Alternative Spring Break 2017 – NYC

The two best moments I have experienced in this year’s Alternative Spring Break happened on the last two days: Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, snow just totally stopped. So, it means we were going to do an outdoor activity. We went into a Food Pantry in the Bronks. There were about 25 people in the Pantry, sorting foods that are to be distributed  to beneficiaries. Everything went well. Everybody was effective. We almost doubled the production that groups usually work.

The second best part happened on Friday when the Team Cow kind of adopted me into their own. We left early to go to our destination: the Food Pantry near Central Park. Since it is just beside central park, our group decided to enter the Central Park first, before going to the Food Pantry. We were lucky enough to meet some dogs being walked on the snow in the Park. We played with them a bit, altough our 2 groupmates kept running away from the dogs. We, then, went to the Food Pantry and did our duty. We packed foods that are to be given to senior citizens later that day. We also cut some vegetables that were included in the meal that were given to senior citizends. After 3pm, we went to China town, ate some dumplings, and went to Little Italy. We got home before 7pm, and ate Pizza for dinner. What a day.

Baptism By Concrete

“crunch” “crackle” “crunch” my Brooks sneakers sunk into the snowy, frozen crust. Despite making everything more frigid, the snow was a relief from the grayscale of colors that is New York. I hadn’t seen a tree in miles. As a native North Carolinian, that was a bit maddening. This was a trip full of first time experiences for me. The largest cities I’ve been to are fifteen minutes across at most.

This city is different.

This is the city.  

The initial impression of New York made my jaw drop. It was larger than life. Every building was garnished with swirly, intricate trim. Some buildings had entrances large enough to accommodate giants. The architecture of the city inspired a feeling of nationalism. I felt proud of the American craftsmanship that erected those buildings.

 As awe-inspiring as the city was, it proved to be just as intimidating. The metro system seemed cryptic. Even after a full week of immersion I still wouldn’t be able to navigate. The complexity of the subway, coupled with the layout of the streets was a steep learning curve for many of us. The people of New York seemed to be a little bit daunting as well. The difference in dialect made communicating slightly difficult at first.

I didn’t hear anybody say “yall” one time.

In spite of this, we only had to spend a little bit of time with the natives before we were speaking the same language. The Yorkers defied the stereotypes, and showed us a warm, charasmatic, work-hard attitude.

For my group, (the herd) our main service assignment was to assist in the community kitchen of Harlem. I was really impressed by how well run the kitchen was. The food was prepared with care, and the staff was exceptionally passionate about their work. The meals they prepared would have rivaled many surrounding restaurants. We cut carrots, scrubbed spatulas, and packaged meals for the clients to eat when the kitchen was closed. The enormity of these tasks was toppled by the tenacity of the staff. It was a joy to serve alongside them.

I was also able to serve in the food bank, in the Bronx.

The food bank gave the same, hardworking impression I saw in the community kitchen. Energetic people, working hard at what they do because they want others to have a better life. Around fifty of us spent the afternoon sorting through crates of packaged food, sorting them into boxes. A majority of breakers felt this was the most impactful service project of the trip, because it allowed us to impact a high volume of people.

Overall, ASB was an incredibly unique experience. Despite the highs and lows of the trip, I wouldn’t have changed much about the way spring break went. I really felt like I was able to experience New York City, and make a difference while I was at it.

Fun At The Club

The best part of this trip was coming here with strangers and leavin with good friends. Everyone got along well with each other , definitely a fun group of people . I honestly wish we all lived close together. Two of my favorite moments were with the kids and playing games with peers at 2am. I was working with K-2 and they were super fun with very high energy. I felt like good doing their homework , wishing me homework was still that easy. It was so funny trying to teach them how to play volleyball. There was a lot of crying about who was suppose to serve the ball. The kids and other volunteers really made this trip was filled with fun and bonding . I will not forget them!

Day 1: ASB Trip 2017 NYC

At last the day has come. Over 100+ interviews were conducted as interest in this year’s ASB trip to New York reached sky high. Thankfully all the students had met several times before the trip to bond and learn about homelessness and hunger.

We did a great job of meeting at the airport at 4am and everyone was accounted. This flight was also one of the students first flights ever (Paul).

We hung out for a bit in the gym when we arrived at the Boys and Girls Club in Newark and got to know each other a little bit by playing Telephone and “Tell Paul How Awesome He Is: The Game”.

After we recieved a tour of the Boys and Girls Club we locked up our belongings and ventured in New York City. Using New York’s transportation system is a feat in itself. We had to get to the right station, pay for the right tickets, and dash quickly out of trains to avoid being pincer-slammed by subway doors. Subway doors show no mercy.

I’m surprised that my greatest discovery of this trip occurred on the first day. I ran into the country’s greatest waffle maker, Wafel & Dinges. The waffle was piping hot, crunchy on the outside, and warm and reassuring in the middle. We do not have artisinal waffles like this is North Carolina.

One of the students, John, led us to one of New York’s finest coffee houses: Blue Bottle Cafe. The coffee was amazing. Thank you John!

After our trip to the city we went back to the Boys and Girls Club and got a chance to play ice breaker games with the 10 other schools participating in Alternative Spring Break.

My assigned team were the Wolves. I think we had the best team chant and team photo.

Our first day in New York was pretty fantastic. Looking forward to a fun and busy trip!

Manny

Bittersweet Goodbyes

 

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Our last day in New York was a great one. The group that wasn’t at the Common Pantry yesterday was given the opportunity to work there on Thursday. I think the general consensus of the whole Wake Tech group was that this was everyone’s favorite place. I was lucky enough to get to work downstairs taking orders and talking directly with the clients, and then I was moved upstairs in the hustle and bustle of packing up the grocery bags. I think we all felt we made the most impact at this site. They wouldn’t have been able to function or run the operation they did without help from volunteers like us. Melody’s group was sent out in the Bronx where they worked at a soup kitchen run by nuns, where no one spoke a bit of English! This created some difficulty in communication, but was ultimately a great experience to see the wonderful work that was being done. We all met back at YSOP for a final reflection about the poverty issues in New York and to discuss why the rates are rising, instead of falling. I think overall, it was a great experience for everyone involved. We said our goodbyes to the ladies from University of Wisconsin and the huge group from the University of Arizona. Bonds were definitely built through the week from similar experiences and having similar reasons for being in New York.

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The Wake Tech group headed over to our favorite pizza joint for one final delicious pizza and to figure out our plans for the evening. It quickly became apparent that there was still quite a bit of the city left unseen, and we decided we wanted to do as much as possible. We made a quick stop at the empire state building, ran over to Rockerfeller Plaza (which the ice skating rink seemed so much smaller in person!) and stopped by Grand Central Station!  We quickly learned of the Staten Island Ferry, which was a free trip and gave us the best view of the trip of the city (and a chance to sit down!). From there we went to Wall Street and had a silent moment at Ground Zero. We finally made it back to the hostel, exhausted and dreading the 9 hour car ride home, but it was well worth it to leave New York knowing we had seen as much as humanly possible.

Overall, I think that this trip was an absolutely wonderful learning experience, bonding experience and travelling experience. I think every one of us was ready to be home and sleep in our own bed, but felt the trip was worth it and the experience was life changing. We were given the opportunity to work in almost every borough, with people from entirely different backgrounds, and different stories. We were give the opportunity to sit down and dine with these people, talk to them on a human level and feel their sorrows and joys. I think what was most surprising to me was that the people running the soup kitchens and food pantries weren’t professionals, they weren’t trained, they were just people who saw a need and were doing the best that they could to make a difference. Thank you for your support and for following us on our journey!

~Until next year!

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Technology Helps!

Before we got off the Subway today someone asked me what my favorite location has been and I answered that I haven’t found it yet.  That is no longer the case, The Common Pantry has definitely been my favorite location to visit and volunteer.  We walked in to the pantry and were immediately greeted by a very energetic coordinator by the name of Jen.  She took us downstairs to the pantry for the “fun stuff” she called it.  And it was a lot of fun.  I could see me and my group making a real difference in this pantry.  We were packing the bags after the orders came in and bagging produce and stocking shelves.  The Common Pantry was the most organized and well put together program I have seen in New York since I have been here.  The process started downstairs in the lobby where the person checked in and sent their order to the pantry on a tablet.  The order came from the tablet and was sent to the Pantry volunteers on the computer.  We then packed the grocery bags and sent them to the respective person.  Jen called the pantry a high tech establishment which made it a smooth process.  Melody and I were discussing upon departure that this place would fall apart without volunteers, it is run very efficiently because everybody has the common goal of doing good for the people of New York.

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A Church On A Mission

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Going into a new place to volunteer each day, you’re not sure what your day will be like. Listening to other volunteer groups you quickly learn how the conditions change from each place. My experiences thus far have been great and today at the Flatbush Reformed Church my perspective had changed again.

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Again, we were welcomed and given task to prepare for the free lunch they serve every Wednesday and Saturday for those in need of a hot meal. The church itself holds a rummage sale twice a year and many coats and sweaters were left over. The ministers have these items placed out for anyone in need of a warm coat for free. It’s a great gesture and a warm coat in the cold New York weather goes a long way. Not only were we able to help, we were able to learn as well. The church is a historical landmark and happens to be the first church built in New York, let alone Brooklyn. The Church was built in 1654. The original bell still hangs at the top of the bell tower and was the actual bell used to sound that the British we invading. The history lesson was unexpected but it made us enjoy our time there even more.

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The lunch were help prepared was rice and beans with curry chicken, a garden salad, bread, warm and cold drinks followed by cakes and cookies. The group of volunteers were actual members of the church who actually work at these lunches every week. They were extremely nice and knew each of the one hundred people that came by name. The church even offered a small service for those who wanted to express their religion. This was by far a great place to work today because people were happy to give and people were happy to receive.

Dinner at YSOP

On Tuesday night, after a long day of serving others, we returned to YSOP to get ready for an amazing opportunity to meet and enjoy dinner with some disadvantaged New Yorkers and other college students from across the country.

We began by splitting into teams to make different parts of the meal. I was grouped with two students from the University of Arizona and one student from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point and together we made the garlic bread, while others were busy preparing the chicken, salad, mashed potatoes, stir fry, and brownies.

When our guests arrived, everyone was eager to get to know them and make them feel comfortable. I first met Katherine, a very nice lady who said she was born in the Bronx and has lived in New York City her entire life. We played a round of Bananagram with a bunch of students from the other colleges. Before we ate dinner, everyone gathered around in a big circle and introduced ourselves along with our favorite movie. Later in the night, I met another one of our guests, Manuel, and found out we shared Puerto Rican heritage.

This night was extremely fun and exciting. I did something I had never done before (making the garlic bread) and got to meet so many wonderful and unique people. This dinner was definitely the highlight of the trip.

Chase Johnson

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Hunger Fight!!!!

20140318_112130As the trip goes on, we go to different places and meet different unlucky people. For the second day of the trip, we headed to Manhattan in the heart of the East Village. Our group was delighted to help a non-profit organization called Trinitiy’s Services and Food for the Homeless. We met a pleasant and welcoming staff.
After receiving the directions, our group started helping with the preparation of lunch. In fact, this organization provides lunch for unfortunate people five days a week starting from 11 am to noon. We served 259 meals. Additionally, Trinitiy’s Services and Food for the Homeless has a food pantry that operates four days a week and begins at 12:30 pm. Forty meal bags filled with enough groceries are given a day.
Seeing the smile of fed people made this experience gratifying and rewarding. As I learned from one the volunteer, “No one should be hungry.” Hence, fighting hunger is a noble initiative that anyone should consider.

Sincerely,
Anta Diouf

 

 

Campaign Against Hunger #pinkbeans

20140318_131641 While in New York, day two led us on an adventure to Bed Stuy, Brooklyn to the food bank / pantry named “Campaign for Hunger”. It’s tucked in the neighborhood where it’s accessible to all who are in need. The staff was pleasant and well knowledgeable and provided help to their customers as well as our group.

Our group jumped right in helping customers with their choice of fruit and veggies, cereals, grains, meats, and dairy, as well as restocking shelves.

This experience was gratifying and supportive to my spirit. I’m glad I volunteered and blessed that I have the opportunity to meet and fellowship with so many great individuals.

Best Regards,
Shaun M.