Graphic designer will be 'Homeless for One Week' in Union Square Park to raise money, awareness
DAILY NEWS WRITER
Yusef Ramelize created "Homeless for One Week" to draw attention to, and raise money to combat homelessness.
A Queens man is hoping to turn sleeping on the streets into big bucks for the homeless.
Yusef Ramelize, a 33-year-old graphic designer, will leave his Ozone Park apartment Sunday and take up residence in Union Square Park. He won't shower and he won't have shelter during his "Homeless for One Week" project.
"My reasoning for doing this is to inspire people to make sacrifices within their own lives," Ramelize said of his project, now in its second year.
He raised $3,635 in March 2009 and donated it to the Coalition for the Homeless. This year's beneficiary will be the Food Bank of New York.
Ramelize will hand out flyers and keep a videotaped diary of his experiences in order to help elicit donations on his website, homelessforoneweek.com.
"It's really about me pushing myself to see how much of a sacrifice I'm willing to make every year to get the word out," Ramelize said.
Ramelize chose Union Square to pay homage to his biggest inspiration, Mohandas Gandhi, who is immortalized with a statue on the west side of the park.
"That's one of the reasons I did it here," Ramelize admits. "He wanted to bring peace around him, and he was willing to sacrifice his life."
As if braving the elements for seven days wasn't enough, the slender Ramelize will also be fasting from sunrise to sunset for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
His employer, Informa, gave him the week off without forcing him to dip into his vacation time - something Ramelize said he's grateful for. His boss, Nora Pastenkos, said it was a "no-brainer" to allow him to take the time to pursue his cause.
"Many people just walk by the homeless. He's one of those unique people who doesn't just walk by - he tries to make a difference," Pastenkos said.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/08/14/2010-08-14_hell_live_in_park_to_tout_sacrifice.html#ixzz0we1qFa21