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.

Lovers with a Watcher

Lovers

 

Watch while we love

and watch while we fall

in love we watch each other

and hold one another

and look for a future

together

that is limitless

but not flawless

that is full of surprises

that are unavoidable

watch

and you’ll see

 

 

Sometimes I look at a photo and make up a poem on the spot…all I do is watch.

In Celebration of a Great Work

Along with the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center,  I am preparing for the long, historical, event-filled weekend (it’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s day on Monday. Saturday is National Volunteer Day and to top things off President Obama will be sworn in for a second term).

For starters, tomorrow, Mary Mitchell will be hosting a celebration of Dr. King with the children by simply helping the children to understand the importance of what Dr. King did for the American people. I hope the children look at Dr. King as a man who did something they can all do- dedicate their time and love to their  community, state, and country and even the world. (Do you know Martin Luther King Jr. is the only lay person in American History to actually get a national holiday?)

Some, as children, learn about Dr. King really young but not all understand that he was not great because his name was King or because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth but he was great because he did the work that God called him to do and put his entire heart into his work. If only more people would work more diligently, perhaps our communities would be a little better.

I was listening to an old recording of my deceased apostle, Bishop Goodwin, and he said: Paul told Timothy, stir up the gift that is in you…[if] you want the Victory, stir up the gift.”

In other words, whatever that is good, that God is calling you to do- do it and do it well. You may be a child and your duty may be to go to school. Don’t go to school and be a disappointment to your parents. Be the best student you can be…Whatever it is that you are on this earth to do- whatever that is good- do it and do it well.

puzzle

Charles from Ghana

His name is Charles. He is from Ghana. And this is his Story.

I was born healthy. However, at  the age of 3 I got a disease called Polio. There were a lot of people catching it and dying. My mother took me to the doctor who gave me a shot  which probably prevented death but left me crippled. I’ve been walking with crutches all my life.

I came to America a few years ago to get an education. However, I am not in school currently because I overstayed my visa. Now I am working to become legal so I could apply to school. After I finish school, I plan to go straight back to Africa. I don’t want to live in America.

Yes, education is much better in Africa but it’s also expensive. Here, in America, anyone can go to school. All you need is determination. I want to go to an university on the internet and get a free education.

With the education that I obtain, I would be able to help my people out more. I am the director of an non-government organization. With my organization and education background, I will be better off. My organization helps people with disabilities and those affected by disasters. It also has an orphanage, farming and tourism.

I aim to go to school for journalism and with a radio and TV background would be able to publicize my organization. I would like my organization to be between America and Ghana.

I have five children and my wife died in March.

For Closure

In West Farms Square there is a new sculpture titled “For Closure” by artist Gabriela Salazar. It is a 26-feet-tall artwork made from locally salvaged doors and resembles a house of cards.

I ran into these young women and asked them to pose for me. And they were just A*W*E*S*O*M*E. You will see more photos with these DIVAS but before that here is some history of the Artwork.

I took the following excerpt from the artist’s website:

It is meant to represent the fragility of the housing market.

“A lot of people already talk about financial collapse so I don’t necessarily expect the piece is going to bring more attention to that, but I do hope it humanizes that experience a little bit, reminds people that all these homes are actual people’s lives,” said artist Gabriela Salazar

The temporary art work was brought in through a partnership between the Bronx River Art Center and the Department of Transportation’s Urban Art Program.

“For Closure” will be on display for seven months.

I think “For Closure” is in the perfect spot. I see my neighborhood changing everyday. So many businesses are closing down and there is an increase of homelessness in the Bronx. Homes are going up everywhere but it seems more are moving out of the neighborhood than moving in.

Just this week when I was passing out ‘Saving Kayton’s‘ flyers, I ran into a mother with three children who asked me about helping her find an apartment. She seemed very desperate.

Speaking of  ‘Saving Kayton’s‘ I am still working on the project. I spoke to Bronx officials and emailed friends and family hoping for the story to fall into the right person’s hands…now we just have to wait. It’s sad that we have to fight so hard for a store with such history and good quality to stay in our neighborhood. However, if landlords don’t care enough  about single mothers with children then why would they care about a store?!