Homelessness and Hakook: An Interview with J.R. Madey, Hakook Team Captain

Name: J.R. Madey

Year: Sophomore

School/Major: CAS/Biology

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Favorite place to eat in NYC: John’s on Bleecker


HC NYU: Could you tell me a little bit about the organization and your position or responsibilities in it?

JRM: Absolutely. Hakook is a homeless outreach organization created by a handful of NYU students a few years ago. I joined last year, and my position in the organization is a team captain.


HC NYU: How did you end up joining Hakook?

JRM: Prior to starting NYU, I applied to partake in a pre-orientation program called Project Outreach. Project Outreach is a service-based program: you got to move in early, and do really amazing service projects in the city with other people. Through Project Outreach, I met Mimi, one of the cofounders of Hakook. From there, I talked to Mimi about it, and decided to join the organization.


HC NYU: Can you explain more about the shelter system and what the current situation with homelessness is?

JRM: Absolutely. So, through my work with Hakook, I got a lot of interaction with people experiencing homelessness. It sounds like the shelter system is quite inadequate in providing basic needs. It’s dangerous, there’s lot’s of violence, poor living conditions–it’s a very unattractive place to be, which in turn makes people feel more comfortable on the streets of New York City. And it’s very sad to think about that...that the streets are more comfortable than the shelters.


HC NYU: How does Hakook assist those experiencing homelessness?

JRM: Hakook’s primary purpose for now is attempting to make people experiencing homelessness’ lives on the street more bearable, just by providing them with necessities that they’re not getting from other places...filling in the gaps of other organizations. So, providing them with things like granola bars, socks, soap, other personal hygiene products, feminine hygiene products, things that they need that they’re not getting elsewhere, to make their lives on the street more pleasant. HC NYU: How has interacting with homelessness in New York City impacted you and your perspective?

JRM: It definitely puts things into perspective. I think before getting involved into Hakook, I never knew the extent of this issue, and it really draws you in. You’re talking to them, hearing their stories. It’s heartbreaking, but it also motivates you to try to initiate change, and it makes me realize how fortunate I am and really puts things into perspective. It opened my eyes to the size and scope of this issue and how prominent it is in New York City.


HC NYU: If people are interested in combating homelessness, what are some ways they can get involved with Hakook?

JRM: I think the best way to do so is to visit their website at Hakook.com and finding a time that works with your schedule to volunteer with a team. We have teams that go out four days a week in the evenings and afternoons. So yeah, getting involved, joining a team, experience outreach firsthand, is, I think, the most effective way in how to get involved.




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