Reaching out and sharing in Upper Manhattan

Anita Clement

Anita Clement 1977 –

Anita has lived in Harlem House, the Bruderhof’s outpost in Upper Manhattan, for nine years, working mostly as a nanny and freelance graphic designer. She also volunteers at The Bowery Mission every week and loves to organize local block parties – you can usually find her at the facepainting table, working a line of eager young customers. 

I love Harlem. It’s home to me, even though it’s very different from rural Connecticut where I grew up. I always say that I’d rather see people than trees, and with so many people around me there are always chances to connect to someone who might need encouragement. Like one time on the train I saw a woman down the car from me who had her head back, her eyes were closed, and tears streaming down her face. There was an empty seat next to her, so I went and sat down and asked her if she was okay, and she told me that her grandmother, who had raised her, had just passed away in Florida, and she couldn’t go.

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with him. He walks everywhere incognito.
C. S. Lewis, author and Christian apologist 1898–1963

I missed my stop and decided to stay on the train as long as she wanted to talk. And then I gave her my number and said, “If you need somewhere to go tonight, you’re welcome at my dinner.” She did end up coming over, and I think she was a little surprised when she walked in and saw the whole community at the dinner table, but as it turned out she had been to our house a couple years earlier. She said, “I’ve been to your table before.” 

For me, coming home to the community dinner every night and sharing a common purpose with the people I live with makes me more confident in reaching out and trying to share that peace with people who seem lonely or sad.

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