Category Archives: Homeless

The Bowery Mission:

Loving Actively through Hospitality and Compassion

Concrete beds in cardboard houses line the city sidewalks.
Tattered blankets, fast food remnants,
The smell of rusty, wet scaffolding.
Black plastic trash bags hold all the Universe.
Watching with heavy eyes through subway grate steam
until the suffocation of invisibility settles in.
They turn away from the lights of the street,
turn their backs on the world and endure a restless sleep.

Cardboard cabins built by the homeless on 37th. The residents will remove them each morning and rebuild them each night.

Each night, thousands of unsheltered homeless sleep on the streets of NYC and over 65,000 sleep in city shelters.1 Often, homelessness is accepted as a ubiquitous and expected background of daily life in the city, just like taxi cabs and neon signs. Encounters with panhandling and outbursts from mental illness make homelessness and poverty visible and uncomfortable – something evoking fear.

The Bowery Mission steps directly and unquestioningly into this, fiercely bringing their core value of “Love Actively” to life. Since 1872 this organization has exemplified love as action through compassionate care – offering free meals, clothing, showers, and a place to sleep for anyone in need of hospitality.

From humble beginnings in a small wooden building, to multiple sites in New York City helping those in need, The Bowery Mission served over 250,000 meals, provided over 55,000 nights of shelter, and over 20,000 articles of clothing in 20222. Sweat equity that builds relationships and restores communities.

In addition to these emergency services, they offer residential and transitional programs such as long-term residential support, psychological counseling, addiction recovery, educational and life classes, vocational mentoring, job training, certification programs and more.

I had volunteered at both their Bowery and Tribeca campuses, helping serve meals to those in need. This particular morning we were serving a hot breakfast with eggs, bacon, French toast, fruit, pastry, and coffee, to both the residents in the Bowery program and hundreds of homeless who came regularly to get a solid meal.

Clients in their programs come from all walks of life and are all ages. They all have a common denominator – life’s circumstances brought them to very hard times. Some lost jobs and were unable to find new ones so were evicted, some battle alcoholism and drug addiction, some left abusive family situations, some battle mental illness. There are many stories of trauma and pain. The Bowery Mission promotes the flourishing of New Yorkers by helping work through that trauma and pain and overcoming homelessness and marginalization. Their programs care for the whole person – body, mind and spirit.

While serving breakfast we were able to speak and connect with the people who had come for a hot meal. One client told me the Bowery team members and I were the first people to have a conversation with them in over 24 hours. On the streets, they said, “…no one looks us in the eye or speaks to us.”  Another client told me they look forward to regular breakfast meals at The Bowery because… “It’s nice to know there’s someone who loves me.”

Building bridges through hospitality and compassion means the world becomes a little less brutal for the clients for that moment, and by getting to work with the homeless and build human relationships, I live with a little less fear because they are less invisible and unknown.

You can read more about the amazing history of The Bowery Mission, make a donation to support their programs, or find out how to volunteer here: Donate, Volunteer or Learn More to Help the Homeless & Hungry | The Bowery Mission


  1. Statistics for NYC Homeless comes from: How many total people are homeless in NYC? – Coalition For The Homeless
  2. Statistics come from The Bowery Mission’s site: Homelessness & Poverty in New York City | The Bowery Mission

Serving Friday Mission Lunch in Paris, France


It was a beautiful, sunny morning in Paris as I walked along the Seine. It was my birthday and I was completely excited to be spending it in the city of lights!


Across the river, the Eiffel Tower’s wrought iron latticework gracefully sparkled in the sun. Below me I could spy on picturesque houseboats moored along the banks of the river and wondered what it would be like to vacation on one of them.


Tourist cameras were already snapping wildly as trinket vendors (les bouquinistes) began to set up their tiny stalls along the bridges.


I was heading towards the American Cathedral in Paris – on Avenue George V, in the heart of this wealthy tourist mecca – to begin my shift at their Mission Lunch.


250px-American_Cathedral_in_Paris_LogoEvery Friday, 64 homeless and/or poor guests come for a hot, 3-course meal and dessert served by volunteers in a restaurant atmosphere.

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Habitat for Humanity South Hampton Roads (Norfolk, VA): Changing lives through the ReStore

meThere was time to read through several homeowner stories as I waited for the volunteer shift to start at the Habitat for Humanity South Hampton Roads ReStore (HFH-SH) in Norfolk, VA.


I learned of single moms working multiple jobs to make enough to put food on the table and care for their children.


I read a story of a family forced out of their apartment by rent increases. Another family struggled to move to a safe neighborhood to get away from gun violence and drug gangs. One family, unable to secure affordable financing, was forced to live with relatives in crowded conditions. Read more

Sleeping on the Streets in Solidarity with the Homeless: New York City Relief and Liquid Church

home sweet homeAt just about 2:00 a.m. Danielle and I realized our roof was leaking. We’d been battling the rain for the past two hours, huddled inside our cardboard shelter with a dusty tarp as our ceiling. It was 50 degrees and everything around us had slowly become wet as the rain seeped in – our blankets, our clothes.


A bit exhausted and definitely uncomfortable, we made the decision to dismantle our section of the cardboard city and head inside to the church atrium. Over 575 people had come to participate in Liquid Church’s Homeless Church event. Read more

Week 46: NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking: Fighting for the Victims


The speaker stood up at the front of the auditorium….

Several times a year our group goes into local cities and towns and asks,Who are your missing children?We get their names and photos, then make posters of these children.”


(She holds up one of the posters with the faces of at least 15 children on it)


We then stop at motels and hotels” she continued, “and ask the staff, ‘Have you seen any of these faces?’”


EVERY TIME we’ve done this we’ve had at least one rescue. Sometimes several. The children are usually going by different names, but we always find someone who recognizes at least one and it allows us to start to work towards finding them and rescuing them.”


These children… they are typically between the ages of 12 and 16. These cities and towns? …. They are in New Jersey….

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Week 34: CMTC Blue Warming Station: Kindness and Empathy for the Homeless

flyer when openWhen I signed up to be a Shelter Helper on a Friday night for Christ Temple Church Ministry’s CTCM Blue Warming Station (CTCM) in Newark, I did not know what to expect. Open up to 3 days a week, and only on nights when the temperature falls below 32 degrees, the church and staff of CTCM go out of their way to provide a safe, warm, peaceful environment to its guests.

On nights when they are open to house the homeless, they transform the main room into a shelter filled with as many cots as they can, so they can help as many people as possible.

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Week 32: DoSomething.Org – Empowering Youth and Young Adults to Get Involved and Get Active (because apathy sucks!) is the future of volunteer and activism experiences. The non-profit uses a digital platform to power offline action through hundreds of grass-roots volunteer, social change, awareness and civic action campaigns.



Words on flower

Targeted at ages 13 – 30, the campaigns can be completed by individuals or groups, without any need for transportation, funding by participants, or oversight. Young adults love to get involved and make a difference. They are passionate about causes they identify with. taps into that potential and makes getting active super easy and super fun, empowering teens and young adults to drive social change.

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Week 25: The Alexis Diner’s Thanksgiving Charity Dinner for St. Peter’s Orphanage


Facts-About-Macy-Thanksgiving-Day-ParadeSometimes participating in a charity can be super simple – like enjoying a charity dinner… which is what my husband and I decided to do for Thanksgiving. For us, it was an easy choice. Thanksgiving is typically just the two of us. Our tradition is to take the train into NYC, look at the holiday window displays, do a little holiday shopping at Bryant Park’s Winter Village, then have Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant (Blue Fin on Times Square has been our go-to). It’s a really fun tradition – the city is full of lights, energy and happiness, bright decorations and holiday music. Everyone is friendly and you’re surrounded by the excitement of tourists.

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Week 17: The Covenant House NYC: Saving Homeless Young Adults

During my visit to Covenant House NYC I met and heard many heartbreaking stories of the young adults who had come to live there and saw first-hand the hope and courage these youth developed with the support of the organization. I heard stories of physical and sexual abuse, of drug addicted parents who passed off their children to strangers for care, of families who disowned teens who came out as LGBTQ. I listened to experiences of the violence of living on the streets in NYC – being ridiculed, kicked, spit upon, ignored. Of being hungry because there was no food for days. Of living in the same clothes for weeks and having access to a shower at a shelter once a month. These were stories of defeat and violence and depression. Of the turn towards drugs and alcohol just to numb the pain. Of lost IDs and the impossibility of forging a life. Read more

Week 9: Volunteer Selfishly and Change the World: Another Day with Habitat For Humanity


At the start of one episode of FRIENDS, Joey and Phoebe have an argument on whether there is such a thing as a selfless good deed. Joey’s belief is that a selfless good deed is impossible because when you do something for someone else you feel good about it… you’re getting something out of it thus it becomes a selfish act. “Look, there’s no unselfish good deed. Sorry.” He says. Phoebe spends the rest of the episode doing a host of activities to help others, unsuccessfully trying to prove him wrong. My question is… does it matter if you benefit? Read more

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