Fort Greene

Joan I. Gumbs

At the young age of 22 years old, Joan Gumbs had an idea to start a free-of-charge service where she would babysit, help people with errands and visit the sick in hospitals. Decades later, she faithfully continues this service. 

She spends five days of the week visiting the sick across all boroughs of New York City. She selects a hospital each day, such as Maimonides Medical Center and Brookdale University Hospital in Brooklyn all the way to Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx. At each hospital, she finds as many people as she can visit in that day. She often leaves the house at 8 AM and does not return until 11 PM in the evening. 

Though she often may not know the patients she is visiting, she finds joy in passing along a message of care from a friend or loved one. She tells those she visits, “You don’t know me, but so and so wanted to know how you’re doing. Do you need something? How can I help?” 

Joan believes in the importance of taking what you have and using it for good, and spending time talking to those that need assistance. Her prayer each morning as she prepares for the day is, “God take me where I have to go today and bring me back.” 

Portrait by

Kevin Kim

Kevin Kim is a photographer who is a 10-minute bike ride from the oasis that is Fort Greene Park.

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