News / USA

NYT, Readers Work to Lessen Suffering

Hip Hop pioneer
Hip Hop pioneer "LA Sunshine" of battled his way back from decades suicidal depression, drug abuse and loneliness only to hit with "an avalanche" of legal difficulties that prevented him from working in his chosen field - and paying his rent. The Childre
Adam Phillips
Every holiday season since 1911, The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund has published short profiles of everyday New Yorkers who have fallen on hard times through poverty, addiction, disease or simple bad luck.  The Times has solicited contributions from readers to help the needy through selected charitable agencies.  
Even a casual glance out the office window of Michael Golden, who administers The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, reveals a city that has changed almost beyond recognition in the 102 years since publisher Adolph Ochs informally began the Fund by offering a beggar a job at the newspaper.  

"But that fund still holds a dear place in our hearts, because this is a city of contrasts, of magnificent opportunities and some very difficult living," said Golden.

Golden says the range of people helped by the Fund has broadened over recent decades to include people who are either in the middle class or striving to be there.

"…and who have suddenly hit something in their lives that means they’ve got a severe problem that could derail them from the track their life has been on," he said.

Examples abound.

Manpriya Samar, for example, was within reach of her college degree when she developed acute appendicitis that nearly killed her.  With no health insurance, medical bills soon overwhelmed her.  The Community Service Society, one of seven agencies supported by the Neediest Cases Fund, helped her pay off her creditors and start fresh.  

After some success as one of New York’s Hip-Hop pioneers, "LA Sunshine" went through many years of suicidal depression, drug abuse and loneliness, yet was building a life for himself in the youth development field. Suddenly, he was caught in what he terms an “avalanche” of legal troubles, including a $35,000 bill for unpaid child support.

Sunshine fell far behind in his rent, but was saved from homelessness by the Children’s Aid Society. He is grateful for the help, although he says he gets "flak" within the Hip Hop community, which prides itself on its "do it yourself" bravado.

"Because why would I put myself out there and be so candid and transparent as far as me being in the situation that I am in.  I refuse to let anything make me stumble again.  Me finally coming from that dark space that I’ve been in, I’m going to keep tripping but I am going to keep getting up.  That’s what you’re supposed to when you fall.  So I was very relieved," said "LA Sunshine.

When her daughter became unable to care for her children due to mental illness, Mable Moody retired early to care for her grandchildren, hoping to get a part-time job.  But a job was hard to find and soon, when funding for Milibank, a local after-school program was cut,  Moody found herself in dire straits and humbled.

"I needed extra money for food, clothing that they need, and light bills. So one day I went into Milbank and talked to the assistant director and told her my story. And therefore what she did was apply for New York Times funding for people that’s in need.  But… it’s not very easy for me.  I don’t like handouts.  I like to be self-sufficient," said Moody.

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund has collected nearly a quarter of a billion dollars over its 102-year life. When asked why he and so many New Yorkers love the Fund, Michael Golden said simply, "It just makes you feel good."

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs