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What’s Hakookin’: 84 Conversations in Two Weeks

What’s Hakookin’: 84 Conversations in Two Weeks

We have had a truly exciting past two weeks with Hakook. We have served 84 people, volunteered with NYC Mayoral Candidate Josh Thompson, and advanced to the semi-finals of Stern’s Business Challenge.

Having heard from the folks we serve that they need to layer up, we called on our friends to donate not only coats, but sweaters and hoodies as well. With a newfound supply of winter clothes, our 17 volunteers hit the streets and delivered the following:

It’s truly incredible how much we were able to deliver in just two weeks. What’s even more incredible is what we learned from the people we spoke to.

While we’d love to share each and every story we’ve heard over the past two weeks, we’ll share just a few.

The first is from a man named Saravuth. We met Saravuth near Union Square where he makes a living playing chess. We gave him a winter coat, and with a big smile, he said, “Thank you. Okay, you did me a favor, now I’ll return it. Google me. My name is Saravuth.”

Street Stories: Saravuth Inn - Chess from Saintwoods Productions on Vimeo.


Little did we know, there have been not one, but two short documentaries on Saravuth. We recommend you watch them as his story is remarkable, to say the least. Shout out to two of our coat drive donors, Jaya and Ray, for donating coats that we gave Saravuth to help try to keep him warm through the winter.

Next, we share a haunting story from a woman we met by Penn Station. We won’t use her name to protect her privacy. We’ve asked Audrey, one of our volunteers, to share the story.

Last weekend, we met a 67 year old woman who is currently sleeping on the street. She told us about her experience being kicked out of a shelter due to a medical condition. Because she and her son suffer from seizures, the shelter viewed them as a liability and was concerned about being sued. She also told us that she entered the shelter with $3 in change, and when she left she realized that the staff who looked through her possessions had taken it. Unfortunately, her disturbing story is not unique. Over the past several weeks, I’ve heard time and time again that the shelter system is putting people experiencing homelessness at great risk rather than putting a roof over their heads and protecting them.

Unfortunately, as Audrey mentioned, we hear awful stories like this about the shelters everyday. This is why so many people prefer to live in the streets, even when the temperature drops below freezing.

Lastly, we met with someone who, at one point in his life, was forced to live on the streets. Josh Thompson is now challenging Bill De Blasio in the Democratic Party to become the next Mayor of New York City. Josh shared that our cause is deeply personal to him. Here is a small tidbit from his website:

Growing up, Josh’s mother worked three jobs and there were times Josh’s family went without water, electricity, and even food. Josh ended up without a home on the streets of Newark, New Jersey at the age of 15. He was brought to St Benedict’s Prep, where he was given a home, a community, and an education.

We were extremely grateful to welcome Josh out to volunteer with us on a cold Sunday afternoon. We had a great conversation about how New York City’s homeless population is at a record high and what we can do to improve the situation.

Luckily for you, we don’t just invite Mayoral Candidates to join us. You’re welcome too. In fact, we pride ourselves on being what we like to call, “radically inclusive.” If you want to help, you can. Here’s how:

If you have time, come volunteer with us.

If you have sweaters, hoodies, or coats, we’ll deliver them on your behalf. You can even leave a note with your coat and your email address so we can follow up with you.

Lastly, if you can spare $5/month, you can donate to Hakook.

If you don’t have time, money, or winter clothes to spare, no problem! Email our Director of Partnerships at josh@hakook.com and we’ll get you a bag of small items to give out at your own leisure.

No matter what, we have a place for you to help here at Hakook.