New Yorkers walk past countless homeless people on a daily basis. Sadly, many turn a blind eye as they scurry past, while others give a few coins or dollars when they can, but one Queens resident aims to do much more — and he needs your help.
“Recovering activist” Mickey Zezima, who works as a personal trainer and writer, has been helping homeless women by giving them vital necessities like feminine products, clothing, food, water and more.
“Homeless women are virtually invisible in the city,” Zezima told Metro. “The men, they yell at you, they’ll sing, they’ll dance, they’ll coerce you into a donation. Women, they have to go looking for them. The same dynamics of male supremacy play out.”
In October, after more than a year of buying supplies out of his own pocket, Zezima started a GoFundMe page called Helping Homeless Women and has so far raised more than $5,500 of his $12,000 goal.
We asked Zezima how it got started, about those who may question his intentions and why he won’t work with the city.
Metro: How did Helping Homeless Women come about?
Mickey Zezima: As a white man, I try my best to do the type of work that challenges the privileges I have. I thought that this is an avenue I can put my heart and soul into and make an immediate difference.
How did you decide to start the GoFundMe page?
In October, my friend did a play, and there were a lot of snacks leftover. I was walking to the train with her, and there was a homeless women sitting there. We gave her the leftover food, and I said out loud, “I’m going to make this official.”
How do you go about approaching these homeless women?
I do my best to be super respectful because I’m figuring, as many have later told me, that many are homeless due to issues like domestic abuse, and they don’t need some strange man walking up to them.
If they have a sign that says they’re looking for help, I feel I have the OK to introduce myself. There have been times when I’ve politely offered something, and they very aggressively told me to get lost. I move on because they have enough hardship in their life, they don’t need me pushing.
Where do you focus your efforts?
I stick to mostly Manhattan, from Midtown down to Union Square. Homeless men are everywhere. Women tend to stay in the busiest areas.
What would you say to those who may question your intentions?
I have no ulterior motive, and the most important person to trust me, these women, trusts me and confides in me and tells me what they need. But I totally respect anyone asking questions and wouldn’t take it personally because I recognize the world we live in.
Have you thought about working with the city or becoming a nonprofit?
The second one. The thought of working with a city bureaucracy is hard to image it would be a productive situation. But I really think that for the benefit of what I do and the women I help, I need to be more official at some point soon, then the obvious advantage would be people would be more willing to give.
I didn’t know what to expect when I started. I didn’t even have a long-term plan — I just wanted to be useful.
For more info or to make a donation, visit gofundme.com/helphomelesswomennyc.