“If you can’t feed a hundred people then just feed one.” Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Philoxenia reads like a love story – a relationship between ordinary people who care and the homeless and hungry – that started slowly and grew over time into a passionate need to serve the less fortunate.
Our organization is an outgrowth of a movement started about 10 years ago when a group of church members from Westchester County decided to drive into New York City and feed the people we call our “guests.”
It grew into a larger undertaking as new volunteers joined us from every walk of life.
Philoxenia was established as a stand-alone non-profit 501(c)3 organization to reach even more people who want to help through volunteering and/or donations.
Philoxenia – the Greek word for “friend to the stranger” – expresses the heart of our mission: to feed and clothe the hungry and the homeless.
We provide thousands of much-needed clothing items and toiletries to our guests on 33rd Street. No matter the weather, the time of year or the challenges presented to us, an ever-growing group of volunteers and the homeless themselves, happily serve some 125 meals every month.
The homeless, are our inspiration and they keep us going back. We offer them sustenance for their bodies and a compassionate ear. And they offer us a small window into their lives and a continuing desire to demonstrate that we care for them. So many lessons have been learned along the way and perhaps there is no greater one than that the homeless are people just like you and me.
We have learned that the homeless have resolve and the fortitude to figure out every single day how they will eat, stay dry, stay warm, scrape together a few dollars, find shelter, and stay safe.
Every Friday morning after the monthly visit to New York, our Founder and President, Despina Kartson, sends a note to the volunteers with the stories of the homeless served the night before. The stories are both humbling and inspiring.
The proceeds from the book and any donations to Philoxenia will go directly to helping the homeless.
We hope that you will join us in our mission, with the understanding that very little separates us from their experiences – a lost job, a missed mortgage payment, a devastating illness that rips through our finances.
Our friends on the streets have shown us that it is not our place to judge them and to humbly acknowledge, “there but for the grace of God go I.”