Thursday, December 31, 2009

On people who make the world better

Okay, so at the tail end of a year that's been liberally punctuated with stories of greed, infidelity, dishonesty, and flat-out hatred, it felt like a blessing this morning to hear a story about one anonymous stranger's kindness and generosity to some of the neediest people.
There was something special on the menu at a New York soup kitchen Thursday.

Those eating lunch at the Broadway Community Inc. facility in Manhattan got a taste of the luxury life, thanks to a gift of caviar from an anonymous donor.


Chef Michael Ennes of Broadway Community Inc., told CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallce when he heard of the caviar donation, he thought, "'Yeah, right.'"

But, in fact, it was an honest-to-God 500-gram, $1,100 tin of sturgeon caviar. Reactions at the facility ranged from "Holy crap, it's an $1,100 tin of caviar" to "What the hell are we supposed to do with an $1,100 tin of caviar?" But Ennes was resolute.

We're serving this bad boy, he said.

Of course, the challenge at that point was one of the fishes-and-loaves variety, making one tin of caviar go 150 ways. Ennes and crew served up sour cream and egg whites and yolks and chives on cornmeal blinis with a dab of $1,100 freaking caviar on top.
Diana Conyers, who received a meal at the soup kitchen, said, "I thought it would taste yuck because I never had caviar. It was surprising, it tasted pretty good."

Michelle Seliem and her 8-year-old daughter--who have been living in a domestic violence shelter for five years--loved it.

Seliem said,"It was delicious."

But what did it taste like?

"Fish," she said, laughing.

Though the $1,100 value of the caviar could have covered more meals for the needy, it was the experience that was priceless.

Hosna Seliem told Wallace, "I felt like a princess."

And I think that's kind of the point. These are people who, to put it baldly, eat at soup kitchens. Even at the most well-equipped shelters, they're likely to enjoy an appetizer of four servings of soup stretched six ways. The value of this anonymous gift was not the cash value of the caviar but the experience, for the diners at the kitchen, of setting aside five years in a domestic violence shelter, just for one day, and feeling like a princess. There seems to be a perception these days that if the poor aren't living in dark, squalid tenements and dressing in rags, they aren't truly poor or they don't deserve help. At least one person out there recognized that people who have nothing still deserve to have dignity.
George Evans, a diner at the facility, said, "Whoever donated this, maybe they woke up one morning and said 'I have a little more, let me give.'"

If you realize you have a little more, you can donate (and it doesn't have to be caviar) to Broadway Community Inc. or visit Feeding America to find a food bank in your area.

Happy new year, all. Stay merry and safe.

No comments: