Reflections – As We Approach the Holidays

Square headingDear Readers:

I hope that you enjoyed Thanksgiving with your family, friends and loved ones.  In a few weeks we will celebrate Christmas throughout the world and I am truly excited.

I find Christmas to be one of the most magical times of the year.  Perhaps it is my overall disposition, but I sense that most people are gentler and kinder.  While tragic, recent events have taken their toll, I do feel that people are trying their best to welcome the holidays.  I am not suggesting that “all is calm,” but I would prefer that you take this as my prayer for peace and my hope for reconciliation.

As you might have noticed, it is very easy for me to get caught up in the joy of Christmas.  I am looking forward to the holiday decorations I have selected; exchanging gifts with my husband, friends and family; attending several of the holiday concerts I have been invited to and watching Disney’s A Christmas Carol – which is one of my favorite holiday rituals.

At the same time, I cannot forget those for whom the holidays are filled with reminders of what they currently do not have.  If you walk the streets of New York City, or take public transportation, you will encounter those who are in need in everyday.  However, in addition to those I encounter daily, there are hundreds of individuals that I would never see or know about if it were not for the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

A Brief History of The Neediest Cases Fund

IMG_0129On December 25, 1911, New York Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs went for a walk after dinner.  He met a shabbily dressed man who received Christmas dinner at the Y.M.C.A., but he had no place to sleep.  Ochs gave him a few dollars and his business card.  He told the stranger, “If you’re looking for a job, come see me tomorrow.”

This chance encounter left Ochs feeling charitable and curious as to whether or not this feeling could be the basis for a city’s goodwill.  The next year he sent a reporter to several of New York City’s private welfare agencies to collect stories about the poor.  His objective was to publish articles about the Hundred Neediest Cases in New York.  The appeal would be made not with a direct request for donations, but with the facts of their lives.  As it turned out, these stories sounded a powerful call.  The campaign, which began on December 12, 1912, was soon adopted by other publishers in the United States and abroad.  The idea was brilliant in its simplicity – a newspaper would make a general appeal for the needy and help the City’s welfare agencies solicit funds.

How You Can Help

After reading the profiles of Emie Payen, a 55-year-old woman who has defied a short life expectancy for decades; Roderick Bradshaw, a father who found a path to success while raising his 5-year old son; Ana Miguel, a woman who overcame surges of addiction and instability, and is now encouraging others to do the same; Anna Reifman, a woman who for many years was trapped within her own anxieties before learning she was not alone; Natasha Mohammed, a mother who is praised for stoking her children’s creative tendencies while struggling to say warm and Linda Malloy, a grandmother who is savoring sobriety and working to rebuild her life, it is clear that New Yorkers need help year-round.

If you are looking for a cause to adopt this season, I encourage you to consider the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.  Since its inception more than 100 years ago, the fund has worked closely with several New York City charities and has raised more than $275 million.  The present campaign began on November 2, 2014 and runs through January 23, 2015.  Here is a list of the participating organizations. 

Brooklyn Community Services
285 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, New York

Catholic Charities of New York
1011 First Avenue, New York, New York

Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens
191 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, New York 11201

The Children’s Aid Society
105 East 22nd Street, New York, New York 10010

Community Service Society of New York
105 East 22nd Street, New York, New York 10010

Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
281 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10010

UJA Federation of New York
Church Street Station, PO Box 4100, New York, New York 10261

It is in this spirit of reflection that I write today’s post.  I know that there are thousands of organizations, not featured on this list, that are making a difference in the lives of New Yorkers everyday.  We at Brooklyn Legends salute these organizations and extend our best wishes to the people they serve.

Happy Holidays.

Monique

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