04 Dec

Q&A with Alice Nelson

Volunteer Alice Nelson

One of the nice things about LSA is that, once people have been a part of our community, they tend to come back:  old friends stop by to visit, clients return as volunteers, volunteers keep finding new ways to be involved.

They may even travel 10,000 miles, as volunteer Alice Nelson did, to work with us again.  Alice Nelson is a writer from Western Australia.  When she last volunteered with LSA, from 2001-2003, the agency was still in a brownstone on East 119th Street.  On a recent visit she found much changed, but the spirit and heart of the organization as welcoming as ever.

What do you remember about your first volunteer experience with LSA?

I came as a Little Sisters full time volunteer in 2001 and lived with the nuns.  I worked two years at the time in Advocacy.

I just loved how it was like a family, how there was no hierarchy and everyone pitched in. You’d have the bosses bagging food in the pantry as well as the volunteers.  The families felt that as well.  It wasn’t, you know, “us and them.”  It was a really lovely mutual feeling.

What brought you back to New York and LSA?

I’m in New York for the whole winter, staying in East Harlem for the next couple of weeks and pitching in in the food pantry.  I’ve got a novel which is actually set in East Harlem so it’s also a research trip.

Does LSA appear anywhere in the novel you’re working on?

It does!  Heavily disguised, but there is a Catholic social services agency that’s sort of at the center of the novel where the characters go and one character volunteers there.

LSA moved into this building in 2004 – a year after you returned to Australia.  What do you think of it?

I had no idea it was going to be so glamorous!  After my days in the freezing cold basement – freezing in winter and hot in summer – it’s amazing!


In the week since she’s been back, Alice has already been a great help to our Advocacy & Food Pantry, Parenting  and Childhood, and Education and Youth Services programs.  Thanks, Alice!

Photo by Micah Rubin.