Volunteers of America
New York City, 1976-1978.
Early one morning, near my home and on my way to someplace else, I crossed paths with a Santa Claus. I wanted to know who this guy was. Where did he come from? Why was he in my neighborhood?
Then I discovered the "Volunteers of America." It was the organization behind the homeless men on Fifth Avenue who dressed as Santa Claus to collect money for the shelter in my neighborhood. Most people on the sidewalks just walked past them, some made contributions, but others had their children balance on Santa's knees, never of course imagining where these men had come from.
-S.M. from In History
I was devastated by the rawness of those men's lives, post-Christmas, again flat out on the street, homeless alcoholics. After the holiday season was over, I discovered that the men were shipped from the Bowery to detox upstate in an old women's prison facility.
-S.M. from In "History"