NEW YORK - It’s a mission Emily Borghard began four years ago.
On her way home from grad school, she would ride the subway past a group of homeless men outside of the 168th Street subway station. But one night, she decided to stop and talk.
“They couldn’t believe that I had stopped and they started telling me how much they needed socks…. I started jumping off the train on a regular basis with socks and snacks and it became a more involved project and next thing I knew I had more people who wanted to help out," Borghard said.
What started as an effort to help two people, now reaches more than 400 each month.
“You walk by all these people on the street and some people really just want you to acknowledge them and to know that they’ve been seen," Borghard said.
Borghard’s organization became known as the “Sidewalk Samaritan”. Inspiring others to lend a hand.
“People started contacting me saying, ‘I have things I want to donate. Where can I donate? How can I help?” Borghard said.
Donations poured in. Bags and boxes filled with clothing and shoes come from all across the five boroughs, upstate New York, and even other states. Inspired by Borghard’s message, these Rockland women donated over 100 trash bags full of unused clothing, many still with tags.
“If you have them, you should donate them, because people need them. And they’re just sitting in our houses," said Jennifer Riley, a volunteer.
Borghard and her team of volunteers distribute donations twice a month at St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights. But almost nightly, Borghard is out on the streets with her backpack crammed full of underwear, socks, and snacks, looking for those without.
“Any action counts. You make a difference the second you even stop to look at that person and ask them if they’re doing okay," Borghard said.
So, for lending a compassionate hand to those in need, Emily Borghard is our NYer of the Week.