With a Sandwich and a Smile, Catholics are Making a Difference for the NYC Homeless Population

Tags: Currents Catholic Worker, Dorothy Day, Faith, Homeless, Inspiration, NYC

By Emily Drooby

Rolling out the door of The Catholic Worker site and down the street to Sara D. Roosevelt Park in the Lower East Side are a group of young volunteers. But it’s not just a cart of food they’re carrying, but a cart of hope, explains longtime volunteer Rocco Troiano.

“We go out to people who are just having a rough time and we go out and show a little love, and give a little something, hot coffee, maybe a sandwich,” Rocco said.

Another young Catholic volunteer from Brooklyn, Tevin Williams, said what he saw was shocking.

“I thought it would be actually less so to see so many people need services, and need food and water,” Tevin said. “It’s kind of shocking for me, so that’s what’s prompting me to go back.”

Since July, the city moved 6,000 people from hotels back to barracks-style shelters despite the recent uptick in COVID cases.

The migration was just halted temporarily by a federal judge so the city can figure out a safer way to relocate people as complaints arise of unsafe conditions.

The problems and confusion are pushing many to find other places to call home, like this park in the Lower East Side, which has become a haven for the homeless. An estimated 2,000 people live on the streets and in the subway.

So, The Catholic Worker brings the help to them by delivering food right to the park, while still having daily help from their E. 1st Street location.

Charles Augusta calls them a beacon of hope – especially during the pandemic.

“It was rough, but they didn’t give up,” Charles said. “They were the only place that you could depend on.”