The latest New Yorker of the Week serves up homemade meals with plenty of empathy to help feed the hungry. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
A long commute is all part of the lesson.
Michelle Carrera is teaching her 5-year-old son, Ollie, about the importance of going the distance for others.
"Everyone deserves compassion and empathy," Michelle says. "We're trained to not see people. We are going down the street and we are in our world, we're looking on our cellphones, and we forget to connect to people.”
The effort to connect Ollie with others started last Thanksgiving. After finding no vegan soup kitchens to volunteer at, the duo cooked their own chili to give to those without a home.
"We were only supposed to do that one time. I couldn't. Something inside of me said, 'You have to do more,'" Michelle says. "So I started to do it once a month, and even that felt inefficient.”
So now, Michelle does it every week of every month. She founded the nonprofit Chilis on Wheels. Volunteers start in Brooklyn’s Kensington and head to Manhattan’s East Village, Tompkins Square Park and Union Square.
"Anyone at any given moment is a few degrees from becoming homeless," says volunteer Anthony Martinez. "For those that have fallen on hard times, it's important for me to reach out to them and help them.”
"They need to know that there's help and that there's someone there to support them and that they're being thought of and that they have a purpose and a reason to still be here," says volunteer Jessica Newman.
Chilis on Wheels has spread to San Diego, Denver and Puerto Rico. The group distributes about 800 meals a month.
"I live in a shelter," says volunteer Jimmy Ryles. "A lot of people just say, 'Forget the homeless. Let them go.' She comes out here every week, every week. You it see her face. It hurts her feelings that she can't give more."
Michelle rarely misses a week of giving. In return, she says she receives warmth and humanity, a lesson that's not lost on Ollie.
"I like helping out, because I love mama and I love the people that we give out the chili to," Ollie says.
So, for working to reduce hunger all year round, Michelle Carrera is the latest New Yorker of the Week.