March 2022 – Notes from NMIC

In this newsletter, you’ll read more about:  

  • NMIC’s 43rd anniversary  
  • Kochiyama, Mirabal, and Thunder Hawk…what do they have in common?  
  •  Our partnership with WHDC 
  • The #JustPay Campaign Rally on March 10  
  • Celebrating Social Work Month  

43 Years and Still Going Strong 

NMIC has been embedded in the Northern Manhattan community since March 12, 1979, later expanding to the Bronx, providing essential and capacity building services to New Yorkers.

NMIC was founded by Barbara Lowry, who saw a need to fight predatory landlords and provide safe and affordable housing to, mostly, recent immigrants primarily from the Dominican Republic. At the time, we were the only organization offering free legal services in Northern Manhattan. In the years that have passed, NMIC has grown from a staff of two to over 120, and proved success in the areas of housing, immigration, benefits & finance, health, education & career, and holistic services. In 2014, Barbara Lowry retired and passed on the torch to our Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, who is the organization’s second executive director and first Latina to hold this position. As we celebrate NMIC’s anniversary we reflect on the past four decades and recognize the generational impact we’ve had on the families we serve; and the catalytic influence that these leading women have had on our staff and in our communities. Happy Anniversary! 

Women’s History Month  

Every March, Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to highlight the generations of trailblazing women who have shaped history. Despite discrimination, exclusion, and hardship, women have endeavored and sacrificed for equality around the world.

Let us take a moment to recognize a few courageous women who broke both gender and racial barriers as they made history.  

  • Yuri Kochiyama: Beginning her activism in Harlem, Kochiyama was a fixture in support movements involving organizations such as the Young Lords and the Harlem Community for Self Defense. She was a tireless political activist who dedicated her life to contributing to social change through her participation in social justice and the advancement of human rights. 
  • Las Hermanas Mirabal: Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa Mirabal were three sisters who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic and joined the underground resistance movement.  On November 25, 1960, the Mirabal sisters were assassinated, and their deaths became the flame that solidified resistance to the dictatorship both at home and abroad. The anniversary of their deaths was declared as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women by the United Nations. 
  • Madonna Thunder Hawk: A Native American civil rights activist best known as a leader in the American Indian Movement as an organizer against the Dakota Access Pipeline. She is a veteran of every modern Native American struggle. She established the “We Will Remember Survival School” for Native youth. Thunder Hawk was a delegate to the U.N. Decade of Women Conference in Mexico City and to the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa. 
  • Sylvia Rivera: A veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Inn uprising who fought throughout her life against the exclusion of transgender people, especially transgender people of color and was a prominent community worker. With close friend Marsha P. Johnson, Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens, gay youth, and trans women. 
  • Shirley Chisholm: The first black woman in congress and the first woman and black American to seek the nomination for president of the United States. In Congress, Chisolm introduced more than 50 pieces of legislation and championed racial and gender equality, the plight of the poor, and ending the Vietnam War. Of her legacy, Chisholm said, “I want to be remembered as a woman … who dared to be a catalyst of change.”  
  • Maria Florencia Alcaraz: An Argentine journalist and one of the founding members of the Ni Una Menos (Not One Woman Less) grassroots feminist movement of women’s rights advocates that emerged in 2015 in response to an increase in public, brutal femicides, as well as other forms of violence against women Alcaraz specializes in gender and human rights issues and is now one of the directors of LATFEM, a network of feminist journalists.  

We Are Grateful for WHDC 

The priority of the West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) is to support local projects that address the needs of the community through collaborations and capacity enhancements. We are grateful that WHDC has chosen NMIC for partnership. This partnership supports Community Board 9 residents.

WHDC supports our ongoing screening, referral, and case management services that connect members of our community to mental health treatments, benefit enrollment services, and food pantries. The goal of our partnership is to enhance the health of residents by increasing access to services that address food insecurity and mental health needs.  

The #JustPay Campaign Rally on March 10th 

The #JustPay Campaign is fighting to end government-sanctioned poverty wages for human service workers. Current New York City and State contracts have resulted in the essential human services workforce being some of the lowest paid workers in New York’s economy.

On March 10th, the #JustPay Campaign will be rallying in-person at City Hall Park for the #JustPay campaign demands. Click here to learn more about the campaign, and click here to RSVP for the In-Person Rally.  

Social Work Month  

Social Work Month in March is a time to celebrate the great profession of social work and the constant contributions that social workers make to our society. At NMIC, we depend on the Social Workers within our staff to provide essential wrap-around support to the members of our community to make sure all their needs are met.

NMIC Social Workers provide case-management unique to each individual, programs for domestic violence survivors, and efforts to organize and advocate for positive change. Social Workers revitalize our community and fully support our hard-working residents. Additionally, we are grateful for our interns and partners at Teachers College, Columbia University and all those who invest in mental health services 

“Social Workers have continued to be the backbone of connection to supportive services for our community. At NMIC, they provide essential services by connecting our community to much needed resources to ensure that our community can thrive. Our social work team has the unique training to provide trauma informed care, person centered support, and culturally responsive services to our community. This connection to our social work team allows clients to feel seen, heard, and empowered in their journey to healing,” Morgan Siegel, Manager of Wellness Services.  

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