Monthly Archives: December 2009

Kazakhstan: Seniors Need Your Help this Holiday Season

Making Connections in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan: Give a Meal to a Senior This Holiday Season
This is Part 4 of the Skyline Stories series “Making Connections in Kazakhstan.”
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December 7, 2009

Dear [Name],

Growing up in this neighborhood has imbued me with a rich sense of community and helping others.

This summer, I participated in a volunteer service trip sponsored by New York University. During the trip, we traveled to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, where we helped rebuild a community center, made arts and crafts with children and cleaned the homes of seniors.

One of these seniors was Yulia Mednikova, whose apartment we cleaned. The 75-year-old former biology researcher is now a widow, living in a dilapidated apartment building. Her poor eyesight and ailments make it difficult to leave her apartment.

Resident of Almaty, Kazakhstan

Yuliya Mednikova, a 75-year-old widow living in Almaty, displays a picture (probably from the 1970s) when she was a soil specialist at Kazakhstan's Institute for Farming.

Two months before we arrived, the community center had found her and cleaned her apartment for the first time in five years. In addition, they provide her with an aide who visits several times a month and delivers meals.

“Thank you for visiting me,” she told us as we left. “It is good to know that people halfway around the world care about me.”

These community centers provide invaluable services and enriching learning environments, serving hot meals for seniors, holding winter clothing drives and giving language lessons to children.

In 2010, these community centers are slated to provide services for more than 1,800 seniors, including 80 for the “Meals on Wheels” program. Already we students have raised several thousand dollars. Our goal is to raise $7,000, which would provide half of the seniors with with one meal per week for one year.

As the holiday season approaches, we are reminded about the power of miracles. Similarly, you can help give these Kazakhstanis a holiday miracle. Though we gladly accept any donation, we suggest that you give $30 – the cost of giving one meal to half of the seniors who need them.

Please send your check to me by December 21st. You may make it out to “NYU.” I will hand-deliver your check to New York University in January. [You will receive a separate thank you card from NYU.]

Thank you for your consideration and hope you have happy holidays!


Stephen Baron

Yuletide Spirit on Elfreth’s Alley

Carolers on Elfreth's Alley

Carolers on Elfreth's Alley, during the annual "Deck the Alley" event.

OLD CITY, Philadelphia — Fresh pine boughs, gingerbread, logs on the fire – and the first snowfall of the year.

This may sound like the book “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” but no! This was the scene at “Deck the Alley” on Elfreth’s Alley, held on December 5th.

“Deck the Alley” is Elfreth’s Alley’s roughly 10th annual self-guided tour of 13 private homes festooned with Christmas and holiday decorations. Elfreth’s Alley bills itself as the oldest continually-inhabited street in the country, dating to 1702. About 200 visitors paid $25 each to tour the colonial-era homes (plus cider and soup from The Clay Studio), while author Trinka Noble read from her children’s book “The Scarlet Stocking Spy.”

Elfreth's Alley Flickr Gallery

Robert and Susan Kettell, two longtime residents, spent countless hours decorating their late-1700s home. The Kettells hosted carolers in the living room, while the dining room warmly glowed with candlelight. In another house, a Christmas tree’s ornaments had been made by the resident’s late Grandmother.

Perhaps the best bit of holiday magic was when Gordon Trotter, a direct descendant of Daniel Trotter, an Elfreth’s Alley tenant in the 1770s, finally walked into his ancestor’s house. After current owner Sheri Watson met him, she said, “It was wonderful meeting someone with the connection to the past.” Trotter added, “I think it’s fantastic that I was able to come back to this house!”

“Deck the Alley” is one of the Alley’s two annual festivals, the other being Fête Day in June.

Note: A version of this article is slated to be published by Elfreth’s Alley.

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