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Twins Celebrate Milestone Birthday by Giving Back

In early June, twin brothers, Siddharth and Shaurya, also affectionately known as the “SnS Bros,” were turning 10 years old, or as they called it, their “first double digits.” As many other children during the Covid-19 crisis, they were going to celebrate their birthday in quarantine, and were not sure how to do it. With the help of their parents, they decided that instead of a grand celebration, they would ask their friends, family and school community for their blessings and help.

 

In a Facebook post on their father’s page, the brothers created an enthusiastic video requesting donations of non-perishable food in their honor for three different organizations that feed the hungry, including The INN. In addition to over 40 bags and bottles of canned goods, pasta, snacks, juice and other essentials they collected, their Facebook video, thanks to an easy donation button attached, raised $631 for The INN! The boys and their parents, with gloves and big smiles behind their masks, delivered the donated food directly to the Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen on the day of their 10th birthday.

 

Jigar, the boy’s mother, was grateful to The INN. “Thank you so much for accepting our donations and helping us make our boys understand their civic responsibility,” she sent us in a heartfelt message. We thank the parents for raising wonderful children who understand how important it is to #GetINNvolved in your community. Happy Birthday!

 

To see the birthday boys’ original video on Facebook, click here

 

Soup Kitchen Volunteers Raise $10K for Pandemic Relief

Deena Albert and Isaac Alderstein met while volunteering at the Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen last summer. Quickly learning how much they had in common, they began dating. When the restrictions for the pandemic began, they were unable to continue to volunteer in person, but found another way to support the organization that brought them together.

 

Using the power of social media, the couple launched a Facebook fundraiser on behalf of The INN with an initial goal to raise $5,000. Within weeks, 275 of their family members and friends donated towards the cause and they doubled their goal. Their story of volunteering at the soup kitchen together, and the desire to continue to help in some way drove their online network to raise a total of $10,566! The funds will assist the Mary Brennan INN to continue with an emergency “grab and go” bag lunch program for guests while the building is closed, and regular hot meals and operations are halted. Deena and Isaac’s efforts contributed greatly to that goal, as their donated funds were able to feed over 250 guests for two weeks.  

 

Deena and Isaac’s story was featured in The Jewish Week publication on May 6. Click here to view the article.

 

INN Celebrity Ambassador Jessica Pimentel Raises Funds on 9/11 Charity Day

For the second year in a row, Jessica Pimentel, aka “Maria Ruiz” from the award-winning Netflix original series Orange is the New Black (OITNB), was on the phones with all smiles making trades in support of The INN for Cantor Fitzgerald’s annual 9/11 Charity Day. On Wednesday, September 11th, she visited two Cantor affiliate offices, GFI Group and BCG Partners, and spoke to real clients to carry out trades with help from their in-house brokers. In between chats with fellow celebrities, including Dr. Ruth Westheimer, she even took a few moments to sign INN and OITNB merchandise to be raffled and auctioned off at upcoming INN fundraising events.  

 

Charity Day is held every year in memory of the 658 Cantor Fitzgerald and 64 Eurobrokers employees who were lost in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. 100% of all global revenues on Charity Day are donated to the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund and dozens of charities around the world. In 2018, Jessica’s efforts in support of The INN raised $15,000 for our charity. We are thrilled to see the results from 2019!

 

Roslyn Library Patrons give “Food For Fines”

For the past 12 years, Roslyn’s Bryant Library, has led an effort with Joan Casson Sauer, Assistant Director of the library and Ellen Broder, an INN volunteer. The project called “Food For Fines” has happened each November for one week. During that time, the library would collect nonperishable food instead of fees for overdue books from generous library card holders. All of the food collected would be donated to The INN for the annual Thanksgiving meal at the Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen. Recently, Executive Director Jean Kelly and INN Board member Rob Kammerer met with Ellen, Joan and Victor Caputo, Director of Bryant Library, to present them with a certificate and a dedicated plaque to hang for their invaluable partnership and effort throughout the years with The INN. Patrons of the library will be able to take advantage of “Food for Fines” again this July. The INN is so grateful for the contributions from those in the community.

 

Victor Caputo, Director of the Bryant Library , Ellen Broder, INN Volunteer, Jean Kelly, Executive Director of The INN, Joan Casson Sauer, Assistant Director of Bryant Library and Rob Kammerer, INN Board Member celebrate 12 years of “Food For Fines.”

11-Year-Old Hosts “Kids Give Back” Gift Card Party

11-year-old James and his family really wanted to Get INNvolved and help their community members in need. Last Christmas, the family went to NYC during the winter and handed out gloves and hats to homeless people living on the street. James’ mother JaneEllen said, “James was so touched by this and wanted to do more. So they planned for a day where all his friends would come for a fun “Kids Give Back” party. They were all asked to bring a gift card as a donation.  23 boys attended the party. After a fun day of playing basketball, hockey and football, all decked out in INN t-shirts (purchased by James’ mom and dad), the give back party collected over $800 in gift cards!

 

It wasn’t James’ birthday or a special occasion. After the event, JaneEllen shared with us, “James was so happy he could make his friends aware of
The INN and the ways they could help others. He hopes that they helped other kids and families and made them happy.”

 

Great job James! The gift cards will be used to purchase specific items that guests living in INN shelters and visiting the Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen need the most.

 

Children of INN Staff Come to Work and Get INNvolved

For the first time, The INN was proud to participate in the national event “Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day” on April 25th. 21 children of INN staff members between the ages of 4 and 16 came to work with their mothers, fathers, aunts, grandparents and family friends for a fun day of work and service. Activities included decorating placemats and bags for lunches for INN soup kitchen guests and completing a team building activity of a wooden puzzle 3-D INN house.

 

Tours of the main office and the Mary Brennan INN were given to the children, who were curious to see where their parents and family members go each day. In the afternoon, the children baked and decorated cookies to be served to guests at the next day’s meal service. The children wrapped up the day participating in various volunteer activities, including bagging lunches in the bags they lovingly decorated for guests, rolling utensils in napkins for the hot meal and assembling towels and toiletry kits for guests who come into the soup kitchen for a hot shower.

 

 Executive Director Jean Kelly was so grateful to employees for including their children in the special day. “When asked what their parents do here at The INN, many of these wonderful children said they WORK! We remain forever grateful for how hard our employees work and how diligently they manage to juggle their two worlds, which allows us all to see how truly lucky and blessed they are.”

 

Check out a video of the day!

 

Young Guest Returns to Help Others

*Names have been changed to protect guests’ privacy

 

Jean C. Victor, Jr. Manager, Mary Brennan INN

The look on Jean Victor’s face said it all. Dropped jaw, wide eyes with a glisten of moisture. In the 16 years he had been working with guests managing the operations of the Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen in various capacities, rarely does one return quite so triumphantly, but with a humble strength.

Erin* was about 12 years old when she started coming to the soup kitchen for a regular hot meal. Her parents and five siblings were frequent visitors, and the children got to know the staff quite well, mostly over the summer when school was out and free breakfast and lunch programs ended. Now 23 years old, Erin, a law student came back to the soup kitchen with her fellow group of young professionals to donate food from a drive they organized after hearing her story of the struggle she experienced growing up. The group was so moved by the idea of Erin’s success through adversity that they decided to adopt The INN as their charity of choice.

Main dining room at the Mary Brennan INN

As for Erin, as she quietly took a tour of the facility from a vastly different perspective than she remembered, her facial expression was one of shock. She described her experience of literally being on the other side of the counter as “surreal,” but didn’t want to share much more. That’s ok. The INN’s philosophy of serving hungry and homeless Long Islanders with dignity, respect and love is practiced with great care. When she saw Jean Victor and remembered him from her childhood days she told him, “I was hoping you would be here,” and they embraced. Few words were spoken, but it was clear that Jean was thrilled to see how far she had come. “I was speechless,” Jean said. “I recognized her right away, but she’s all grown up now. It’s so impressive that not only is she a successful young adult, but she found the strength to return and give back to a place that helped her and her family through some tough times. I’m so glad she came back and let me know she was doing well.”    

Youth INNvolvement – Free E-Book!

Check out the free e-book below and flip through to find out all the ways young people can #GetINNvolved!

Use the toolbar below the image to zoom in and out, make the book fullscreen and download the document for your files or to print!

 

Small Victories Add Up to Big Changes

Donald Axinn INN men’s shelter Program Manager Ty Hopkins shares a touching story about a young man who begins to make a change in his life just by cleaning his room.

 

Guests at the Donald Axinn INN men’s shelter (DAI) are extremely happy and adjusting to the community atmosphere we are promoting at the shelter. Every day we see evidence of the men supporting, encouraging and helping each other in many ways.

 

A young guest of DAI came to us facing numerous challenges that plagued his life and caused him to become homeless. He was young and struggling financially, had a criminal history, gang affiliation and had not much education. However, what he did have was a willingness to change and “HOPE.”  At our initial meeting, he described his life as problematic and like many young people he did not know why his life was in such a bad way or how to make a change. We talked a while longer and I assured him he could change the direction of his life if he chooses, but it would take work and the patience to stay the course. He stated he was willing to do the work. Over the next several weeks the young DAI guest had many ups and downs while on his journey.  One of the main issues he faced was that he could not keep his room clean. He received multiple infractions for his room not meeting DAI standards. No matter how much assistance and encouragement he received from DAI staff, he just kept leaving his room unkempt.

 

One day while doing my rounds, I walked past his room and the door was wide open. Our young guest was standing next to his bed with a wide smile. To my astonishment his room was spotless and he was excited to show me the work he had done. I immediately called our Assistant Progam Manager, Mr. Waring, to see the young man’s room, at which point we all hugged and celebrated this achievement. Often we miss the little victories in life that make all the difference. It’s hard to see them because of all the difficulties. With joy in our hearts, we listened as he explained that he had help learning how to make his bed and organized his belongings from an older guest that had taken the time to work with him and mentor him. To me, this is the true beauty of this story. Someone with nothing still has the heart to give of himself to others, and that has made all the difference to another. The young guest is a different person today because of his short experience at DAI. I pray that he will take this experience and share what he has learned with another.  

 

Clean room at the Donald Axinn INN

 

Lowe’s Heroes Make People Love Where They Volunteer

 

LOCAL LI LOWE’S EMPLOYEES GET INNVOLVED IN THE RENOVATION OF SOUP KITCHEN VOLUNTEER LOUNGE
“Lowe’s Heroes” donate their time, talent and resources to create a comfortable and productive space for volunteers who give their time to those in need every day.
  

Management and employees from three Long Island Lowe’s locations; Garden City, Bayshore and Hicksville were so moved by the work done at the Mary Brennan INN that they wanted to create a special space for the dedicated soup kitchen volunteers during long days of cooking and serving hungry and homeless Long Islanders. The ribbon was officially cut, celebrating the inauguration of the upgraded volunteer lounge in the largest soup kitchen on Long Island.

 

Over the course of three short days, Lowe’s Heroes repaired and repainted the walls, replaced a broken refrigerator and microwave, added new ergonomic chairs, and installed cabinets and countertops in the volunteer lounge of the soup kitchen. They created extra seating and storage, making the space more functional and a new space to hang coats. Volunteers use the space to leave their personal belongings, use the restroom, eat lunch, and meet to discuss the plans for the day.

 

“The response from the volunteers has been tremendous,” said Jean C. Victor Jr., Manager of the Mary Brennan INN.  We have always been impressed by the generosity of corporate partners who help the guests. With the new lounge from Lowe’s, it’s nice to have something special just for the volunteers.”

 

“Lowe’s is dedicated to helping our communities by using our skills and resources,” Andrew Satriano, Specialist at Lowe’s. “At the Mary Brennan INN, we recognized the passion and hard work that goes into serving guests every day, and we wanted to make sure INN volunteers had a place to call their own and recharge in order to continue to do their inspiring work.”

 

Lowe’s Heroes during the renovation with Jean C. Victor, Jr., Manager of the Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen.