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. Click here 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,

Our GivingTuesday Countdown Continues

As we mentioned last week, NMIC is celebrating GivingTuesday’s 10th anniversary. Join us in counting down five things we are grateful for to raise $10,000 for our services. If you missed last week’s email, check it out here. To donate, click here.  

3. NMIC got its second-ever Executive Director

Part of what makes NMIC so steadfast is that our leadership has changed very little. About eight years ago, founding director, Barbara Lowry, handed NMIC off to interim (and then permanent) ED Maria Lizardo. Maria is the first Latina to hold this position at NMIC. This has allowed our mission to grow organically and deeply since we only ever had two Executive Directors. 

2. Our Board of Directors Expanded 

We are grateful to our Board of Directors and the members who have joined us in the last decade (our longest serving Board member has been with us for 11 years!). Their dedication and commitment to NMIC’s mission have been critical to ensuring our success. 

1. YOU!

The last two years have been some of the most challenging times in modern history, both for individuals and nonprofits. Because of you and your support, we were able to enhance and adapt our service delivery in real-time as our community needed it

Help us ensure that we can continue expanding, adapting, and improving our services for decades to come. Donate today. 

Yours in Solidarity,

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


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.”  


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!


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,

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,

Inboxes are inundated right around GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday is celebrating its 10th anniversary. For the last decade, this global day of charitable giving has reminded us that part of celebrating during the season of gratitude is practicing generosity. To celebrate, we are looking back at the last decade and hoping you can help us raise $10,000 for our critically needed programs! Tune in each week as we count down five things, in no particular order, that we are grateful for. We hope it will inspire you to give to and share our campaign. 

5. We Turned forty!

In over four decades, we have helped hundreds of thousands of people get their citizenship, GED’s, fight unlawful evictions, leave abusive relationships, learn English, and build more prosperous futures for themselves and their families. We are proud to be a cornerstone of our community, and with your help, we can continue to do this work for forty more years and beyond.

4. We Expanded to the Bronx!

NMIC began in an apartment on 181st and Saint Nicholas. The staff of two aimed to serve the growing population of immigrants, mainly from the Dominican Republic, arriving in Washington Heights. As our work expanded, so did our reach, and eventually, we began to serve all of Upper Manhattan and, in 2016, expanded into the Bronx!

Your support is part of what has ensured our longevity and ability to expand to where we are needed. 

Yours in Solidarity,

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,

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,

We are Finalists in Inaugural NYC Imagine Awards

We are honored to announce our nomination for the Innovation Award category of The Inaugural NYC Imagine Awards. “It means that the Organization has been identified as a leader in the NYC metro area, exhibiting impactful and innovative operations,” said Ken Cerini, Founder of the Long Island and NYC Imagine Awards. The nomination highlights our collaboration with the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on the Northern Manhattan, Harlem, and South Bronx Community COVID-19 Vaccination Scheduling Hotline

We are also competing for the Fan Favorite award, which comes with a $3,000 winning prize. That’s where you come in. You can help NMIC win by clicking this link and voting every day. 

The Imagine Awards is the premier event that shines the spotlight on the nonprofit sector. NMIC was nominated to receive the Innovation Award for our partnership with the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in creating a model for a community-based hotline that has scheduled over 20,000 appointments.

NMIC’s Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, says, “We repeatedly heard from our residents that scheduling vaccinations was challenging due to both language and technological barriers. We are proud to collaborate with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to eliminate those barriers and secure more than 15,000 appointments for our residents within two months of implementation. A vaccinated community is a safe community, and NMIC is helping make sure we don’t leave any neighbors behind.” To learn more about the Imagine Awards, click here.

NMIC Named as Finalist in Inaugural NYC Imagine Awards

Media Contact

Hillary Needle
Hillary Needle Events Inc.
516-993-4056 | Hillary@hillaryneedleevents.com

Rosanna Montilla-Payano
Director of Development, NMIC
212-822-8328 | rosannamontilla@nmic.org


NYC Imagine Awards Winners to Be Announced on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at The Edison Ballroom

New York, NY –August 31 2021– NMIC was named a Finalist in the Innovation Award category in The Inaugural NYC Imagine Awards. The NYC Imagine Awards was created to offer formal acknowledgement to some of NYC metro’s most effective and innovative nonprofit organizations.  The success of the Long Island Imagine Awards, now in its 10th year, inspired founder Ken Cerini, CPA, Cerini & Associates LLP, to bring this innovative and inspiring event to NYC to shine a spotlight on the incredible nonprofits in and around the city.  The Inaugural NYC Imagine Awards nonprofit competition will take place on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at The Edison Ballroom, 6-10pm. 

More than 270 entries were submitted for consideration in 5 categories, including Innovation, Leadership Excellence, Rising Star, Social Impact and Arts & Culture. NMIC is one of four finalists in the Innovation Award category.

The Northern Manhattan, Harlem, and South Bronx Community COVID-19 Vaccination Scheduling Hotline is a collaboration between NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and NMIC to provide a wide array of services for these communities. The hotline was launched to proactively reach residents, many of whom have limited access to technology, and help them easily make appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The hotline is unique because it is tailored specifically to the Latinx community by defaulting to the Spanish language (with an English option). It is staffed by a dozen bilingual community members and provides access to free rides to and from appointments (via a collaboration with Lyft). 

Maria Lizardo, Executive Director at NMIC, explains: “Prior to launching our hotline with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, we repeatedly heard from our residents that scheduling vaccinations was challenging due to both  language and technological barriers in making appointments. We are proud that we were able to collaborate with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to eliminate those barriers and secure more than 15,000 appointments for our residents within two months of implementation. A vaccinated community is a safe community, and NMIC is helping make sure we don’t leave any neighbors behind.”

Finalists were chosen by NYC business and nonprofit professionals during preliminary judging. Members of the Awards’ Distinguished Judging Panel selected the NYC Imagine Awards winners from among the Finalists during final judging.

“Being named a Finalist in NYC Imagine Awards is an important achievement,” said Ken Cerini, Founder of the Long Island and NYC Imagine Awards.  “It means that the Organization has been identified as a leader in the NYC metro area, exhibiting impactful and innovative operations.  Congratulations to all of the Finalists on their achievement.”

Details about NYC Imagine Awards and the list of Finalists in all categories are available at https://nycimagineawards.com/

About NMIC
Established in 1979 to support low-income tenants in Upper Manhattan, our mission is to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of members of our community on their paths to secure and prosperous futures. We provide crisis intervention with legal or social services such as eviction prevention and cash/food relief. We then support clients as they define and achieve their own goals—generally through education, workforce training, and/or community organizing. Our staff of 140 attorneys, advocates, organizers, counselors, educators, etc., serve about 14,000 clients each year with a variety of programs to address Housing, Immigration, Education/Career, Finance/Benefits, Health, and Holistic needs.

About The Imagine Awards
The Imagine Awards was created in 2012 for Long Island by Managing Partner, Ken Cerini of Cerini & Associates, LLP.  Its continued success prompted the expansion into the NYC metro area to honor organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them. The NYC Imagine Awards recognizes outstanding nonprofit performances in the region. Learn more about the NYC Imagine Awards, visit https://nycimagineawards.com/


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