New Yorkers rising up together to meet unprecedented challenges is in the fabric of this great city.
Through the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen countless examples of the community-minded selflessness and resilience associated with New York City and we’ve been inspired by those who have raised a hand and stepped up to help their fellow citizens.
In this spirit, we are setting out to reflect what’s truly undeNYable about our city and the people who make up our extended NYCFC family, all doing whatever it takes today to be back together again tomorrow through the sport we love.
undeNYable is a series of weekly themed stories here on NYCFC.com, holding up members of the NYCFC family who’ve shown the meaning of "For The City", coming through for their fellow New Yorkers when it has mattered most.
Omar Alvarez is a husband, father of two, and proud lifelong New Yorker currently living in the Bronx. He has been working for NY Common Pantry (NYCP) since 2017, serving the organization in numerous roles.
Omar first joined NY Common Pantry’s Nourish, Senior Feeding program as a driver, delivering food to seniors at sites throughout the city. A few months later, he transitioned to a Food Rescue driver which saw him picking up donated food across the city in an effort to help reduce food waste and provide NYCP with nutritious food to serve the community. Omar’s work ethic provided him with bigger opportunities throughout the organization, eventually being promoted to Warehouse Manager – a position in which he was responsible for directing operations to feed more than 13,500 seniors throughout the city. Since January, Omar has been the Food Programs Manager at the Bronx pantry, managing operations to provide more than 800,000 meals to local residents each year. Omar navigates each new position and borough he works in with grace and positivity, “Every borough has its own little culture. As New Yorkers, we adapt. I've been adapting to this.”
Being able to support his community is what keeps Omar motivated every day. “I've always had a personal need to feel that I'm giving back to our communities. Being that I've been living in the Bronx for so long, it was only right for me when the opportunity arose for me to try to give back to the community that I'm from.” He continued, “It's just a very fulfilling feeling, to say the least to be able to give back to people on the regular.”
As COVID-19 began to severely impact New York City, Omar started viewing his work in a new light. “When I started hearing the term essential worker, I thought it was just for medical personnel, firefighters, police in the communities,” he continued, “Once they started saying ‘No, you guys are essential workers.’ It started clicking in my head like wow, we really do provide that food for people. Now I come to work with a stronger sense of pride because I know that what I'm doing is an essential job.”
With the largest community-based food pantry in the city, NY Common Pantry’s work delivering nutritious food to New Yorkers in need in one of the hardest-hit cities in the world has been so critical in recent times. “Due to the pandemic that we’re currently living through, the increase for demand of food really did rise. We're starting to see upwards of 300 plus people every pantry distribution day,” Omar said. “As long as we have the food coming in and we have the volunteers and the great staff that we do to be able to provide that food service to everybody, we're going to continue doing this for a long time. We know that right now, these are the trying times that NY Common Pantry is needed the most.”
In an effort to help NY Common Pantry meet its demands during the pandemic, New York City Football Club donated 100,000 meals to South Bronx residents during this critical time. A number of NYCFC partners have also offered support in such a meaningful way, including Dumbo Moving and Storage assisting with donation deliveries across the city. Omar reflects on the collaboration over the past few months with appreciation. “For lack of a better term, it is awesome to know that we have the backing of a big organization as NYCFC. Just to know that they're helping us out to be able to give back to larger amounts of our community, it's a great feeling.”
The consistent strength that New Yorkers show during the toughest of times, always being able to band together and overcome whatever comes our way, is something Omar has always admired, but even more now. “I know that after COVID, New Yorkers will just continue to be strong and continue to help each other out because I've seen a stronger sense of community during these times as well.” This strength leaves Omar hopeful for the future of all New Yorkers, “I just know that New York is going to continue to be stronger for generations to come.”