Dad! People really live in basements?


“Dad! People really live in basements?” my son said in disbelief when he was five or six years old. Thankfully, he waited until we were in the privacy of our car before making the comment, rather than blurting it while in the basement home we had just visited. My son and I were helping to deliver food-baskets the Sunday before Thanksgiving to some families in Greenwich as part of a St. Mary’s Social Concerns Committee annual project.  

Yes, there ARE whole families who live in basement apartments – even in “tony (or other synonym for ‘affluent’) Greenwich” – which the New York media has determined is the mot juste label for our town.  Each year the Greenwich Social Services Department provides local churches and other groups with a list of families who need some help. And each year, the people of St. Mary’s and the other groups respond with typical Greenwich generosity.

St. Mary’s, for example, is usually assigned between 10-20 families. The committee buys a turkey for each family.  Parishioners and others bring in other food items the week before. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, with “D-Day-like” logistical precision, the committee assembles sacks and sacks of food, which the families use, not only for Thanksgiving but for the entire holiday season. One family told me sometimes the food lasts more than a month.

If you want to help, you can drop off at St. Mary’s (178 Greenwich Avenue) anything from this shopping list any time this week:

Macaroni & cheese

Canned beef stew

Pasta (spaghetti/noodles)

Cereals & pancake mix

Tea, coffee, juices,

Rice and dried beans

Apple sauce


Jellies and jams

Peanut butter

Tuna fish/ tuna helper

Canned Chili

Instant potato mixes

Canned vegetables/soups

Powdered milk