As program Director Wayne E. Tyre stood in front of a crowd in the patio at Single Stop, he took the mic and confessed. When the idea of a client appreciation day was first presented to him, he wasn’t sold on it. That changed after the program staged its first such event in 2018. This very sunny and hot June 28 they had their second, and Wayne did not hold back on his praise for the people who come to Single Stop for services.
“I look at this as an opportunity to thank all of you for allowing us to help you. Without you coming to us and putting trust in us to resolve whatever the issue may be, we wouldn’t be here,” he said. “We really appreciate it.”
Single Stop helps people gain access to the government benefits they are entitled to. Its trained multilingual staff members connect clients to all kinds of government benefits such as food stamps and healthcare, and also provide housing assistance, legal aid, financial counseling and a wide array of referral services. Single Stop often saves people multiple phone calls and trips to government offices, or helps them resolve disputes with agencies.
The program’s clients were equally generous in their praise. Gerald C. gave a special shootout to the Single Stop team for working closely with him for the past two years.
“They’ve helped when dealing with Human Resources Administration. I don’t have to go recertify my food stamps every six months, thank God for them! It’s once a year now,” Gerald said with a big smile. “They’ve helped me with my housing and my medical. They have done wonders for me!”
Another client, Raphael B., has been going to Single Stop for four months: “I was going to file my taxes, when someone told me that Single Stop would be able to help me” said Raphael. “So, I came in and it was wonderful. I was going to be charged a fee to file taxes—when I came here, I paid nothing! That was very great.”
Since January, Single Stop has served over 1,300 clients. A majority of them have learned about the program by word of mouth – another reason staff feel grateful toward the clientele.
During Client Appreciation Day everyone mingled while enjoying old-school music played by a DJ. There was a photo booth and a small thrift shop filled with books, clothing, and jewelry that people could claim for free with “gratitude bucks”— slips of paper they could fill out with a few words of kindness for the Single Stop team to hang in their office.
More than 130 attendees enjoyed a light summer lunch and went home with full goody bags.
This is the second year that Single Stop Client Appreciation Day was funded by Health First, a not-for-profit health insurance company. Health screenings were provided by another partner, the Ryan Center.
The Single Stop office at 140 West 140th Street is usually a hive of activity as clients flow in and out, bringing their issues and worries. But on Client Appreciation Day, everyone gets to slow down a little and show off their Harlem Shake dance moves.
“Usually people are here about an issue that is pressing them,” said Assistant Program Director Ronald Guy. “But in a social setting like this where they can just relax and enjoy themselves — it’s wonderful to get to appreciate them and be appreciated in return.”