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Organization Information

St. John's Bread and Life Program


Since its founding in 1982, Bread & Life has become one of the largest providers of emergency food and social services in NYC. Today, the agency provides three thousand men, women, children and families with healthy meals and services each day.

Real Life


A blond pony tail frames a face that is at once warm and intelligent. Known simply as "Uptown Blondie," she lived in a Bronx homeless shelter before moving in with a roommate. The move was a traumatic one, as her new living partner stole her clothes but not her fiercely won dignity. Uptown's shelter experience brought her into contact with women who survive on city streets through prostitution and often abuse drugs and alcohol daily. Necessity became a breeding ground for innovation.
"By selling newspapers, I found I could earn fifty to sixty dollars a day," states Uptown. "I knew I was on to something in terms of a way out of poverty for myself and other women." Uptown's astuteness now allows her and a growing band of women to take charge of their lives and earn much needed dollars. "The beauty of what we do is that women can work three hours a day and still take care of their kids or go to school," she asserts. With the help of friendly newspaper distributors Uptown and a dozen other women provide newspapers to a growing number of clients. Distinctive smocks allow customers to easily spot them on city street corners. Their entrepreneurship demonstrates women can escape from shelters, gain empowerment and build stability. Uptown's future plans include getting a car for paper transport. Thanks to her, a growing band of impoverished women now make poverty, hopelessness and despair yesterday's news.

--Guy Arseneau