Yoga Journal - - LIVE WELL -

SEVEN YEARS AGO, ERIN DINAN— a young artist and yogi liv­ing in New York City—was run­ning to catch a train. She’d just picked up a sand­wich for an on-the-go din­ner, and just be­fore she got on the sub­way car, she spot­ted a home­less man sit­ting on the plat­form. With­out even think­ing about it, she gave the man half of her sand­wich.

“I’ll never for­get the look on his face—it was this silent com­mu­ni­ca­tion of grat­i­tude,” says Dinan. “It be­came a piv­otal mo­ment for me when I re­al­ized the ul­ti­mate les­son of yoga: We are all con­nected; we just have dif­fer­ent tri­als and tribu­la­tions.”

Be­fore this ex­change, Dinan had lofty goals for how she was go­ing to change the world. She wanted to open an or­phan­age in East Africa. She dreamt of largescale projects that would help feed mil­lions of hun­gry chil­dren in the world’s poor­est coun­tries. But this sub­way ex­pe­ri­ence helped her re­al­ize that she could start now, here, in her own com­mu­nity—a city where so many peo­ple could use her help—one sand­wich at a time.

She be­gan mak­ing sand­wiches and tak­ing them with her wher­ever she went, hand­ing them to peo­ple who looked home­less and hun­gry on the streets of New York. Ini­tially she wanted to talk with these peo­ple and doc­u­ment their jour­neys in a photo-jour­nal­ism project to raise aware­ness and de­crease the kind of numb­ness that oc­curs around prob­lems that seem too big to re­solve. Soon, her friends wanted in on the “sand­wich project,” and Dinan be­gan host­ing sand­wich­mak­ing events. In 2011, One Sand­wich at a Time re­ceived 501c3 non­profit sta­tus. Since its in­cep­tion, One Sand­wich at a Time has fed more than 100,000 in­di­vid­u­als in need.

“These days, life in­volves bigscale prob­lems that are so mas­sive, it can be tough to know where to start,” says Dinan. “Cre­at­ing even the small­est change, and com­ing from a place of com­pas­sion and kind­ness, cre­ates a rip­ple ef­fect. As Mar­garet Mead once said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thought­ful, com­mit­ted ci­ti­zens can change the world; in­deed, it is the only thing that ever has.’”

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