Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blogging from NYC, Day 2

On Tuesday morning, Team A got up and out the door mostly on time.  We headed for the M116 to East Harlem where we planned to work with Fraternite Notre Dame.  One of the neat things about YSOP is that you never really know what you're going to find or what you're going to do. Yesterday when we asked Lisa what we would be doing at Baby Buggy, she was happy to tell us, but yesterday was the only morning to be at YSOP before going to worksites.  So we're pretty much left to find out what we're doing when we get there.  Our bus ride was pretty painless, we got off at the right stop, and we headed to the address provided.

As we strolled right past the storefront soup kitchen, several friends of the soup kitchen let us know where we were supposed to be going.  We guessed that the bright blue YSOP shirts gave it away.  We went in and asked for our contact, Sister Mary Renee.  She gave us a liability release to sign and then disappeared, leaving us to make ourselves at home on two van bench seats sitting against one wall.  Our surroundings were unimpressive.  Two long tables were surrounded by 16 metal folding chairs.  A baker's rack full of huge bags of bread sat against the front window.  The room was dark and dreary.  And we surely felt a bit in the way, like Sister Mary Renee was going to have to work around us.

Our first job was to take all of the donated pastries and put them on baking trays, and then put the trays on the tray rack.  We made short work of it, putting the fancy cupcakes in a pattern and peeling the Dunkin' Donuts treats off the sides of the bins in which they had been delivered.  There was a little bit more busy work to do, and then we sat and visited with each other until 10:30 when the serving line opened.

Then we didn't even have time to breath.  We stood behind a tiny serving line together.  Sister Mary Renee wouldn't allow us in the dining area as she was concerned for our comfort and safety. The room was 94 degrees as we stood over warming pans scooping mashed potatoes, rice, sausages in a red gravy, and vegetables.  Mary Parker made sure every patron received their pastry of choice, and even provided a bonus donut hole.  The line kept going until 12:45.

We didn't look up long enough to figure out the seating system, but apparently the folks that didn't get a seat inside got sat outside on the sidewalk.  There were a couple of patron/helpers who ran plates out to folks who couldn't inside because of mobility issues or wheelchairs. Sister Mary Renee made sure we knew that the people could eat as much as they wanted.  No one was going to leave Fraternite Notre Dame hungry.  When the line closed, we cleaned up the dining area, bagged the leftover pastries, and headed back to YSOP.

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