As hard as it is to believe, 2023 is almost upon us. I don’t know about you, but I feel optimistic. I recognize the long-lasting effects of the pandemic, and I notice the way these effects have impacted low-income New Yorkers the most. However, I can’t help but hold on to a glimmer of hope.
When we stand together, I know that our future is limitless. Our future as a community is bursting with opportunities to build each other up, through empathy, through support. I would like to take a moment to ring the new year in with a question: how can we continue to support each other?
To us, support looks like every single member has access to health services, education, and employment—where no one must deal with food and housing insecurities. I imagine a community where survivors of domestic violence are provided support through trauma-informed care without judgement and where immigrants and refugees are protected and provided support throughout their path toward citizenship. I imagine a community where all needs are met, and people do not have to pick and choose which aspects of their lives are fulfilled.
Everyone deserves help as they find solutions to their crises, and everyone deserves self-sufficiency and prosperous futures. I believe in this big and beautiful future for our community, and as a supporter of our organization, I know you do too because together, in 2022, we have:
Secured over $6.2 million in housing allowances for clients.
Filed 900 tax returns with a cumulative refund amount of over $1.4 million.
Distributed over 117,000 lbs. of food to over 4,000 recipients.
Helped over 400 residents access $5.5 million through the Excluded Workers Fund and Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
Worked on over 2,050 immigration cases and filed over 400 immigration applications.
Placed over 220 students in internships, jobs, or workforce certification programs.
Prevented over 300 eviction cases, impacting over 1,000 residents.
Served over 340 clients impacted by Domestic Violence through holistic and legal services.
As we look ahead and welcome the new year let’s take a leap of faith and start by believing in the possibilities.
P.S. Our offices will be closed for Winter Break from Friday, December 23, 2022, through Monday, January 2, 2023. The buildings at 45 Wadsworth and 8 Clinton Place will be closed during this time.
As the year ends, and with a fresh new one coming up, the final days of December are the perfect time to reflect on our wonderful community and everything we have achieved together this past year. We are proud of our collective successes, your dedication, and unrelenting commitment to our community even in the most challenging of times. We wish you all a peaceful festive season, as we look forward to a new year.
Our offices will be closed for Winter Break from Friday, December 23, 2022 through Monday, January 2, 2023. The buildings at 45 Wadsworth and 8 Clinton Place will be closed during this time.
Joey Fernandez is an alum from NMIC’s GED/HSE program— like many teenagers his age, Joey had dreams and a supportive family. He found high school overwhelming, and he dropped out at age 14. He took the initiative to sign up for NMIC’s GED & Adult Basic Education to gain access to educational opportunities.
“I dropped out of high school at 14 and was struggling to find my place in the world. Through NMIC’s GED/HSE program, I gained the academic tools necessary to continue my education. I also found mentors who helped me earn my GED, do well in community college, and get accepted to Georgetown University,” said Joey in 2018.
We are excited to announce that Joey not only has graduated from Georgetown University for undergraduate and Columbia University for his graduate degree, in October 2022, he was assigned to be a diplomat for the Philippines. We are incredibly proud of Joey’s accomplishments, and all that the future has in store for him.
Join us in congratulating Joey!
The NYIC is keeping us warm this season
When the weather gets colder—boots, sweaters, coats, and thick socks are a necessity to get through a winter in New York City. That is why we are so grateful for The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) who have recently provided an in-kind donation of winter apparel.
“No New Yorker should have to face winter in the city without warm clothes. Providing coats and winter clothes to the recently arrived asylum seekers and low-income New York families is how we ensure our communities stay safe and healthy. We thank NMIC for partnering with us to ensure the clothing we collected got into the hands of families most in need,” Jennifer Diaz, Manager of Community Engagement, NYIC.
On behalf of all those we serve, thank you NYIC!
Click here to learn more about NMIC’s Holistic Services.
Season of Giving
Lissette is a proud mother, an aspiring writer, and a dedicated student. She is a single parent from Washington Heights who originally came to NMIC’s office for assistance with applying for housing and benefits. When she found out that NMIC also offered adult education services, she realized that her long-term goal of acquiring a GED was financially accessible and turned her dream into action.
“To me, a GED means a whole lot—it means that I am an educated person, and no one can tell me otherwise. I’m doing it for myself, and I know that it will help me feel complete,” she told us.
The pandemic revealed to us how crucial digital literacy is for employment, civic and cultural participation, and accessing essential services in our society—it is no longer a want, but a need. Over 70% of U.S. jobs now require middle to high level digital skills, yet one in six working-age Americans are unable to use email, web search, or other basic online tools.
Please consider donating today to help clients like Lissette follow their dreams. Access to education is an everlasting gift.
Join 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.
Tis’ the season of giving! Our holiday sale is still in motion, and your purchase directly supports our mission and everything you value from NMIC.
Our design depicts West 167th and Juan Rodriguez Way. Juan Rodriguez was one of the first documented non-indigenous inhabitants to live in Manhattan Island and is considered the first non-native resident of what would eventually become New York City. In October 2012, the New York City Council enacted legislation to name Broadway from 159th Street to 218th Street in Manhattan after Juan Rodríguez.
The neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Inwood in Upper Manhattan have a substantial Dominican community. Rodriguez was born in The Captaincy General of Santo Domingo which now is the Dominican Republic. We are thrilled to celebrate the contributions and experiences of our Dominican and immigrant neighbors by featuring the Juan Rodriguez Way Street sign.
In the last days of the year, our Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, LMSW, celebrated the accomplishments of other New York-based nonprofit organizations by attending dedicated events.
Last month, Maria attended the West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH)’s Plentiful Plates event and spent an evening celebrating our wonderful partner and collaborator organization. Along with WSCAH, we host monthly food pantries to those facing food insecurity.
Later, Maria volunteered at our sister organization, Community League of the Heights (CLOTH159), as they distributed food to 330 families. We are always excited to support CLOTH 159 and their dedication to supporting and empowering New Yorkers from Northern Manhattan and adjacent Bronx neighborhoods.
Maria also attended various galas to acknowledge the great accomplishments of other organizations in New York City. On November 14th, Maria attended Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s 13th annual Crown Awards Gala. The evening highlighted Columbia’s key community health programs to improve outcomes and care for all. CUIMC’s Crown Award was presented to Pfizer for their partnership with CUIMC to help increase the involvement of historically marginalized groups in clinical trials.
Finally, on December 7th, Maria attended Human Service Council (HSC)’s annual gala that honored Dr. Jeremy C. Kohomban, the President and CEO of The Children’s Village, and Claude M. Millman, Partner at Kostelanetz LLP. We are active members of HSC and their ongoing mission of strengthening New York’s nonprofit human services sector, to ensure that New Yorkers from all walks of life can reach their full potential, and we would like to congratulate this year’s honorees. We also proudly participate in HSC’s #JustPay advocacy efforts and join them in their fight to end government-sanctioned poverty wages for human services workers and look forward to our work together this upcoming year.
NMIC in the News
Last month, Spectrum Noticias wrote an article on NMIC’s November food pantry. María Lizardo, LMSW, director of NMIC, says she has seen an increase in people signing up to receive food pantries in recent months, which is why our delivery was so important last month. “Today we are going to deliver a turkey, despite the normality, which includes carrots, spaghetti, rice, but turkey is so expensive, and we know that many families might not have turkeys next Thursday and we are very proud to that through our volunteers,” explained Lizardo. Click here to read more.
New York City is increasing access to subsidized childcare for hundreds of undocumented children. Mayor Adams announced on Wednesday a $10 million childcare assistance program for families who are otherwise ineligible for federal subsidies because of their immigration status. The Administration for Children Services is contracting with four local organizations with ties to immigrant communities in each borough — who will connect families with monthly subsidy payments, and help parents identify child-care providers and enroll their children. The organizations include the Center for Family Life in Brooklyn, NMIC in the Bronx and Manhattan, La Colmena on Staten Island, and the Chinese American Planning Council in Queens. Click here to read more.
Month of Giving
December 10, Human Rights Day
December 18, International Migrants Day
December 31, New Year’s Eve
Click here to get NMIC’s monthly newsletter straight to your inbox and be the first to know about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and big announcements!
Click here to serve as a catalyst for positive change by donating today.
Gratitude is more than just expressing one’s thanks—gratitude can be expressed as an act that can carry the strength of shifting perspectives. Through gratitude, we recognize all the positive aspects of our lives. For this November’s newsletter, we are highlighting the wonderful happenings in our community, and the many ways in which our collective work has been uplifted through awards, partnerships, and you, our supporters.
D.A. Bragg Announces Creation of the Office’s First Housing & Tenant Protection Unit
Last month, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., announced the creation of the Office’s first ever Housing & Tenant Protection Unit. The conference for its release took place at NMIC’s Manhattan office, as we are very supportive of the inception of this unit. We are optimistic that this launch will help with members of our community remove the obstacles that keep them from enjoying housing security, as it will focus on the harassment of rent-regulated tenants, deed fraud, and defrauding of government subsidy programs by landlords and developers.
“New York City is in the midst of a housing crisis, and that means tenants are particularly vulnerable to unscrupulous landlords,” said District Attorney Bragg. “By taking a targeted approach to complex and pervasive criminal activity, we can root out the bad actors who are seeking to game the system for profit at the expense of ordinary New Yorkers. The creation of this unit represents our firm commitment to fully utilizing the resources of our office to ensure Manhattan residents can exercise the right to live safely and securely.”
We Partnered with DoorDash and Constantinople & Vallone Consulting for Our November Food Pantry!
It’s the season of giving, and at NMIC, that means providing meals to hundreds of families during the holiday season through our food pantry services. Securing and distributing these meals was only possible through our partnerships with DoorDash and Constantinople & Vallone Consulting, who not only secured hundreds of meals for our community, but also provided volunteers for one of our busiest food pantries of the year.
“New York City continues to face challenges with food access, which is particularly evident in low-income communities of color. We are proud to support NMIC’s efforts to address food insecurity in Upper Manhattan and adjacent Bronx neighborhoods. Effective collaborations and partnerships are key in our mission of empowering local economies, so that no one should have to be concerned about where the next meal will come from,” Ivan Garcia, Senior Manager of Public Engagement, DoorDash.
“NMIC is an amazing organization that really stepped up during the pandemic for the communities they serve. We are proud to support you and the November food pantry in this time of need. As a family rooted firm, we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with NMIC to help families celebrate the holidays around a good meal,” Jake Potent, Managing Director, Constantinople & Vallone Consulting.
We have one last food pantry of the year, and we would like to provide as much as we can to families looking for help during the 2022 holiday season. Hundreds of families rely on NMIC’s emergency food pantry services to help them celebrate a holiday meal. Would you consider donating today to support our food pantry services? Together, we can alleviate food insecurity in our neighborhoods this season.
Last month, NMIC was honored by New York State Senator Robert Jackson with an Empire Award, along with 15 other Upper Manhattan community organizations, in recognition of our act of solidarity during the pandemic’s peak, our contributions to working-class communities, and our continued commitment to deliver resources in aiding their full recovery.
We would like to congratulate each organization honored for their unwavering commitment to serving the communities of District 31 throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and present: Altagracia Fath & Justice Works, Centro Evangelistico Pantry, Community League of the Heights, Fort Washington Collegiate Church, Girl Scout Troop #3205, Jewish Community Council, Holy Rood Church, Manhattan Legal Services, Oyate Group, PA’LANTE Harlem, Ryan Health, St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, Washington Heights and Inwood Council on Aging, and West Side Campaign Against Hunger.
Please join us in congratulating these organizations for their act of solidarity and leadership!
Thank You Royal Business Bank!
We have recently received a grant of $6,500 from Royal Business Bank to support our Education & Career Services!
NMIC plans to use this grant to address the unjust and disproportionate financial impacts that our community members have experienced due to decades of economic exclusion which has led to limited educational and professional development opportunities for low-income people of colors, and especially immigrants. Through this partnership, we plan to reduce economic inequity by equipping our community members with the knowledge, certifications, and resources necessary to re-enter the workforce and access better employment opportunities.
Click here to learn more about NMIC’s Education & Career Services.
Cafecito con Maria
This past month, our Executive Director Maria Lizardo, LMSW, welcomed NYS Assembly Member Manny De Los Santos to our Manhattan office. This visit was particularly special because Assembly Member De Los Santos presented a check reflecting on the $30,000, he secured in the New York State Budget to support our Domestic Violence Project. We are beyond grateful for this support, as we know how crucial these funds are for the hundreds of survivors who access our Domestic Violence services each year.
Later, on October 28th, Maria attended Latino Social Work Coalition & Scholarship Fund’s 22nd Annual Leadership Gala. Attendees spent the evening honoring trailblazing social workers whose legacies we continue, honor those that are currently making waves, and shed light on those who are charting our collective future forward. Our good tidings continued when we were recognized by Latino Social Work Coalition & Scholarship Fund as the Social Work Organization of the Year.
Finally, Maria represented NMIC at the 2022 Dominican Film Festival, which we proudly sponsored this past year! The festival celebrated its 11th anniversary of celebrating the best in Dominican Cinema with the overall goal of enriching the artistic experience of New York’s diverse cultural audience. We are happy to support the Dominican Film Festival’s mission to promote the new generation of Dominican filmmakers as well as the established one, its film industry, and to strengthen the vital and expanding economic and cultural relationship with the United States.
NMIC in the News
Latinx in Social Work is a No.1 Best Seller on Amazon that amplifies stories of challenges and successes of Hispanic social workers. The anthology presents 21 authors who inspire and heal communities, one of whom is NMIC’s Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, LMSW. Read more here.
Spectrum Noticias NY1 recently published an article on free supportive services in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. Proud of her Dominican roots and her immigrant parents, Maria Lizardo, LMSW, NMIC’s Executive Director, knows firsthand the power and impact that these services have on Latinos. “And really, creating opportunity for members of the community and that is what we need as Latinos, we are immigrants, we work hard, and we need opportunities, we need those connections, access to education, access to the benefits that we are entitled to have.” Read more here.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., announced the creation of the Office’s first-ever Housing & Tenant Protection Unit, which will target systemic criminal harassment of tenants and abuse of government programs by landlords and developers. “NMIC is excited to work with the District Attorney’s new Housing & Tenant Protection Unit to hold corporate landlords accountable for harassing behavior aimed at pushing long-standing tenants out of their affordable apartments,” said Rodrigo Sanchez-Camus, Director of Legal, Organizing, & Advocacy Services at NMIC. Read more here.
Tenants in rent-regulated apartments say they’re left languishing for months — if not years — on a decision from the state agency charged with investigating landlord overcharge complaints as backlogs persist and rents in New York reach new highs. Matthew Chachere, a tenant lawyer who works with NMIC, recalled one case that started in the first Obama administration, as he put it, and was only recently finalized in 2021 — nine years later. “The ordinary tenant gets lost in this,” he said. “They’re certainly not going to have the means or the inclination to spend the money that it takes to fight this out. It’s terrible.” Read more here.
National Native American Heritage Month
National Career Development Month
November 1, Day of the Dead
November 2, National Stress Awareness Day
November 12, Flight 587 Remembrance Day
November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance
November 24, Thanksgiving
November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women/Mirabal sisters
Click here to get NMIC’s monthly newsletter straight to your inbox and be the first to know about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and big announcements!
Click here to serve as a catalyst for positive change by donating today.
In October, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), we are uplifting and centering victims, survivors, those impacted by domestic violence, our community, and the partnerships that support our work.
Visibility matters now more than ever as one in four women experiences physical violence in their lifetimes. Wear purple and make yourself a visible advocate for healthy relationships, as it will go a long way to help break the stigma of silence. Will you stand in solidarity on October 20 by wearing purple and using #NMICGoesPurple on social media to raise awareness about domestic violence and share information about trauma-informed resources? We will share the posts on our social media accounts to increase the reach of our services—because they are only helpful if survivors know they exist and how to access them.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please call NMIC’s Domestic Violence Project at 212-822-8311 or the 24-hour NYC Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-621-4673.
NMIC’s Domestic Violence Project & Der Parataetische Akademie’s Site Visit
In 1996, NMIC recognized the connection between domestic violence and housing insecurities. We founded our Domestic Violence Project (DVP) to build a network of support for survivors during each stage of their exit from their relationship, to develop a safety plan, and to help survivors find stable housing afterward. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, 63% of unhoused women are survivors of domestic violence. NMIC’s trauma informed counseling, legal services, crisis intervention, support groups, and many other programs give survivors the strength to move on and let them know that there are people waiting to help them every step of the way.
On October 6th, students from Berlin’s Der Parataetische Akademie came to tour NMIC’s DVP office to learn more about our work. Our DVP staff members, Sarah Crawford Banda, Cinthya Mendez, and Aleida Sainz, led the tour group and shared NMIC’s work in the community and how we serve immigrant survivors of intimate partner violence. We were able to share our approach, values, and interventions to help survivors salir adelante after domestic violence.
NMIC’s DVP is particularly special because we are both trauma informed and culturally and linguistically affirming—culture impacts how gender violence is viewed, and awareness of cultural values and difference is of utmost importance when we think of the systems that interact with survivors of domestic violence. The staff of our Domestic Violence Project are bilingual in English and Spanish with deep cultural and geographic ties to our community.
“It was our honor and pleasure to welcome fellow social workers to Washington Heights and Inwood. Our shared efforts to further social and economic justice in our respective communities‘ face some of the same systematic barriers including xenophobia, racism and misogyny. We also face the challenges posed by a lack of dedicated resources. As the global community becomes more interconnected, we are delighted to have had the opportunity to spend time with colleagues in the field of social welfare,” Sarah Crawford Banda, Domestic Violence Project Director.
Imagine yourself being wrapped in a literal blanket made with love. It sounds delightful! We are honored to share that Empire Quilters of New York, a nonprofit organization that has donated quilts for the past few years to NMIC, provided that and more to our clients. Empire Quilters were founded in 1982 to preserve and promote the tradition, culture, and history of quilt-making, and to foster good fellowship amongst anyone interested in quilt making in the New York area. Quilts represent connection, stability, and expression of the creative spirit that has allowed women to overcome hardships, and on behalf of our community members, we are very grateful for this powerful gesture.
Purple is the symbolic color to raise awareness about domestic violence. Why purple? Well, the color purple became associated the strength of women in the United States because it was the color worn by the National Women’s Party who fought to gain the right to vote. Flashing forward to 1978, nearly 10,000 advocates for women’s equal rights marched in DC dressed in purple. By 1987, the first Domestic Violence Month was observed, and again, wearing purple was embraced by all those who observed.
For 2022’s Go Purple Day on October 20th, we encourage you all to wear purple and to post photos on your social media using the hashtag, #NMICGoesPurple. It is an opportunity to raise awareness about domestic violence and a simple way to show your commitment to promoting healthy and safe relationships. Join us on the 20th, wear purple, be an advocate, and start a conversation about domestic violence and healthy relationships!
Click here to learn more about NMIC’s Holistic Services.
Thank you, Valley National Bank!
We would like to thank Valley National Bank for their support of NMIC’s Domestic Violence Project. Last September, NMIC held a back-to-school supplies drive for families impacted by domestic violence, and Valley National supported our efforts by providing us with dedicated volunteers. Through support like theirs, we were able to serve over 100 children.
We are excited to announce our continued partnership with Valley National Bank. Through their recent investment, NMIC plans to enhance our Education & Career Services by expanding the curriculum of our career training programs and adapting them to the needs of our students.
“Education and workforce development are foundational cornerstones that allow individuals to grow and thrive in this economy. That’s why Valley is proud to support NMIC in its efforts to support these initiatives and to serve as catalyst for positive change in our community,” Jason Cahn, Sr. CSR-CRA Officer of Valley National Bank.
Because of thoughtful partners like Valley, we can meet our communities with responsive services.
Click here to learn more about NMIC’s Career & Education Services.
Cafecito con Maria
For this newsletter’s Cafecito con Maria, we have particularly delightful news to reveal—Maria was named in City & State New York’s list of, “The 2022 Nonprofit Power 100!” The Nonprofit Power 100 is a list of the top public officials, philanthropic leaders, and nonprofit executives leading the sector in New York. We are pleased to hear the great news and congratulate Maria on her well-deserved success.
Maria began working for NMIC in 1998 as the Director of Social Services and held several roles at our organization before becoming our Executive Director in 2014. She is a long-term passionate advocate for women’s rights and is one of the co-founders of the Brides’ March, who for the last 23 years, have marched to raise awareness about domestic violence.
This past Brides March was held on September 26th where survivors, organizers, public officials, and advocates distributed bilingual information about domestic violence and resources for support along their marching path as they inspired New Yorkers across Uptown and the Bronx to begin a dialogue about domestic violence.
We hope that Maria has a comfortable pair of sneakers because she also marched at The Washington Heights & Inwood Coalition against Interpersonal and Domestic Violence and Long Live Our Butterfly’s “Shine the Light” event on October 1. The event was a joint march against domestic violence and ceremony for the street co-naming on West 167th Street in honor of Ramona Elizabeth Rodriguez.
We commend Maria’s nonstop leadership; however, advocacy work requires an entire community to make a substantial difference. To end the cycle of violence against women, we need to address patriarchal attitudes and practices that encourage domination and violence, we must ensure that women’s rights are part of our education system, we must provide social support to survivors of domestic violence, and we must raise community awareness of how to respond to acts of violence and to support survivors. We must work together and fight against the cycle until domestic violence comes to an end.
Click here to read City & State New York’s 2022 Nonprofit Power 100 List.
NMIC in the News
For the approximately 476,000 undocumented immigrants living in NYC, multiple barriers are creating gaps in vaccination rates among undocumented immigrants. The lack of accommodation for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. health system furthers the narrative that undocumented immigrants are ineligible to receive a vaccination for free and will risk deportation. Marc Valinoti, coordinating immigration attorney of the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC) explains “if you are bringing someone into the country like a relative or spouse and legalizing them here, you would have to show that as the person who is here with status, you have the income and resources that at least for a several year period, the person you are bringing in would not become reliant on government resources. That they would not become a public charge.” Click here to read more.
The Nonprofit Power 100, a partnership between City & State and its sister publication, New York Nonprofit Media, identifies the sector’s most important and effective leaders. Among the individuals listed is NMIC’s Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, LMSW. Click here to read more.
Did you know that Washington Heights was one of the last areas of Manhattan to be developed? Until the end of the 1800s, Washington Heights was primarily a rural space that held country homes of Manhattan’s upper class. Since, immigrants from around the world have always flocked to the area. Armenian, Jewish, Cuban, Irish, Puerto Rican, and Dominican residents have all planted roots here.
We proudly celebrate our vibrant communities, which is no doubt a result of having one of the largest immigrant populations in Upper Manhattan. This month, we are celebrating the threads of our diversity weaving throughout our communities’ heritage, history, and happenings.
And, while on the topic of ‘happenings’, we are excited to introduce a new segment of our newsletter, “Cafecito con Maria,” where we learn about all the places our executive director, Maria Lizardo, has been recently to advocate for our community.
Have You Seen Our New Mural?
Within the lobby of our main office, 45 Wadsworth Avenue, we have a spectacular new mural created by New York based visual and local artist, Jessica Maffia. Jessica works across a wide variety of media to celebrate the familiar and honor the natural world of the city, through repetitive, meditative processes. The mural she created, titled, “Blooming,” celebrates our immigrant community in Upper Manhattan and adjacent Bronx neighborhoods by depicting plant life from South America, Central America, and the South Pacific.
The artist’s description of “Blooming,” is as follows, “We all deserve to flourish. We deserve safe ground on which to build and sustain our homes, healthy nourishment from which to develop and grow, and supportive communities in which to learn and thrive. The wondrous plant life depicted here, begonia, banana, heliotrope, fuchsia, morning glory, and hibiscus, originates from Mexico, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere in South and Central America as well as the South Pacific. Migration is the seminal right of all beings, all species. These “green immigrants” are well-known, commonly cultivated, and widely celebrated across the Americas. May we collectively see ourselves reflected in this floral abundance and ensure we welcome and protect all who propagate and populate our communities, our nations, and our gardens.”
We are honored to feature Jessica in our building and would like to thank her for the great joy it brings to everyone who witnesses it.
This September 26th, we will come together for the 22nd time to remember Gladys Ricart and all those we have tragically lost to domestic violence and to advocate for a safer future. Gladys Ricart was a Dominican community member from Washington Heights who was murdered in 1999 by her former boyfriend on the day that she was supposed to get married to her fiancé.
In 2001, Josie Ashton, a young Dominican woman from Florida and took a leave of absence from her job to spend three months marching through several states down the East Coast in a wedding gown to draw attention to the horrors of intimate partner violence. Several New York City based organizations, including NMIC, helped Josie organize the first March, which served as a sendoff for her 1,600-mile journey.
We continue to march every year to pay tribute to Gladys Ricart and all of those impacted by domestic violence, to distribute bilingual information about domestic violence to communities along the marching path, and to inspire other communities throughout the nation to organize marches that bring visibility to survivors.
Join us on Monday, September 26, 2022, marchers will start gathering at 8:00 AM at the Holyrood Episcopal Church ~ Iglesia Santa Cruz, located at 715 W 179th Street, New York, NY 10033 in Washington Heights.
Click here to learn more about Brides’ March 2022.
Latinx/e Heritage Month & The Dominican Studies Institute
September 15th-October 15th is Latinx/e Heritage Month. Latinx/e Heritage Month or Hispanic Heritage month (official government designation) honors and recognizes the contributions of Latinx/e Americans to the United States. Latinx/e Heritage Month began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson, and later expanded to cover a 30-day period in 1988. The month occurs mid-September because it is the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and others. The Latinx/e community accounts for almost a third of New York City’s population.
CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI) is always celebrating the contributions and influence of Dominicans within the United States. Founded in 1992, CUNY DSI is the first research institute devoted to the study of people of Dominican descent in the United States and other parts of the world. History is happening all around us and CUNY DSI is producing and disseminating research that highlights crucial events that can otherwise go untold.
Constitution Day, September 17, recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become citizens of the United States. Why should you join? In 2021, there were more than 400 anti-voter bills introduced in 48 states. These bills disproportionately impact people of color, students, the elderly, and people with disabilities. But you can do something about that by helping spread awareness.
This upcoming Constitution Day, we invite you to volunteer with us and The League of Women Voters of the City of New York to help hand out thousands of free copies of the United States Constitution and voting information on Saturday, September 17that The Washington Heights Library, Address: 1000 St Nicholas Ave, New York, NY 10032, or at various libraries locations across the city.
To volunteer at this event or others, please contact the League at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cafecito con Maria
Welcome to ‘Cafecito con Maria’ where we discuss all the places that our executive director Maria Lizardo has been recently to advocate for NMIC and our community.
Last month, Maria celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Dominican Day Parade. Each year, for the Dominican Day Parade, communities come together in New York City to honor Dominican heritage and culture and to recognize the many accomplishments Dominicans achieve. As a member of the Dominican Day Parade’s board, Maria brings her experience as the Executive Director of NMIC to carry out the parade’s mission.
Later, Maria took to the streets at the Ni Una Menos Rally which gathered at Plaza de las Americas. Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, is a Latin American fourth-wave grassroots feminist movement of women’s rights advocates that emerged in response to an increase in public, brutal femicides, as well as other forms of violence against women. Ni Una Menos kicked off on February 27, 2019, with a vigil highlighting the high incidents of femicides in the Dominican Republic, and since then, the collective continues to raise awareness on the issue through community education, forums, and vigils.
Maria was a panelist at the Center for Urban Future’s policy symposium, Strengthening NYC’s Human Services nonprofits by Reducing Their Administrative Burden. The panel shed light on the ways in which New York policymakers can help strengthen and stabilize critical nonprofit organizations through reducing the often excessive administrative and auditing burdens on nonprofits.
To learn more about NMIC’s efforts, follow us on social media – @NMICNYC.
NMIC in the News
The New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning gathered on the steps of New York City Hall to unveil their “2022 Lead Agenda.” Among the members of the coalition is the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC). Click here to read more.
One week before classes began this month at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, many incoming medical and dental students were already immersed in Washington Heights, the community where they will live, learn, and give back. During the week, students met Maria Lizardo, executive director of the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, and discussed community activism and advocacy. Click here to read more.
Lead-based paint was banned for use in residential homes in 1978. Yet, many Connecticut cities are still seeing cases of lead poisoning related to it, and many of those cases are children. A new study released by the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation has concluded that 1 in 4 children in some parts of New York are at risk for lead poisoning. Click here to read more.
As August rolls by and September looms, many members of our community and their loved ones are preparing for a new school year. There is something about a new school year that screams hope and possibility, and we are excited to share a few stories about learners of all ages. There is no single journey to learning, as we all absorb knowledge differently, and we all face unique challenges and learning curves. The stories we have to offer this month are examples of these distinct learning experiences.
Learning to Give Back
We are excited to announce that NMIC is launching a back-to-school supply drive for families impacted by domestic violence. Frequently, survivors of domestic violence flee abusive relationships with their children with little or nothing but the clothes on their backs. NMIC’s Domestic Violence Project aims to support survivors of intimate partner violence, and we hope that our back-to-school supply drive will provide a sense of normalcy and help their children succeed in school.
Our back-to-school supply drive is being driven by NMIC’s Advisory Board, a group of committed volunteers with roots in the neighborhood. They will come together to set up a free store at our office so that families can take the supplies they need for the upcoming school year.
Graduating as a first-generation college student is a particularly important achievement. Despite the excitement of being an academic trailblazer, the dream of graduating as a first-generation student is often beset by various challenges. Students enter their schools with limited knowledge about how higher education works and can sometimes feel isolated because of the elitism of many colleges and universities. To successfully graduate despite these hurdles and challenges is an awe-inspiring triumph. NMIC’s Operations Assistant, Joanel Sassone, recently graduated from City College as a first-generation college student.
“Since an early age, I have felt that I was given the mission to change the direction of my family. For this reason, I chose to pursue higher education. I perceive college as a tool of social mobility and a portal of opportunities. As a first-generation college student one of my biggest challenges was overcoming the imposter syndrome. I did not feel worthy of being present in a college setting because I could not articulate myself as well as the other students nor was, I equipped with their advanced vocabulary.I also had to devote time to work to contribute to my family financially. When I graduated, I felt like I broke through a barrier. Despite the emotional and mental toll of navigating a new experience, I became the first person in my family to obtain a bachelor’s degree,” Joanel Sassone said.
Sassone, in light of his recent accomplishment, also gave us a word of advice to those who are interested in becoming the first in their families to graduate from university, “To young adults interested in pursuing higher education, especially from low-income communities, I would say, never underestimate your potential no matter where you come from.”
To those interested in pursuing Education & Career Services at NMIC, please click here. NMIC’s Education & Career Services combine real-world skills with high-quality classes.
Learning Through Your Journey
When Victor* came to NMIC in his early 70s, he aspired to find peace, stability, and security in his life, but he had a tough journey ahead of him. He was ready to leave the abusive relationship that he was in, but he did not have secure housing and had several health problems. As an undocumented person, Victor did not qualify for public benefits, which made it difficult to find security in his health and wellbeing.
He has done a lot to improve his life. He received counseling to cope with the trauma he endured, he filed for a U-Visa petition, received a work permit and a social security card, explored his housing options as an undocumented senior citizen, and more. Victor had to go above and beyond to find his peace, stability, and security, and it took over a decade. Once he was linked to health insurance benefits, he became an empowered advocate for his health and a model patient. In between couch surfing in exchange for light construction work and attending senior centers for most of his meals, he never gave up hope of having a place to call home.
It took over a decade, but Victor is finally in stable health and has a new apartment to call his home. With time, healing, and access to resources and consistent support, Victor has become more resilient despite the many stressors in his life and has finally found security and stability in his housing and his health. Last March, Victor turned 82 years old and celebrated with NMIC staff at his new apartment. NMIC recognizes that healing is not linear, and community members need sustained connection and support to overcome entrenched barriers and injustices.
Click here to learn more about NMIC’s Holistic Services.
*Client’s name has been changed.
Learning through Nontraditional Pathways
We are frequently spoon-fed the linear vision of college and higher education in general, but this is not the reality for many members of our community. 40% of college students are 25 years old or older—well out of high school—and many have children of their own, full-time jobs, or both. Adults who wish to pursue higher education frequently are on their own in trying to figure out how to get back to college because there really is not a formal system in place to help them make decisions. The Education & Career Services we offer aim to support students of all ages and learning levels to build the knowledge and skills they need to transition into college, advanced training, or careers.
Salomon, a former student from NMIC’s General Education Diploma program (GRE), has proven that academic successes occur at all stages of life. As a previous star student in our adult education programming, NMIC honored his hard work at our 2019 benefit. We are now delighted to announce that he is on his way to pursuing higher education at Bronx Community College.
Salomon, we wish you great success at Bronx Community College and in all your future endeavors. You have an entire team of people rooting for your success.
Click here to learn more about NMIC’s Education & Career Services.
NMIC in the News
The New York State Bar Association recently launched a task force to examine historically unequal treatment of the citizens of the U.S. Territories. Among members of the task force is NMIC’s Rodrigo Sanchez-Camus, Director of Legal, Organizing, & Advocacy Services. Click here to read more.
Manhattan Times News recently featured NMIC in an article that highlighted our current back-to-school supplies drive to aid families impacted by domestic violence. “The purpose of this campaign is to alleviate a little bit of the emotional and financial stress many of our families are facing,” Rosanna Montilla-Payano, Director of Development. Click here to read more.
The past few months have been especially difficult for our community. While we condemn the overturning of laws that have kept our neighbors safe and the implementation of new laws that will undoubtedly put many lives at risk, we know that we will get through these recent changes through collective resiliency. We may feel weary of the uncertain future, but we can attest to witnessing many acts of generosity from you all. As a community, we will continue to uplift one another with our steadfast mission acting as our guide; to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the people in our community on their paths to secure and prosperous futures.
International Day of Cooperatives & a Generous Donation
For 100 years, cooperatives around the world have changed lives and built a better world for many. At NMIC, we are proud to have incubated two and on July 2nd, we joined cooperatives all around the world in celebrating the centennial anniversary of the cooperative movement. This year’s #CoopsDay slogan is, “Cooperatives Build a Better World.”
NMIC worked with community members and partner organizations to develop, launch, and provide ongoing support to worker-owned cooperatives. We currently support two businesses launched largely by immigrants and survivors from our Domestic Violence Project with over $600,000 combined revenue. Worker Cooperatives ensure that workers are provided with living wages and opportunities to develop new skills and assets to their members.
Our generous donor, Marvin Melendez, who donated 20 vacuum cleaners for the members of Ecomundo, understands the significance of empowering worker cooperatives.
“I come from an immigrant family that struggled to make ends meet. I also know that even the smallest of help can make a big difference as it did mine. I am glad that I can now be in a position to help,” Marvin Melendez.
Open houses for new cooperative members at NMIC are hosted annually. To apply for membership in the cooperative, click here. To learn more about NMIC’s Worker Cooperative Ownership program, click here.
BIPOC Mental Health
BIPOC communities are significantly more likely to develop mental health conditions, and often are the ones to face barriers to access mental health support.
“People of color face a higher risk for mental health needs while receiving less mental health care than any other community, leading to inadequate and unequal access to mental health care. They face a significant number of systemic barriers when seeking care, such as lack of access, lack of culturally competent providers, high costs and insurance issues, stigma, and lack of proximity. Yet when people of color can access equitable care, when their provider speaks their language and is responsive and inclusive to their culture, when costs are accessible, mental health services offer not just a chance for individual growth and healing, but for broader societal and systemic change as well,” Santiago Marquez Ramos, Co-Coordinator of Wellness Services.
Click here to find out how to access our mental health services.
Your Vote Has Power
What better way to celebrate the month of July than to exercise your right as a citizen to sign up to vote? To register to vote in New York, you can register in-person at your county board of elections or at any New York State Agency-Based voter registration center, you can submit your voter application form at the Department of Motor Vehicles, either in person or on their website if you already have DMV-issued identification, you can request a New York State Voter Registration form by mail, or you can call 1-800-FOR-VOTE (1-800-367-8683) hotline to request a voter application. Click here to learn more. If you are already registered to vote and would like to search for your poll site, click here.
We would like to encourage you all to vote on the NYS Senate and Congressional Races that will be taking place on August 23rd.
Our Youth & Their Business Pitch
To build a better collective future, we need to empower the next generations. In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly designated July 15th as World Youth Skills Day, to celebrate the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work, and entrepreneurship. At NMIC we accomplish just that through YouthBuild a paid five-month intensive vocational, education, and leadership development program for young adults aged 17-24.Over the course of their training, students work on a business pitch project, which they deliver to a panel of judges for a chance to win provisions for their business. Congratulations to all of our participants who are imagining and creating a brighter future for us all.
NMIC is launching a special project this summer—a back-to school drive for families affected by domestic violence. NMIC aims to support survivors of intimate partner violence, and we hope that a back-to-school drive will provide their children with a sense of normalcy on their first day back to school. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to stay up to date with the drive’s launch.
NMIC in the News
Our Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, was recently featured in NYNMedia where she and Wayne Ho, President & CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council, spoke about why human service workers deserve our continued investment. “Currently, the state of New York is facing a human services crisis, with compensation discrepancies that are putting unsustainable pressure on the people who work tirelessly to keep their communities afloat. Unfortunately, if we don’t act fast, we risk putting the entire human services system in New York and the New Yorkers who rely on this system in jeopardy.” Click here to read more.
New York, NY—June 29, 2022— NMIC denounces the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade, Maria Lizardo comments:
The Supreme Court’s recent catastrophic decision has caused the civil rights in our nation to regress. The overturn of Roe v. Wade will undoubtedly disproportionately impact the lives of low-income, Black, and Latina women who access abortion services at the highest rates and who have the highest maternal mortality rates. Access to reproductive health services was already inaccessible to many who were already encountering systemic barriers like financial, educational, and language will now be pushed further out of reach.
NMIC condemns the overturning of this fundamental human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy. In this moment we are pushed to re-evaluate what true reproductive health access looks like for our communities living in the fringes. Building beyond Roe means centering the voices of our community to march forward. Our mission statement is to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the people in our community on their paths to secure and prosperous futures, and despite this Supreme Court ruling, we will continue fighting for the necessary resources for all women to lead secure and prosperous futures for generations to come. Pa’lante”
Established in 1979, our mission is to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the people in 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 120 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. We primarily serve the immigrant communities of Upper Manhattan and adjacent Bronx neighborhoods.
June has been and continues to be an exceptional month for us here at NMIC.
The month of June is designated as both Immigrant Heritage Month and Pride Month, and it is an opportunity to highlight stories and recognize the impact that different communities have on our neighborhoods. This month, we also celebrated our 43rd anniversary with all of you at our annual benefit, Juntos/ Together: Building Without Limits.
To boot, we are delighted to share we have been selected as a grant recipient by the New York Bar Foundation, a generous supporter responded to the baby formula shortage, and we spent a sunny and restorative afternoon sowing seeds in Yajaira Parra’s Garden outside of our Manhattan office.
Let us take a moment to acknowledge that we have a lot to celebrate in the month of June, and we would like to share it with you!
Juntos/Together: Building Without Limits
On June 9th, NMIC staff, supporters, volunteers, partners, and community members gathered to celebrate our many accomplishments of the past year together at our annual benefit, Juntos/Together: Building Without Limits. It was an evening to advocate for those we serve, to acknowledge the dedication of our staff, and to honor our partnerships with Crowell & Moring LLP and Finger Management Corp. and their exceptional dedication to our community.
We are excited to announce that we have raised $162,000 to support our clients as we continue to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the people in our community on their paths to secure and prosperous futures.
New York Bar Foundation Selects NMIC as Grant Recipient
The New York Bar Foundation awarded $600,000 in grants. NMIC is one of many recipients of this award that will enhance our Pro Bono and Clinical Partnership Program. This project will further our ongoing efforts to increase our resources to deliver housing, immigration, and other legal services to our community members at no cost.
This opportunity supports relationship building and partnerships with prominent NYC law firms to handle cases and provide counsel with an overall aim to increase access to justice for our community.
Click here to read the press release and learn about other legal organizations providing support to NYC residents.
Yajaira Parra’s Garden
In front of NMIC’s Manhattan office is Yajaira Parra’s Garden, a small but immensely meaningful symbol intended to serve as a memorial for Yajaira Parra, a young mother who was murdered by her husband in 2004. Through a partnership with City Gardens Club of NYC, the garden was planted as a visual reminder of Parra’s life, the prevalence of intimate partner violence, and as an outlet of healing for survivors. Nature has a restorative power and engaging with natural surroundings can reduce stress and alleviate symptoms of disconnection. Last month, survivors in NMIC’s Domestic Violence Project and staff came together to plant new flora and provide maintenance for the garden.
Click here to support the hundreds of domestic violence survivors NMIC serves annually.
Pride Month, Immigrant Heritage Month, Juneteenth, and Intersectionality
Every year, Pride and Immigrant Heritage Month are celebrated in the month of June. June is a month to reflect on the intersectionality of people’s contributions, struggles, and successes within our nation’s history. Pride month honors the demonstrations of 1969, following a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Immigrant Heritage Month was established in 1987 and has evolved into a monthlong encouragement for all to explore their individual heritage and celebrate both our distinct and shared experiences.
LGBTQ immigrants, who stand at the intersection of these two communities, are subjected to both homophobia and xenophobia. This is especially true for transgender female immigrants, who are detained on average more than twice the average length of detainment of all immigrants held in ICE custody.
At NMIC, we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, immigrant communities, and those who belong to both.
On June 19, we also observe Juneteenth. Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops arrived in Galveston two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States. On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday.
There is nothing more important to families than the health and wellbeing of their babies, and the formula shortage has left many families in fear. The cost of rent and food has recently risen in New York City, which has only aggravated the needs of young mothers who live on a low income.
SupporterJoel Cohen reached out to us at NMIC to see if we had clients who were impacted by the shortage. When we told him that we did, he generously donated a shipment of formula for mothers in our Domestic Violence Program. It is because of responsive philanthropy that we can meet the immediate needs of our community.
If you have an innovative philanthropic idea that you’d like to share with us, please contact Rosanna Montilla-Payano at email@example.com. It is through these partnerships that we can comprehensively support families so that they may lead secure and prosperous lives.
NMIC in the News
NMIC partnered with DoorDash, an online food delivery service, to distribute Covid test kits and personal protective equipment on April 29. Caitly Reynoso, a Train & Earn Academic Counselor, states, “People come in for professional or academic needs, but they leave with a wealth of many more resources.” Click here to read more.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $20 million in new grants for its Eviction Protection Grant Program, doubling the amount originally allocated for the program’s launch in November 2021. In New York, HUD awarded $2.4 million to NMIC. Click here to read more.
Prudential Global Investment Management’s visit to NMIC’s YouthBuild.
Our wonderful evening with the first ever cohort of NMIC’s Advisory Board.
NMIC’s Spark Collective, our community of monthly donors.
Distributing COVID-19 test kits with DoorDash and nutritious food with Figma.
Tchima has been dedicated to achieving her goal of becoming a US citizen. Over the past year, she has been attending NMIC’s citizenship classes for preparation. Through these courses, Tchima practiced for her citizenship interview with NMIC staff, received case management, and counseling support, learned about American Civics to prepare for the written portion of her citizenship test, and gained confidence in her ability to pass her test. We are excited to announce she has accomplished her dream of becoming a citizen and has attended her Oath of Allegiance ceremony.
“My citizenship course ended on February 10, and it was very interesting and informative because I learned a lot about the history of the United States, which helped me a lot to pass my citizenship interview today,” Tchima Souley.
PGIM Visits NMIC and Awards a Secondment
Prudential Global Investment Management (PGIM) teamed up with NMIC to provide volunteers for our YouthBuild program, an education and leadership development program for young adults aged 17-24. Over the next few months, YouthBuild students will work with PGIM volunteers to gain new skills and knowledge that will prepare them for the workforce.
PGIM volunteers will run workshops on leadership training topics which will include how to deliver a business pitch, how to utilize PowerPoint presentations during meetings, how to perfect presentation skills, and more.
We are also delighted to announce a PGIM’s San Franscico secondment which means we’ll be hosting a PGIM professional on our YouthBuild program starting in June.
Our Evening with NMIC’s Advisory Board
This spring NMIC staff members met with our first Advisory Board cohort to celebrate, network, and discuss our future working together. We met for an evening of fun, laughter, and planning. NAB plays a significant role in developing awareness of our programming and providing opportunities for growth and gathering in the community.
Welcome to NMIC!
NMIC’s Spark Collective
NMIC’s Spark Collective is a community of committed recurring donors on a mission to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to tools and resources needed to lead secure and prosperous lives. Our monthly giving program is the easiest way to provide steady support for our ongoing work. When we receive reliable monthly donations, we can plan and develop our wrap-around services that directly benefit the lives of 14,000 annually and impact 32,000.
“I am a resident of Washington Heights and a pediatrician in the neighborhood. Because of this, I know firsthand how useful the services at NMIC are to our community. My husband and I wanted to give locally to an organization that we knew and NMIC was the perfect choice for us. After two years of the pandemic, there couldn’t be a more important time to support and uplift this organization and this community,” Presley Nichols, member of NMIC’s Spark Collective.
In addition, Members of the Spark Collective can take advantage of one-time volunteer opportunities like participating in professional speaking panels (based on your area of expertise), invitations to agency milestones celebrations, and professional networking events.
On April 29th, DoorDash partnered with NMIC to provide and distribute COVID-19 test kits to our community members during our food pantry programming. As we are seeing a spike in cases, we need to make sure that our communities are armed with what they need to continue to stay safe. Simultaneously, the Figma team came together to sort, pack, and distribute food to community members facing food insecurity. It is through partnerships like these that we can support clients holistically.
Thank you for your help, DoorDash and Figma!
NMIC in the Press
Hundreds rallied outside of City Hall; demanding fair pay for city contracted non-profit workers. At the rally, NMIC Executive Director Maria Lizardo stated, “Everything has gone up except our salaries. So, we need that $21 an hour as the minimum.” Click here to read more.
After a 5-month delay, NYC health department adopts new federal rules on childhood lead exposure. NMIC Staff Attorney Matthew Chachere filed a successful petition with the Board of Health to lower the action level for interventions for lead poisoning. Click here to read more.
Mental Health Month
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Jewish Americans History Month
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Tuesday, May 3rd, National Teachers Appreciation Day
Thursday, May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, and Mother’s Equal Pay Day