Food Help, Before and After

Reliable volunteers step up to pandemic’s added challenges

By Milette Millington 

It all started with a childhood friendship. 

Edwin Colon, struggling with addiction, spent several years in a 12-step program.

As an element of his recovery, he and longtime friend Raymond Ramos started the Brooklyn Lighthouse as a Bible study group in Colon’s kitchen in 2000. 

 The friends were “reaching out to people who suffered from addiction,” said Christopher Hook, an assistant to Colon. And the kitchen became a refuge until it wasn’t big enough to hold those seeking help. 

“The church outgrew his kitchen and several other locations,” said Hook, who now works for the outgrowth of that initial group, Recovery House of Worship.

Recovery House has continued its work in different forms, especially amid the pandemic. Many communities of color in Brooklyn long have been affected by food insecurity, for example, with many people struggling to feed their families. 

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Million meals the food bank delivered across the city

Reverse-Engineering Success

An international effort to identify the best ways to help young people

By Pablo Álvarez 

On the Lower East Side, Avenue D seems to separate the orange, exposed brick buildings of public housing from the smaller buildings that gentrification has been able to reach.

One of those contemporary-looking buildings belongs to the Lower East Side Girls’ Club, a community center that focuses on bridging that divide.

Laila, 15, was born and raised in Lillian Wald Houses, a 16-building New York City Housing Authority development. The pandemic her family’s finances hard.

Her father works as a line cook in a restaurant that had to reduce its hours because of the lockdown restrictions. Last summer, Laila got involved in a Girls’ Club program, where she found a new love for music, especially singing.

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I came here because I didn’t know what to do after finishing high school. Due to the Coronavirus, my parents are working fewer hours, and it’s been stressful at home. But in this place, I’m learning about what I like.


A 15-year-old Lillian Wald Houses Resident

Debunking Homelessness Myths 

Changing perceptions is a first step toward a solution

By Pablo Álvarez

Back in 2017, like many New Yorkers, Kadisha David’s alarm clock went off at 5 a.m., starting a frantic routine.

She woke her daughter, prepared breakfast and dressed her for school. Then she rushed to take an overcrowded train from Brooklyn to Manhattan and then to Queens, where she worked.

Her life was different from most New Yorkers in one big way: She didn’t have a place to call home.

Today, David, 32, lives in an apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where she raises her daughter in a stable home.

But back then, a difficult situation with her landlady escalated from arguments to being taken to housing court. After winning her case, David said the relationship turned even more hostile, to the point of becoming unsafe to live with her daughter.

David said she had no other option than to go to a shelter.

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People think those who live in shelters are lazy and want to live from the government…But the truth is that anybody can experience a situation where the only option is to sleep in a shelter, even if you have a job.

Kadisha David

Families per month sought shelter in New York City in the first months of 2019, according to NYC Open Data.

 Moving to Overcome

Mujeres en Movimiento exercise in the face of adversity

By Juanita Ramos

To start a day’s “bailoterapia,” or dance therapy, Verónica Ramírez immediately sets the tone.

“Let’s start the day with energy, ladies!” she tells a group of women ready to dance in a park in Queens.

One hour of Zumba moves and a Whatsapp group is all it takes for a group of women from Corona, Queens, to get over their problems, their stress and anxiety. Mujeres en Movimiento is a group that uses the movement to help dozens of Latinas to take care of their mental health.

During the pandemic, many Latinas lost their jobs and had to dedicate themselves to helping their children with homeschooling. However, Ramírez says her group experienced less stress because they had each other.

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Nobody offered me therapy or something, so I have to learn by myself how to heal. 

Veronica Rameriez

Mujeres en Movimiento