Salvation Army volunteers from the Greater New York Division (GNY) joined a coalition of groups that brought hope to 254 people homeless people at this year’s “Don’t Walk By” outreach event on Feb.18 in lower Manhattan.
“We’ve been the lead coordinator of the outreach for the last four years or so,” says Zack Hodgson, emergency services director for GNY.
Hodgson said “Don’t Walk By” is a project of the Rescue Alliance, a coalition of four faith-based organizations in New York City, including The Salvation Army, The Bowery Mission, City Relief and Hope For New York, which boasts numerous church partners. The coalition has been around for 15 years, and The Salvation Army joined five years ago.
“Don’t Walk By,” an annual winter outreach to the homeless, happens every February and this year’s focus was between 46th Street and Battery Park City.
“We bring together hundreds of volunteers and put them in street teams to canvas the streets and subway platforms,” Hodgson said,
The volunteers connected with the homeless and invited them back to a warm meal complete with centerpieces and vegetarian options at Oversea Chinese Mission. Everyone also was offered clothing, medical care, and connection to ongoing support such as Medicaid and other government services.
Several corporate sponsors are also involved, Hodgson said. For example, Uber offered free transportation. Another organization, CITYPAK, provided special backpacks with supplies.
Hodgson said past “Don’t Walk By” events have featured a mobile barber shop; this year, a veterinarian service was offered for people living on the streets with their pets.
Every guest is also offered a stay at The Bowery Mission, which provides hot meals and an overnight shelter.
“Our vision remains the same at its core, to create a dignified experience for our most vulnerable neighbors that includes wraparound services and welcoming hot meals,” reads the Rescue Alliance website (rescuealliance.nyc).
According to the annual report for the event prepared by Hodgson, street teams recorded engaging and/or seeing 254 people. The teams ordered 34 Uber rides to Oversea Chinese Mission for guests; four went to The Bowery Mission and one to an intake facility, while many others saw health providers.
“Don’t Walk By” began in 2008 and encourages New Yorkers to emulate the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), according to the Rescue Alliance. Volunteers have scoured the streets of Manhattan and connected with more than 10,000 people in the last decade.