Most of us are staying at home to save life and help health care workers combating coronavirus. For several hundred thousands of Americans there is no such place they can call their “home”. In the midst of the pandemic the situation in New York, epicenter of outbreak, is far from ideal. That is for thousands of homeless in NYC who were directed to shelters. Not all of them, however, can take this option and have to stay on the streets with almost no chance for help. Some shelters are just overcrowded. For others it appears to be difficult to separate healthy and sick people thus increasing risk of virus contracting and spreading. Is there any source of help those people can rely on? Luckily, it is. Two J’s are doing something nearly impossible to make their life-saving contribution.
Jeffrey Newman and Jayson Conner, a gay couple from NYC founded Together Helping Others in 2018 with Backpacks for the Street aiming to provide necessities to New York homeless population. As the lockdowns were announced nationwide, the two J’s haven’t dropped their mission. In fact, right now the homeless people need them even more. Aside from food packs, Newman and Conner started distributing sanitizers, antibacterial wipes, gloves and other essentials. These are simple things homeless people may use quite rear but today having them is the matter of survival. The mission of two J’s could never be realized if not volunteers they find across the city, these brave Americans who take an enormous risk and help those in need without bringing any excuses.
As the pandemic started three most vulnerable social groups were identified that included elderly, people with medical conditions, and homeless. Unfortunately, only the first two categories have attracted public attention. Both private and government initiatives have been put forward to organize food and necessities delivery for elderly and people with conditions making it life-threatening for them leaving their apartment. Homeless people have been almost neglected in this rush. Newman and Conner, however, made a difference.
“We refuse to lose that human element of what makes our program and our efforts work and drives us. We found safe ways to spend time with each person we help to make sure they have everything they need and to give them our number in case they need anything else,”
as Jefrey put it. It is just about being a human.
The two J’s have to adapt their backpack program, too. Right now they are distributing around 100 backpacks three to four times a week thanks to the fearless ever growing army of volunteers. Moreover, the pack has to be updated with warm clothes and sleep bags as the temperatures in New York are still relatively low. “What really frustrates me is that we do not have Lady Gaga or Elton John or any of the pretty celebrities doing fundraiser or concerts for the homeless affected by COVID-19, despite them being among the top 5 percent of the most vulnerable,” Newman adds. That is so true. Probably, there is no room for celebrities’ self-piar. There could be thousands of other excuses provided but what remains the same is the attitude to homeless people. They are simply neglected. That is definitely not fair.