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Homelessness in nyc


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Homelessness in nyc

  1. 1. Homelessness in NYC<br />
  2. 2. Every night, more that 60,000 people, which includes more than 18,000 children sleep without a home of their own in New York City.<br /> Unfortunately, this is a vast amount of people without homes, but fortunately, there are many people who try to give a helping hand to them. My main goal for this ethnographic project was to identify the differences from a Soup Kitchen and a Homeless Shelter, both located in churches in Jamaica, New York.<br />Main Goals<br />
  3. 3. Homelessness in NYC at it’s Highest Point Ever<br />
  4. 4. Every Thursday at 5:45PM, 130- 150 men and women come to eat at the Soup Kitchen in Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church. This soup kitchen is located in Jamaica, New York, with enough transportation opportunities for anyone to attend. The majority of men and women who decided to come to the soup kitchen, have learned about this destination through United Way. United Way is a non-profit organization whose main focus is identifying and resolving pressing community issues. Their main focus areas include education, income and health.  <br />Presentation Soup Kitchen<br />
  5. 5. During my visits at the Soup Kitchen, I partook more in participant- observation rather than interviewing. I came in as a volunteer, and immediately was instructed on what to do. I had no time to ask questions, however I was able to observe. I noticed that the woman in charge, Maria Diaz, was not taking any time for granted. I arrived at 3:00pm, and the food was not served until 5:45pm. The preparation for this had to be extremely fast paced, and there was no time for questions. As time went by, we put together 25 tables, and 150 chairs. In the kitchen, several men and women were preparing the food, which consisted of rice, chicken, beans, canned vegetables, soup and salad. They had to make enough food for 200 plates. For about a half hour I put together napkins, forks, spoons and knives with a man named Armando. This began the beginning of my interview process. <br />Observations<br />
  6. 6. At first Armando didn’t want to talk about anything but how to fold the napkins over the plastic utensils. His first language was Spanish, which caused a language barrier, however after introducing myself, and telling him about my research he began to open up. Armando has been volunteering in the soup kitchen since it first opened, which was in 1985. He has devoted himself for this long because he feels he needs to give to others. He came from Colombia 40 years ago, and feels it’s a shame how majority of the children growing up here, are so ungrateful for what they have. He also told me that every Thursday 3/4 out of the people who come to the soup kitchen repetitively say thank you to the volunteers. However, there are those selected few who complain about the food, or whatever else they can think of. <br />
  7. 7. After speaking with Armando, I realized that rather than asking question by question, having an informal conversation was more beneficial. Unfortunately, I was only able to speak to the woman in charge, and was able to have a very brief conversation with one of the men who came to eat. Due to the fact that some of these people coming to the kitchen were registered sex offenders or even ex-convicts, the volunteers were not allowed to walk near them, or go anywhere near the bathrooms. Luckily, I was handing out the cups of juice, right next to a table, and one of the men started a conversation with me. He began by stating that he never saw me at the kitchen before, and it was always nice to see some of the people working there smiling. He continued on by saying that the majority of the time he feels people look at them (the people coming to the kitchen) as if they aren’t human beings, and wont even look them in the eyes. However, it makes them feel more normal when they see people who will “acknowledge their existence.” I asked him if he enjoyed coming here and he said only because of the food, and the conversations that arise while he communicates with the others eating there as well. “Other than that, we are thankful for getting this opportunity, however we don’t feel at home here.” <br />
  8. 8. The first field site in which I went to was a Homeless shelter located in “Austin Hall” in St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church. It’s taken care of by a woman named Nilda Vargas, and anyone else who was willing to volunteer. Every night for 2 months 8 men are given the opportunity to eat dinner and sleep at this shelter. They are transported by a bus provided by Camba, a non-profit organization which finds destinations for them to stay and eat in throughout the year. I was unable to take pictures, because non of the men were comfortable with it, and two were already sleeping in the cots by the time I arrived. The food that was served was home cooked by Nilda, along with brownies and milk for dessert. The one thing she kept telling me was that the majority of the men will be quiet at first, however after they open up they will not stop talking. She also mentioned that they continuously tell her that this is their favorite place to stay.<br />
  9. 9. When I first introduced myself, I was extremely nervous. I told them my reason for being there, and 2 of the men said if the information was going anywhere outside of class. Even when I replied no, one of them left after eating. The majority of them also left after eating mainly because they wanted to take advantage of all of the sleep they could get. I was able to talk with 3 of the men there, Sean, Desmond a.k.a “Billy” and Miles. I gained a lot of information while talking to all of them, some irrelevant and some relevant. It was clear that they enjoyed talking, and sometimes tried to avoid talking about their current situation. However, one thing that two of them had in common was that they were caught by the budget cuts. Two of the men had jobs up until a few years ago, and now are only receiving S.S. which is barely holding them on. The other man was brought by his wife from Guyana, and felt he was forever in debt to her because of it. Every pay check he would get, he would give to her. Eventually, she kicked him out, and no one offered to help him, which led him to this predicament. He has a daughter, who owns a salon and only calls him when she needs it to be cleaned, in return she would give him $20. The conversations lasted for about 2 hours, when they finally decided it was time to sleep. The bus would be picking them up at 6am, and dropping them off in the city, which would give them an opportunity, to hopefully find a job. <br />
  10. 10. After comparing the information I gathered from the shelter and soup kitchen, I realized the differences that arose. Both places gave such beneficial aspects to these men and women’s lives. However, the shelter was on a much more personal level. The soup kitchen provided a vast amount of food, and even clothes on a back table to people to take. However, it didn’t seem they cared as much about volunteering there as much as they did in the shelter. After the men and women left, I noticed the clothes were being thrown away, I quickly went up to the woman, stating that there are plenty of places where they could drop off the clothes. She replied by saying, “Listen, this is what Mrs. Diaz told me to do, so that’s what I’m doing.”I was appalled by this, and felt it was a huge contradiction. In the homeless shelter, Nilda packed left overs for the men, so that they could eat lunch and not have to buy the next day. She sat and talked with them for hours everyday, just to keep them company. They were two very similar places which provided similar things to these men an women, although, I understood greatly why the men at the shelter said “this is a place like no other.”<br />Results<br />