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Heroes of New York
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Heroes of New York

Author: Anu Senan

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A podcast about exceptional people who are rising above the odds to help others. Every episode features an inspiring story mostly from NYC and occasionally from around the globe. If you know someone in your community who is a hero and has a story worth sharing please reach me at
33 Episodes
Homelessness is not new in NYC. However, with the loss of jobs in 2020 a lot more people are facing an impending crisis. That of eviction. If and when the eviction ban in NYC is lifted, more people are expected to turn out into the streets and in homeless shelters that are already overwhelmed. Single adults, families and children are equally impacted. I chat with Giselle Routhier, Policy Director at the Coalition for the Homeless,  the largest such agency in NYC on the work they do and what she foresees in 2021. This is a 2 part interview. In the second part, I take a trip around town with the mobile soup kitchen team from the Coalition for the Homeless, to see the work they do for homeless people on the streets. TwitterFacebookYouTubeInstagram
I take a trip around Manhattan on a cold January night with a group of volunteers at the Coalition for the Homeless. They distribute food to the people living on streets. I learn more about what drives these volunteers to help homeless people and they share with me what every homeless person actually needs.We discuss:1) What drives the volunteers2) Stories about the homeless3) Misconceptions about the homeless4) Message for the listeners Listen to part 1 of this episode where I talk with Giselle Routhier, Policy Director at the Coalition for the Homeless,  the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children. TwitterFacebookYouTubeInstagram
Helping the Homeless

Helping the Homeless


There are many homeless people who call the streets of NYC their home. During the lockdown in 2020, where few people ventured out, the homeless were still on the streets begging for food. In this episode, I talk to two wonderful individuals, KimMarco Salvo and Imad Khachan who have made helping the homeless, a part of their lives. I took  a walk around Penn Station and Greenwich village, along with them to talk to the homeless people and understand their situation. I also speak to Paola Piscitelli, Director of The Community of Sant E'gidio USA New York chapter - a mission that Kim volunteers for - on the work that the community does to help homeless people. Listen to four homeless people share their own stories, including Julio - an ex-marine, Diego DaVinci -a wheelchair bound artist, Mr Paine - a school porter and Kiki -a woman who has no family. 
God's Love We Deliver has been delivering medically tailored meals to people who are ill and in need of food. Started by one woman in the 80s who saw the plight of an AIDS patient and decided to take action, GLWD has grown into an organization that now caters to anyone from any background who is ill and requires food. In this episode, I talk to 2 employees, Natasha Bunzl, Communications Associate and Dorella Walters, Senior Director at GLWD about the organization's mission, the work they did in 2020 and what our listeners can do to help. 
David Kass, is a New Yorker on a mission to beautify the city.Seeing the how neglected the flower beds around 6th avenue was,  he started adopting flower beds around his neighborhood a few years back . He plants flowers and picks up trash all at his own expense. David shares his story and how he thinks you can help. David's Facebook page.
How can you bridge the digital divide? Ask Daisy Hampton, a 11 year old who has been addressing this question since New York Public schools went online at the height of the pandemic. When Daisy realized that not all kids in her class were able to attend online sessions because of their lack of access to technology she decided to take action. And that's how Including You was born. A non -profit peer -to - peer mentorship platform where children help other children. Through Including You, Daisy raises funds to procure devices and hotspot access to children across the country, who currently don't have access. 
Pranitha Timothy is a social worker and the  co-founder of Justice and Hope, an India based organization established in 2013. She was diagnosed with brain tumor while pursuing her Masters in Social work about 2 decades ago. Following brain surgery she lost her voice for two years. That didn't dissuade her from working for the helpless and the voiceless. Over the years, Pranitha  has worked with prisoners, met those on a life sentence, worked with their families, joined a team that pioneered the fight against bonded labour and rescues victims of trafficking. Tune in to hear Pranitha share her inspiring story and what she thinks you and I can do to help our society. 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States of America and a powerful advocate for gender equality. In this episode, I explore RBG's style of advocacy and the way she brought about change from the way she dressed to the relationships she forged in her professional and personal life. 
In a candid and fun conversation, Abhijit Bhaduri drops pearls of wisdom on handling the digital workplace. From collaboration to creativity, we discuss a range of topics that relate to the work from anywhere culture. Abhijit Bhaduri is an author, coach and a talent management expert. He is the author of Dreamers and Unicorns, a book about the post - COVID world of work. He is a personal branding coach and talent management advisor. He was the Chief Learning officer of Wipro for seven years and was widely recognized for his innovative approach to learning and building a future-ready workforce. Abhijit has led HR teams at Microsoft, PepsiCo and Colgate-Palmolive in US, Asia-Pac and India. He is one of the few authors who writes fiction and non-fiction. Forbes calls him' India's most interesting globalist'. Watch the video here -
This is a story of kids from a public school in NYC that caters to students with special needs. During the summer of 2019, some of the students from the school came over to the Peter Cooper Village(PCV) - Stuyvesant Town(ST) residential complex to help the staff with their duties of cleaning the premises, as part of their summer training. The hope was that the training would help the kids build independence and confidence in their own abilities. However the results stunned everyone involved - from the school educators to the management staff at PCV/ST. This is the second part of the interview with Richie, Nestor and Malcolm. For the first part of the interview head here. I also talk with the educators from the school - Allison Tearney and Taylor Curtin - who share their dreams and hopes for their students. 
During the biggest lockdown New York City has seen, an army of 160 people prepared for battle everyday. But their enemy was invisible, tinier than a millionth of an inch. Their battlefield? The Stuyvesant Town - Peter Cooper Village - a residential neighborhood  in Manhattan that spanned over 110 buildings, with over 11,000 apartments. These brave souls were the janitors, cleaners and other support staff that kept the premises clean and safe everyday. At a time when little was known about the virus and how it spread, these people risked their lives to travel on subways and public transport to do their duty to a community that some of them had served for nearly 4 decades. Along the way, they lost a colleague, another lost his wife and their families pleaded with them to stay home. But they didn't relent. Duty comes first. Tune in to hear these brave men talk about their fears, why they kept going and how they remained sane during the darkest period of 2020. 
Imad Khachan runs the only remaining chess shop in New York City. Situated in Greenwich Village. A Palestinian refugee with no family of his own, Khachan has become “the father of everybody” to a community of chess enthusiasts, those curious to learn more about the game, and those whom Khachan describes as the city’s “invisible people.” Every day after he shuts shop, Imad walks around the city helping the homeless who call NY streets their home. He started a FaceBook page called "Angels of New York' where he posts pictures of homeless people in the hope that it inspires his followers to help and take action. In this episode, Imad shares some of his experiences interacting with the homeless including William Lombardi, former Amercian chess grandmaster and how our listeners can help this cause. Chess Forum Angels of New York
On a lazy summer evening, a man collapses in a New York playground while playing with his two little kids. The kids think its pretend play. Only its not. In less than 30 minutes, the entire scene changes as police cars, fire trucks and ambulances line the road and over 20 people are working to revive the man. By the time he's rushed to hospital, its been an hour since his heart stopped. Heroes of New York, cover this true story of some brave and nameless heroes who tried their best to help a man they will never meet again.
The Father's Heart Ministries is located in the East Village, New York City. For the past 23 years, they have been running a soup kitchen and open food pantry serving the hungry and homeless. During the pandemic they have been a respite to many in this part of the city. In this episode, I speak with Marian Hutchins, the Executive Director of the Father's Heart Ministries. She shares her experiences from moving to New York and the East Village in the 80s when drugs and violence was the norm and her experiences working with the needy and the poor. Tune in to listen to a story full of compassion and humanity. Facebook page
A  few weeks ago, the TIME magazine carried an issue solely dedicated to global warming.It said we have a few months to take decisive action. Given all that is going around due to pandemic, upcoming US elections people sometimes tend to forget about the larger than life crisis that’s looming over us. And so I am out looking for people who were continuously working  in the midst of this pandemic to address climate change. In this week’s episode I speak with Sandith Thandasherry, CEO and founder of NavAlt Solar & Electrical Boats. He is the man behind India’s first solar powered ferry, Aditya. With a Bachelor of Technology in Naval Architecture from IIT Madras and an MBA from INSEAD, France, Sandith has around two decades of industrial experience behind him. He worked in a shipyard in Gujarat for two years, after which he went to South Korea and worked across shipyards in the country. After he completed his MBA, this naval architect and entrepreneur started this journey with Navgathi, the first company that he founded to build small-capacity, solar-powered boats. Although solar-powered ferries are a common sight in global waterways, they were yet to sail in Indian waterways because of the high costs involved when Sandith started out. He soon realized that the biggest and most commercially viable sector is large passenger water transport boats. However, to initiate that business, they needed to team up with a larger player in the field.  Coincidentally, this was when AltEn, one of the world’s most experienced solar boats manufacturer was looking for a partner in India. NavAlt was finally formed in October 2013 and the rest as they say is history. In July this year, Aditya, India’s first solar powered passenger ferry built by Sandith and team won the first ever Gussies award. This is the world’s only international award exclusively for electric boats.  More than 50 electric boats were nominated for this award, representing over 19 countries of manufacture, in 3 different categories. Aditya won in the 3rd category “ Excellence in Electric Boats Designed for Paying Passengers”.             Every day Aditya makes 22 trips with 75 people on board – that’s 580,000 people a year – and the charging cost to top up the batteries is US$2.60 – TWO DOLLARS and SIXTY CENTS A DAY – preventing the burning of 58,000 litres of diesel and saving ₹ 4,612,000 – US$ 65,000 a year.Aditya plies on the waterways of Kerala, a small state in South India, where Sandith’s company and operations are located. Kerala has been affected by global warming very severely in the past few years with heavy rainfall, flooding and landslides visiting her every year during the monsoon. Seeing that positive steps are being taken in the state to tackle climate change is an inspiration to the rest of the country. I also take personal pride since I am from Kerala. Aditya’s success and recognition is testimony to the fact that clean energy is the solution that we have to adopt to rewrite the climate change narrative. I speak to the man himself to learn more about his story and his vision for the future.     
Feeding front line workers in NYC, Boston and the Bay area during the COVID-19 crisisSupporting small businesses and local kitchens in the US at the same time. Working tirelessly to help millions of displaced migrant workers in India. These are some of the things the team at American India Foundation(AIF), a nonprofit American organization involved in accelerating social and economic change in India are doing during this pandemic.Tune in to listen to Nishant Pandey, CEO of American India Foundation, talk about the work AIF is doing during the crisis and the biggest challenges migrant workers face. Most importantly, he shares ways in which you can help. Follow AIF's work on social media:FacebookTwitterYoutubeInstagramFollow Nishant on Twitter:@nishant_AIF
This week I interview Phara Policar, an exceptional person who is a volunteer at New York Cares, a Lupus advocate and a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children. A little bit about New York Cares - They launched their relief effort in March with over 2,500 volunteers who have spent a combined 7,500 hours on 439 projects.   Their services include phone banking and food packing and distribution projects.  They conduct calls to seniors and other vulnerable citizens, to check in on their well-being and to ensure that they have access to vital items like food and medicine.   NYCARES also recently launched virtual learning projects to allow volunteers to continue to support New York City students remotely.Prospective volunteers can visit for more information on how to sign up and for a listing of current project availability.  Phara was also a guest speaker at the United Nations 2018 Global State of Volunteerism Report.   
On Nelson Mandela's 102nd bday, Heroes of New York, remembers one of the greatest heroes of our times and how he endured a lockdown like no other in history. Listen to this 10 minutes special, where I take you through three key lessons from Nelson Mandela's time in prison. 00:02:07  Time bound goals00:03:15  Power of positive habits00:06:14  Forgive and let goTo learn more about building habits that stick, listen to Joshua Spodek's interview on my show 
Fiona Stokes, Assistant Nurse Manager and healthcare hero, contracts the COVID herself after nursing several patients infected by the virus. This is the story of how Jonathan Angelilli, an energy medicine practitioner used Qingong - an ancient form of energy medicine - to heal Fiona and is helping many other healthcare workers in NYC for free. Jonathan is a hero to healthcare workers, like Fiona, who are working day and night to heal COVID patients while putting their own lives at risk. Jonathan and Fiona also share a beautiful connection, one which they share with our listeners right at the end of this conversation! Jonathan Angelilli is a New Yorker, personal wellness expert, pioneer of holistic fitness, and 2x American Ninja Warrior (NBC). He’s been empowering students through health movement for 20 years, has a Bachelor of Science from NYU and a minor in Gender Studies, as well as thirteen fitness certifications. Jonathan completed a 3 year program in Medical Qigong through the Institute of Traditional Medicine (Toronto) in 2016 and has been featured as fitness and tai chi expert on network television (ABC, FOX), is a published author (Harper Collins).Qigong is an ancient form of energy medicine that uses mindful movement, touch, and sound to heal the body-mind.Jonathan runs free energy medicine classes for NYC health care workers and first responders. The program is called Energy Medicine for Heroes. Since April, he has raised over $5,003 and offered over 100 free sessions to health care heroes. Fiona Stokes is an Assistant Nurse Manager, with over 30 years of work experience, at a large health care facility. She assists with the management of a 33 bed Medical unit and a 12 bed Ventilator unit. She has received numerous awards and recognition throughout her career.Read more about Jonathan's work - Energy Medicine for Heroes
Food can transcend boundaries. It can unite people irrespective of their background. And it can bring healing and nourishment to both who serve and who are served. This is the story of Brandi Covington - cofounder of Cooking With Corey and Poonam VK - cofounder and CEO of Saavor, who joined hands to serve meals to healthcare workers during the pandemic in NYC. In this episode, Brandi Covington - cofounder of Cooking with Corey - shares her struggles as an entrepreneur and small business owner in NYC during the lockdown that forced many businesses to shut down. Brandi talks about what motivates her and how she managed to keep her business afloat while serving health care workers at the same time.I also talk to Poonam Kumar, cofounder and CEO of Saavor - a marketplace and mobile application platform connecting local chefs and food companies to their community - who started a fundraiser during the lockdown to support meals for healthcare workers. She and Brandi partnered to serve and deliver to many hospitals around the city. Brandi operates out of The Entrepreneur Space, which is a food and business  incubator in Long Island City, NY. They provide a home to emerging businesses at a reasonable cost. During Covid-19 they have worked on keeping the foodpreneurs up and running by working with the Queens Borough President's Office to Fuel the Frontlines, feeding the hospital workers in the hardest hit areas, such as Queens, New York. The total number of meals the foodpreneurs served frontline workers thus far is 1,625.To learn more about Brandi's business:info@cookingwithcorey.comInstagram: cooking_with_coreyWebsite: To learn more about Saavor: Instagram : saavornowWebsite :
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