For our People Who Make NY Special profile series, we’ve interviewed big names in almost every field (John Leguizamo, Sandra Bernhard, Gramercy Tavern executive chef Michael Anthony, chocolate genius Jacques Torres, and more), but we’re most proud when we shine a spotlight on the people who make day-to-day life in New York City what we know and love it to be: creative, energetic, and edgy, yes, but also compassionate, community focused, and generous.
So today, if you’re still trying to figure out how to be a part of Giving Tuesday, take a cue from one or more of these absolutely special New Yorkers:
CATHY CHAMBERS, manager at GrowNYC
As a liaison between the nonprofit behind all of the city’s Greenmarkets and food pantries across the five boroughs, Chambers ensures that thousands of New Yorkers in need have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat—not just canned and processed foods. Donate here.
CHRIS WISNIEWSKI, director of arts education at Studio in a School
In the face of ongoing city- and statewide budget cuts affecting arts instruction in NYC public schools, Wisniewski works tirelessly through the nonprofit Studio in a School to make sure that more than 33,000 students—most of whom would not receive visual arts training otherwise—learn drawing, painting, sculpture, and more from working artists. Donate here.
GREGORY BOROFF, chief external relations officer for City Harvest
Boroff devotes his days to making sure that the world’s first food rescue organization gets all the support it needs to deliver more than 59 million pounds of food to a network of more than 500 soup kitchens, pantries, and other community food programs across the five boroughs. Donate here.
OSKAR EUSTIS, artistic director of the Public Theater
Eustis maintains and elevates the integrity of this venerated arts institution, which is theater “of, by, and for the people,” by making the highest-quality theatrical works accessible to all. Donate here.
JANINE NINA TREVENS, cofounder of the youth theater company TADA!
Trevens aims to give every NYC kid the opportunity to let their creativity run wild onstage—and “help make growing up easier”—through her nonprofit youth-run theater company and public school partnerships. Donate here.
TEDDY FITZGIBBONS, founder of Hearty Start
Inspired by his own unfinished breakfast—the humble but hearty bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll—one morning, Fitzgibbons started this nonprofit to help homeless New Yorkers start each day with a full stomach. Hearty Start now delivers more than 45,000 breakfast sandwiches every year. Donate here.
DIANNE BERKUN MENAKER, director of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Not only has Menaker created a Grammy Award–winning amateur children’s choir—lauded by professional artists and critics—she has made it as representative of NYC’s population as it can be. “We’ve always operated with an open-ended financial aid policy, so no one has ever been turned away for economic reasons,” she says. “Access to excellence for anyone with the drive and the talent is a founding value of Brooklyn Youth Chorus.” She also runs after-school and outreach programs in NYC public schools. Donate here.
MONICA YUNUS AND CAMILLE ZAMORA, cofounders of Sing for Hope
The dynamic duo behind an arts-celebrating nonprofit, Zamora and Yunus have shown what the power of music (and more!) can do: By partnering with the city’s vast artistic community, the two Juilliard voice and opera program alums bring much-needed performances to schools, community centers, and hospitals throughout the five boroughs, while also engaging artists of all kinds to share their craft with those who might not be exposed to enough high-quality art. Donate here.
RACHEL WATTS, director of teen programs, diversity, equity and inclusion for ArtsConnection
Thanks to Watts and her colleagues at this nonprofit, students at more than 120 New York City public schools who might otherwise not be able to afford an arts curriculum have access to theater, music, painting, and other creative programs—all taught by dynamic visual artists and performers who want to share their passion. Donate here.