Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Hat Project—105 hat later.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude to everyone who has participated.

(Those who know me, know I often take a dim view of charity knitting—so my heading up a project like this is well—unexpected)

For security and privacy reasons, I can’t tell you much about the school and nothing at all about the kids… but there are lots I can talk about.

Poverty, for one—the school is located in zip 10455—where half the people in the area are unemployed—and over 40% are disabled.

Those that do work often spend a large percentage of their time and income commuting—to jobs that pay very little (over 50% of the population lives below the poverty line.)

Over 80% of the population lives in households where English is not the prime language in the household—and many of the household are broken. Studies have shown in areas like this, a wage earner will sometimes live and work far from his (or her) family –taking work that requires them to live away from home, leaving their family’s with some money, but with out their presence.

Over 90% of the housing is rental—and much of the housing is old—it was build 100 years ago, when the subways first opened the area up to development as cheap housing, for the urban poor. For many years, both laws and custom made improvements almost impossible.

(I grew up in similar tenement type building, (about 30 blocks north) in a two parent household, and know first hand, some of the problems…)

The building have plaster and lath walls –and even in well maintained buildings, the plaster, over time tends to crack and loosen –in building that were poorly made, subject to the normal wear and tear, but often not maintained with any regularity, cracks and breaks are common (and frequently repaired with less skill, and less investment in material than was employed in the original construction.)

The apartments are old, small, drafty—the basic problems (built in 100 years ago!). They make it difficult to easily live comfortably--in benign poverty.
In NYC, (unusually for most cities, both here and abroad) public housing projects are considered desirable—and while some exist, --most have waiting list of several years, so much of the area is dismal.

It is an area with few parks or playgrounds—none were planned when the area was being developed--with dense population, and few or no services (pawn shops out number banks 2 to 1) and there are few (no really local) grocery stores or discount stores (like Pathmark, or Marshall’s or Target) –local bodega’s are the prime stores, and these are expensive, and offer a poor selection of foods.

A huge percentage of the population is from tropical Puerto Rico (and as such, native citizens to US) and frequently unused to the cold --and the past 10 day, have been, here, as in many other parts of the US north and east, unseasonably cold! (In the past 5 days, the temps have been, at the warmest, (before wind/chill is considered) below freezing.)

Everyone is deserving of the basics of life—and warm hat is just on of those basics—but poor handicapped children—are especially deserving.

Your help in this project is truly wonderful

And just to let you know, you helped me, and my spirits, and my involvement, when you visited my blog, and made for your self (or your friend, or others!) hats from the patterns I posted! By just reading—you done something.

Tomorrow, I will wax philosophic about hats. Have you ever thought about hats, head covering, and the meaning of hats? I have!


teabird said...

I think you just gave us an example of the meaning of hats - this was a great project, Helen. Bravo!

UnderMeOxter said...

REally inspiring project to have got involved in. Well done.

Robyn said...

You know, I just made hats. Helen asked for hats, so I made some. I didn't really think about it. Thanks for pointing out how something so simple could be so profound. Great job, Helen. And y ou're right - your project finished not a moment too soon!

Virginia G said...

This was such an awesome thing for you to do!

Especially since I live in the Bronx (probably about 30 blocks north of where you're talking about - I'm at 194th) and I see a lot of the problems you mention in your post. I also see damn few people trying to help.

So thank you.

Please let me know if you do another project like this.

Anonymous said...

I cannot say this enough -- it is an amazing deed you have done. Thank you.