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In the Giving Season, Some Step Forward



Local “givers” in this photo took five minutes away from their work for this beautiful pre-Thanksgiving Day portrait, but as Michael Siekiem Kortom McKinney, 36 (left), said — and all here agree, “True giving is not about photo ops.” 

Ironically there is no photo record of what each person accomplished over the last few days in tribute to this season of giving.   But memories for the hundreds they are impacting, this season, will be fresh for many years to come. 

From left, McKinney, a community-youth empowerment advocate who grew up on Lexington Avenue, gave away a hundred turkeys and bags of produce on November 18; Herbert Von King Park’s Neversee Davis, special events coordinator, and Charlotte Mial, volunteer culinary instructor, coordinated Von King’s annual afternoon dinner event for the homeless, working poor and neighborhood residents, complete with the Brooklyn Repertory Ensemble, a 16-piece orchestra directed by Wade Barnes and featuring star vocalist Tulivu and the presence of royalty, the elder Mama Amy Olatunji; Lisa Everett, director, Human Services & Community Development, NEBHDC, hosted and cooked- with the aid of Golden Harvest Food Pantry coordinator Frances Wright  (unpictured)  Thanksgiving “wish-dish” dinners for area  residents.

Volunteer Tara Talib (far right) is the face of countless volunteers, who show up, grab aprons and support feeding efforts in schools like CS21-Crispus Attucks School; soup kitchens like Bread and Life on Lexington Avenue; churches like First Corinthian Baptist, across the street from Von King (see photo, above right); and centers throughout New York City, then return to do the same in the fall of the next year.

But the story does not stop there.  The folks in this photo met each other last Saturday (21), and have moved quickly to set up future working partnerships.  After all, that is how community advocates thrive: they constantly think about what more they can do to support the community, and  hurdle  lack-of-fund challenges and cutbacks (as Von King has experienced  for the first Thanksgiving in many years).


McKinney arrived early Saturday, before heading to work, to donate bags of potatoes and cabbage —  left over from his Wednesday turkey giveaway — to Everett’s pantry and Von King’s kitchen.  Those meetings quickly turned into discussions about future joint initiatives and partnerships, including McKinney’s offer of children’s books for Davis’ Von King Christmas toy giveaway.  (So on December 13, Davis’ efforts to “push” knowledge first, play second for school-age children later will be reinforced by McKinney’s donations and keynote to parents).

Among other planned projects activated that day, McKinney and Magnolia Tree Earth Center Project Director Andrea Brathwaite will develop a motivational program for youth empowerment spearheaded by McKinney.

Generosity of heart and spirit, as martial arts instructor Master Sabu of the Humble Arts School of Martial Arts says on page 6, does not take a rest; it is ongoing, day-to-day, an art form.  

Our Time Press applauds all who facilitated the success of these grassroots initiatives, including, among so many, the tireless Ms. Rachel Smith and family, Bruce Guarino of Guarino Sons, Restoration Corp., the Lafayette Avenue Builders’ Block Association,  NEBHDCo.’s Golden Harvest Food Pantry volunteers Julia Whidbee and Betty Baxter, Miss Tammy, Mr. Lemuel Mial …

And that 16-piece orchestra truly worked the moment at Von King, evoking the meaning of the day with their controlled, moving version — and vocalist Tulivu’s poignant rendition — of Thom Bell/Linda Creed’s “People Make the World Go Round.”                                                                            Also, Happy Thanksgiving Birthday to euphoniumist Kiane Zawadi!               


                        – Bernice Elizabeth Green

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