Feature Article from The Cyrenian parish newsletter, January 2013, Vol. 2, No. 1
Feature: 2013 Midnight Run
New Rochelle High School students, supervised by Josephine Boscarino and Kelly Magana, used the Parish Hall of St. Simon the Cyrenian on December 15, 2012, to prepare for their night of volunteerism. The students prepared packages of food, clothing and personal items for distribution primarily at Penn Station. This program provides meals, clothing and showers, medical and counseling services for the homeless in New York City.
"midnightrun.org" provided the following information about the mission and origination of this organization: Midnight Run is a volunteer organization dedicated to finding common ground between the housed and the homeless.
In over 1,000 relief missions per year, Midnight Run volunteers from churches, synagogues, schools and other civic groups distribute food, clothing, blankets and personal care items to the homeless poor on the streets of New York City. The late night relief efforts create a forum for trust, sharing, understanding and affection. That human exchange, rather than the exchange of goods, is the essence of the Midnight Run mission.
Midnight Run is not a solution to homelessness. Our goal is to forge a bond between housed and homeless people by establishing a foundation of sharing and caring from which solutions may evolve. Through Midnight Run, volunteers come to see the homeless as real people, not a commodity. And homeless men and women learn that many mainstream adults and teenagers have commitments and concerns that go beyond their own lives and families.
In 1984, homelessness was rampant in New York City. While much public notice was taken of homelessness, what was not noticed was that among the homeless were some who cared for others who were less able to make their way to sources of food and clothing.
Members of a church in Dobbs Ferry, where a few members were volunteering at a Manhattan soup kitchen, invited one such caring homeless woman to speak to the congregation. She made a connection between the people eating in a church basement and the rest of their lives sleeping on the city street, and made it clear that for many, the most basic needs were not being met.
Members of the church coordinated with this woman and others among the homeless and began visiting Grand Central station and the streets nearby on Tuesday and Friday nights to distribute food, supplies and clothing and to offer companionship to homeless people. Volunteers from other churches and synagogues in Westchester County joined this effort and by 1989 a dozen groups were participating.
Until November of 1989, Midnight Run used facilities of South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry as a base of operations, including the storing of food, clothing and supplies. That year, Midnight Run was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization, and a generous contribution by a Westchester corporation enabled us to rent our first headquarters at 97 Main Street in Dobbs Ferry. There, we collect, sort and store clothes, prepare food and coordinate the donations and the thousands of volunteers it takes to make Midnight Run a reality
Enthusiasm for Midnight Run has been contagious and, without a grand master plan, the program has grown from the original tiny group to a collaboration of more than 150 community organizations.