Archive | September, 2010

Guest Blogger: McKenzie Mahoney

29 Sep

My good friend McKenzie recently wrote about her experience volunteering at God’s Love We Deliver, an organization you’ve read about before on Give and Get NYC. Her time spent there is more unique, however, because of her culinary background and weekly commitment to working in the God’s Love kitchen. She was awesome enough to let me share her story here…


Why I Chop: A Love Letter to God’s Love We Deliver

By McKenzie Mahoney

I vividly remember the first day I walked into God’s Love We Deliver after a seriously lengthy hiatus; I was apprehensive to entering the doors, nervous and embarrassed that I had not been in so long. My excuses were baseless and kind of ridiculous; after culinary school I got busy, work got in the way, my social life got in the way, etc etc. I kept putting off the inevitable realization that surely I could carve out a set time each week to volunteer right? Yet it wasn’t until I heard about their “World’s Largest Potluck” this past spring that I finally took some action.

With support from friends, I set up a potluck to raise money for GLWD and was surprised to receive correspondence from the office directly asking if there was anything I needed, etc. Thanks to my loving friends, family and neighbors….we raised over $300 for GLWD. It was then that I realized there were no excuses; I had to get back in the kitchen!

For those of you not familiar with Gods Love We Deliver, a quick primer….

It all began with one woman, Ganga Stone, a hospice volunteer who began preparing and delivering meals for Richard Sayles, a patient she met who was living with AIDS and did not have the ability to cook for himself. Rain or shine, she would deliver food to Mr. Sayles, and soon enough a snowball effect took hold as it went from one man to thousands of men, women and children. While GLWD has no religious affiliation, the organization received its name after a minister inquired what Ganga was doing and he replied that she was, “not just delivering food, but delivering God’s love.”

Since 1985 their mission has been clear: improve the health and well-being of men, women and children living with serious illnesses (HIV/AIDS, Cancers) by preparing and delivering nutritious and high quality meals to those who are unable to do so themselves. Understanding the need for more than just nutritious meals, GLWD offers nutrition education, counseling, and many other services. It’s an incredibly impressive operation, GLWD serves nearly one million meals a year, provided free of charge, no matter what your income may be.

Now back to getting in the kitchen…

Not more than five minutes after breezing through the Geffen building (on 6th Ave and Spring Street where GLWD was headquartered), was I back in the fold! Emily (the volunteer coordinator who has quickly become a dear friend) welcomed me with open arms and immediately got me set up with a quick re-introduction, a food safety seminar, and a few waiver forms.

As soon as the elevator doors opened to the basement kitchen and I wrapped the apron around my waist, I recognized how much I really missed this place. The people you meet, the conversations you have while working, the connections you make are literally indescribable. A melting pot of New Yorkers working together to improve the lives of fellow New Yorkers, its inspiring.

I am sure everyone says their crew is best, but I truly feel the people who work Mondays are a special bunch (in addition to those who work on weekend evenings). Most people spend their Monday evenings getting back into the groove from the weekend and prepare for their work week. The people who choose Monday evenings throw out any exhaustion or errands and dive right in! I personally chose Mondays because it allows me to start the week ahead off right with a little dose of giving back!

As stated before, the people really make the place. Some of my favorites on Monday include Gerry, the most loving and supportive man I have ever met, his smile and enthusiasm for life brighten my Monday evenings; Andrew, Monday nights father figure who sat with me at the emergency room for 4 hours as the doctor stitched up my knife wound (an accident I admit was due to carelessness on my part as I may have been talking too much!); and last but not least….Rachel, who recently left us to start her freshman year of college but was my lifeline to what its like to be a teenager nowadays, I am eagerly awaiting her Thanksgiving arrival.

While there are many ways to help (be it driving the vans, delivering meals, packing the meals, labeling items, or answering phones), I choose to work in the kitchen chopping various vegetables for soups, side dishes, and entrees. With Karee (the Chef) at the helm, the Monday night crew rocks out to some old school R&B (or whatever tunes Karee wants to jam out to) and chops away at  boxes and boxes of squash, carrots, leeks, mushrooms, and onions. We chop, laugh and chat oblivious to the ticking of the clock. The old saying is true, time flies when you are having fun because as soon as you walk in…you are on your way out!

I will sing the praises of Gods Love all over this world; it is a magical place where people selflessly donate their time, energy and money to helping others. Every night we hear how many meals are being delivered the next day and the figures always astound me…. 1800, 1600, you get the idea. I get chills thinking about the moment a GLWD volunteer knocks on a person’s door and hands them their meal; it must be such a joyous experience to see first hand the people you are helping. I have been floating the idea of staying in NYC for Christmas (much to my mothers disappointment), and if so will likely spend my Christmas Eve delivering meals around the city.

My love for GLWD knows no end; I look forward to celebrating many life moments downstairs in the kitchen. If you too are looking for ways to get involved in your community and are interested in GLWD, please visit the God’s Love We Deliver website at www.glwd.org, they are always looking for volunteers.

~

Continue to follow McKenzie’s foodie escapades and good will on her blog,

The MMMguide

Cocktails for a Cause

24 Sep

Let me preface this post with the following: Unlimited chocolates and an open bar=must attend.

Head to the Benrimon Gallery on October 2nd and have a drink for charity! Cocktails for a Cause and Unite With In Motion are hosting an evening of tastey chocolates and refreshing alcoholic beverages, as well as a viewing of the SHAY KUN: Exfoliation exhibition (and special guest appearance by the artist himself!)

Guests will be able to sample chocolates from Chocolate for Change, The Cocoa Bar, and Gnosis Chocolate among others. Nuvo will be offering refreshing cocktails and a selection of wine will also be available.

Tickets are $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Tickets can be purchased and donations can be made @ www.UnitewithInMotion.org/donate.html

Your night of cocktails and chocolate will benefit Unite With In Motion, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide children from under-served communities with an opportunity to be creative, confident and inspired. They accomplish this goal by bringing performing arts programs to these children at no cost to their families.

Press Release: Paddle For Our Planet!

20 Sep

For Immediate Release

New York, NY — September 20, 2010

On September 25th, 2010, offManhattan.com, the New Yorker’s Green! Travel Guide, will be holding the first annual Paddle for Our Planet (POP!) charity kayaking event. Paddle for Our Planet’s mission is to promote awareness and provide support to various Earth-friendly causes each year, while getting New Yorkers off the island, into kayaks and out on the water. offManhattan is proud to be partnering with Manhattan Kayak, which has generously donated a number of their single and double kayaks, and Outdoor Bound, which will be providing the guides for our trip. For this year’s event, a team of 27 will be kayaking an eight-mile trip along the Hudson River.

In light of the BP oil spill in April, and the disastrous effects it is still having on wildlife—every species from pelicans to turtles to fish and dolphins—proceeds will be going to the National Wildlife Federation, to support their relief efforts in the Gulf. CNN.com reports that 3,634 dead birds have been collected so far. POP! will use the donations to help such wildlife as the oil-ravaged birds and restore the fragile ecosystem in the Gulf before it’s too late. Participants are responsible for helping raise funds for the cause, and it is estimated that over $5,000 will be raised for this first annual event.

In addition to the kayaking event, Paddle for Our Planet is also hosting a benefit this Wednesday, September 22nd, from 8pm to 11pm, at POLAR (201 East 24 Street at 3rd Ave). Attendees donating $20 will receive a complimentary drink and entrance into the raffle; prizes include a getaway to Crystal Springs Resort, a Whitewater Rafting trip on the Lehigh River, Brewed in Brooklyn tour tickets, and round trip travel on Megabus to various East Coast destinations. If you cannot attend, donations are appreciated, and can be made on Paddle for Our Planet’s donation page.

Why I Serve

11 Sep

On this day, 9/11, the National Day of Service, I was planning on posting different places that you could go serve our community. However, I decided instead to focus on the reasons behind why I serve. Afterall, 9/11 is above all else, a day of remembrance. Remembering what happened 9 years ago helps us to understand why we now have a national Day of Service.

Two months ago I wrote an essay for an application, which I’m sharing below. The question: “Why are you a part of the service movement?” seemed easy enough to answer but as I began writing, I realized that the reasons were unclear. I wrote from the heart because it’s the only way I could figure out my answer and put it into words, and it still doesn’t seem quite adequate..

Q: Why are you a part of the service movement? What is your vision for it in your community and nationwide?

A: I have always wanted to do more; for society, for friends, for my family. For the past few months, I have begun to really think about how I can become a bigger, more influential part of society. I truly feel that every person has the capacity to serve in some way, and it is our civic duty to do so if we are able. Some people are born into a somewhat easy life, able to eat, live comfortably, and receive a good education, while others are born three steps behind, into hardships like poverty or homelessness.  I feel that those of us who were given opportunities to succeed should pass along whatever we can to those who need our help.

It’s also really easy to serve, and I’m not sure that everyone realizes that. For most if not all people, finding two hours a week of your time that you’re willing to give to someone or something else, is not difficult. It just requires a commitment, and the size of that commitment is completely up to the person making it. I think that the general consensus among service ‘outsiders’ is that you need to pack a suitcase and head to a 3rd world country to make a difference in this world, and that just isn’t the case. I’ve gotten people to volunteer with me, to see what it’s like, and a few of them have gone back to do it on their own elsewhere. The biggest challenge is getting people to take that first step, and my goal in participating in the service movement is to prove how easy it is and encourage others to join me.

The Call to Service from President Obama last year was a huge step in the right direction for our country, and it played a large role in the increasing numbers of volunteers. His words struck a chord in me that still resonates today: “Economic recovery is as much about what you’re doing in your communities as what we’re doing in Washington – and it’s going to take all of us, working together.” This announcement, calling on a nation to help its government, was a turning point for me in how I viewed the service movement. I think a lot of citizens thought that it was the government’s job to fix everything, when in reality, we all need to pull together if change is going to happen. I honestly never thought of service as a means to an end on such a large scale; I saw it as one person helping another. And service is, in it’s most basic form, doing something for someone else.

So when I envision the service movement and the role it would play in New York, I see people helping people. Multiplying this singular action by thousands to create a city of service. This community action would help to fill the gaps where the government is unable to step in with funding or assistance, creating a self-sustaining city that relies less on outside sources and more on each other.

I hope you found this post useful-as a way to see something inside of yourself, or just to get to know me better. Take a moment today to remember September 11, 2001. It was tragic and scary and the saddest day New York has ever seen, in my lifetime and possibly ever. But what came out of the rubble was a city that realized the power of service; the power of one person helping another, to make the next day a little better than the one before it.

Visit some websites celebrating this National Day of Service, and see how you can get involved:

911 Day of Service

Service Nation

Hands On Network

Be The Change

Volunteer Match

National 9/11 Memorial