Volunteering with the Laundry Project

I showed up at the Center for Architecture at 336 La Guardia Place on a Wednesday night. I went there to volunteer instead of going to Wednesday night service.

I paid the taxi driver 45 dollars to drive me from the Bronx to Manhattan…and realized that he could not read in English. So he had a time finding the cross street, Broadway….because he was going to WORK for his 45 dollars!

I entered the building in the all black outfit we were required to wear. My first stop was by the security and they directed me to the main table where I met the one running the show, Ms. Liu.

Your job is to check people in as they enter. We don’t want the lobby area to get too crowed. 

okay.

She gave me a chart and apologized for having to go.

Ask Henry to explain everything.

I never had to ask Henry, it was pretty straight forward. As people enter, ask them their names and check them in.

The party goers showed up:

Pretty ladies with long dresses, handsome men with neat hair cuts, cut out dresses, skin tight dresses, suits, shirts and ties, short stout men, tall women, mother and daughter teams, daughters in jean while mothers in expensive jewelry and heavy make up, couples, blazers, couples of every sort, one man in a beard and dress, women with spring flowery print skirts, sweet perfume and strong cologne, high heels, stilettos, flats, sandals, ugly men, old men with grey and black hair, cute old men who still had it going on…whatever that means…graceful old women who carried themselves as the wise and prudent…

All walking with poise and forgetting that all flesh really is grass. I watched everyone come and everyone go. I worked the coat check and this allowed me to interact with them.

We, the volunteers, were not familiar with each other, so we worked in silence until someone asked the other for his name.

I met Henry, Kylie, Hannah, Babs and Marilee. By the end of the night we were laughing out loud at inside jokes and bonded while sharing  our stories about growing up in America. By the end of the night, we vowed to meet up again.

Mr. Greg at Crown Trophy

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I’ve been going to Crown Trophy for three years now.

Its a trip I enjoy taking (even though I wait till the last minute sometimes).

Every year I would rush to the shop to pick up  the spelling bee trophies and while there talk to the owner, Mr. Greg.

When I first went, I was surprised and impressed to see,  he was the owner. Like, I said many times before, most of the shops I go to are owned by Spanish employers.

While some may say it does not matter who own the businesses in your town,  I found out that the latter is not true. It matters a whole lot.

When a child see majority of his people owning restaurants, day cares, car washes, sign shops, party stores and so many corner stores that the phrase corner store is interchangeably used with bodega, then that child inwardly feels a sense of self pride (without much begin said).

Seeing Mr. Greg own the trophy shop helps me to puts this race thing into perceptive.

When I first met Mr. Greg, he spoke to me about his daughter who is a dancer in California. Like most proud fathers he boasted of her while telling me of her achievements and how the road raising her was not easy at all but she some how made it.

This time, he spoke about his daughter again but the focus was not so much on him as it was on her. His tone was more serious. This time he was not so much raving about her as he was sharing her testimony. I felt like while he was talking, he felt her hurt.

She’s grown now. I’ve watched her transform from Daddy’s little girl into a full grown women. She has matured in every way. She has learned that your hair has to be a certain texture and your skin a certain tone  for you to be fully accepted in the industry. While she was growing up, I provided the best way I could for her to be comfortable and go after what she wanted. I couldn’t explain all of that to her. When you are great at your craft and there are 30 other people in the room great at the same craft, how are you going to make them choose you?

When he was done talking about his daughter, I thought how beautiful it is when parents talk about their children! And if you are a good listener, you can tell that the conversations shifts as the parent and the child grows. The tone and diction the parents use changes as life changes for them.