All the workers are volunteers, including high school students from Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science, and the event is produced on a budget of around $1,500.
“So we have to be very creative,” said Mr. Koroma. “We all try and think out of the box.” Swimming pool noodles will form the basis for light sabers. Bits of fabric will be on hand for the kids’ costumes.
Before Mr. Koroma, Mr. Dawkins and Kimberly Kinnard, the third member of the group, formed NYSoM, as New York State of Mind is known, they had volunteered with different organizations starting in 2008. They put together events for teens at Covenant House, an organization that helps homeless children, like fashion shows and ice cream making, and they did arts and crafts with children at Bellevue Hospital.
But Mr. Dawkins, 36, who works full-time as a financial analyst and who grew up in the Queensbridge housing projects in Long Island City, wanted to do more for the community. He decided he and his two associates should form their own nonprofit. So NYSoM was born.
“He was forming this super group,” said Ms. Kinnard. “He wanted to take what we were doing and make it grow.” In 2013, they started organizing their own events.
The Superhero/Sci Fi Festival is just one of many programs the three members of NYSoM plan and operate throughout the year. Each spring they run a large Easter egg hunt and celebration in East Harlem, their biggest event of the year, which usually draws around 1,000 people from throughout the tristate area. They hold annual back-to-school supply drives in both Bed-Stuy and East Harlem each August. From March to November, they participate in Hunger No More, handing out care packages to the homeless around Midtown.
“I tell my friends to save all their little shampoos and tiny toothpastes from their hotel visits, so I can include them in the packages,” said Ms. Kinnard. “It’s nothing for them, but it’s a lot to the people we give it to.”