The end of the year is a time of reflection. This year, especially, we have a lot to reflect on. At the risk of stating the obvious, here are some issues which come to mind: the ongoing effects of the pandemic, responding to social justice issues, the election, the health of our family and friends, job security. There’s also been a lot of loss. The loss of loved ones, of jobs, of our daily routine or of “life as we knew it.” I don’t want to be a total debbie downer, because there have been some bright spots such as outdoor restaurants and open streets and those magical couple of months when you could buy take-out cocktails everywhere and walk around with them (especially during the 7pm cheers for healthcare workers). And we can’t forget the joy of letting yourself hug your parents a few times in the summer months when it seemed safer to do so.
Still, with all of the challenges of this year, I’m getting tired of hearing people say that they want to forget 2020. Yes, this year was tough, and I don’t want to minimize whatever tragedies have befallen our community. As the second wave rises, I acknowledge that it’s still tough and requires a lot of resilience. We are building that resilience and learning some serious lessons along the way. I’d venture to guess, however, that most of us do not have to worry about the basic necessities of food or housing or making ends meet. In September, the New York Times Magazine reported that one out of every eight households in the US is suffering from a lack of food. Unemployment is far behind pre-pandemic levels and there does not seem to be any relief in sight for struggling families. All of this is on top of the issues that people dedicate themselves to every day.
With this in mind, one surefire way to cap the year in a positive fashion is to give back this holiday season and help others in need. This article is not just a reminder, but a call to action. In that vein, we’ve collected a list of favorite causes and charities from Sternies (in no particular order). Browse the list and the personal reflections of your classmates below and give back.
Food insecurity in the Bronx
You may remember I started a “1,000 Mile Challenge” in the spring to raise money in order to combat food insecurity in the Bronx. While the running challenge may be over, the food crisis in the Bronx and many other parts of the city continues. This holiday season, ~2 million New Yorkers will face food insecurity (NY FOOD 20/20, Hunter College, Sept 2020). A frightening number that is up from 1.2 million this time last year.
I’ve partnered once again with East Bronx Dems, a mutual aid organization, to raise money for community fridges in the Bronx and to keep them stocked this winter and until the pandemic is over. We installed our first fridge in Clason Point, Bronx last month. The group is doing this in addition to grocery store gift cards and deliveries for those who cannot leave their homes.
If you can afford to, please consider donating. No one should have to wonder where their next meal is coming from, especially not in our own backyard.
York St. Project
The York Street Project, based in Jersey City, takes on the highly-visible factors of Education, Housing and Childcare that block women from creating self-fulfilled, self-sufficient lives.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI advocates for research, improved care, and provides resources to individuals suffering from mental illness or to their families. Since the pandemic they have been overwhelmed by the requests for support and it would be great to help sustain them.
The Open Door
The Open Door provides English classes, TASC (GED) classes, computer classes, and community building activities for immigrant communities in New York and in New Jersey. Their 2020 year end campaign is focusing on providing grocery store gift cards to families who may struggle to provide their families with food this holiday season.
SoGal Foundation is on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship by supporting founders & investors from underestimated backgrounds globally
The Seeing Place Theatre
The Seeing Place Theatre is a 10 year old indie, social justice theater company in NYC telling stories of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, women, people with disabilities, and more on the fight for equality
Stonewall Community Foundation
Stonewall exists to mobilize resources for the LGBTQ community. Their Emergency Response Fund is one of the best tools they have to do this.
The Okra Project
The Okra Project is a collective that brings home-cooked meals to Black trans folks.
United States Bartenders Guild
COVID-19 Relief Campaign to bolster their Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. Every bartender and bar server matters, and they ask you to “help us serve those who serve us”.
Directory of NYC Mutual Aids
Mutual aid organizing is volunteer-run, transparent, and driven by the needs articulated by community members. Vice.com has a pretty decent primer on mutual aid and how it can help in Covid-19 times here.
Helping to feed millions of New Yorkers facing food insecurity.
Langone Student Government’s Winter Coat Drive
Now more than ever, New Yorkers are counting on acts of kindness from their neighbors to make it through the holiday season. Many of our fellow New Yorkers are experiencing hunger, unemployment, and illness. Basic needs like food and warm clothing compete with one another, as families and individuals face cruel choices. At Stern, we believe no one should have to skip a meal to buy a winter coat, no parent should be forced to choose between buying school supplies and staying warm, and no essential worker should commute without a warm coat on their back. For this GivingTuesday, LSG is fundraising for the New York Cares foundation, with the goal to raise $5,000 and help 250 New Yorkers. By donating $20, you can help provide a coat to a person in need! To donate, please use this link. Thank you for your generosity and happy holidays! For more information, please reach out to [email protected].