Volunteer Organization Matches Willing & Able with Those in Need
A volunteer organization called Art of Men helps to feed the hungry in all five boroughs in a pilot program it hopes to make a regular event citywide, and even nationwide. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed this report.
It's a boxed lunch, but what a meal inside—chicken shawarma steak, eggplant ragout and a chickpea salad.
"Preparing all the food took us three days, 10 hours a day with three people so it was a lot of hours, a lot of hours," says Michael Scott Events executive chef Rachael John.
"Twelve hundred pounds of chicken, 720 eggplant, 300 cans of chickpeas, 120 cans of roasted peppers and a lot of love," says owner Michael Waiser.
Love is the key ingredient in the 3,500 free meals served during the first Everybody Eats.
Prepared by an event planning company in Queens, Michael Scott Events, the food was loaded onto trucks and delivered to community based organizations in every borough. Among them, Coney Island Community service center in Brooklyn.
"These are people that are really in need. Superstorm Sandy really devastated this community that was already pretty compromised," says Diana Borowski, deputy director of the Coney Island Community Service Center.
Roughly 350 local residents signed up for the meal here. They said this is about much more than food.
"We have a lot of people that due to Sandy and the recession became homeless like myself," says one recipient. "I just feel very blessed that we have somebody that gives back."
"It means a lot because it's good to have people who care," said another woman.
The event was organized by the non-profit Art of Men which currently has about 500 members. Think of it as Match.com for volunteers. You tell them what you are good at, they'll find an opportunity for you to donate your skills to a worthy cause.
Founder Art Gurwitz says while writing a check to your favorite non-profit is of course important, it can't quite match helping in a hands-on way.
"There's really nothing like taking the time to go down and get sweaty and work with people and do things. And you feel just wonderful after you've done it," says Art of Men founder Art Gurwitz.
"I think we can all spend more time giving up our own time to help other people," says volunteer Mark O'Connell.
Art of Men—which is also open to women—hopes to make Everybody Eats an annual event. To find a volunteer opportunity that needs your skill set, visit artofmen.org.