I’ll Be There Project
Written and Photographed by Vaughn Eric Stewart
The I’LL BE THERE PROJECT. Eleven years ago, Chun Rosenkranz was sleeping on the cold, concrete floor of a jail cell — an addict that was convinced he was unlovable, worthless and didn’t matter — and then something happened that changed his life.
During his incarceration, the 7th and final Harry Potter book was released, The Deathly Hallows. Chun wasn’t allowed to receive the book because hardcover books are considered a weapon in prison. Knowing how much of a fan Chun was of Harry Potter, his friend Jeannie had all 759 pages Xeroxed. Jeannie’s kind gesture and the Harry Potter story had a profound effect on Chun. When he finished the book about a boy who is saved by the power of love and friendship, he made a promise to himself that he would spend his life helping people who may have forgotten their self-worth and remind them that they are loved.
After his release from jail, Chun kept that promise to himself and graduated with a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. Soon after that he founded the I’ll Be There Project — a nonprofit whose mission is to help others through acts of kindness and love.
Chun can often be seen walking the streets of NYC carrying a large Ikea bag filled with toiletries and other items for the homeless. He also frequents senior centers, hospitals, shelters and jails. Whether filling Easter baskets for children living in shelters, setting up makeshift pop-up shops to give out winter coats or spending time with a lonely elderly person that has no one else to talk to, Chun’s heart is set on spreading love wherever he goes – always saying good-bye with his signature hug.
When asked what Chun hopes to accomplish through the I’ll Be There Project, he replies, “To create a world where people know that their not alone, that they are loved, and that they matter. I want to be an example of that in the hope that I can encourage others to do the same. At some point we all need that. Life isn’t perfect for anyone.”
To learn more about Chun and donate to his nonprofit organization, go to the I’ll Be There Project on Instagram and Facebook.