Friday, December 5, 2008

Another Interesting Delivery to HYS

Last night I stuffed a wheelie bag with toiletries, batteries, milk, grapefruit and bananas and rolled it on down to the Homeless Youth Services / Sylvia's Place shelter. They hadn't put out a wish list in about 3 weeks, but I scrolled through some of their older lists that mention ongoing needs - like eggs, milk and fruit now that the Food Bank has cut those items out due to lack of funds. This morning, a new wish list appeared on their Yahoo Groups message board, and it made me smile - they're completely out of deodorant...or more accurately, they were when the list was first being assembled, because I dropped off 4 brand new solids last night (shout-out to CVS for their nearly-free deals on Right Guard, Soft & Dri, and Sure last month!).

Now, when I make these drops, there's usually the regular staff member and maybe a volunteer or two (or are they just long-term guests at the shelter who help out?), plus anywhere from 15 to 50 teenagers hanging around just dancing, talking, making out behind the door, watching TV and keeping warm. I don't want to be a bother to their stretched staff, so I just pull out the goodies and sort them into food v. non-food so that things don't spoil, then I dash off feeling slightly embarrassed. Not sure why. Am I embarrassed because, relatively speaking, I have so much more than they do and yet I'm giving so little? Maybe, but I think I'd be more embarrassed if I got, well, thanked.

Last night on my way out, there were about 5 older teenagers lingering just outside the door, and the neighborhood is kind of empty. One of them asked my name, so I told them as I dashed off. I'm not entirely sure what I'm afraid of... well, maybe I have some idea. I don't want to be asked for money, I don't want giving my name to become an excuse to be "walked home" - I went to Fordham in the Bronx in the late 80s, and the cafeteria staff used to feed off our middle-class guilt and youthful idealism to get invited to our parties and walk off with our electronics, leather, cash, etc. I worked in the security office, I know exactly what went on.

And yet I'm very contrary: just this past weekend, as I contemplated the possibility of moving to a new apartment, I thought about asking the woman who runs the shelter if she'd recommend one or two of the boys for a couple of hours' paid work helping me move. Because if I do move, it will be like 2 blocks down the road - do I even need a truck?? In midtown Manhattan, it would just get ticketed five times in three hours anyway, ouch.

I wonder if I'll ever make sense to myself.

No comments: