Mount Morris valedictorian: Hard work at school and family business prompts success – Democrat & Chronicle

Mount Morris valedictorian: Hard work at school and family business prompts success

by: Mary Chao

Along the main route that leads into Mount Morris, New Mun Yuen Chinese Restaurant sits in a dated strip plaza with a Save-A-Lot supermarket as an anchor. Its outdoor signage is faded with age, matching the vintage of the plaza. Inside the restaurant, the Lin family and their six children are scattered about, with dad Din Zhao Lin handling the wok duties, stir frying Chinese American dishes such as sesame chicken, while his wife Li Feng Chen prepares the orders.

Life at the Chinese restaurant is the bane of Nelly Lin’s existence since arriving in Mount Morris 12 years ago. The family had lived on the lower east side of Manhattan when they saw an ad in the Chinese newspaper World Journal for a takeout restaurant in a small town in upstate New York. Weary from working until midnight and not seeing their kids, Lin and his wife decided to give life in a new area a chance. They arrived in the Livingston County town not knowing any one, with minimal English skills, and hoping for a better life for their children. Mun Yuen means abundant sources in Chinese and it was the family’s hope that their new hometown would be filled with prosperity.

Nelly, 18, the oldest of the children, didn’t speak English when her young life was uprooted from New York’s Chinatown brimming with new immigrants. But with help from her teachers and through sheer determination, she will graduate as valedictorian of Mount Morris High School on June 25, walking down the aisle to receive her diploma as the first in her family to attend college as she is bound for the State University of New York at Geneseo.

12 hour days, 364 days a year

In many ways, the Lins are akin to other Chinese immigrants: Work and save to open a takeout restaurant that requires minimal English language skills and hope that the second generation will fare better. Life is not easy for these families or their children. Instead of Little League or recitals, free time is spent at the restaurant helping the family business. There are no weekends or holidays off. The Lins work 364 days a year, 12 hours a day, with the only day off being Thanksgiving. In order to make enough money at a small takeout, they do not hire additional help.

The Lin children arrive at the restaurant after school and work on their school projects and play games with each other. Five more girls followed Nelly: Linda, 16; Ian, 13; Anna, 11; Holly, 10 and Monica, 7.

As the eldest, Nelly takes charge of her sisters’ care in addition to her duties at the family restaurant and school. Education is serious business for Nelly as she realizes that it’s the path to a life outside restaurants.

“They’re always emphasizing education,” Nelly said of her parents.

Both her parents are from the Fuzhou province of China, where there was a big influx of immigration in the 1990s, after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in China gave them enhanced consideration for asylum. Chen arrived in 1995 and her husband Lin arrived in 1997, meeting in the restaurant industry in New York. There was little work in Fuzhou back then, Chen, 43, said in Mandarin Chinese. She paid a syndicate $40,000 for transport to the United States and blended into a sea of immigrants in New York working in the back end of restaurants.

Chen met her husband while both working at a restaurant in Manhattan. Nelly was born in Brooklyn but the family moved to the Chinatown area. Chen worried that her daughters weren’t picking up English in an ethnic neighborhood and hated having to work until midnight and not seeing her children. The restaurant in Mount Morris was within their financial reach and was a way to reconnect with her kids. The long work days are not ideal, but at least the entire family is together, she said.

“We are happy as a family,” Chen said in Chinese.

Life in a small town

The town of Mount Morris on the edge of the popular Letchworth State Park has a population of 4,465 as of the 2010 Census. More than 95 percent of residents are Caucasian and less than one percent are Asian.  The Lin family do not know any other Chinese families in town.

Getting to the top of the class wasn’t easy for Nelly as her parents could do little to help with her homework since they speak very little English. She would arrive at school early to get the extra tutoring she needed, asking teachers before class started.

“She is one of the most hardworking, conscientious people I’ve ever met,” said Becky Chenaille, principal of Mount Morris High School. “She is very self-motivated.”

Twenty-six percent of the students in the school district are English-language learners, mostly from Puerto Rico, she said. The school district is cognizant of the needs of English as Second Language students and has three ESL teachers on staff to ensure they succeed.

Nelly Lin has an incredible work ethic, overcoming the obstacles of being an English-language learner, said Ryan Humphrey, who was her eighth-grade living environment teacher and her 11th-grade chemistry teacher.

“It seemed as if she never could learn enough and always wanted to know more. She always wanted to know what she could do better or how to improve. These types of maturity and motivation are something I hadn’t seen very often, let alone in an eighth- grader,” Humphrey said.

As an 11th grader, she was taking regents chemistry, with many seniors and other accelerated classmates.

“She had the strongest work ethic out of all the students and that paid off with the highest chemistry Regents score that year for her class,” Humphrey added.  “I will never forget Nelly asking two months before the Regents exam asking if she can have some practice exams to get a head start. Mind you, Nelly would find time for all of this extra studying and reviewing while helping run the family restaurant.“

The motivation to be a high academic achiever while helping her family does come with personal sacrifices. Nelly was in the chorus in ninth grade but dropped out to focus on her studies.

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Senate to consider bill prohibiting housing discrimination against LGBT people – housingwire.com

Senate to consider bill prohibiting housing discrimination against LGBT people

Would expand Fair Housing Act to cover gender identity and sexual orientation

by: Ben Lane

Currently, the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability, but that could soon change thanks to a newly introduced bill backed by several prominent Senate Democrats.

The bill, the Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2017, would expand the Fair Housing Act to cover gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes.

he push to expand the protections of the Fair Housing Act is being led by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, who spent much of his pre-political career as a fair housing attorney.

Also backing the bill are Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin; Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass; Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire; Patrick Leahy, I-Vermont; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; Ron Wyden, D-Oregon; Ed Markey, D-Mass, Al Franken, D-Minn; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon; Corey Booker, D-New Jersey, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn; Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

The legislation is a companion bill to a similar bipartisan action introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year by Reps. Scott Taylor, R-Virginia; and Brad Schneider, D-Illinois, which is still in subcommittee.

Adding gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes would ensure equal housing opportunities for all Americans, Kaine said.

“As a former civil rights attorney who focused on fair housing, I learned that a house is more than just an object. It’s part of the very definition of who you are as a person and is central to every American’s life,” Kaine said.

“Because of incomplete protections in federal housing law, LGBT Americans can face discrimination when they try to buy or rent a home, just because of who they are,” Kaine added.

“This is about equality, and no American should be turned away from a home they love because of who they love,” Kaine said. “I would like to thank Rep. Taylor for his leadership on this issue, as well as all the civil rights attorneys out there fighting for justice on this issue every day.”

Of the bills, Taylor said that expanding the Fair Housing Act would ensure equal protection for all Americans.

“This bill protects and codifies a fundamental American principle: fairness, respect, and equal treatment under the law,” Taylor said. “Nobody should face discrimination about where they live because of who they love.”

Adding the federal protections is critically important, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans.”

Currently, only 20 states along with the District of Columbia explicitly outlaw housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, while another two states ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“This patchwork of protections leaves millions of LGBTQ people vulnerable,” the Human Rights Campaign said.

In a statement, Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy celebrated the bill.

“In far too many places across the country, LGBTQ people are at risk of being denied housing or kicked out of their homes just because of who they are,” Stacy said.

“What side of a state line you live on should not determine your ability to find a place to live without fear of discrimination,” Stacy added. “We thank Senator Tim Kaine for his continued leadership working to end unjust discrimination against LGBTQ people.”

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5 things to know about Verizon’s Pittsford cell tower plan – Democrat & Chronicle

5 things to know about Verizon’s Pittsford cell tower plan

by: Sarah Taddeo

Verizon Wireless is looking to erect a cell tower behind a Pittsford church, sending some neighbors into an uproar about possible ill effects of the building project. Here’s what you need to know about the proposed tower before a town public hearing on Monday.

Where is it being proposed?

The approximately 100-foot tower, which will be disguised as a tree, is proposed for a small backyard plot of land owned by the United Church of Pittsford, on State Route 64, or South Main Street, just south of the village. The church owns the land, which is zoned Residential Neighborhood, and Verizon would lease the plot with the intention of building a tower that would be used  by several mobile phone service carriers.

Why is a cell tower needed?

The new equipment will improve the quality of life for those living, working and traveling in Pittsford by helping them connect to Verizon’s cell network, according to an emailed statement from Verizon.

Jimmy Reader, pastor of United Church of Pittsford, said many congregation members have experienced cell reception issues in the general area.

“We feel it’s good for the community because most of us have a really hard time having good connection with Verizon,” he said. A Verizon service map provided with the tower application shows several sparsely covered spots south and east of Pittsford village.

What’s the process of approval?

Church members heard about the concept several years ago, when Verizon was looking for a new tower location in Pittsford, said Reader. There are at least four cell reception antennas or towers in the immediate town/village area, based on the Verizon coverage map, and there are 13 total cell towers in the Town of Pittsford, said Town Supervisor Bill Smith.

The congregation voted unanimously to allow Verizon to build on church property in early 2016, said Reader, but the project application, submitted to the town last month, needs approval from the Planning Board to move forward.

The tower proposal is different from other development proposals in that tower siting is regulated under federal law, said Smith.

Essentially, the town can’t regulate in a way that would prohibit Verizon from providing cell service to the area. The town must then work with the provider to find a suitable location for a cell tower or antenna in a general area within a reasonable amount of time — in this case, 150 days from when the application is submitted — to ensure proper cell coverage, said Smith.

Board members can raise concerns about a specific site and ask Verizon to provide information about other site options, which they’ve already done in this case.

If the board denies this application, it must provide substantiated reasons in writing. Because the board asked Verizon to clarify pieces of the application, the 150-day clock has been put on hold until the board’s questions are addressed, said Smith.

What do neighbors think?

Several nearby residents feel the installation and its accompanying infrastructure could disrupt the neighborhood.

Mary Carafos, who lives on South Main Street across from the church, said neighbors didn’t get enough notice about the project, though legal notices appeared in the local newspaper and on the town website. Several colorful signs dot her front yard in view of the road, emblazoned with sayings like “No Cell Tower” and offering project information to passers-by.

Verizon is looking to place the tower in a residential neighborhood, while some other area towers are in industrial or agricultural settings, she said. “There’s got to be a better location for it,” she said.

Melissa Peets, whose yard backs up to the church parking lot, said she’s worried about noise emitting from generators that may be installed with the tower, and the effect the whole project could have on local wildlife. She added that she’s never experienced Verizon reception issues in the neighborhood.

What’s next?

A public hearing is planned for the proposal at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the auditorium at Pittsford Sutherland High School, 55 Sutherland Street. The town will hear public comment as part of its continued review of the application.

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Companies taking the heat off homeless families in Rochester – 13wham.com

Companies taking the heat off homeless families in Rochester

by: WHAM

Brighton, N.Y. (WHAM) – A group that provides emergency housing for those in need got some help Tuesday with summer in mind.

TemPro, an outreach arm of Temple B’rith Kodesh provides temporary housing for homeless men, women and families in Rochester.

 Johnstone Supply and Friedrich Air Conditioning teamed up Tuesday to provide TemPro with air conditioning units for its 11 housing units in the Marketview Heights neighborhood.

“This is a project right up our alley,” said Ken Livingston, who works with Johnstone Supply. “Not only is it an opportunity to provide cooling and serve a community that’s in need, but we are also providing them with an energy efficient solution. These are Energy Star- and all using the latest refrigerant out there to lower global warming. That means lower operating costs.”

Jerry Zakalik, president of TemPro, said he is glad to see homeless people in Rochester getting some much-needed attention.

“Homelessness is a major concern in this area. It takes organizations and individual efforts to chip in together to see if we can help and provide for them.”

TemPro helps about 150 families each year.

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California homeless veterans move into apartment built from recycled shipping containers – www.foxnews.com

California homeless veterans move into apartment built from recycled shipping containers

An apartment complex built entirely of recycled shipping containers in California is providing shelter for homeless veterans.

Potter’s Lane, located in Midway City, Calif., was built by the American Family Housing, a nonprofit organization that provides shelter and assistance to those in need, according to its website.

Potter’s Lane is the first multi-family structure to be built entirely from recovered shipping containers – but it will not be the last. In November, Los Angeles residents voted and approved a $1.2 billion bond to construct shelters for the homeless, according to the Los Angeles Times. There are plans to build more sustainable complexes.

The $1,200 per month rent is largely subsidized, Steven Forry, American Family Housing’s chief development officer, told CBS News.

Sixteen studio apartments were built from 48 recycled shipping containers. The complex, which took six months to complete, was purposely made small so the residents can connect with one another.

“When you’re dealing with people who have been homeless and you warehouse them in 300 units, you are not creating a safety net for people, you are not creating a human connection with people,” Forry said. “The concept here is called housing first. Find a home for them like we found here and then you surround them with social services.”

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With more flooding at hand, shoreline aid is on the way – Democrat & Chronicle

With more flooding at hand, shoreline aid is on the way

by: Steve Orr

Note: This story contains updated information received Monday afternoon from state officials.

As residents of the Lake Ontario shoreline prepare for yet another round of flooding, word has arrived that government aid is on the way.

State aid to lakeshore residents whose homes have been damaged by the record high water could begin flowing in a couple of weeks.

Federal assistance is being offered as well, though one element sought by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — aid to help rebuild battered breakwalls — has turned out to be a non-starter.

The water level in Lake Ontario has been far above normal since March, with the worst erosion and flooding taking place when strong northerly winds push larger waves toward the south shore.

At least 10 such episodes have occurred along the shoreline.

What could be the worst one yet, with waves of up to 6 feet slamming the shore in Monroe, Orleans and Niagara counties, is forecast for late Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service issued a lakeshore flood warning for those three counties, effective at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Hundreds of property owners in shoreline communities have already suffered damage to homes from surging water or the pounding action of waves.

Cuomo visited hard-hit Edgemere Drive in Greece last Monday to inspect flood damage and to announce that the state would make $7 million in grant money available to help shoreline home owners repair structural damage to homes and cottages.

Four established nonprofit housing groups already have been enlisted to administer the program — taking in claims from homeowners, overseeing the work and seeing to it that funds are disbursed.

State officials say they are fast-tracking the Lake Ontario recovery program and money could begin flowing to contractors and homeowners in a matter of weeks.

 ““The governor is committed to making this $7 million in assistance available to homeowners as quickly and easily as possible,” said Jamie Rubin, Cuomo’s state operations director. This initiative builds on the more than $20 million the state has provided to Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River communities since flooding began.”

Cuomo also said last Monday that he had asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help residents rebuild or improve breakwalls and the strategically placed boulders known as riprap.

Many of the protective structures have been damaged or destroyed by waves over the last three months. Many others have been shown to be inadequate for water that has been as much as 3 feet above the long-term average.

Three new virtual reality adventures each week.

But Corps of Engineers officials, who have just released details of the planning and construction aid they can provide to address future flooding, say their mission is to protect public infrastructure, not private homes.

“We don’t do work for private property,” spokesman Michael Izard-Carroll said Monday.

The Corps has no objection if a project to protect public infrastructure incidentally helps nearby private owners too, he said.

In the spring and summer of 1973, the Corps of Engineers did a considerable amount of work to bolster shoreline protection of private land, placing stone-filled wire baskets or piles of boulders along 11 sections of shoreline in Monroe County alone.

Many current lakeshore residents remember that work, or have heard about it, and many have peppered Corps’ officials with requests that they perform similar work now.

But the situation in 1973 was different, Izard-Carroll noted. Water was high throughout the Great Lakes the previous winter and shoreline flooding was anticipated in many locations, allowing the Corps to tap flood-prevention funds.

That was not possible this time around, when the water level spiked in March with no forewarning.

“As far as the collective memory goes, people know the Corps did something (in 1973),” he said. “But they don’t know how to distinguish between different programs.”

The Corps has provided technical assistance to state and local governments to help with the current flooding, but is shifting to a forward-looking mode.

The Corps could, for instance, provide design and construction funding for work to protect against future flooding of public infrastructure such as roads and sewer systems and to protect against future erosion or damage to public shoreline.

It also can help communities develop long-term plans to guard against future high-water episodes.

State or local governments must share the cost of those undertakings.

Those same local governments will take the lead in the $7 million program announced by Cuomo to help shoreline residents recover from flooding.

Some highlights of how that program will work, provided by state officials:

  • Four nonprofits will oversee the program. In Monroe and Wayne counties, it will be Sheen Housing; in Orleans, it’s Pathstone.
  • Homeowners will file claims with those nonprofits, which will assess each claim, determine if the work is eligible and help identify contractors to do the work. The nonprofits also inspect the work and certify that it was done correctly.
  • Reimbursement is available for work already done. Capable homeowners can do the work themselves and seek reimbursement for material costs.
  • The nonprofits can keep up to 10 percent of awards to cover overhead.
  • Homeowners are eligible for up to $40,000 for work that is not covered by insurance except for seniors, for whom there is no cap. But the maximum grant is adjusted for income. For instance, assistance to a two-person household in Monroe County with annual income over $82,300 would be capped at $25,000.

Whether $7 million will cover all the claims filed by residents in eight shoreline counties remains to be seen.

A bill passed in the state Senate would provide $20 million in damage-recovery aid for residents, and one pending in the state Assembly would provide $40 million for that purpose.

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Stop mold from lurking in your basement “WHY DO I GET MOLD IN MY BASEMENT?” – Democrat & Chronicle

Stop mold from lurking in your basement

“WHY DO I GET MOLD IN MY BASEMENT?”

“Why do I get mold in my basement?”

For Paul Wagner, owner of Comprehensive Mold Management in Rochester, it’s one of the most common questions he gets.

Wagner says it comes down to two main problems: too much humidity, and ground-water drainage issues.

For the first problem, Wagner advises customers to use a good dehumidifier to keep the basement’s humidity levels below 45 percent.

That usually leads to the next common question: “Do I need to run my basement dehumidifier all the time?”

The answer is, “Yes.”

A good quality dehumidifier like the Santé Fe Classic (see this blog on choosing a dehumidifier) can be set to a 45 percent relative humidity. Once set, the unit will shut off when it doesn’t need to run.

If you don’t run a dehumidifier in your basement on a regular basis, all of your belongings in the basement will take on moisture. With the lack of air flow and the high levels of moisture found in basements, your belongings will take on a musty smell and mold growth.

It’s important to have a dehumidifier that’s large enough for the size of your basement and the amount of belongings you have. Wagner says that Comprehensive Mold Management can help determine the correct size of dehumidifier for your basement.

A lack of good drainage around the foundation of your house is a more complicated problem. It can be caused by all sorts of issues: ineffective drain tile, the lack of a sump pump and/or drain tile, clogged gutters, or the negative pitch of the soil to the foundation are just a few of them.

Using the right coatings on the block walls is key. They should be guaranteed mold-proof.

Mold needs two things to grow: a food source and moisture. If the wrong type of coating is on the block walls and there is poor drainage, mold will grow on the block walls. That wrong paint or coating actually becomes a food source for the mold, which forms from excess moisture behind your walls or under floors.

If the wrong product is applied to wet walls, you might also get peeling paint. Any drainage issues should always be addressed before mold-proof coatings are applied.

“At Comprehensive Mold Management, we also advise limiting the amount of belongings stored in your basement,” says Wagner. Too much stuff will limit airflow, making it much more difficult to remove moisture. And if those objects already have mold on them, the mold levels can rise much higher.

Worse, if those existing mold spores in your basement are disturbed from, say, moving boxes or attempting to clean the mold yourself without proper containment, you risk cross-contaminating your entire home. All it takes is your furnace or air-conditioning unit to blow the mold through vents, or even you walking moldy items up your stairs for disposal.

“It’s always better to err on the side of caution and call a mold expert to evaluate your basement before moving or cleaning anything,” Wagner says.

Of course, basement flooding is the ultimate moisture problem. Knowing in advance what to do is your best defense, so keeps these tips in mind:

  • Electrocution is always a danger! Be sure your electricity is turned off before venturing into the water-laden area.
  • Call a plumber. If the flood is severe, also call a specialist or your local fire department to help with the water removal.
  • Call your insurance company to check on your flood coverage.
  • Wear protective clothing such as masks and gloves.
  • Dry out water-soaked items to prevent any mold growth, which can appear quickly if not addressed.
  • Keep an itemized list of your belongings.
  • Wash and dry those items immediately after use.
  • Remove rugs or pull them completely back from the wet area, drying the wet portions of the fabric with a fan or carpet extractor.
  • Rent a carpet-cleaning vacuum/extractor to pull the water from rugs.
  • Provide as much ventilation as possible.
  • Run a dehumidifier continuously until the space is fully dried out and beyond.
  • Run fans to assist in drying out the space and your belongings.
  • Make sure there is no structural damage to your foundation.
  • Keep an eye on the space for a few weeks to check on continued dampness.

For more information, visit the website at www.compmold.com.

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Average US 30-year mortgage rate slips to 3.94 percent – Washington Post

Average US 30-year mortgage rate slips to 3.94 percent

by:  Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates were flat to slightly lower this week, as the key 30-year rate marked a new low for the year.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans slipped to 3.94 percent from 3.95 percent last week. The rate stood at 3.66 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent in 2016, the lowest level in records dating to 1971.

The rate on 15-year mortgages held steady from last week at 3.19 percent.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged this week at 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year loans also held steady at 0.5 point.

 Rates on adjustable five-year loans rose to 3.11 percent from 3.07 percent last week. The fee increased to 0.5 point from 0.4 point.
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New homeless shelter as nice as health club – Democrat & Chronicle

New homeless shelter as nice as health club

By: Erica Bryant

On the walls of the kitchen of the old House of Mercy, there hung three or four paintings of Jesus eating with his disciples. And a sign that read, “A good friend will bail you out of jail. A true friend will be sitting next to you saying ‘damn that was fun!’”

CW Earsley is in charge of the kitchen and he hung the sign. Sister Grace Miller, the sister of Mercy who founded this homeless shelter, wasn’t one to object. Since opening the first House of Mercy in 1985, she has been to jail several times for protesting on behalf of the poor.

On Sunday, Sister Grace was trying to dispel rumors concerning the homeless shelter’s imminent move to a sparkling, newly renovated building on Ormond Street.

The spirit of the House, she said over and over, would stay the same. Homeless people may stay as long as they need. The House will never turn anyone away.

Meanwhile, volunteer chefs prepared the last lunch — turkey, pork loin, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy — to be served out of the Hudson Avenue facility. Many of them, like Douglass Johnson, know what it feels like to be homeless and in need of a hot meal. “I give my time to the House because they gave their time to me,” he said, chopping red peppers. “When nobody else would.”

Earsley usually runs the kitchen on Sundays, but he was busy preparing for the move so Smokey Williams was the boss. After Williams’ home in Louisiana got washed away in Hurricane Katrina, he came to Rochester. When FEMA aid ran out, he ended up at the House of Mercy and asked to help out in the kitchen. “I like to eat and I’ll work for my food,” he said. Williams is back on his feet now, but he kept volunteering and now runs the kitchen most of the time.

On Sunday, he passed out tasks to people like Mike “Stretch” Austin, who had also lived at the House for a spell. “They took good care of me,” he said. He’s excited because the new House of Mercy has an automatic dishwasher. He had to hand wash all dishes at the House on Hudson Avenue, in a sink with a pan underneath it to catch the water that dripped from a pipe which had been duct taped, and duct taped again.

Much at the Hudson Avenue facility was held together with duct tape. Though the shelter regularly slept 100 people, there were no beds, only donated couches and floor mats. Residents, some of whom had lived at the House of Mercy for more than a decade, ate their meals from Styrofoam containers balanced on their knees. “We have been getting by rough and tumble for 30 years,” said Earsley.

He started cooking for the House of Mercy just before Thanksgiving in 1988. At that time the House of Mercy was  in a house on Central Avenue. There was a four-burner house stove and about 65 people to feed. Earsley, a former army cook, knew how to prepare food for 1,000 people at a time, but he had to get creative given the equipment. He cut the turkeys down the middle with a meat cleaver and flattened them out so he could fit three in the oven at a time. The meal got done and the hungry got fed. “It was a three-day adventure,” he said.

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