Just call her Kris Mingle!
Brooklyn Heights resident Sondra Fagen is wheelchair-bound and was diagnosed recently with cancer, but that hasn’t stopped her from spreading glad tidings and planning a sensational shindig for yuletide lonely hearts.
“To have to sit by yourself and have no one to talk to at Christmas is pretty horrible,” says Fagen, 78, who wants to team up with like-minded altruists and resurrect her famous Holiday Dinner Group — winner of a mayoral humanitarian award and subject of a glowing New York Times write-up back in the day. “I want to do it now while I’m still healthy.”
The freelance journalist, whose work has appeared in Brooklyn Heights Press and the Long Island Post, is hoping a good Samaritan can open his or her home or donate a venue and use of a computer so she can proceed with her potluck knees-up — on a wing and prayer if necessary.
“We’ll meet in a restaurant if we have to,” says the spry septuagenarian, whose loved ones and friends are mostly deceased.
Fagen began her non-profit in 1964 after a man wrote to her singles’ column asking where he could spend Thanksgiving, but was forced to abandon it three years ago after a brutal subway attack left her with internal injuries.
Now she’s ready for a comeback.
“I made a promise to God that if he made me a journalist I would work on a project for the rest of my life,” Fagen says. “And I have.”
United Nations’ workers, concentration camp survivors, average Joes and Janes, homesick students, a man who lost his wife and kids in a car crash, and melancholy musicians have all attended her past revels, leaving well-fed and firm friends with a restored faith in humanity, she claims.
“I don’t think there’s really a creep in the crowd,” Fagen said in a 1982 Times article that reported on an interracial group jammed in a small studio apartment for Easter, feasting on rock cornish hen, quiche, fried chicken, lox, cream cheese, salads, and homemade desserts in between live music and group singing.
Fagen’s desire to stem solitude has had a far reach: one year, she enlivened a suicidal cancer patient by mailing her a dozen presents — one day at a time — in spirit of the “12 Days of Christmas” song.
“She had to go downstairs and get each gift from the mailman,” she says. “It made her live for 12 more days.”
Another year she threw herself a birthday party and invited others born on the same day.
“I put an ad in the paper and it was a most wonderful experience,” she recalls.
And this year’s jollity will be extra special — if it happens — because it is on Fagen’s bucket list.
“I’m not looking for money,” she says. “I just want everyone to get together and have a good time.”
Lonely hearts and big hearts able to open their home or donate a venue or computer for a potluck holiday party can contact Sondra Fagen at (718) 522–0506.