Hello everyone as this is a new YAV year and all that I am going to try to put out at least one new blog posts a month. So watch for more posts in the coming weeks and months. Also the picture above is one I took, it is the view from the window of my bedroom.
So as many of you know I am now living in New York city doing my second year as a Young Adult Volunteer or YAV for short. I have been in this amazing city for a little more then a month and it was been wonderful so far. New York city is like no other city in the world and I am blessed with the opportunity to leave here and do work which I love. I want to thank everyone who donated both this year and last year. You are the reason I can do this amazing journey of self discover and volunteer work. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
It has been a bit of a cultural shift in moving from the Big Easy of New Orleans all the way up north to Big Apple. Everything is different here. People are in such a hurry and here everyone walks where in New Orleans everyone walked and you got to where you are going when you got there, normally late. New Orleans is the biggest small town and New York is arguable the biggest city in the world. I miss New Orleans a lot, I miss the people I lived with and the ones I made friendships with though out the city, I miss the snowballs and the crawfish, I miss the kids that I worked with, I miss City Park and going to get beignets, I miss the Jazz music and Frenchman street, I miss the city that I feel in love with. I hope that this year in New York that I can learn to love the Big Apple just as much.
I am living in Manhattan in a neighborhood called Morningside Heights. It is right next to Harlem and Colombia University. I am about a ten minute walk to were I am working this year, so that is nice and is much easier for me to get to work then my housemates. This year I am living with two people instead of six. Maura is from North Carolina and is getting her own room. I am rooming with Simon, who is from Maryland and a second year YAV like me. He served last year in South Korea. This is the first time in my life that I will have to share a room with another human and though it has only been a month it has been going well. I get along very well with both of my housemates and I hope to get to know them better as the year progresses.
This year I will be working at Broadway Community, which runs many programs to work with the people experiencing homelessness. Broadway Community runs a soup kitchen every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, has a produce food pantry every Monday where any can come and get fresh produce and emergency food pantry for those in dire need, Monday and Wednesday while the soup kitchen is open, medical doctors and nurses come and serve those who come through our doors, and every night seven days a week hosts thirteen men who are experiencing homelessness and need a place to sleep. This is an amazing program and I am privileged to work there.
As for what I actually do there, I work at the soup kitchen, called the Four Star Soup Kitchen, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 – 3:00 where I work with the chef to cook to food, with the volunteers as they prep the food and make the salad and desert everyday, I serve the food some days and plate the food others, and I wash dishes tons and tons of dishes. As the name says we are a Four Star Soup Kitchen and we work hard to make that true. The Chef who is also called Chef, I have heard he has another name but have yet to meet someone brave enough to call him by it, makes absolutely amazing food for about 120 to 140 people. To give you an idea of the meals he normally prepares here is the menu from October 9th, 2017. The soup for the day was a cauliflower carrot creme made with coconut milk and fresh carrots, I should know I peeled 100 pounds of them, the entree was salmon fillets on a bed of fresh spinach and leeks with melted mozzarella, with a vegetarian alternative of tofu instead of fish, with a side of bi-color pasta with mixed vegetables and broccoli normandy. Also with the meal was a tatsoi and tomato salad and chips and Salsa with fresh cut tomato. For desert we served chocolate coverd banana parfait. After all the guest are served I normally sit down and eat with them and I am not kidding when I say I have an amazing lunch three days a week.
I am also working with Broadway Presbyterian Church which hosts and does a lot of work with Broadway Community and on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I mostly do some work in the office or help with anything around the church that needs to get done.
One of my favorite events that I have helped do is called Community Table. Community Table is once a month and its goal is to bring all the different communities of the local area together at one table. The pews are taken out of the sanctuary and tables are put in there place. The are set up are made to look like a fine dining restaurant and volunteers come to be the waiters. Chef makes a four course meal with three appetizer and three entree options for about 100 – 120 people. The meal is free for everyone and everyone is welcome to come in sit and eat an amazing meal. I was busy in the kitchen and running around making sure everything was working, but I got to to look in several times at the people eating and I saw a three men that I see everyday in the soup kitchen sitting with two older people from the church congregation and a student from Colombia sitting at a table and eating a meal together while they talked and laughed and got to know each other. If that is not the Kingdom of God then what is.
All in all I have loved my first month in New York City and I hope that this year I can grow as much as I did in my last year in New Orleans. I hope that I find a home in the Big Apple just like I did in the Big Easy.