Notes from NMIC

November 2021 Notes from NMIC

Dear Friend,

The season of gratitude is here again, and we have so much to be thankful for, starting with you! Your support is essential to us. 

In this Newsletter, we are grateful for…

  • Verizon, for their generous grant.
  • Our new AmeriCorps volunteer, Paloma, for joining our team and sharing her skills.
  • 10 years of GivingTuesday at NMIC

NMIC RECEIVES A $10,000 VERIZON GRANT

We are proud to announce that we received a Verizon grant of $10,000! This grant, which organizations must be invited to apply for, will go a long way to support NMIC’s continued COVID-19 response efforts. Maria Lizardo explains: “Prior to the pandemic, we were already working with a community in need. Though our clients are incredibly resilient in the face of so much systemic inequality, COVID-19 further tested their ability to respond and recover from this crisis. We are proud that, in leveraging many partnerships, including Verizon, we have been able to secure more than 18,000 vaccination appointments for our residents, distributed over 144,000 pounds of food, and serviced well over 14,000 clients this past year.”  

MEET PALOMA

We are excited to introduce our new AmeriCorps VISTA, Paloma Thoen. Candidates interview at several organizations before selecting one for their year of service. Paloma is joining our Development  Department for hers. “I chose to work with NMIC to contribute toward a strong and inclusive New York where all people are welcome and have access to the resources necessary for a successful future.

This role is a great bridge between my two passions of writing and helping people solve their problems.” Paloma is a graduate student at Queens College and is thinking of following her grandmother, mother, and two aunts into social work. Join us in welcoming her!

CELEBRATE GIVINGTUESDAY WITH NMIC

This season of gratitude, we are thankful for you! Our longevity and ability to expand to meet community needs are a direct result of support like yours. This GivingTuesday, we are asking for your support in helping us continue our work. When you donate to NMIC you are directly ensuring our community members can thrive and build prosperous futures for themselves and their families.

 We set a lofty goal of $10,000 this year- in honor of the 10th anniversary of GivingTuesday and our recent most innovative decade yet, can you help us meet it?

Donate today.

Yours in Solidarity,
NMIC

October 2021 Notes from NMIC

Dear Friend,

In this newsletter:

  • We marched against domestic violence at Shine the Light event.
  • NMIC gives a warm welcome to our newest board members.
  • Our volunteer Caitly joins us in a permanent role!
  • Our educators share best practices at the 17th Annual Literacy Review Workshops.

We Marched at Shine the Light

In 2000, NMIC, the NYPD, and other community-based organizations founded the Washington Heights & Inwood Coalition Against Interpersonal and Domestic Violence. One of our aims is to educate and promote awareness to end and prevent interpersonal violence in Northern Manhattan. 

The Shine the Light event began years ago when government buildings in Albany were lit up in purple to raise awareness. Four years ago, the Coalition then brought this march to Washington Heights. We were honored to walk alongside our community in raising awareness for domestic violence.  

Survivors of intimate partner violence have become more vulnerable during COVID-19, please help by making a donation today

Meet Our New Board Members

Join us in welcoming the two newest members of our Board of Directors, Roshan Ahmad and Kayla M. McPherson. 

Roshan Ahmad is an Executive Director at JPMorgan’s Global Sovereign Advisory Group with 13 years of experience advising governments globally on critical fiscal policy, credit ratings, and investor positioning. 

Kayla M. McPherson is the Deputy Director of Data, IT, and Compliance at East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP). Before EHTP, Kayla worked at Legal Action Center on a consumer education and engagement initiative on the use of electronic health records in New York State.

We also want to extend congratulations to our board member Eddie Cuesta who is being celebrated in City & State’s list, Power of Diversity: Latino 100 to mark Hispanic Heritage Month alongside the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Frankie Miranda. Eddie, we are honored to serve with you! Learn more about our Board of Directors by clicking here.

Do you remember Caitly?

Earlier this year, we shared a story about our super volunteer, Caitly, who was an essential member of our bi-weekly food pantry distributions.  

Since then, we are happy to share she has officially joined our team as a staff member connecting community members to emergency rental assistance. 

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides economic relief to families facing housing insecurity through rental arrears, temporary rental assistance, and utility arrears assistance. Originally from Washington Heights, Caitly has been giving back to her community since the 6th grade. Join us in welcoming Caitly! 

What the hell happened in high school?

NMIC team members Mark Ambrosino and Jason Bocko were selected to participate in the 17th annual Literacy Review Workshops to share an activity, created by Mr. Ambrosino, named “What the hell happened in high school?” with other adult education instructors and academics to implement as a best practice.

Mr. Ambrosino begins his Adult Basic Education class with this assignment. Students describe their negative experiences with the public education system and share their reasons for not completing high school, often bonding over their similarities. In doing so, our teachers build community, and address and deconstruct the stigma of not graduating from high school so students can move forward with more enthusiasm and confidence. 

NMIC’s free adult education classes put clients on the path to better jobs and higher wages. Learn more here. 

Get Involved

Thinking of getting involved like Caitly? Our Food Pantry is looking for volunteers! Please fill out this form to apply

Yours in Solidarity,
NMIC

September Notes from NMIC 2021

Dear Friend,

In this newsletter, you’ll read more about: 

  • How NMIC supported Yanira on her journey towards citizenship. 
  • Our inspiring and dedicated community member turned intern, Joanel. 
  • The exciting hands-on opportunity to join NMIC’s Advisory Board. 
Meet Yanira

Since immigrating to the U.S., Yanira has been working hard to achieve her goal of becoming a citizen. Last year, she improved her English comprehension by participating in our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course and studied for the naturalization exam by joining our Citizenship Preparation classes. We are overjoyed to report that this past August, Yanira became a citizen and attended her Oath of Allegiance ceremony. She shared with us the above picture and the following message: “I am eternally grateful for NMIC for providing the right combination of classes that together removed the obstacle to reaching our dreams.”  

We offer services that support our clients on their paths to more prosperous futures. Armed with her citizenship and improved English-language skills, Yanira can now vote, engage in civic duties, and enjoying the many benefits allotted to U.S. Citizens. 

Join us in congratulating her! 

Our Intern, Joanel

Joanel just ended his internship at NMIC but his relationship with us began when he was a child. His parents and older siblings, who had immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic, enrolled in our immigration services program to become US citizens. And, in a full-circle moment, Joanel worked alongside the NMIC attorney who had helped his family obtain their citizenship, Aleida Sainz. Of his time working with us, he said, “I am proud to have contributed to an organization that actively addresses the issues I’ve had to combat my entire life. I will be the first college graduate in my family, and I plan on pursuing a career as a paralegal to continue the work I began at NMIC.”  

If, like Joanel, you would like to get involved, keep reading to find out how.  

NMIC’s Advisory Board (NAB)

NMIC is looking for dedicated professionals committed to our mission to join our Advisory Board. Participants will enhance their resumes, fulfill their passion to serve, and gain hands-on volunteer experience. NAB members will have opportunities to interact with our staff and network with the Board of Directors as they support NMIC’s overall goals through social media, individual fundraising, service activities, and fundraising events. To apply, fill out this application and send your resume to NAB@nmic.org. We will begin interviews in October!  


Interested in other ways to help? With just $5 per month you can become a sustaining donor to help us remain responsive in times of crisis. 

Become a monthly sustainer now. 
 
Yours in Solidarity,
NMIC

August 2021 Notes from NMIC

Dear Friend:

In this newsletter:

  • NMIC’s collaboration with organizers of the 21st annual Brides’ March bringing forth advocacy efforts against domestic violence. 
  • Since last October we have distributed over $20,000 worth of pet food to our four-legged friends. 
  • Meet Ernesto, our community member. 
  • Learn how you can get involved!
NMIC Joins the Brides’ March


NMIC is proud to, once again, collaborate with other community-based organizations, activists, and the Ricart family in the planning and carrying out of the 21st annual Brides’ March. The march was established in 2001 to honor Gladys Ricart, a Dominican woman from Washington Heights, murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend on her wedding day. Every year, the march brings together survivors and advocates to fight for a world free of domestic violence. We will begin this year’s march at 8am at the Holyrod Episcopal Church at 715 W 179th Street in Washington Heights. For more information, visit their website.

Through NMIC’s Domestic Violence Project, we provide counseling, safety planning, support groups, legal assistance and so much more because survivors and their families deserve safety and healing.

NMIC & The Hungry Pet Project


Since last October, NMIC and The Hungry Pet Project have distributed over $20,000 worth of pet food. That translates to 5,809 pounds of canned food and over 13,000 pounds of dry food. We are honored that our partnership has helped us amplify our impact to reach our beloved four-legged family members! 

Learn more about The Hungry Pet Project

Meet Ernesto


Before the pandemic Ernesto worked in a hotel, which has since closed because of last year’s shutdown. These last eighteen months have been challenging for him. Ernesto is experiencing food insecurity and the financial hardship of losing employment. His stress is compounded by the uncertainty of his employment future. Unfortunately, stories like Ernesto’s are far too common. 

Our communities specifically represent some of the highest socioeconomic need in New York City and include 9 of the top 10 (out of 59 total) NYC community districts with the highest percentage of residents living below the federal poverty level. Without support, our community members are forced to choose between paying their rent or buying groceries. No one should have to choose between the two but many are. 

At NMIC, we help alleviate immediate crisis and once resolved – we provide our clients with wrap-around holistic services as they define their own goals to reach a more sustainable future. Our food pantry allows Ernesto to use his restricted income for other necessities. We cannot do this work without your support; read below about ways you can make a difference. 

Get Involved

The Excluded Workers Fund is New York’s largest cash relief program for workers. We are committed to ensuring that these eligible excluded workers can access critical relief. 

You can do your part, too. Repost this photo on social media and encourage your followers to do the same. Applications for the Excluded Workers Fund are now open. To learn about qualifications, click here.

The NMIC Advisory Board (NAB) is launching and we are inviting you to learn more about this opportunity. NAB is a group of dedicated professionals who are committed to NMIC’s mission to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of our community members all the while enhancing your resume, fulfilling your passion to serve, and gain hands-on volunteer experience! To apply please fill out this application and send your resume to NAB@nmic.org

Yours in Solidarity,
NMIC

July’s Notes from NMIC

Before continuing to read, we invite you to close your eyes and take one (or three) deep, intentional, grounding breaths.

July is BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Mental Health Month. Mental health stressors affect us all and BIPOC have to also deal with racism, anti-immigration sentiment, xenophobia, and societal inequities. These systems disproportionately have a negative impact on our community members’ earning potential and make accessing housing, food, and financial security unatainable. These factors, along with stigma and the lack of culturally competent mental health practitioners in the area, pose barriers to practicing good mental health for our residents.

To varying degrees, COVID-19 has made life harder for all of us. Everyone has had to make a lot of adjustments to how we function in our day-to-day. Still, NMIC continues to provide our clients in crisis with a wide array of wrap around services that support their wellbeing.

In this Newsletter:

  • 12 youth residents earned their high school diplomas in our YouthBuild program. 
  • Our Mental Health Program is helping community members, like Mateo, improve coping skills and resiliency.  

Join us in congratulating our YouthBuild Graduates!

Join us in congratulating our 2021 YouthBuild graduates! Participants completed a five-month paid opportunity designed to support unemployed and out-of-school youth aged 17-24. This intensive program includes high school equivalency classes, career development, and job placement, as well as ongoing job retention and advancement services. Participants also receive trainings in small business ownership, digital literacy, and job readiness (such as resume preparation and practice for interviews).  

Reclaiming their education places clients on prosperous paths and increasing educational attainment in our area has a profound impact on our community’s wellness. Research shows that higher levels of education result in increased earning potential and self-esteem. We’re really proud of our graduates. Join us in wishing them well as they embark upon new endeavors. 

NMIC’s culturally competent Mental Health Program is changing lives

At NMIC, we understand that mental health can look different for people across different cultures and faiths so we prioritize delivering mental health services that are culturally competent, bilingual, and trauma informed. Accessing care that isn’t these things can further traumatize our community members and reinforce the negative stigma around going to therapy.   

When Mateo (name changed to protect anonymity) began weekly individual counseling with our mental health team eight months ago, he was going through an extremely difficult time. Mateo was an essential worker who tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic. Along with the isolation, sadness, and stress about not being able to work and the loss of income during quarantine, Mateo was also concerned about domestic violence. His abusive partner jeopardized Mateo’s ability to work by arriving to his places of employment and threatening his immigration status. 

Despite the fact that many of these stressors continue to be present in Mateo’s life, he tells us his 45-minute counseling sessions at NMIC give him the space and support to process what he is going through. He’s learned deep breathing strategies, reinforced healthy coping skills, improved his sleep hygiene, and enhanced his communication skills. Because of NMIC’s strategy to address multiple needs, we also connected Mateo to our Immigration Legal Services team and our Domestic Violence Project. Mateo is now receiving ongoing support as he takes the next steps to ensure his safety and continued wellbeing.  

Your support enhances our holistic approach to our community’s wellness that provide opportunities for our clients to increase their resiliency and coping skills while tackling other inequities like housing, financial, or food insecurity.

With gratitude,
The NMIC Team

March 2021 Notes from NMIC

In March, Americans celebrated Women’s History Month by sharing stories and recognizing the contributions of women in their city, country, and around the world. For us at NMIC, it is difficult not to reflect on the vital role women have played to solve problems in our own community. In fact, in 1979 it was a woman, Barbara Lowry, who founded NMIC, taking the initiative to bring together various community stakeholders to form the first brick and mortar non-profit in Upper Manhattan to provide free legal housing services to immigrants. We are consistently inspired by the women on our staff and in our communities and want them to know our appreciation for their positive impact extends far beyond the month of March.  

Benefit MC Damaris Diaz 

We are so excited to announce that our benefit, The Moment is Now, will be hosted by Damaris Diaz, an embodiment of empowered and successful Latin American women. Born in La Vega, Dominican Republic – she moved to New York with her family as a small child and later settled in New Jersey. She graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor of Arts, in Communications with a concentration in Criminal Justice.  

In 2020, she began corresponding for Despierta America, Univision’s national morning show,developing interesting stories from the NY tri-state area. Her work ethic and dedication have also landed her roles as co-host of Viernes y Mas on UniMasand Made In Hollywood, which marked her cross-over into the general English language market as a correspondent. 

Damaris is a hard worker who has found much success for her work in television, receiving three Emmy nominations! Now, she is giving back to immigrant communities by hosting our event. Please join her, on Thursday April 29 at 6:00 PM, in honoring Dr. Steven Corwin, CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian and the tenant association of 894 Riverside Drive for their contributions to the community. The event is FREE! Click here to reserve your ticket.

If you are interested in learning about how to support our event, please email us at rosannamontilla@nmic.org. 

Staff Spotlight – Meet Jasmine Santana

Jasmine Santana, a 26-year old born and raised in Washington Heights, has always considered the Northern Manhattan community – from neighbors to grocery store owners – a second family. Having experienced how the pandemic disproportionately battered her neighborhood she knew that she needed to apply when she heard that NMIC was hiring part-time employees to assist community members in registering for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Being part of this effort is at the core of who I am,” says Jasmine, “Our community has suffered disproportionately from the virus, we’ve seen so much loss and pain here. By supporting the hotline and ultimately connecting with people in my community who are the most vulnerable, it is my way of giving back, honoring my late grandfather and all the other lives lost because of COVID-19.” 

With the help of community heroes like Jasmine, we have been able to assist 6,400 residents to sign up to receive the vaccine. You can learn more about Jasmine’s story over at Univision

If you are eligible to receive the vaccine in New York State and you reside in Northern Manhattan or the South and West Bronx, call our COVID-19 Vaccination Scheduling Hotline at 646-838-0319. 

The Women of NMIC’s DVP

We are honored to work with and serve the resilient participants of NMIC’s Domestic Violence Project. In 1996 several women at NMIC recognized the connection between domestic abuse and housing instability and launched the Domestic Violence Project (DVP). Since then, we have promoted the safety and independence of over 2,000 survivors. 

DVP has been an avid participant helping mobilize survivors to attend, speak, and support the outreach efforts of the Brides’ March which was established as a day of action and awareness for the murder of Gladys Ricart – a Dominican woman from Washington Heights – on her wedding day by her abusive former boyfriend.

Staff and survivors worked together again in 2012 to form a worker-led nanny cooperative with the goal of each member owning a portion of their business. This past year, DVP served over 400 survivors with bilingual community-based counseling, case management, and legal services. We are thrilled to share a little about our team and the amazing work they do everyday of the year. Check them out at the 2020 Advocates of NYC

With gratitude,
The NMIC Team

January 2021 Notes from NMIC

According to the 2018 NYC Volunteers Count report an estimated 600,000 people volunteered their time to uplift a fellow New Yorker. Of those, 65% chose to directly impact their neighborhoods by volunteering for a local community-based organization. 

Every day, we witness the power of volunteers who have identified community-wide concerns and are taking actions. These actions make our work possible and helps us service over 14,000 clients annually. 

Read below for an update on the milestones you’ve helped us accomplish, a celebration of an unlikely partnership, and why volunteering your time can lead to new relationships, understanding of barriers, and more importantly – can support someone’s empowerment. On this Martin Luther King Jr.’s day, we reflect on the power of community action. 

Honoring MLK Day of Service

In 1983, legistation was signed to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and designate a national day of service. The day’s slogan is “Make it a day on, not a day off.” During these challenging times, the work must continue. 

Soon, it will be a year since the pandemic began impacting our lives. As we reflect on a year filled with challenges and grief, we are reminded of the positive effect that strong community-wide efforts have. In 2020, you helped NMIC fight food insecurity by giving almost 700 hours of service. Of those who volunteered during our food pantry, more than half are recurring – volunteering two or more times. You distributed over 77,000 pounds of food to local families in need. 

We were flooded with requests from local community members and businesses who wanted to help. High-skilled volunteers donated their expertise to bring awareness to the unique experiences of our clients. We are truly grateful to everyone who took the time to share our content, volunteer their time, give advice, send a donation, and make a connection. 

Our community is resilient. There is more to be done and we know you will meet this moment. If you are interested in getting involved, email us at rosannamontilla@nmic.org. 

Volunteer Spotlight – Meet Caleb

Even as a freshman in high school, Caleb finds the time to volunteer – all while completing his school assigned reading. 

“I came to NMIC when Fort Washington Collegiate Church put out the call for volunteers. I keep coming back to NMIC, because I realized that it’s easy to make a difference right in my neighborhood. Especially during COVID, people need help more than ever. And I am proud to do this.” Caleb, we are proud of you! 

The Hungry Pet Project

Image by The Hungry Pet Project

We have seen images of, or personally experienced, extensive blocks-long lines of people waiting to pick up food at their local pantry. What is not often shown is how food insecurity is affecting our furry friends: family pets. A few months ago, we were approached by The Hungry Pet Project, Partnership for Shelter Animals NYC to distribute cat and dog food to families facing insecurity. A one-time donation evolved into a partnership that has now allowed us to provide a source of dependable pet food to our clients. 

We have seen images of, or personally experienced, extensive blocks-long lines of people waiting to pick up food at their local pantry. What is not often shown is how food insecurity is affecting our furry friends: family pets. A few months ago, we were approached by The Hungry Pet Project, Partnership for Shelter Animals NYC to distribute cat and dog food to families facing insecurity. A one-time donation evolved into a partnership that has now allowed us to provide a source of dependable pet food to our clients. 

The partnership’s goal is to help keep pets in their homes. According to The Hungry Pet Project, “No one should have to choose between feeding themselves or feeding their pets.” And what might a dog say before eating? Bone Appetite!  

If you’d like to help, you can purchase items from the Amazon Wish List curated by The Hungry Pet Project.

Yours in Community,
NMIC

November Notes from NMIC 2020

Hi there,

This month, most Americans turn their attention to practicing gratitude, which can be both challenging and deeply healing in the wake of a global crisis. In this newsletter, we’re focusing on the gratitude we feel for all of you, our community of supporters, clients, donors, volunteers, and staff. You are essential to all that we do. 

We’re sharing our gratitude for all that your support has helped us accomplish this month.

  • You have helped bring Thanksgiving dinners to 112 families. And, in this month, 300 more will receive food through our normally scheduled food pantry!
  • Our staff brings mental health care into community member’s homes remotely.
  • Help us expand access to immediate life changing services.

Food for our Community

The global economic crisis has hit those at the margins hardest. So, when community member Karima Khawja came to us with an idea to host a Turkey Drive, we were excited to partner with her. With your help we were able to raise over $5,000!

Though the Turkey Drive is over, we are still very much on the front lines of battling food insecurity one bag of food at a time. Our pantries occur twice per month serving 300 clients. Resources are limited and the need is great. Unfortunately, we are receiving about 50-100 new sign-ups per month from community residents. We cannot meet the demand without your support.

Donate now

Our Wonderful Staff & Clients

We are proud to be an organization staffed and run by people who come from the community we serve. We are able to give our clients culturally sensitive care in the language they speak at home. Our team is entirely dedicated to and enmeshed in our community’s successes. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our staff has risen together to make incredible moves, from integrating our Food Pantry into a regularly scheduled program to the creation of hotlines to keep our services safely available. We are also honored to represent a space where people feel they can address their crises and know they’ll be heard and assisted. Just like Miriam*. Suffering from panic attacks that landed her in the emergency room, when our Community Health Workers’ team called Miriam, she was distressed and in tears. Mounting coronavirus deaths, having to juggle a home life that now included children at home full-time, she felt her mental health worsening. Our staff member provided a listening ear and thoughtful support. At the end of the call, Miriam said she felt better and was grateful for the check-in which she indicated always made her feel calmer. 

Your end of year gift will enable us to continue to provide our community members with the personal health support they need to keep their families safe and healthy.
*Name has been changed to protect our client’s privacy.

Donate now 

Giving Tuesday is December 1st this Year

Every year, millions of people come together on a single day to participate in a global act of generosity. That day is known as #GivingTuesday, and this year it’s tomorrow, December 1st. We know this year has been challenging for many of us in differing ways.

Many of our clients found themselves unemployed, uninsured, and under-resourced even before the pandemic. Now, their need is even greater. With an increasing number of community members facing unemployment, food insecurity, domestic violence, and financial difficulties, our work is more essential than ever. 

Now is the time to start reaching out to loved ones via social media, the phone, or email, urging them to join you in supporting the 12,000 New Yorkers NMIC serves a year. Use the graphic below and tag us at @NMICNYC.Donate now 

Yours in Solidarity,
NMIC

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