One of my friends who lives in New York told me about Tonita, a Puerto Rican woman who owns the last social club in the city. Tonita’s place is located in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, a vibrant and multicultural borough of New York. It doesn’t look like a restaurant or bar, but it has free food and cheap drinks. Tonita’s place is a real old school social club, where you can meet people from your community, and food, games, and fun conversation are free. Here you can see older people playing board games or debating about politics, and young people dancing salsa, chatting and lauthing. Before the pandemic, it was also the place for salsa parties and celebrations, but today it is quite, but still alive. Almost every day Tonita provides free food for her community, and every person who comes inside, no matter of nationality, race, or gender, can receive a free hot meal because Tonita’s place is open for all.
Tonita admits that COVID-19 was a serious struggle for this social club because the profit they received from drinks almost disappeared. Still, Tonita has never thought about closing the venue, even temporarily. She said today the opportunity to receive hot meals is as necessary for many members of the community as never. In the US political climate of the last four years seeing places like this gives hope and confidence that no matter what politicians say, community leadership can make a big difference in the way we live and support each other.