Helping the Helpless this Holiday Season

This+was+taken+about+halfway+up+the+block+on+the+east+side+of+Broadway%2C+between+79th+and+80th+Street.+It%27s+at+the+north+end+of+the+%22Filene%27s+Basement%22+store+on+the+corner%2C+and+it%27s+a+place+where+I%27ve+often+seen+homeless+people+holding+up+a+sign+that+asks+for+assistance...%0A%0AWith+very+rare+exceptions%2C+I+haven%27t+photographed+these+homeless+people%3B+it+seems+to+me+that+they%27re+in+a+very+defensive+situation%2C+and+I+don%27t+want+to+take+advantage+of+their+situation.+But+something+unusual+was+happening+here%3A+the+two+women+%28who+were+actually+cooperating%2C+and+acting+in+tandem%2C+despite+the+rather+negative+demeanor+of+the+woman+on+the+left%29+were+giving+several+parcels+of+food+to+the+young+homeless+man+on+the+right.%0A%0AI+don%27t+know+if+the+women+were+bringing+food+from+their+own+kitchen%2C+or+whether+they+had+brought+it+from+a+nearby+restaurant.+But+it+was+obviously+a+conscious%2C+deliberate+activity%2C+and+one+they+had+thousght+about+for+some+time...%0A%0AWhat+was+particularly+interesting+was+that+they+didn%27t+dwell%2C+didn%27t+try+to+have+a+conversation+with+the+young+man%3Bthey+gave+him+they+food+they+had+brought%2C+and+promptly+walked+away.+As+they+left%2C+I+noticed+the+young+man+peering+into+his+bag+%28the+one+you+see+on+the+ground+beside+him+in+this+picture%29+to+get+a+better+sense+of+the+delicious+meal+these+two+kind+women+had+brought+him...%0A%0A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%2A%0A%0AThis+is+part+of+an+evolving+photo-project%2C+which+will+probably+continue+throughout+the+summer+of+2008%2C+and+perhaps+beyond%3A+a+random+collection+of+%22interesting%22+people+in+a+broad+stretch+of+the+Upper+West+Side+of+Manhattan+--+between+72nd+Street+and+104th+Street%2C+especially+along+Broadway+and+Amsterdam+Avenue.%0A%0AI+don%27t+like+to+intrude+on+people%27s+privacy%2C+so+I+normally+use+a+telephoto+lens+in+order+to+photograph+them+while+they%27re+still+50-100+feet+away+from+me%3B+but+that+means+I+have+to+continue+focusing+my+attention+on+the+people+and+activities+half+a+block+away%2C+rather+than+on+what%27s+right+in+front+of+me.%0A%0AI%27ve+also+learned+that%2C+in+many+cases%2C+the+opportunities+for+an+interesting+picture+are+very+fleeting+--+literally+a+matter+of+a+couple+of+seconds%2C+before+the+person%28s%29+in+question+move+on%2C+turn+away%2C+or+stop+doing+whatever+was+interesting.++So+I%27ve+learned+to+keep+the+camera+switched+on+%28which+contradicts+my+traditional+urge+to+conserve+battery+power%29%2C+and+not+worry+so+much+about+zooming+in+for+a+perfectly-framed+picture+...+after+all%2C+once+the+digital+image+is+uploaded+to+my+computer%2C+it%27s+pretty+trivial+to+crop+out+the+parts+unrelated+to+the+main+subject.%0A%0AFor+the+most+part%2C+I%27ve+deliberately+avoided+photographing+bums%2C+drunks%2C+drunks%2C+and+crazy+people.+There+are+a+few+of+them+around%2C+and+they+would+certainly+create+some+dramatic+pictures%3B+but+they+generally+don%27t+want+to+be+photographed%2C+and+I+don%27t+want+to+feel+like+I%27m+taking+advantage+of+them.+I%27m+still+looking+for+opportunities+to+take+some+%22sympathetic%22+pictures+of+such+people%2C+which+might+inspire+others+to+reach+out+and+help+them.+We%27ll+see+how+it+goes+...%0A%0AThe+only+other+thing+I%27ve+noticed%2C+thus+far%2C+is+that+while+there+are+lots+of+interesting+people+to+photograph%2C+there+are+far%2C+far%2C+%2Afar%2A+more+people+who+are+%2Anot%2A+so+interesting.+They%27re+probably+fine+people%2C+and+they+might+even+be+more+interesting+than+the+ones+I%27ve+photographed+...+but+there+was+just+nothing+memorable+about+them.
This was taken about halfway up the block on the east side of Broadway, between 79th and 80th Street. It's at the north end of the

This was taken about halfway up the block on the east side of Broadway, between 79th and 80th Street. It's at the north end of the "Filene's Basement" store on the corner, and it's a place where I've often seen homeless people holding up a sign that asks for assistance... With very rare exceptions, I haven't photographed these homeless people; it seems to me that they're in a very defensive situation, and I don't want to take advantage of their situation. But something unusual was happening here: the two women (who were actually cooperating, and acting in tandem, despite the rather negative demeanor of the woman on the left) were giving several parcels of food to the young homeless man on the right. I don't know if the women were bringing food from their own kitchen, or whether they had brought it from a nearby restaurant. But it was obviously a conscious, deliberate activity, and one they had thousght about for some time... What was particularly interesting was that they didn't dwell, didn't try to have a conversation with the young man;they gave him they food they had brought, and promptly walked away. As they left, I noticed the young man peering into his bag (the one you see on the ground beside him in this picture) to get a better sense of the delicious meal these two kind women had brought him... ********************** This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan -- between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. I don't like to intrude on people's privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they're still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what's right in front of me. I've also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting -- literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I've learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture ... after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it's pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject. For the most part, I've deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don't want to be photographed, and I don't want to feel like I'm taking advantage of them. I'm still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We'll see how it goes ... The only other thing I've noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, *far* more people who are *not* so interesting. They're probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I've photographed ... but there was just nothing memorable about them.

This was taken about halfway up the block on the east side of Broadway, between 79th and 80th Street. It's at the north end of the "Filene's Basement" store on the corner, and it's a place where I've often seen homeless people holding up a sign that asks for assistance... With very rare exceptions, I haven't photographed these homeless people; it seems to me that they're in a very defensive situation, and I don't want to take advantage of their situation. But something unusual was happening here: the two women (who were actually cooperating, and acting in tandem, despite the rather negative demeanor of the woman on the left) were giving several parcels of food to the young homeless man on the right. I don't know if the women were bringing food from their own kitchen, or whether they had brought it from a nearby restaurant. But it was obviously a conscious, deliberate activity, and one they had thousght about for some time... What was particularly interesting was that they didn't dwell, didn't try to have a conversation with the young man;they gave him they food they had brought, and promptly walked away. As they left, I noticed the young man peering into his bag (the one you see on the ground beside him in this picture) to get a better sense of the delicious meal these two kind women had brought him... ********************** This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan -- between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. I don't like to intrude on people's privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they're still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what's right in front of me. I've also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting -- literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I've learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture ... after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it's pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject. For the most part, I've deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don't want to be photographed, and I don't want to feel like I'm taking advantage of them. I'm still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We'll see how it goes ... The only other thing I've noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, *far* more people who are *not* so interesting. They're probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I've photographed ... but there was just nothing memorable about them.

Sean Donovan, Features Editor

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A holiday tradition among most American families is to sit down, eat wholesome food, and just talk. Sadly, many people do not have that luxury – many in our own community. This holiday season the weather will be freezing and homeless people in West Hartford and around Connecticut will sadly suffer. Fortunately, there are multitudinous ways in which to help.

  1. Start a Food drive
    1. Donating food (canned and nonperishable goods in particular) can feed individuals and families for weeks. Starting one up at your school can create dozens of meals and provide healthy food for many who need it. (The West Hartford Food Pantry, St. Thomas Apostle Church, and Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford all accept donations)
  2. Donate Old Clothes
    1. Everybody has old jackets or shirts they never wear anymore or even a few extra pairs of socks; these items are crucial for the cold weather and can mean the difference between life and death for some. (The Salvation Army and Big Brothers BIg Sisters of CT)
  3. Donate Health Products and Toys
    1. Donating old clothes is the most common way people help the needy during the holiday season but toiletries are among the most needed products for shelters. Anything from toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and other hygienic products are greatly appreciated.
  4. Don’t Forget about Stray Animals
    1. Many people forget that there are also animals that are going without food, warmth, or family this year. Organizations like the SPCA do the best they can, but help is always appreciated. Things that are essential to donate are blankets, food, toys, and  monetary donations are great too. (Connecticut Humane Society, Our Companions Animal Rescue, Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter)
  5. Volunteer at Local Shelters
    1. Going in person to a soup kitchen to serve is a much more meaningful and rewarding experience then simply a donation. It can leave an impact on those you are helping along with yourself.

 

The winter season is one where you show gratitude for what you have, give and receive gifts, and enjoy time with family. Even a small donation of a few coins at the checkout of the grocery store or in a Salvation Army bucket has the potential to make a significant impact. So, remember the less fortunate this holiday season and try to give back; you never know, it might be more rewarding then receiving a gift!

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