New York

Shelter residents, corporate employees dine side-by-side at “Meet Your Neighbors” dinner

NEW YORK — The climate is getting colder, the vacations are right here, and we’re all wrapped up making an attempt to maintain up with all of it.

But on this season of giving, it can be a time to acknowledge individuals round us, perhaps even have dinner with a stranger.

CBS2’s Jessica Moore takes us to 1 dinner the place these strangers come from locations as totally different as corporate places of work and homeless shelters.

The tables are set and a festive environment awaits. Most attending are strangers, however right here, coming collectively to “meet their neighbors.”

This “Meet Your Neighbors” dinner is the brainchild of Adina Lichtman.  

“When you bring people living in homes and people living in shelters to have dinner side-by-side … Both really come away feeling humbled and inspired,” she mentioned.

Lichtman is the founder and CEO of Knock Knock Give a Sock, a charity that has collected and distributed greater than 3 million pairs of socks to individuals experiencing homelessness and dwelling in shelters.

“We engage corporate companies that collect socks in their offices to actually meet the recipients of those sock donations. Most of them don’t actually even know people who’ve experienced homelessness,” Lichtman mentioned.

Lichtman units the tables for about 30 shelter residents and 30 corporate employees to come back collectively for dinner.

Jordan Gosin and Emma Sukenik introduced their colleagues from Newmark Real Estate in for this one.

“I expected to be uncomfortable. But it was like amazing, like one of those experiences where you’re … energized and excited,” Sukenik mentioned.

“You got to come in open-minded, right? You got to come in and say, I’m going to just sit here and listen,” Gosin mentioned.

Lichtman places what she calls “ice breaker” questions at every place setting to get the conversations began, like, “What keeps you up at night?” and “What do you miss about being a kid?”

“It is my very first and I’m having a wonderful time,” shelter resident Brenda Vaughn mentioned.

“Meeting these folks … helps you understand what it is that they’re going through. Oftentimes we hear about folks going through a really difficult time, but you never really get to interact with them,” mentioned Nick Martinez, with the Graced Companies.

And most significantly, some lasting friendships have come from these occasions.

Former shelter resident Kenneth Roberson and Arielle Disick say they simply clicked after they met a number of months in the past. Disick lately visited Roberson’s model new residence, his first after a number of years within the shelter system.

“He’s an amazing friend and he always calls to check in and see how I’m doing … I always end the call feeling so much better and lighter,” Disick mentioned.

“She’s all that and a bag of chips,” Roberson mentioned. “To gain a friend meant the world to me, somebody that understands, you know, the journey.”

Lichtman has held about 75 of those dinners over the previous 5 years that Knock Knock Give A Sock has been round, and true to her Knock Knock roots, she all the time provides out two pairs of socks to everybody attending — one to maintain and one to provide away.

For extra details about Knock Knock Give a Sock, go to knockknockgiveasock.org.

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