Tuesday, December 2, 2008
A few days before Thanksgiving, I contacted Homeless Youth Services about their request for prepared food for the holiday - I didn't want to bring something they make on premises or that lots of other people bring, but I'm not a great cook. I make great mashed potatoes, but that's such a staple that they wouldn't want it. Kate at HYS picked ye olde string bean casserole from my tiny list, which made me laugh because it's the biggest no-brainer recipe out there. So on Tuesday night, I prepared 10-15 servings' worth and planned to bring them first thing Thursday morning after putting my sister on a bus to the airport, since the shelter is near Port Authority.
Unfortunately, I woke up at 5am on Thanksgiving with the most abominable stomach pain, and spent the next 15 hours curled up on the bathroom floor. I don't remember ever being that sick. And there I was, with a larder packed with string bean casserole prepared and sealed long before I got sick, 2 dozen eggs and 6 lbs of bananas (apparently the food bank's cutbacks include milk, eggs and fresh fruit) for runaway teenagers. At 8:30pm, on my way to Penn Station with a pocketful of plastic bags to get sick in if needed, I had the taxi detour to the shelter to make the drop. I'm very glad I did...the shelter was packed out, and it looked like either dinner hadn't been served yet or it was the second seating. My dish might indeed have made it to the table in time! If not, I'm sure it did the following day.
Odd tidbit...I had told the cabbie that I was stopping at a homeless shelter, and he was greatly confused when we pulled up to see a few of the teenagers outside making out. He asked me "what kind of shelter is THAT??". It made me realize something...for homeless people, teenagers are pretty "normal". Sorry if that sounds judgmental, but most homeless adults that I run into either have substance abuse problems or mental health issues, both of which make me really uncomfortable. I'm not proud of feeling this way, but I haven't been able to change it - and I have tried more than a few times since the age of 14. As for the teenagers, they were rolling with the punches pretty well, just doing what kids their age do but in a different environment. Some of them even go on to vocational training and community college, so this organization must be doing something right, right?