Take Time to Volunteer: Homeless Outreach
- Because I am so magnanimous, I like to spend a few hours every month volunteering with the various relief agencies in New York. I spent last Saturday with the homeless outreach group called Shape Up, Homeless!
The mission of Shape Up, Homeless! is to get displaced and itinerant humans to shape up their bodies. We don’t just slap them with job applications like other tough love non-profits here such as, Get a Job, Vagrants! or The Stop Laying There Fund. We don’t care if they get jobs! We just want the homeless to be as excited and passionate about physical fitness as we are.
We get dressed up in tights and off-the-shoulder sweatshirts and drive around in an unmarked van until we spot a homeless person who isn’t moving. We then leap out and expound on the benefits of free weights and a 20 minute cardio routine.
Since I’m a newbie, I was in charge of the jump rope session on Saturday. We found Tracy “the Transient” over a storm grate in Alphabet City. We rushed out of the still moving vehicle.
“Come on Tracy! Let’s go. You can do it! Move your body!”
I offered her the jump rope. “It’s easy! Watch!” I skipped for a minute doing all sorts of intricate rope crossing tricks. “Your turn, Tracy!”
“Jesus…?” she muttered barely coherently. She lifelessly took the jump rope from my giving hands.
“Push it to the limit, Tracy!! Disregard your degenerative mental and physical illnesses and push it!”
“Commit to be fit!” the Shape Up, Homeless! team began chanting. “Commit to be fit!” Some were doing crunches around her, others showcased some synchronized Tae Bo moves, and one girl was doing kegels.
Tracy conquered gravity and stood up. “Commit to be fit,” we encouraged. She whipped the rope behind her feet. Against all odds, Tracy jumped the rope. “Commit to *gurgle* be *cough cough* fit….ugh…” she repeated. She bounded over the rope again and collapsed.
What a rousing success story! I did it! I made a difference.