The Return Of Summer Smiles
--Shephali Patel
3 minute read
Jun 25, 2008


This past Saturday the New York CharityFocus posse met in beautiful Central Park to decide what we could do to make the city smile once again during the warm summer months. Last year, we handed out thousands of glasses of free lemonade to the hot, sweaty masses in Central Park. This year we’re back with more energy than ever and are thinking about a whole slew of potential projects to do over the next few weeks. Everything from giving out homemade cookies baked with lots of love, to redistributing excess food from restaurants to the homeless, to setting up a gift-economy pedi-cab rickshaw service for a day. The ideas and enthusiasm are endless.

Even though we were only gathering for a meeting and nothing else had been planned, the surprises always abound. Chintan managed to RAK us by bringing hundreds of cookies for us to give away right after our meeting. Thanks to him, we had our very first giving experiment of the summer…on the very first day of summer! And the surprises didn’t end there. Due to the passing of our original gigantic handmade smile card poster (May it rest in peace. Amen.), we unveiled our new and improved mega-huge smile card poster. It’s definitely a sight to see, so if you are in the New York area please do come by and check it out one of these weekends.

We had an absolute blast taking part in our first giveaway of the summer. It’s been a long time and I had forgotten how wonderful it is to be connecting with people in the spirit of generosity in a really silly, over-the-top way like this. :) And on a more humbling note, I had almost forgotten how truly beautiful and open people are. People are magnanimous. And not one of them, or a couple of them, or just the young kids, or the people on vacation…but masses of them. Ones that live in New York and work hard and are tired and jaded. People that are only here for a short time and are busy following their packed agendas. They will run into a garbage can to stop themselves on roller blades because you are calling after them. They will come chat with you for 45 minutes just because they feel camaraderie in spirit with what you are doing. They will share the story of their lives with you even though they don’t even know your name. They will come back and gift you with cherries after stopping by to eat a cookie. They will take tons of pictures of you without even knowing what you are doing. They will loop around the park twice in hopes of seeing you, just to tell you that they enjoyed seeing you last week and wanted to say hi this week. They bring pets to greet you. They promise to come back to visit you on their next trip from England. They will serenade you in the hot sun on crowded paths.

People, ALL of them, are magnanimous in spirit. And the “you” and “they” in these stories are each and every one of us, interchangeably. At one moment you are giving out cookies, and a minute later you are the one receiving tulips gifted by a passerby. I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to be in a space where we can see that happening before our very eyes. But when I walk away from that space, I know I have to remember that this generous spirit courses through all of us at every moment and in that way we are always connected.

We are still in the midst of scheming for next week, but the next project is already looking to be quite the endeavor. Can’t give away any secrets, so stay tuned! :)

Hope you enjoy looking through these pictures from last week:

If you are in the New York area and are interested in joining us, please leave a note with your email address and we will contact you.

Big smiles until next week!


Posted by Shephali Patel on Jun 25, 2008

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