Serving up community: CHiPS celebrates 50 years of service in Park Slope

Right to left: CHiPS Director of Development Shanice Branch, CHiPS Executive Director Shivonne McKay and CHiPS Board Member Yasmin Hurston Cornelius smile with a Gucci representative during the CHiPS gala on Thursday, Oct. 20.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

Community Help in Park Slope (CHiPS), a nonprofit focused on feeding and housing single mothers and their children, held its 2022 gala on Thursday, Oct. 20 at The Green Building in Gowanus, honoring several volunteers and community members for their service to the cause.

“Hunger is not an issue of charity, it is an issue of justice,” said CHiPS board member Yasmin Hurston Cornelius at the event, which also served as a belated celebration of the organization’s 50th anniversary.

Paul Kennedy, Richard Carlson and Richard Sexton, represented by his daughter Lucy Sexton as he passed away earlier this year, were three historic honorees chosen by the CHiPS board who represented the spirit of the organization and made special efforts to further their mission.

Brother Thomas Barton, a Franciscan friar, also received special recognition as a “CHiPS Champion” for his service to the community. Barton gave a lengthy speech attempting to share the spotlight with other community members he felt deserved recognition also, extolling various volunteers and employees for their commitment and hard work, including various religious organizations and houses of worship.

The 2022 CHiPS gala at The Green Building in Gowanus.Photo by Caroline Ourso
Brother Thomas Barton receives acknowledgement during the CHiPS gala.Photo by Caroline Ourso

Barton made special mention of Annie Trowbridge, a Park Slope resident for 15 years, who cooked over 5,000 meals for the organization during the pandemic while she worked from home. Trowbridge, who has a lengthy background in social service, referred to the period as “a very powerful part of my life.”

A representative of Gucci, the luxury clothing brand, was also recognized for their donations to CHiPS through the CHiPS Corporate Partners award. Gordon Meyer, a CHiPS board member, gave a speech to close the event.

“The difference between having that next meal and not is rising, and CHiPS is there with no questions,” said Meyer of their mission. “When I was handing out meals during COVID, we weren’t just giving food. And I don’t think our guests were looking only for that either. It’s not just sustenance — it’s love, it’s connection, it’s eye contact, it’s a bit of banter.”

Paul Kennedy, Lucy Sexton, daughter of Richard Sexton, and Richard Carlson are honored at the 2022 CHiPS gala.Photo by Caroline Ourso
CHiPS Board President James Ryan, New York Supreme Court Justice Bernard Graham and Assemblymember Robert Carroll.Photo by Caroline Ourso

CHiPS was founded in 1971 by members of the St. Francis Xavier Church, at which time it served as the first Catholic, non-profit agency for the “poor, hungry and homeless” of Park Slope. Today, the organization’s soup kitchen serves 200 to 250 men and women daily, providing more than 103,000 meals a year.

“The lines blur between who’s the giver and who’s the receiver at CHiPS,” Meyer said at the gala. “I get a lot out of this place, and I hope that you all do, too.”