In 1984 homelessness was rampant in New York City. While much public notice was taken of homelessness, what was not noticed was that among the homeless were some who cared for others who were less able to make their way to sources of food and clothing. Members of a a church in Dobbs Ferry, where a few members were volunteering at a Manhattan soup kitchen, invited one such caring homeless woman to speak to the congregation. She made the connection between the people eating in a church basement and the rest of their lives sleeping on city streets, and made it clear that for many the most basic needs were not being met.
Members of the of the church coordinated with this woman and others among the homeless and began visiting Grand Central Station and the streets nearby on Tuesday and Friday nights to distribute food, supplies and clothing, and to offer companionship to homeless people. Volunteers from other churches and synagogues in Westchester County joined this effort, and by 1989 a dozen groups were participating.
Until November of 1989, Midnight Run used the facilities of South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry as a base of operations, including the storing of food, clothing and supplies. That year, Midnight Run was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization, and a generous contribution by a Westchester corporation enabled us to rent our first headquarters at 97 Main Street in Dobbs Ferry. There, we collect, sort and store clothes; prepare food; and coordinate the donations and the thousands of volunteers it takes to make Midnight Run a reality.
Enthusiasm for Midnight Run has been contagious and, without a grand master plan, the program has grown from the original tiny group to a collaboration of more than 150 community organizations.