DEAR FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS, CHIPS
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Capturing the Essences Berkowitz, an artist by schooling who segued back into the field after three decades working as a newspaper and magazine of our Soup Kitchen Guests publisher, said he has been drawing his whole life. “But there’s something special about capturing the essence An interview with Jack Berkowitz and Harry of somebody who you really know something about, and you by Maya Rajamani respect, and you want it to really pick up their essence,” he said of his CHiPS portrait series. When artist and volunteer Jack Berkowitz decided to start drawing some of CHiPS’ soup kitchen regulars, he envisioned “I have this thing that says that a portrait’s done when a portrait the endeavor as a small project. “I thought I’d do a series of talks to you, when it’s alive and says something, and these portraits, expecting to do three or four,” he said. “There were a portraits talked,” he added. couple [people] who I’m quite close to, and they would let me “They said, ‘All done.” And it was. I really just liked the process take their photographs, and I did the drawings [based on the of doing the drawings. It was great fun.” photos].” After he finished the first of the portraits, Berkowitz, 73, Harry, one of the CHiPS regulars Berkowitz drew, said his pinned a few of them up on the walls of CHiPS’ dining room. portrait hung on the wall of the dining room for some time. He couldn’t have anticipated the response, he recalled in “I got to see how ugly I really was every day,” he joked. an interview. He hopes to see the portraits in a gallery at some point. “After people saw them, suddenly, every time I turned around, CHiPS, he said, is an important part of his life. somebody wanted their portrait done,” he said. A year and a half after the project began, he’d created a collection of 50 portraits. The artist also conducted “spectacular” interviews with a dozen of his subjects to accompany their portraits, and had them recorded and transcribed for posterity. “I come around here often. I don’t always eat here, but I like to hang out with Alan, Prince, E, and everyone else. They’re my buddies,” he said. “And there’s so much happening here every day, it’s entertaining — like live TV. I’ve got a live show going on here every day. I just like to come here and watch.” While keeping CHiPS up and running is a team effort that Berkowitz’ work with CHiPS began in the kitchen around involves “really hard work” on the part of its staff members and eight years ago: first, as a volunteer chopping vegetables on volunteers, its mission, Berkowitz said, is not a complicated one. Mondays, then as the chief cook and coordinator three days a week, he said. “There are a few things out there, feeding the hungry being one of them, there’s only one thing you’re doing. You’re finding the But while he had a “terrific time” whipping up meals for CHiPS’ food to feed somebody who’s hungry. It’s very plain,” he said. patrons, he was hesitant to venture out into the dining room. “Somebody’s hungry, and you’ve got to feed them.” “I didn’t particularly like going out and serving,” he recalled. “I wasn’t quite used to that.” “In a world like this, to find something that is so straightforward, and so clear, Little by little, however, he started to step out of his comfort and so good, is one of the good things zone. “I started going out into the eating area and meeting that you’re supposed to do… it draws people,” he said. “The next thing you know, you meet them, you in,” he added. “It’s something that you talk about their lives, you talk about your life, and I started affirms you every time you do it.” developing relationships with them.”
Sad News about our Beloved Mural The Pop-Up is still going strong! We are sad to say that due to irreparable weather-related In September alone, we handed out 2,955 takeaway meal bags and damage, the lovely mural from Groundswell that has called our 671 food pantry bags to visitors to the Pop-Up at CHiPS! building home for 16 years is being removed. We are so grateful to have had this beautiful artwork, titled “Voices Her’d: I Deal, Each meal bag contains several hot meals, several sandwiches, I Dream, I Do” by Brooklyn artist Charlene Tarbox, grace our some snacks and a drink to keep our guests well-fed throughout facade for all these years. the day. To maintain everyone’s safety, we are still running the takeaway-only Pop-Up at CHiPS until further notice. However, in one small step towards normalcy, we have begun to cook in the kitchen again several times a week to ensure each guest continues to receive at least 2 hot meals per day. Thanks to everyone who has helped us to remain open and feed people throughout the pandemic! Follow us on social media Due to the pandemic, Thanksgiving at CHiPS is going to look a @chips4thave bit different this year. While we are sad we can’t gather together in our dining room, we are looking forward to handing out at least 450 takeaway Thanksgiving meals to our soup kitchen guests. Brooklyn Relief Kitchen will generously provide 200 of these meals, but this year, we are relying on donations from our community for the remaining 250 meals! Here’s how you can help: visit our website Donate Trays of Homemade Food chipsonline.org Sign up to make Thanksgiving dishes in the comfort of your home, and then drop them off at CHiPS between Monday 11/23 Questions? Contact us: — Wednesday 11/25. Each donation should contain 10+ servings, 200 4th Ave., packaged in oven-safe roasting pans or containers. Brooklyn, NY 11217 Purchase Meals from a Local Restaurant (718) 237-2962 If you’d like to help out but don’t want the hassle of cooking, you can purchase Thanksgiving meals from our awesome partners firstname.lastname@example.org Runner & Stone, Cleaver & Co., or Baba’s Pierogies for our guests to enjoy! Please visit chipsonline.org/thanksgiving to learn more about both options and to sign up!
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