Community: Feed The Streets Skate Jam @ LES Skatepark
Last weekend we stopped by LES Skatepark to support and capture the latest Feed The Streets outreach event. Using skateboarding as a moment to create an active space for at-risk kids within the community, Feed The Streets was able to provide a full day of skating, learning, creating, winning, and eating. Learn more about Feed The Streets from one of their head NY volunteers, Enna Selmanovic below...
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For those who don't have the pleasure of knowing you, could you introduce yourself? Outside of your involvement with Feed The Streets (we'll get there folks), what do you do, what do you enjoy?
Hey friends, I'm Enna. I like to think that I'm the luckiest girl in the world. I'm also a 3rd year neuroscience PhD candidate so basically I study brains but that is a story for another day. In my free time I foster dogs, willingly subject myself to difficult workouts and am tethered to a good dessert.
Where are you currently from, and where do you currently reside?
Born in Chicago. Raised in Toronto and now live in New York City. Harlem, to be specific.
Feed The Streets - there's so much to unpack here, I don't know where to begin. I just know I've been seeing more and more initiatives lately, which is why I had to come out to the recent Skate Jam at LES. Can you give us a high level overview of Feed The Streets and what you're about?
Certainly. FTS operates as a "hand up", not a "hand out". It's a completely volunteer and community-based non-profit that collects donated food, hygiene products, clothing, and educational items for hand to hand distribution. Essentially any donations we get make their way back out onto the streets asap, to those who need it most. FTS actually started in Los Angeles but has now expanded its reach with multiple weekly support drives in both major cities. Our goal is to nurture bonds in underserved communities throughout the nation.
How many people are involved with the program, and what drives their involvement?
In LA, FTS runs as a full blown non-profit organization with 5 weekly outreaches across the city. We've got our core board with the O.Gs and newly inducted crew in addition to several volunteers. We're still growing in NYC but as you could see last weekend, the reach is greater than ever. We have our loyal volunteers in addition to myself and my bestie Amy Hixon running the show in the lower east side. We've focused on LES due to the high traffic of unhoused and low income families. It's our little pocket of love. At this point in time our cities need us. Like, really need us. We're seeing a significant increase in homelessness across the board and this our way of ensuring no one is forgotten.
The turnout for the Skate Jam was pretty amazing to see. Was there a specific reason to host a skate specific event?
Dude. I was not expecting that. It was an insane amount of people who showed up for the kids and the lower east side community. I left with happy tears. Skate Day NYC has been in the works for months and personally I've made some lifelong friends from it. Big shoutout to Environmental Hood Restoration and Operation Boro. Without them it wouldn't have been possible. The goal was to create an active space for at-risk kids from each of our distinctive communities. We simply wanted to feed, laugh and teach these kids something new. We actually started out with one volunteer and one skateboard a few years back and now it's flourished to what you witnessed on Saturday. And we aren't stopping at just skate day. Park movie nights and fun day outings are in the works.
I've seen you and I know you've been working super hard recently with Feed The Streets - I even bumped into you on Bowery one day - you were carrying a huge box of clothes somewhere haha. What maintains your drive with your work with Feed The Streets?
That was a funny moment, you really saw me struggling in my element on the way to outreach just off of Bowery that morning. As for what keeps me coming back. Well, if anyone who reads this can just remember one thing, let it be this: "We are closer to being homeless than we are billionaires". I kid you not I think about that quote every day. I walk down any street in NYC and I either see one of our current guests or a potential guest minding their own business, either asking for change or accepting that they're about to have sleep for dinner. When I first moved to NYC I was really baffled by the callous and unkind things being said and done to fellow humans on the street. Still to this day I can't grasp that in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, we have some of the poorest residents. I have two hands, whatever money I don't spend on my own food and a little bit of time. I don't have a lot of time but I make time for this because one day that could easily be me. Before Feed The Streets I felt like I was just one person who cared. Now, we're a lot of people who care, instigating change in the easiest and basic ways possible. I will forever believe that it is our duty as humans to take care of one another. This is just one way I chose to do that.
Feed The Streets needs the community to step up in order for any activity to be a success - how can people help out? Can they volunteer, can they donate?
Those are the best questions you could ask and honestly they are one in the same. We need your help. We need bodies and donations. We need compassionate and dedicated individuals who are determined to make change. How can someone do this? Here's a list:
1. Here in NYC we host outreach on Sundays from 12-2pm at 126 Forsyth St (corner of Delancey and Forsyth). If anyone is willing and able, come on out - everyone is welcome.
2. If you can't make it in person we need donations. We take gently used clothing, shoes and hygiene supplies (primarily men's) directly from NYC residents. We can schedule a pick up or you can drop off on Sundays.
3. If you don't have the goods, maybe you or your company has the funds. You can either directly donate to FTSNY via venmo (@FTSLA, make sure to mention "NYC" in the description), via our open collective link here, via our Amazon wishlist here, or through our recent GoFundMe with the direct proceeds going towards outreach transportation here cause ubers be expensive! We like to provide people with options. Don't forget to follow us at @feedthestreets_ny. DM us with any and all questions. Next skate day will be August 26th. Pull up and show out for the community. We're indebted to you.