Streetwork's Harlem Center: Kitchen

The Kitchen

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Most clients walk through the door of Streetwork’s new drop-in center and head straight for the kitchen. There are many good reasons why.

"They come in after being out on the street all night or all day, and maybe they won’t eat again until the next day -- until they come back here," says Michelle Villanueva, who has worked at Streetwork for more than ten years.

"So I’m the person that gives them food," she adds with a broad smile, "-- as much as they can eat."

Hot lunches and dinners are served six days a week in Streetwork’s expansive new kitchen which opens up to the loft-like lounge where clients gather.

"I get their breakfast ready in the morning, then I really start cooking!" says Michelle, stirring a bubbling pot of stewed chicken. A few kids lean over the counter, drawn by the aroma, as Michelle’s helpers chop a mountain of potatoes to add to the pot.

"They see us in here during the day making their meals from scratch, and it means a lot to them."

Streetwork serves more than 45,000 meals each year, and keeping the pantry stocked is always a concern. Given the challenging economy, rising food prices and shrinking public funds, now more than ever Streetwork is dependent on individuals like you to help fill the gap.

Michelle realizes the gap that she fills for the homeless children and teens who spend most nights on the streets. Up to 60% of these young adults come from homes disintegrated by drugs, AIDS, severe poverty, violence and neglect. To them, Michelle serves a home-cooked meal in the truest sense.

"Our clients tell me: "I really love the way you cook because I can feel the love that you put into the food," she says quietly, "That’s what they tell me."

Find out how you can help keep Michelle’s Streetwork pantry stocked. Click here.

Next stop: Streetwork's Main Lounge.

Need help? Call Streetwork at 1.800.708.6600.

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Streetwork Overview
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Harlem Center
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Streetwork Kitchen
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Safe Horizon's mission is to provide support, prevent violence and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities.
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