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Profile: Dorothy Crawford

Other People in Need

Other People In Need staff

February, 2017 – As Black History Month comes to an end, Food Bank For New York City is proud to feature an interview with our network member Dorothy Crawford, Founder and Co-Director of Other People In Need, a soup kitchen in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.  We spoke to Ms. Crawford about Black History Month, her experience as a Freedom Marcher in the civil rights movement, and what it means to serve the African-American community.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

"Black History Month invokes a feeling of pride in where we come from, an acknowledgement of our strengths, skills, and talents, as well as a feeling of hope for our future. I like that we give special attention to black people who have done and are doing great things. Black History means hearing stories of legends and hardworking people, who did not give up even when things were tough. Black History Month allows me to reflect on my own family and childhood, being from Selma, Alabama, witnessing racism, segregation and participating in the civil rights movement.

"Today, I still fight for the rights of black people and all people, whether I am overseeing and cooking at the soup kitchen, volunteering at church, participating in my grandchildren's school events, or just mentoring the younger generation.  All of these things continue to empower me, motivate me, and add value to my life. This is why I am proud to celebrate Black History Month. I carry this richness in my heart every day, however having a specific time to celebrate – oh what a great feeling!

As Co-Director of Other People In Need, what is it like on the front lines of the fight against hunger?

"As we all know, healthy balanced meals are important; however knowing does not necessarily mean that one is able to provide those meals to themselves and/or their family. Over the years, my organization O.P.I.N. has fed and assisted thousands of individuals and yet sometimes, I feel as if we have not made a dent in fighting against hunger or poverty. We have seen a significant increase in the number of clients we serve over the past few years. This includes adults and children, of all ages and demographics.  Yet organizations like ours are receiving less funding or even having to cut services completely."

How do you see the relationship between direct community service and social justice for African-Americans?

"In order to have social justice there must be social responsibility.  In order to be an ally of social justice, you are required to do your part in assuring that everyone has equal access to resources that are tied to the very basic of human rights – shelter, clothing, food – and you have to be aware of the realities that these communities are facing.  That involves seeing yourself as a part of the community, and seeing yourself as part of the community requires you to get involved!  I would like to think that because I am involved, I am able to see the needs of the community. Community service allows you to advocate for social justice on the most rudimentary grass-roots level."

Food Bank For New York City thanks Ms. Crawford for the work she does, and for helping us to celebrate Black History Month!

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