I visited New York City Relief in December, and as I left from Atlanta, I packed my suitcase full of warm clothes: multiple jackets, scarves, hats, gloves, leggings, boots…the whole nine yards. As a West Coast native, I don’t handle the cold weather very well…clearly.

The battle cry: “These things we do, that others may live!”

The battle cry: “These things we do, that others may live!”

So when I stepped off the plane in Newark and sat outside to wait to be picked up in the 50˚ “chill,” I thought to myself, This is gonna be rough. And as we went out on the first outreach in Manhattan, I got all bundled up as we served soup and hot chocolate with the Relief Bus. I thought my legs were going to fall off, my hands were frozen, I couldn’t feel my nose, I developed a chest cough, etc, etc. I’m a wimp, I know – LA ruined me.

Johanna, NYCR staff, and her parents (visiting from Finland!)

Johanna, NYCR staff, and her parents (visiting from Finland!)

Over the course of the month that I spent with NYCR, I made lots of friends. Not only the staff of the Relief Bus, but also those we served in Harlem, the Bronx, Chelsea Park, and Midtown. I loved it when Angel asked me (I do know I’m not the first one he’s asked) to clip his fingernails for him. I actually felt honored that he would trust me with such a task (and I think I only hurt him once). I loved walking through the streets of Harlem with Helen, arm in arm, searching for a place to let us use the restroom. I loved talking with John in Chelsea Park about science stuff that was way over my head. I loved sharing a cup of coffee with Phoebe in the depths of Penn Station. I loved taking Robert, who had just had his jacket stolen, out for a hot lunch and then leaving him with a pair of my gloves. I loved praying with Alejandro, singing with Paul, crying with Alice, and laughing with Mario.

I am overwhelmed with a sense of deep gratitude for the people I was able to meet during my month in New York. And that doesn’t even touch the amazing staff who actually work, day in and day out, for NYCR, who pour out their hearts, their emotions, and their lives so that people could know, or at least catch a glimpse of the fact, that they are seen, listened to, valued, and worthy of being loved.

Hot chocolate in Chelsea Park

Hot chocolate in Chelsea Park

On the surface, it may seem that the cool part of what my job entails is getting to travel the world. And I don’t want to make that seem insignificant, because it’s a privilege. But, honestly, it’s the people. It’s always the people. The people make the place. I never want to just travel for traveling’s sake. What good does that do? My heart is to build relationships, to share stories, and to get people pumped (!) about all the awesome things that are happening in the world, even in our own country.

So, now, as the weather actually turns bad, with heavy storms, multiple feet of snow, and well below freezing temperatures, my heart breaks for those people I met, those who have no place to call home – who are forced to sleep on benches, on a cardboard panel on the sidewalk, or even on the moving subway. When I come home to a warm bed each night, my mind is filled with images of the thousands in New York City who have no safe place to be, who sleep fitfully for fear of having their possessions stolen, and who never really are able to actually rest.

The Relief Bus is a place to just sit and relax

The Relief Bus is a place to just sit and relax

Please….don’t forget our brothers and sisters who are suffering only a few hundred miles away from where you’re sitting right now. People matter. They do. They matter. They may have made mistakes that got them to where they are. Or maybe they didn’t. Maybe it just happened to them. In the end, does it make a difference?

This winter, please consider supporting New York City Relief and their efforts to love the broken, hurting, and beloved homeless in Manhattan. If you’re interested in volunteering with NYCR, you can get in touch with them here. Their entire staff is donor supported, so if you feel pressed to do so, you can be financially involved in their ministry as well.

I don’t know when I will have the chance to visit New York again, but I will look forward to the time when I will get to see my friends again. Check out the other NYCR blogs below!


Love Pays Attention

These things we do that others may live
Click here to read this travel journal…

Snapshots of Beauty

Here, there are passionate people engaged in the fight, loving the broken in the ways they desperately need to be loved
Click here to read this travel journal…

Desperate for Home

I’m broken just like everyone else…
Click here to read this travel journal…

A Beautiful Reality

No one is a lost cause…
Click here to read this travel journal…

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About the Author: Sarah is a journalism fellow with World Next Door. She has her undergraduate degree in Business Communication from Azusa Pacific University in Southern California and is currently working on her Masters degree in Organizational Leadership. Sarah recently finished a two and a half year assignment working for an anti-trafficking NGO in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she had the opportunity to mentor and lead college students in ministry abroad. She is mildly obsessed with Jeopardy, coffee, running, and the Atlanta Falcons.

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  1. Ginny said... 


    February 6th, 2015 at 11:48 am  

    Thank you, Sarah, for bringing this to our (my) attention. Even here in Portland OR the news just reported that an actual “count” was done of the number of homeless here: 2800. That’s more than those who occupy the small town where I grew up. So, there are organizations in towns, cities, across the USA who can be supported as well – like Salvation Army,
    Rescue Mission, and other charities – often through one’s own churches.
    So, your blog is a reminder to each of us who live in comfort that there are people right under our own noses who need us, need God.

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