Saturday Distribution- Keep Heart

We distributed 113 chili, 200 water bottles, and 4 vegan dog food bags in a two hour span, thanks to our awesome veganteers, Dave, Erika, Christopher, Bear, Alicia, Ollie, Ivan, and Hannah. This was made possible by contributions made by Joanne Ehret. We did not have enough volunteers to go off and distribute in the vicinity of the park, so we stayed within it. Although the cloudy weather and the threat of rain kept people away, there was still enough of a need in the park to fulfill.

Dave and Erika distributing.
Dave and Erika distributing.
Erika distributing vegan chili.
Erika distributing vegan chili.
Park employees who were hard at work cleaning, stopped by later to enjoy a vegan chili.
Park employees who were hard at work cleaning, stopped by later to enjoy a vegan chili.
Lovely gentleman and Cinderella.
Lovely gentleman and Cinderella.

We are seeing repeat faces, getting to know the lovely Amanda, who has a way with the kids, and who also did us the favor of spreading the word that we were there.

Bear handing a water to Amanda.
Bear handing a water to Amanda.

Also seeing repeat doggy faces, like Frank’s baby.

Frank and his Baby.
Frank and his Baby.

We didn’t get a chance to take a lot of pictures while distributing, but when there were lulls in the rushes, I concentrated on the volunteers. Ollie and Bear have lots of fun together, as long as there are no sticks between them. Ollie loved this park passerby, Adela. He really loves the babies. And he got Dave to carry him horsey. After the distribution, we went out for some vegan ice cream at Sustainable NYC.

Ollie and Bear playing.
Ollie and Bear playing.
Ollie and Adela
Ollie and Adela
Dave the horsey.
Dave the horsey.
Ollie and Hannah enjoy a vegan ice cream treat!
Ollie and Hannah enjoy a vegan ice cream treat!

The trains were not working properly and I had to transfer a couple of times, struggling with the weight of the carts up and down the subway stairs by myself with Ollie. Some people had shoved us a little in the train, a certain sense of not having expressed myself successfully, and just a general sadness tied to a tiring day had settled in the train ride home. But as soon as I stepped out of my subway stop in Brooklyn, the sky had a lovely message for me. Keep heart. And really, that’s all I have, so I might as well hold on to it. A Heart that beats for the animals, for people in hardship, for my family and my community; a Heart that beats for a possible, better, softer, more just world for everyone, myself included.  Keep Heart, and do more. Always do more.

Keep Heart!
Keep Heart!
Advertisements

Saturday Distribution- Numbers, People, Pictures

Tyrone
Tyrone

It’s easy for me to get hung up on numbers. I was a program data director for non-profits in my previous life. My days revolved around numbers, goals and outcomes, meeting quotas, measuring progress. Now as I seek funding for Chilis on Wheels, I also go back to my training and concentrate on numbers, which foundations seem to thrive on. This weekend alone was fantastic for numbers: In NY: 125 meals. 200 water bottles, 4 dog-food bags. 12 vegan education engagements; in San Diego: 30 meals, 30 water bottles; in Puerto Rico: 15 meals, 13 water bottles, 4 dog food bags. The numbers were great! But, it’s not about numbers. I am not removed from what we do. 125 meals, means 125 people, with faces and names and lives, experiencing hardships at a level I cannot thoroughly understand.

125 people that stop to chat with us and wish us luck, and shake our hands, and allow us to glimpse a world beyond our own, allow us for a very brief period of time, to understand that the world does not in fact revolve around us. And I’m not going to lie, it give us a sense of purpose in our lives and a satisfaction of doing our part to ease someone else’s hardship even if it is as momentary a relief, as providing lunch, and a smile, and a chat, and handshake.

distribution 5.30a

This weekend the kids really stepped up. Ollie and Bear scouted the park letting people know that we were there, encouraging them to get a warm meal. They then also gave out chili and water at the table. I really enjoy seeing the kids engaged in their community, having a positive frame around the word “work”, and really having genuine fun helping people.

Bear, Christopher, and Ollie scout the park.
Bear, Christopher, and Ollie scout the park.
Bear gives out chili and water at the table-
Bear gives out chili and water at the table-
Ollie distributes water-
Ollie distributes water- **Photo by Laura Kolbe Dotterer**

Our other youth, our teenagers were also Veganteers with us this weekend. Grace, a senior from Ed Murrow, became team leader as she took charge of a cart and distributed along Avenue C and the park’s vicinity.

Grace- Senior from Ed Murrow- Chilis on Wheels Team Leader- distributing chili
Grace- Senior from Ed Murrow- Chilis on Wheels Team Leader- distributing chili **Photo by Laura Kolbe Dotterer**

While at a table we met a number of people curious about veganism and we talked to them about it, and shared ways in which they too can incorporate compassion in their diet. Some kind people even made donations, with which we purchased more water bottles as we ran low.

Kind woman making a donation-
Kind woman making a donation- we mostly depend on individual donations and are super grateful to our donors! **Photo by Laura Kolbe Dotterer**

Overall it was another great Saturday distribution, and a huge thanks goes to the people whose donations made it possible: Amanda Fields and Ronald Manning. And a huge thanks to our Veganteers: Anthony, Julianna, Christopher, Bear, Ollie, Ivan, Grace, Melissa, and Laura.

The numbers don’t lie, we ARE providing a much needed service to the community, and we are ambitious in our goals of becoming a permanent vegan food-hub in the community, but it’s because of people like John and Ed, and Tyrone, Aaron, and Maria. Because we want to help one another, because food should be free and no one should ever go hungry, and animals are lives and should never be considered food.

**Here are some pictures of the distribution, courtesy of Laura Kolbe Dotterer. (Stay tuned in a few days for pictures of San Diego and Puerto Rico’s distribution!)**

distribution 5.30LKDy
John and Ed
distribution 5.30LKDu
We added a bed of rice in order to stretch out our portions
distribution 5.30LKDv
Distributing chili
distribution 5.30LKDw
Chili
distribution 5.30LKDt
We feed the entire family- vegan chili and vegan dog food
distribution 5.30LKDs
Grace and Melissa- teenagers from Ed Murrow High School take a break after a chili run
distribution 5.30LKDr
Distributing
distribution 5.30LKDq
Tony shared thoughts on chili in differents parts of the world
distribution 5.30LKDp
Antwon who just got back from Philadelphia
distribution 5.30LKDo
In between crowds
distribution 5.30LKDn
Chilis on Wheels Drive thru
distribution 5.30LKDl
Fun in the community
distribution 5.30LKDk
Ollie distributes
distribution 5.30LKDj
Anthony distributes
distribution 5.30LKDi
Julianna distributes
distribution 5.30LKDh
.
distribution 5.30LKDf
.
distribution 5.30LKDe
Bye
distribution 5.30LKDd
Ollie had some vegan chocolate ice cream!
distribution 5.30LKDc
Grace
distribution 5.30LKDb
At the table
distribution 5.30LKDa1
Tyrone
distribution 5.30e
Giving out the napkins
distribution 5.30a4
Veganteers
distribution 5.30LKDz
John and Ed
distribution 5.30a7
We are done for the week. See you next time!
distribution 5.30a6
..
distribution 5.30a5
Ollie helps tie up the carts with the bungee chords
Chilis on Wheels- Help us dish out compassion! Donate today.
Chilis on Wheels- Help us dish out compassion! Donate today.

 

Unmatched Saturday Distribution! 200 people served!

2 24 QT pots of chili
1 smaller pot in an electric burner
2 pans of corn bread
4 cases of water bottles

That’s how our Saturday distribution of vegan chili started. We packed it all up and drove to the city. Upon crossing the street in to the park and before even clearing the ramp we were swamped by a crowd of people asking for a chili. We have never had an experience like this. People were shoving each other, trying to get something to eat. Think about it, they are so hungry they were pushing and shoving to get something to eat. My world was transformed this Saturday, once again.

distribution 5.23s
The crowd having us barely make it into the sidewalk.
distribution 5.23i
The crowd.
Making a line.
Making a line.

Thankfully, Stephanie saw us and came to us and helped us manage the crowd and give out the chili. We could not have done it without her. People listened to her and respected her, and then made a line that we took care of. In 5 to 10 minutes we gave out close to 60 of those chili meals.

distribution 5.23g
Stephanie, who helped us manage the crowd. Thank you so much! You were amazing!

 

None of the volunteers had yet even arrived!! What were we going to do?!

Julianna went to get bagels at a nearby supermarket. Anthony bought bags of vegan sandwiches from a nearby health food store. Jon from Community Solidarity who we just happened to see by coincidence had a case of bananas on his car and gave it to us to distribute. Day Saved!

Volunteers came, a lot this week, and we stayed in Tompkins Square Park since need was so overwhelming there. We served 200 people in this park alone! 200!

Our volunteers really saved the day though. Ollie and Bear gave out the bananas and later scouted the park telling people we were there. Volunteers prepared some sandwiches and bagels and also went around in the perimeter of the park and its close vicinity.

distribution 5.23o
Making vegan sandwiches and bagels
distribution 5.23m
New Veganteers- Jamison and Candace
distribution 5.23c
Giving out bagels
distribution 5.23d
Distributing vegan meals
distribution 5.23e
Bear and Ollie take a snack break after distributing bananas and scouting the park for people to come get their meals.

 

distribution 5.23t
Edward Murrow Student Advocates for Animal Rights gals! (and Audrey)

 

We met Israel, who has lived in the Lower East Side for 50 years and he told us there has been a lot of changes, that there is a lot less poverty now, but that people are still hurting.  He also filled me in on a little history of Tompklns Square Park, how it has seen riots because “people get angry when they don’t have anything to eat”. And a little more research upon this park proves his point. The birthplace of so many political uprisings, what an amazing park.

Israel- who gave me a history on Tompkins Square Park: "People get angry when they don't have something to eat."
Israel- who gave me a history on Tompkins Square Park: “People get angry when they don’t have something to eat.”

We met Andrea, a vegetarian travelling from New Orleans. She’s trying to go vegan and the guy she’s staying with is vegan so she thinks she’ll be able to do it. She took some of the new Evolve for Animals leaflets.

Andrea- transitioning to veganism.
Andrea- transitioning to veganism.

We met Cassandra, she lives nearby and happened to stumble across us. She loved the chili and will be coming back next week to get more. She thanked us profusely for being out here.

Cassandra-
Cassandra-

If I learned something this Saturday is that our model has already been outgrown. Until we find a kitchen where we can prepare three times, four times as much food, we will not be able to spread out as much as I had anticipated and our service will be this localized and specific and limited. I continue sending proposals to fund a space, as well as reaching out to churches and community centers in Manhattan to see if they would allow us to use their kitchens. Something is bound to materialize eventually. All I know is that I stumbled upon this need, and it has transformed into my calling. I cannot ignore it, and I am obsessively trying to improve it and grow it, all in the service of the community and while being compassionate to animals, the environment, and people.

This week’s distribution was made possible by contributions from Ruth Allison and Mark Meunier and by on the spot donations and amazing volunteer work of our Veganteers: Julianna, Grace, Melissa, Hannah, Anthony, Audrey, Nick, Alyssa, Jamison, Candace, Sebastian, Dave, Christopher, Bear, Ollie, and Ivan.

We are making a difference in the lives of people! 200 people this week!

Saturday Distribution with amazing photography

In our building's lobby before packing it all up in the zip car.
In our building’s lobby before packing it all up in the zip car.

Distribution of May 9, 2015 started as usual, with a kitchen full of chili and water bottles, and high spirits for the day. We again rented a zip car in order to take us to the city. It is the best option for us right now because the carts are super heavy in the beginning and they are really hard to take up and down stairs in the subway. However, this is an expensive alternative. It runs us 30 to 40 dollars a week that we could be putting into food (that would be 20-25 complete meals). If we could find a volunteer with a car that would be willing to drive us to the city every week it would be a blessing for us.

We made it to the city and met up with our volunteers. Arvind came all the way from Boston to volunteer and meet us and see how it’s done and perhaps form a chapter there. We were very excited to meet him and his friend Suman, and would love for the Boston chapter to form. We also met up with my friend Laura who would volunteer and take pictures. She is a fantastic photographer and we were very excited to have her with us. And we met with my gals from Edward Murrow High School, the Animal Advocates for Animal Rights, my favorite crew, my high schoolers, Brianna and Grace.

We split into groups and hit the streets. The weather was cloudy and not a lot of people gathered around. Not as many as usual. We made it to Washington Square Park pretty fast and set up there, but again we did not have a lot of traffic. Our plan had been to have an offshoot team go into Central Park but last minute developments made us change course and instead all of us packed up and headed off to Tompkins Square Park.

We missed the park on the way there and got a little lost in Alphabet City, but we also gave out a lot of chilis in that section of town. By the time that we got back on course and found Tomkins Sq. Park, we had around 15 chilis left and we gave them out in 20 minutes. It made us realize that we need to play around with our routes a little more. Because we have a limited amount of food that we can give out, we need to be strategic in our delivery. We came to the conclusion that we need to experiment with our routes in the next couple of weeks in order to safely say “this is the best route”. Our plan for next week is to begin in Tompkins Sq. Park and make our way to Wash Park and Union Square. If we have the volunteers that we can spare, we will send an offshoot team to hit up Central Park.

We met some beautiful people in the way. One guy said “Hey, you’re the Chili Ladies!”, and then proceeded to tell me how he does not remember quite well when he saw us sometime in the winter, because he was ill, but that the warm chili made him feel a lot better, and helped him “come back”.

The gals met a lady who would not take the chili unless she gave something back. So she gave them some honey buns and insisted on the trade. The gals then gave the honey buns away as well.

We met a deaf man who did not understand us, but when we took the chili out to show him, he beamed up and clapped. His face of surprise and joy is still with me.

We talked a little more with Danny, the man who for the very first time called me “The Chili Lady” and whose affection encouraged me to grow Chilis on Wheels. His family comes from North Carolina. He moved here in 1965 when he was 13 years old, and he says this city has changed so much, mostly for the worst.

We met some guys who took the chili but not the water. They had a bottle of water next to them and they said “Why take more than we need?” And that so perfectly summarizes the way the world should be, the world we are trying so hard to build, the biggest lesson I am trying to leave upon my son. This was Mother’s Day weekend, and after that encounter, the motto for the weekend and perhaps my life became “Don’t take more than you need.”

We gave out 79 chilis, 100+ water bottles, 2 dog food bags, thanks to contributions made by Amanda Fields, Sarah Wolf, and Ronald Manning. A huge thank you to our volunteers Laura, Arvind, Suman, Grace, Brianna, Hannah, Julianna, Ivan and Ollie!  I leave you with the photos from the distribution by my dear friend Laura Kolbe Dotterer:

distribution 5.9a LKB
Ollie enjoys a chili and keeps an eye on donations.
distribution 5.9e LKB
With the beautiful gals from Edward Murrow High School- Student Advocates for Animal Rights. I love these ladies!
distribution 5.9b LKB
Union Square
distribution 5.9c LKB
Tompkins Square Park
distribution 5.9d LKB
Alphabet City
distribution 5.9f LKB
Meeting up- waiting for volunteers-
distribution 5.9g LKB
Billy who sang “Chili Today. Tomorrow Tamale!”
distribution 5.9h LKB
Billy!
distribution 5.9i LKB
Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9j LKB
Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9k LKB
Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9l LKB
Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9m LKB
Chilis on Wheels Youth!
distribution 5.9n LKB
Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9o LKB
Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9p LKB
Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9q LKB
Cappuccino & Tattoo – Lower East Side
distribution 5.9r LKB
Union Square Park
distribution 5.9s LKB
Alphabet City
distribution 5.9t LKB
ee cummings- Lower East Side
distribution 5.9u LKB
Tompkins Square Park
distribution 5.9v LKB
Tompkins Square Park
distribution 5.9w LKB
Shameless the dog enjoyed a chili (and we left a bag of vegan dog food behind for her)
distribution 5.9x LKB
He called us “The Chili Ladies!” and thanked us for a chili on a winter day when he did not feel well.
distribution 5.9y LKB
Ollie Carrera
distribution 5.9z LKB
Ollie and Julianna, our Volunteer Coordinator
distribution 5.9z1LKB
With Suman and Arvind- volunteers from Boston!
distribution 5.9z2 LKB
Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9z3 LKB
West Village
distribution 5.9z4 LKB
In the West Village
distribution 5.9z5 LKB
Ollie- Lower East Side
distribution 5.9z6 LKB
Lower East Side- I wish I knew sign language, his face when he saw the chili is still imprinted in my memory.
distribution 5.9z7 LKB
With Suman and Arvind- volunteers from Boston!
distribution 5.9z8 LKB
In action-
distribution 5.9z9 LKB
Lower East Side
distribution 5.9za LKB
Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9zb LKB
Danny telling us about the changing city
distribution 5.9zc LKB
With Laura Dotterer- the photographer and my friend!
distribution 5.9zd LKB
Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9ze LKB
Tompkins Square Park
distribution 5.9zf LKB
Chili Team!
distribution 5.9zg LKB
Lower East Side
distribution 5.9zh LKB
Michelle Carrera and Ollie Carrera in Washington Square Park
distribution 5.9zi LKB
Ollie tired after a long day’s work

distribution 5.9zj LKB