Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. What can you do to promote that? It is a good way to start off your New Year’s resolutions.

According to Shaman Lena Stevens, “January is always a great month to take care of your own environment, cleaning, filing, eliminating, upgrading and recycling the old. Change it up by moving something around or getting rid of an old piece of furniture. Be flexible about what you may want to come in to support you but persistent in your goals and disciplined to keep your environment at a certain standard.” Absolutely, starting with taking down the Christmas tree, as Three Kings Day and Kwanzaa are over.

Not over but just beginning is FreshDirect. The Northeast’s pre-eminent online food retailer is said to be honored to have been selected by the United States Department of Agriculture to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program online purchasing pilot program. Additionally, FreshDirect plans to open its new headquarters in the Bronx, N.Y., increasing its commitment to providing healthy food choices for its new community.

And did you know that FreshDirect was the first online company chosen by the USDA in conjunction with the City and State of New York to pilot a modified online EBT model in New York City. Not just any corporation moving in on the mom and pop shops, FreshDirect is working with the community boards in the area to establish good working relationships with the existing merchants, provide jobs for those in the surrounding communities and contribute to the overall health and continued growth of the commercial district.

FreshDirect released a statement that said, “We believe that fresh, high-quality and healthful food options should be accessible to all … and we look forward to bringing the online purchasing option to SNAP clients.”

Lending support and leading the way is Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who was instrumental in bring the pilot program to New York. According to Diaz, “[New York will] set the example for the entire nation on public/private partnerships that improve nutrition, fight hunger and offer consumers greater choices, all while expanding the marketplace.”

On a broader note, the Obama administration announced that two New York City internet grocers would be included in a program that lets SNAP participants use their benefits to shop for groceries online. We can presume that he is referring to FreshDirect, making it official.

The Schomburg’s fifth annual Black Comic Book Festival will be held Jan. 13-14, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 135th Street and Lenox Avenue. This festival promises to be a fun event where Black comic book lovers can gather to donate books to the Schomburg’s Comic Book Archive, purchase festival T-shirts and have a good time. To learn more, visit the library’s website at

As we plough our way through January and the unpredictable weather, who is not looking for a good place to eat out or takeout for that matter? Look no more. The newly established Johnny Kak’s International has opened its doors. Located at 2455 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, the Caribbean and soul food restaurant invites you to “bring you taste buds on an unforgettable ride…” With entrees ranging from $6 to $12, the menu changes daily, and all meals are cooked with fresh herbs to give an authentic taste. Catering services are also provided. Check it out at

Who says humans have all of the fun? The Animal Medical Center hosted its annual Top Dog Gala at Cipriani 42 while celebrating two extraordinary canines. The benefit, which included co-chairs Nancy Kissinger (wife of Henry), Elaine Langone (wife of Ken), and Annette de la Renta (wife of Oscar), raised more than $1.6 million to support AMC’s mission. I am not quite sure what AMC’s mission is but it must be admirable. In attendance were U.S. Customs and Border Protection K-9 Jasper, U.S. Secret Service K9 Hurricane.

No sooner are the holidays over than the galas are picking up speed again. It is a wonder people still have energy and money left over to contribute and attend. Ah, but they do. Oodles came out to celebrate at the Volunteers of America-Greater New York’s 21st annual gala, A New York Winter’s Eve. This annual fundraiser held in The Plaza Grand Ballroom raised more than  $700,000. Proceeds will benefit more than 90 life-changing social service programs that help tens of thousands or people and families in need in the Greater New York area. 

Honored this year with the Spirit of the Founders Award was the New York-based boutique media agency OOH Pitch and its co-founder David Matera. Their invaluable support throughout the years and significant contributions to this year’s Operation Backpack®, Volunteer of America’s annual back-to-school campaign that outfits homeless children with brand-new backpacks filled with grade-specific school supplies, as well as the veteran’s campaign, were motivating and heart-warming.

According to Tere Pettitt, president and CEO of Volunteers of America-Greater New York, “At Volunteers of America-Greater New York, we are devoted to helping our most vulnerable and at-risk neighbors by providing a lifeline of indispensable services. Because of the generosity of our friends and supporters, thousands of individuals and families in need are living safe, healthy and productive lives in the community.” Seen having a wonderful time was VOA-GNY staff member Vanessa Burton and Willie Geist, “Today Show” and “Morning Joe” co-host. 

Volunteers of America-Greater New York is one of the oldest and most comprehensive social services charities, and it has been serving vulnerable New Yorkers for nearly 120 years. Its commitment to helping the homeless, families affected by domestic violence, struggling veterans, preschoolers with developmental delays who also live in poverty, adults living with HIV/AIDS and other serious health issues, youth aging out of foster care and so many others is inspiring. Don’t you want to just jump up and volunteer for something?

The live and silent auctions, which I absolutely love, featured some unique items. They included a trip to Bermuda, a dinner for 10 with wine pairings in the Todd English Food Hall at The Plaza curated by chef Todd English, a private movie screening, tickets to fabulous Broadway shows, including “Hamilton,” and a walk-on role in “Chicago.”  I tried to bid on the walk-on role in “Chicago,” but once again, I don’t have enough jobs for that one.

Until next week … kisses.