Victoria Acland

January 2022 Notes from NMIC

In this newsletter, you’ll read more about:

  • How to help the victims of the Bronx High-Rise Fire and their families. 
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2022.
  • Our inspiring YouthBuild alumni turned Outreach Specialist, Jalil.
  • The Second Annual #WESEEYOU Luncheon Honoring Female Social Workers.
  • A Five-Year Eviction Case Solved 

Please consider donating to the Relief for Families Affected by Bronx Fire

On January 9, 2022, our community experienced a tragedy in the Fordham Heights section of the Bronx. The five-alarm high-rise fire was one of the worst in modern New York history. 17 community members, including eight children, and at least 44 people were injuries. Families lost loved ones, students lost classmates, and parents lost their children. The last thing they should have to worry about is the financial recovery from the disaster. Every dollar helps, please consider donating to the Relief for Families Affected by Bronx Fire. All proceeds will be distributed by the Gambian Youth Organization. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: a national day of service

In 1994, Congress passed a bill to dedicate Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a National Day of Service. The King Holiday and Service act of 1994 was launched by Senator Harris Wofford and Congressman John Lewis, who both worked as civil rights activists alongside Dr. King. 

Every third Monday of January, Americans nationwide are encouraged to step up and volunteer to improve their communities. The day’s slogan is “Make it a day on, not a day off.” January 17, 2022, was a day to recognize and appreciate those of you who have made strides this past year on the path toward equity that Dr. King paved for us. 

We are grateful for all the ways that our volunteers have helped us provide services to community members. One of the many devastating effects of COVID’s economic crisis was the sharp increase in food insecurity. Within the past two years, on account of our 266 volunteers, 4,758 bags of nutritious food were distributed to 1,300 unique households, 90,000 meals were handed out, and 128,000lbs of fresh food and 23,600lbs (about the weight of a school bus) of pet food were dispensed. Furthermore, food pantry volunteers are only one of the various volunteer roles that we depend on at NMIC. We are beholden to all the members of our community who continue to dedicate their time and effort to give back. 

Making time to volunteer is an exceptional way to honor the legacy of Dr. King. There is more work to be done, and volunteering makes the world of difference. Haga clic if you are interested in volunteering with us. 

Join us in welcoming Jalil, our inspiring YouthBuild alumni

Jalil Frazier came to YouthBuild after leaving high school before completing because he didn’t feel that anyone at his high school cared. He didn’t see the connection between what he was learning in the classroom and the skills he needed upon graduating, and he looked for a program that was more personal and relevant to his experience. 

He found both things in YouthBuild and participated in our second cohort of last year from March to June. He earned his high school equivalency diploma through the NYS diploma waiver, and he won NMIC’s business pitch at the end of the cohort after working closely with a representative from our placement partners, Prudential Global Investment Management (PGIM). Mr. Frazier went on to incorporate his own company and employ others in the filmmaking industry, where his goal is to create art and uplift other artists of color. 

More recently, Mr. Frazier joined NMIC as YouthBuild’s newest staff member, working as our outreach specialist. As a credible messenger of the impact YouthBuild can have, Mr. Frazier is helping us get the word out about the program to increase recruitment numbers, which YouthBuild has struggled with more so than any other program at NMIC since the pandemic. In addition to our typical recruitment efforts, Mr. Frazier brings his expertise in media, getting candid pictures and testimonials from participants to create more dynamic content that speaks directly to our target population. 

Join us in welcoming Mr. Frazier to the NMIC team!

The second annual #weseeyou luncheon honoring female social workers

On March 18, 2022 from 1:00 pm-2:00 pm ET, The National Association of Social Workers NYC chapter will hold a special event with NMIC’s very own Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, as a guest speaker. Events held by NASW-NYC CARES cover a range of topics and are created to encourage, support, and engage members of the social work profession.

This series in particular is celebrating the month of March which is national Social Work Month. Maria Lizardo was selected by the NASW-NYC as a result of her inclusion in the book, “Latinx in Social Work,” published last October. NASW-NYC’s Social Work Month series is designed to offer opportunities for networking and learning for social workers across the five boroughs. This event will be virtual and offered for free, if you are interested in registering, please click this linkWe look forward to seeing you there!

A five-year eviction case solved!

Access to safe and affordable housing is a fundamental human right that many of our clients do not have access to. When New York State’s eviction moratorium law expired on January 15th, many residents of our community depended on their rights to a free attorney, funded by the government. THE CITY’s article, “End to Eviction Moratorium Will Stress-Test Tenants’ Right to a Lawyer,” published on January 5, 2022, highlights the experiences of Carmen, a community member, who depended on free legal help from NMIC to get the five-year eviction case against her family resolved.

“We were afraid from day to day that somebody’s going to knock on the door, and we were going to be evicted,” Carmen told THE CITY. “If we had problems with anything in the apartment, we were afraid to even report it because we didn’t want to bring attention to ourselves.” Many fear that the post-pandemic floor of eviction cases will create a new housing crisis, as many residents are still recovering from COVID’s economic crisis. 

“I had been going to court for so many years, month after month, and I saw no end in sight. Finally, when the judge made the judgement, I was so relieved. They would have taken advantage of me if I had not had legal representation, because they would have figured I would eventually give up.”Help community members like Maria. By providing free legal, development, organizing, and weatherizing assistance, NMIC helps clients remove the obstacles that keep them from enjoying housing security. We cannot meet this new demand without your support.

Donate today.

Yours in Solidarity,

December 2021 Notes from NMIC

As we approach the end of another year, we are eager to welcome the one with a sense of renewal. Many of us are exhausted with the pandemic and all its negative effects—on our communities, our work, and our general stability. However, let’s remember that as we tread forward in time, we walk down our paths together as a community. It’s important to go forth constructively with validation and compassion. Times are tough, and it’s helpful to affirm the experiences of our neighbors who’ve faced challenges and instability during 2021.

In 2021, members of our community faced food insecurity, financial barriers, housing crises, and other commanding hurdles. We’re always here, with our sleeves rolled up, digging into these significant issues. From distributing emergency cash assistance to our food pantry services, we’ve adapted our services to meet these demands since March 2020.  

By creating an emergency fund for families who did not qualify for government stimulus, $400,000 of direct cash-relief was distributed to 445 families.

By expanding our food pantry, 90,000 meals and 23,600lbs of pet food were distributed.

By providing free legal, development, organizing, and weatherization assistance, 2,096 housing cases were handled and nearly 1,000 evictions were prevented. Including the weatherization of 553 units across 10 buildings.

By committing to our Domestic Violence Project, 485 survivors of domestic abuse received legal and holistic support.

By facilitating a vaccine call-center, 25,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments were made in four months.

By placing 102 residents in higher-paying and stable jobs, upgrading 9 classrooms with online learning capabilities, and engaging 405 community members to our English or Adult Education classes we supported both youth and adults.

By handling 5,385 immigration legal issues and filing 934 applications for citizenship.

By filing 1,585 tax returns, serving over 1,400 filers, receiving a total of almost $2.2 million.

We are very grateful for your support, without which none of these accomplishments would have been possible. We hope to celebrate our recent accomplishments, juntos, in person in the months to come. The festivities will recognize how special this past year was because your support proved to us that together we build without limits. 

On behalf of our community at NMIC, we wish you a happy and healthy new year.

Yours in Solidarity,

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

The Moment is Now!

Dear Friends,

Thank you for joining nearly 200 attendees at The Moment is Now: A Virtual Benefit for NMIC.

We hope that you enjoyed the event and have gained a better understanding of the strength of our community over the last year. If you missed the live event or want to re-watch your favorite moments, you can view the recording online aquí.

Over $110,000 raised

Thanks to your generous support, we raised more than $110,000. These funds will enable NMIC to continue providing essential supportive services and, as a settlement house, it allows us to remain responsive to emerging community-wide needs. 

We also want to thank our host, Damaris Diaz, and our honorees Dr. Steven J. Corwin, CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian, and the Tenant Association of 894 Riverside Drive for sharing their stories and helping bring this event to life. 

Lastly, we want to give a final thank you to our staff for the inspiring work that fuels our organization, our Board of Directors for their relentless commitment to advance our vision, and of course our generous sponsors! 

With gratitude, 
Maria Lizard, LMSW
Directora ejecutiva

January’s Notes from NMIC 2021

Hey there,

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 

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

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,

Happy New Year

Dear Friends,

This year, the pandemic has brought us to a flashpoint, where community-wide efforts are pivotal to supporting one another, as we strive to meet health inequities with courage and unrelenting commitment. It is imperative that the work continues – thank you for your support and being a member of our community. 

We wish you a peaceful holiday and invite you to look ahead to a new year with purpose and intention.

Thank you for helping us create impactful partnerships and life-changing relationships.  

Yours in Community,
The NMIC Team

Giving Tuesday

Hi there,

Every year, millions of people come together on a single day to participate in a global act of generosity. That day is today, #GivingTuesday.

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. With an increasing number of community members facing a crisis our work is more essential than ever. 

NMIC’s food pantry has served over 600 families since launching in May. Our pantries occur twice per month and we have distributed over 30,000 pounds of food. But, resources are limited and demand is much greater than we can meet. Even after adding an additional pantry distribution day, we continue to receive about 50-100 new sign-ups monthly from community residents. We cannot meet the demand without your support. 

There are two key ways to help right now. 

  1. Make a donation to NMIC today! 
  2. If you can’t make a donation, reach-out to loved ones via social media, phone, or email, urging them to support the 14,000 New Yorkers NMIC serves a year. Tag us at @NMICNYC. 

Can we count on you today?

Yours in Solidarity,

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,

With You

Dear Friends,

This year has been especially challenging for us all. Many have lost their lives, their jobs, and their homes. While others have experienced, and continue to experience, a progression of losses to their civil rights. 

“Unprecedented” seems to be the go-to word to describe what we have experienced thus far. Despite the obstacles we’ve faced, our immigrant community continues to embody strength, resilience, and grace. In this moment, we are acutely aware of the importance of our work and the impact we have on the lives of those living on the margins. In the face of the many challenges ahead, NMIC will continue to: 

•Provide access to address immediate crises. 

•Support families who rely on us, and whose lives have become even more difficult.

•Connect community members to sustainable resources for self-sufficiency.

We can’t do it alone, we need you. Take your time to gather your thoughts. This is hard work. And when you’re ready, we will be waiting for you gathering in community, organizing, fighting for equitable access.

Yours in Community,

Maria Lizardo, LMSW

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