Gramercy Park Block Association - Neighborhood News #509
We'd like to thank our hundreds of Gramercy Park neighbors for their  donations of pantry supplies to our GPBA Neighbors Helping Neighbors' Annual Pantry Drive for Kenmore Hall. 

Kenmore Hall, located on E 23rd St, houses formerly homeless, chronically ill, and frail elderly residents, and is "a national model of affordable supportive housing."

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Thursday, February 20, 2014  

Caring community helps GPBA collect food for Kenmore

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Kenmore Hall staff with GPBA President Arlene Harrison picking up some of the many pantry supplies donated by hundreds of Gramercy Park neighbors to GPBA Neighbors Helping Neighbors' Annual Pantry Drive organized for Kenmore Hall.

In the midst of shortages at food banks throughout the city, Gramercy Park Block Association held its annual food pantry this past Tuesday for Kenmore Hall.


Volunteers collected non-perishable foods as well as various household items, like pots, pans, blankets and towels for the supportive housing development on East 23rd Street. Food pantries throughout the city have been reporting shortages since Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cuts last November. 


GPBA President Arlene Harrison, who has been involved with Kenmore Hall, at 145 East 23rd Street, since before it was transformed from a dilapidated hotel in the 1990s, said their support of the organization is year-round. 


"We do it whenever there's a need," Harrison said, adding that the recent cuts to SNAP have put an added strain on those who are looking for the extra help.


Harrison and the GPBA were involved in the efforts in 1994 to convince city and state officials to intervene at the Kenmore, which operated as a hotel for more than 50 years and became a hot spot for drug dealers and criminals in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Former police officer Scott Kimmins was instrumental in making a case for federal authorities, by patrolling the building and making numerous arrests, before the property was seized in one of the largest asset forfeitures ever undertaken by the federal government in 1994. 


"One of the main complaints was that businesses couldn't do business there," Harrison said. 


"It was an important project because it cleaned up that whole corridor." 


Harrison said that she was pleased with the amount of donations GPBA received in their most recent effort and brought the bags of food and supplies over on Wednesday morning. 


"We've had bags and bags coming in," she said. "Despite the weather we've been having, people care."


Please see 1999 interview with Arlene Harrison about the transformation of Kenmore Hall.