I found that they were severely disadvantaged and often had no means of making up for this. I found that this was a serious issue that had yet to be addressed on a large scale.
The most challenging part of this project was actually finding a nonprofit to work with. The first nonprofit we looked at was not actually able to operate due to financial reasons, and others we looked at were not as focused on the New York community. I.A.V.A. Started in New York, and uses it as the testing ground for its programs. The most rewarding part of the experience was during our site visit. We interviewed an employee of the organization who had himself gone through its programs. This inspired me to try to win The grant far more than before.
In the course of this project I learned numerous skills in presentation and research. I learned effective presentation skills and researching my organization.
My group’s social issue was hunger and homelessness. We decided to chose Trinity Church as our organization. They help feed the homeless by serving lunch five times a week and by having an open food pantry for people to take food home. Before working on this project I often ignored the homeless people that I would pass as I walked down the street, but after this project I have come to understand that most people just had a series of unfortunate events happen to them and ended up on the street. I developed presentation skills during the long presses of making our website and power point and presenting them. I will most likely remain involved with Trinity Church through volunteer work.
Our History service learning unit was dedicated to working with YPI(Youth Philanthropy Initiative). Our project was to find an NYC-based non-profit that deals with a social issue that we(we were split into groups) felt was important. My group’s social issue was domestic violence. The non profit we decided to help was Volunteers of America.
Before we visited VOA, we researched the issue of domestic violence.
In our research we found just how prominent this issues is in New York City. We also discovered the horrible repercussions of this issue. I felt that during this phase that my presentation skills improved and that I learned a lot about domestic violence.
After that, we went to VOA location in NYC. There we listened to a presentation about the work this organization did. We heard personal stories about the victims of domestic violence and how they overcame their horrible experience. We also learned how VOA helps these people. I thought it was a very eye-opening experience. I hope I can do more work for them in the future.
Today, December 9, I volunteered at the New York Common Pantry. This was my first big volunteering experience, so it left a sizable impression on me. The pantry part of the organization has produce put in one-pound bags for distribution to those in need. However, due to the large amounts of produce donated to them, they need help to bag it all. This is where the volunteers came in. We unpacked the produce, and then bagged it. Without help, this job likely would have taken six or more hours, but because we volunteered, it only took two. I felt good knowing that I had helped feed several numerous families who couldn’t afford to feed themselves.
I recently helped Jesse Pasca and Katherine Farrell curate an art display in the school gallery.
The artists were alumni of the school. Even though I only helped for a short time, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed discussing where to put things. I never realized how position strongly affects the impact of a piece. It was good to see it the finished product of our hard work up on the wall.
Thank you Jesse and Katherine.