In his 73 years, Barry Friedman has never left New York State. But he has still clocked countless miles, almost all within the city limits.
Mr. Friedman racked up many of those miles over the last 17 years, making deliveries for Brooklyn Community Services, one of eight organizations supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.
The agency has 30 affiliate sites across the city, and Mr. Friedman, who grew up in the Bronx and lives in Brooklyn, knows the best route to many of them — no mobile app required.
His expert advice: Avoid the C train. “It’s the slowest,” Mr. Friedman said.
To say he knows his way around New York, and has seen its ebbs and flows, is an understatement.
“The subways get slower and the neighborhoods have changed, but the job remains the same,” he said.
Every weekday, Mr. Friedman sets his alarm clock for 5:30 a.m. He showers, has breakfast and heads to Brooklyn Community Service’s main office in Downtown Brooklyn. His shift doesn’t start until 9 a.m., but Mr. Friedman routinely arrives by 8:30.
“I get up early, and I don’t go to bed too late,” he said. “I look forward to coming here. Some people don’t like their job, but I do.”
His most distant routes include trips to Coney Island and Rockaway Parkway. Between deliveries, Mr. Friedman stops at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee (he takes it iced, light) and a bagel with cream cheese.
“The only problem sometimes is walking up and down the stairs of the subways,” he said. “It’s a little tiring, but I’m used to it already.”
He buys a new pair of shoes every year to keep up with the demands of the job.
In his time at Brooklyn Community Services, the organization has become like a family. Fellow employees and volunteers provided support when Mr. Friedman’s wife of 41 years, Alexis, died in 2016.
“It’s painful to talk about,” Mr. Friedman said. “My wife was a good person, I really loved her.”
They met after a woman that Mr. Friedman had been dating for six years called to say that she had met someone else.
“I was so upset, I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “Then I heard a radio ad for a dating service.” He told the service that he wanted to get married; it said it would send him a letter with a list of names, ages and heights.
Mr. Friedman called Alexis and went on a date on a Sunday in October. They were married six months later.
When Mrs. Friedman died in April 2016, Brooklyn Community Services drew on $2,138 from The Neediest Cases Fund to pay her funeral costs. Staff members also started a collection drive to make sure all of the expenses were covered.
“Everyone was so nice here,” Mr. Friedman said.
His closest family member, a brother, lives in Florida, so Mr. Friedman is thankful to have a job that keeps him busy, he said.
“I don’t like to sit around, I like to go out and work. I find doing work keeps you busy and the time goes faster.”
Mr. Friedman hopes to remarry someday. He does not have a computer or access to the internet, so he has taken out a classified ad in his local neighborhood paper, The Bay News.
“I don’t want to be alone,” he said. “I haven’t given up on it yet.”
Donations to the Neediest Cases may be made online, or with a check or over the phone.
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