After working at a hospital for seventeen years, Michelle Vierra visited to the Pantry due to an illness that rendered her unable to work.
Feeling dejected that she was now in need of assistance to provide food for her family; Michelle did not look forward to coming to the Pantry.
However, after she was greeted and helped by NYCP's staff, her mood changed. According to Michelle, being able to choose her own food,
especially fresh fruit and vegetables, made her feel like her opinion mattered when she visited the Pantry.
Michelle recently shared her
story as part of the Community Parade at our Fill the Bag Benefit. She mentioned that when she visited the friendly staff and volunteers
greeted her with a smile, which always raised her spirits. According to Michelle, "NYCP made it possible for me to provide healthy food for
me and my daughter, so I could focus on making sure my daughter got into college."
As a young man James Reynolds
served in the U.S. military—but by the time he turned 65 he was
without a home or other resources. When Mr. Reynolds came to New York Common Pantry for help in August of 2013 he was interviewed
by our Case Manager, who also screened him through a resource eligibility calculator. Mr. Reynolds learned that he was eligible
to receive Veterans Benefits and other resources, but he needed a stable address where he could get his mail. This service was
set up for him through Project Dignity, and later Mr. Reynolds was escorted to the Social Security Office. There he learned that,
like many seniors, he was eligible for Social Security, and since that time he has been approved for benefits as a veteran of the armed services.
Crucially, he has also obtained housing. With these key supports Mr. Reynolds has a chance to live with a greater level of dignity and self-sufficiency.
, a 33 year old single mother with twin girls lives in a nearby shelter and works as
an advocate for the homeless. In the fall of 2013 she lost her income support. Hailey worked with a case manager to
navigate the process to restore it. Now receiving SNAP she balances her family's meals by visiting Choice Pantry and credits the
fresh fruit and vegetables she receives as a way to save money. Hailey and her daughters also visit to eat breakfast and dinner,
do their laundry, and meet with a medical doctor on-site. Hailey says she visits NYCP because "it is efficient and the friendly
staff are always looking to build connections and connect me to resources." In the fall Hailey and her daughters will participate
in Live Healthy! classes to learn how to make healthy meals.
No longer living with her husband, Andrea
, a 51 year-old woman, was not working and could not afford
to pay rent nor did she have food. A Help 365 case manager provided her with a grocery bag, and after screening signed her up to
be a Pantry member. After learning that she was eligible, Andrea was able to receive other resources including cash and rental
assistance, SNAP, and Medicaid. Now that she is able to pay her rent and has access to healthy food, Andrea is focused on finding
a job and becoming self-sufficient.
When he first came to New York Common Pantry, Morris
had been living with relatives but due to
circumstances beyond his control was no longer able to do so. He did not have his own home, employment, money or access to
sufficient food. After determining in an intake interview that Morris was eligible, a case manager provided him assistance
with emergency food and with applications for SNAP benefits, Medicaid, and for housing. After a few weeks, Morris was approved
for basic benefits, and came in again for information on jobs. Soon, only a few months after first joining the pantry, Morris
was working as a truck driver and is on the waiting list for an apartment.
was a part of New York City's workforce for many years. Born in Hell's Kitchen and a New Yorker all his life, Ricky says
he first went to work in his father's construction business, and later worked for both financial firms and newspapers. Ricky
has a small apartment near our building on 109th Street but little income at this point in his life. After he pays rent he has
little money left over for food, so he comes to New York Common Pantry for hot meals several times a week. Today we meet an
increasing number of seniors like Ricky, who've made their contribution to the city and now need our help.
has been coming to the Common Pantry for over 20 years. Street homeless for just over ten years, Mark has been a daily participant
of the Project Dignity program where he utilizes the soup kitchen, shower and laundry services. Mark has never been one to ask
for help but with persuasion from Common Pantry staff he began psychiatric treatment in January 2010 with the Project for Psychiatric Outreach to
the Homeless (PPOH).
While helping Mark work on his mental health issues, the Common Pantry also worked on his SSI application because his
sole source of income at the time was $68 in Public Assistance cash benefits and $200 in monthly food stamps. Project Dignity
case managers were able to secure SSI benefits on his behalf in June 2010 and he began receiving the SSI monthly benefit payments in August
During this time, he continued to live on the streets and parks of New York City and was still battling the constant
struggles with his mental health and substance abuse issues. These issues could not improve without stable housing, so Mark
acknowledged his struggles and began to work with Common Pantry case management and psychiatric services. With Mark’s new economic stability
he became focused on obtaining housing. In collaboration with the Goddard Riverside Street outreach team, the Common Pantry was able to get Mark
approved for a stabilization bed at the Harlem YMCA in January 2011. After many years of living on the streets Mark finally had a
safe place to sleep. While staying at the YMCA he continued to address the issues that interfered with stability: mental health
and substance abuse. Throughout this time Project Dignity staff continued to work on sending Mark’s housing package to various
housing agencies and in March 2011 he was accepted into the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS) transitional housing called The Kelly.
At The Kelly, Mark continued to work on his sobriety and transition to a permanent housing setting until he was accepted into permanent housing
at the Ivan Shapiro Residence in October 2011.
Mark officially moved into his studio unit on October 18th, 2011 and continues to
come to the Common Pantry for support from case management staff and to utilize the soup kitchen services. Mark said, "The Common Pantry has saved my life in
so many ways. The case managers and staff have had a lasting impression on me, which is why I feel so comfortable here. It’s a wonderful place."