Notes from NMIC | September 2019

Hi there,

It has been a busy September. We have lots of news to share with you, including:

  • NMIC’s Back-to-School Drive was a success, thanks to you
  • We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary
  • The crew from the “In the Heights” movie stops by to give NMIC a special gift
  • Meet “Curls in the City” and learn how we’re partnering to help victims of domestic violence

Our Back-to-School drive was a success because of you

Thanks to your generosity, NMIC was able to collect nearly 4,000 school supply items and distribute them to 40 families affected by domestic violence. The items included backpacks, pencils, notebooks, crayons and more! You have helped give these children everything they needed to begin the school year prepared.

You can learn more about the ways our Domestic Violence Project supports victims and survivors of intimate partner violence by clicking the image above.

You’re invited to NMIC’s 40th anniversary celebration

For 40 years, NMIC has been changing lives and building better futures for our community members. Today, we’re inviting you to celebrate with us at our 40th Anniversary Benefit dinner, on October 3rd at 320 Park Avenue starting at 6:30PM. Join us in celebrating our honorees, clients, board, staff, and you—our supporters. Cocktails and dinner will be followed by an exciting award ceremony you’re not going to want to miss.

You can support our event by purchasing a ticket, becoming a sponsor, or making a donation.

Get ready to enjoy an unforgettable night.

In the Heights pays NMIC a special visit

Last month, the crew from the In the Heights movie visited NMIC during a career panel facilitated by NY Cares for the students in our Education & Career Services department. The panelists inspired our students to look outside traditional career opportunities and exposed them to new and exciting paths they might not otherwise have had access to. It was an engaging morning for both our students and panelists. The In the Heights crew also personally built NMIC a brand-new podium that our students will use when making their own speeches during graduation ceremonies.

Support our students on their paths to self-sufficient futures.

Curls in the City Presents: Love Shouldn’t Hurt

Nelly Rodriguez and Jess Perez-Algarin, the dynamic duo of Bronx natives behind NellyXJessProductions and Curls in the City, invite you to join them and us on Saturday, October 26th for Curls in the City: Love Shouldn’t Hurt. This fun event will celebrate the natural hair movement while helping raise essential funds for NMIC’s Domestic Violence Project. A portion of proceeds will be donated to support the counseling, case management, and legal services we provide to victims and survivors of intimate partner violence.

To stay on top of updates around this event follow them on Instagram at  @_curlsinthecity_

In Solidarity,

Notes from NMIC | August 2019

Hi there,

As summer draws to a close, many families all over New York are getting ready to go back to school. Our August newsletter has information on how you can help families in need as well as updates on the happenings at NMIC. Read on to learn more!

As the summer ends, NMIC is launching a Back-to-School drive to collect supplies for the families we serve. Every year, 5 million children witness domestic violence. School-aged children in this category often do participate in school activities or get good grades and have fewer friends than others.

NMIC’s Domestic Violence Project offers community-based counseling, case management, and legal services for victims and survivors of intimate partner violence.

You, too, can make an impact on a family and ensure that a child has all the tools they’ll need to succeed by filling a backpack from the comfort of your home. With just one click you can purchase items from our Amazon Wishlist. Your package can be addressed to the Domestic Violence Project at 45 Wadsworth Avenue, 1st floor, New York, NY 10033.

We are collecting supplies until August 26. Items can also be dropped off in our lobby. For more information contact Rosanna Montilla-Payano, Director of Development, at

Earlier this year, Lovie Martinez found herself unemployed and searching for options at her local Workforce 1 when she saw a flyer for NMIC’s Security Guard Training program.

After enrolling, she received fireguard, customer service and employment readiness training and earned her 8- and 16-hour security credentials. Afterwards, NMIC’s Workforce Solutions staff referred her to Custom Protective Services and she was hired on the spot!

But she didn’t just gain a new job and skills from this program. Lovie believes NMIC’s program gave her confidence, “[When] you have that confidence…it shines through you. I left NMIC with that.”

Click below to find out more about the job readiness programs NMIC has to offer.

NMIC supports its worker cooperative community members as they develop the skills needed to reap financial success while ensuring better working conditions and livable wages. That’s why we helped launch NannyBee in October of 2017.NannyBee is the first worker-owned childcare cooperative in Upper Manhattan.Essentially, it’s an agency for nannies owned by the nannies!

Last month, community member Rosa Peña led an all-day training to prospective new members of NannyBee. Rosa and a few other NannyBee members have been trained to facilitate these workshops through the We Rise Nanny training program, a joint project of the Worker Institute at Cornell ILR and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. This allows them to train other community members who are nannies, as well as new candidate members for NannyBee.

Click below to watch how our co-ops are paving the way to business ownership.

“If I have to leave my home, I’ll die.”

These were the words of 91-year-old Raul* as he faced eviction from his Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Section 8 apartment. Raul hadn’t reported a family member was living with him and lost an administrative hearing. At his advanced age, he was in danger of being evicted from his long-term home and becoming homeless.

We wouldn’t let that happen.

Our Legal Services team launched an advocacy campaign that pulled in directors of different city agencies, like the Director of Leased Housing at HPD, who immediately worked with us to find ways to resolve the issue. A grant from the Human Resources Administration, obtained with the assistance of the Department of Aging, allowed us the resources to contribute the funds ordered by the administrative judge. As a result of our team’s tireless efforts, and without having to commence a case, we were able to keep this 91-year-old resident in his home.

We can’t do this work without your support. Your donations help us serve people like Raul and other community members in crisis.

*We’ve changed the client’s name to protect his privacy.

July 2019: Notes from NMIC

Summer is here and we’re gearing up to celebrate our 40th anniversary. Today we want to take the time to honor our courageous clients, partners, and you—without you all, NMIC couldn’t exist. From awards to graduations – we have some exciting updates we’d love to share! 

We’re turning 40! 

Forty years ago, NMIC began in a small apartment in Washington Heights as two individuals armed with nothing but a fierce passion to protect, strengthen, and organize recent immigrants to New York City. This October, we’re celebrating these forty years of building futures, changing lives, and empowering communities at our 40th Anniversary Benefit—and you’re invited.  

Join us in being a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the over 14,000 individuals we serve annually by becoming a sponsor, placing a journal ad, or purchasing a ticket

To learn more about how NMIC’s critical work translates into tangible impacts in the lives of real people read Ashley Mata’s story below. 

Like mother, like son

When our client, Ashley Mata, passed her High School Equivalency (HSE) exam, she never imagined she’d be graduating on the same day as her ten-year-old son. “I had to leave school at 16 when I had him. When I tried to go back to get my diploma, you know how many times I wanted to give up? But NMIC believed in me and called and texted and made sure I came to class. They gave me so many words of encouragement.”  

Ashley now shares that encouragement with her sister, Flor, who is currently enrolled in NMIC’s HSE program just like her brother, Yorky, who provided it to her after he graduated from our program last year.  

There’s something incredibly special about the way NMIC can touch whole families and support them as they reach their goals, but we can’t do it without you.Join us in celebrating the success of our young adult candidates

On June 28th, we celebrated the 167 young adults who successfully participated in our Intern & Earn, Train & Earn, and YouthBuild Bootcamp programs this year during our 2019 Bridge Ceremony at the Isabella Geriatric Center. After undergoing rigorous programming, training, internships, and high school equivalency prep, our students secured a combined total of 253 certifications that will put them on paths towards more prosperous futures.  

We’re so proud of them and feel privileged to have walked with them as they embarked upon their journeys to self-sufficiency and will continue to support them as they transition to Alumni Services.NMIC Legal Services Director receives award

We don’t want to brag but we have the best staff around and The New York Bar Association confirmed our suspicion. The association awarded our very own Director of Legal Services, Rodrigo Sanchez-Camus, with the Legal Services Award which recognizes the efforts of lawyers who directly provide free legal services to low-income clients. Rodrigo’s passion for justice and his commitment to our community is exactly why we are so grateful to have him on our team. Felicidades, Rodrigo! 

Support Rodrigo and all our attorneys, paralegals, and advocates on the frontline fighting for equity. 

Believe in Yourself and Never Give Up

Yorky shares his journey to earning a High School Equivalency Diploma 

“At the end of the day, we’re all adults and we make our choices. Certain circumstances in life led me to self-doubt. I still pushed myself to try again.”

The traditional path for obtaining a college degree begins with graduating from high school and moving on to a four-year college or university. This path is not accessible to everyone. In 2018, Yorky enrolled in NMIC’s High School Equivalency (HSE) course. These courses help students performing at 4th -12th grade levels study and prepare for the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) formerly known as the G.E.D.  

It really has to be something you want to do just like anything else in lifePut your mind to it and do it. I believe it will serve as a catalyst for bettering yourself. The most important thing is believing in yourself and never giving up. 

Yorky expresses the difficulty in returning to his education “trying to obtain my G.E.D I faced a few challenges along the way, but I never gave up” aside from being intrinsically motivated, having a strong support system makes a big difference for students completing their education. Jennifer Arguetta who is NMIC’S Adult Education Program Manager played a helpful role in Yorky’s journey, “I’ve done it a few times trying to get my GED and I have failed, not in the sense of failing tests or anything like that, I’ve failed to follow through on going to take the actual test and Jennifer spoke to me about it she was trying to figure out what was going on to formulate a solution and I thank her for that, along with Bocko. Mark and Rojas for their part too, great teachers.” Jennifer and educators like Bocko, Mark, and Rojas all play a critical role in the success of their students by creating a welcoming and supportive environment. 

“I have my GED which opened up and created opportunities for bettering myself” 

Maria Lizardo, Yorky Mata, Assemblyman Al Taylor
Maria Lizardo, Yorky Mata, Assemblyman Al Taylor

In the winter of 2018, Yorky successfully passed his exam and obtained his High School Equivalency Diploma giving him the platform he needed to continue to pursue his goals for a bright future. “I want to do something in the medical field whether it be an RN or a Paramedic. I can do those things now because I have my GED which opened up and created opportunities for bettering myself. Even if I decide to do something else, I wouldn’t regret getting my GED because it can do two things for you – one keeps you moving forward and two create opportunities for you and your future. Both of which I have experienced.” 

Having multiple pathways for completing an education takes into account the varying circumstances in people’s lives. There is no longer just the standard path to education – options create the possibility for anyone to pursue their goals regardless of past circumstances.

To learn more about our High School Equivalency course, visit our office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 11 am and 12:30 pm or call 212-822-8343.

Click here to learn more or here to make a donation.

English for Speakers of Another Language

NMIC’s free course offers immigrants a safe space to learn a new language.  

Not being able to speak English creates a multitude of challenges for new immigrants such as applying to college, asking for directions, or honing-in interview skills. There are nearly 2.2 million New Yorkers who lack English language proficiency. NMIC actively seeks to ease the transition into learning a new language while creating opportunities for clients joining the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course.  

“One of the wonderful things about ESOL is seeing all of these people with different educational backgrounds coming together to support each other,” says Jason Bocko, NMIC’s Academic Coordinator. According to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) all 5-boroughs have significant documented and undocumented immigrant populations, and their backgrounds are just as diverse as their countries of origin.  

The increasing negative rhetoric and portrayal of immigrants has overshadowed the ‘American Dream’ that most of us pursue. “Two of my grandparents were born in Italy and came to the US not knowing English and had a rough go at it. Both later became teachers – and I think in some way my work honors their legacy,” says Jason. 

Winnifer Sanchez is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and is enrolled in an ESOL course here at NMIC. When asked about her motivation for increasing her English language proficiency, Winnifer explained, “I live in NYC and a basic skill if you want growth. I want to go to college and open new doors and opportunities.” Learning a new language as an adult can be a difficult process, Jason explains that the trick to teaching a new language is “not to over correct. The goal is to communicate, not to speak like Shakespeare – so unless they ask, I never correct them while they are speaking. As a teacher, the last thing you want to do is discourage participation in exchange for perfect speech.”  

Winnifer Sanchez

Like Winnifer, most immigrants recognize learning English is the gateway to being able to pursue their dream. “I want to study Marketing and to work in a creative field like fashion. I have a color (pauses) …creative brain, so I’d like to be able to use that.”  

“If I can do it you can do it too…. do it now, don’t wait – don’t think too much about it… just do it! 

To join our ESOL class, call us at 212-822-8300.  

SOURCE: Mayors Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) 

NMIC Welcomes New Board Members

Meet our extraordinary new leaders Ethan D. Miller and Nancy Wackstein.

NMIC is pleased to announce two new members, whose terms begin this month, to our 10-member board of directors. The new board members are Ethan D. Miller and Nancy Wackstein.  

Ethan Miller joins the NMIC Board with over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit and financial service sectors. Ethan’s most recent position was Vice President of Finance at the Nathan Cummings Foundation where he was a member of the senior leadership team and was responsible for the finance and accounting functions as well as having operating, information technology, and investment management responsibilities. Before NCF, Ethan was a Managing Director at GE Antares Capital, the sponsor finance group of GE Capital, where he managed private equity relationships and led middle market transactions. Ethan has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA from Hobart College. Over the years, Ethan has been actively involved in a variety of nonprofit organizations including the Washington Office on Latin America where he was a Board member for six years and Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. Ethan attended middle and high school in Washington, D.C. and has been a resident of the greater New York City area since 1996. 

“We are thrilled to welcome this talented pair of leaders to our Board,” said NMIC Executive Director, Maria Lizardo. “The addition of ambassadors is intentional as we pursue groundbreaking organizational strategic planning in the coming years.” 

Nancy Wackstein started as Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service in February 2016 following a long career in the New York City nonprofit sector. Nancy served from 2002 to 2015 as Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses of New York, the federation of New York City’s 38 settlement houses and community centers. Prior to UNH, she was the Executive Director of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a Manhattan settlement house, for 11 years. Ms. Wackstein served as Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office on Homelessness and SRO Housing from l990-91 under Mayor David N. Dinkins and was Senior Policy Advisor for Human Services in Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins’ Office from l986-l989.  

“New members of this board bring with them experiences that are crucial to helping NMIC fulfill its commitment to represent the diverse population of the communities we serve,” said Maria Lizardo.

Matthew Chachère Drafts New Law Protecting Tenants with Asthma

The Asthma Free Housing Act,  drafted by NMIC Attorney Matthew Chachère, requires landlords to maintain safe conditions for tenants with asthma.  

On January 19, 2019, the Asthma Free Housing Act went into effect in New York City.  This new law, passed by the City Council in 2012, requires landlords of multiple dwellings to safely remove Indoor Allergen Hazards that can trigger asthma attacks, such as mold, rodents, and roaches. Landlords are also required to implement measures to prevent indoor health hazards, such as leaks and pathways for vermin infestation, using integrated pest management (“IPM”), a practice that relies less on toxic poisons and more on eliminating the conditions that otherwise facilitate vermin problems.   

To ensure compliance with the new law, landlords are also required to initiate inspections once a year to clear their properties of indoor allergen hazards and actively respond to complaints from their tenants.  The law significantly increases the severity of violations for these conditions and the penalties associated with them and enhances the City’s code enforcement responsibilities.  In addition, medical providers can now contact the City to obtain housing inspections for patients with chronic asthma. 

The new law was drafted by NMIC Attorney Matthew Chachère who has been a pioneer in housing law here in NYC for quite some time. In 2003 Chachere was one of the advocates who drafted Local Law 1, a law that requires landlords to be responsible for protecting their tenants’ children from the harmful exposure to lead-based paint.   

The passage of the Asthma Free Housing Act is a step in the right direction for the city and is a great win for an estimated 84,000 children and 10% of Adults in NYC who suffer from asthma.

SOURCES: NYC Health Department, New York City Local Laws, NYC Housing Preservation & Development.  

One on One with Nancy Wackstein: Feminist & Leader in Social Work

You may already know that in March we celebrate Women’s History Month, but did you also know it is Social Work Awareness Month? For this special feature, we have interviewed Nancy Wackstein, social worker, activist, and NMIC supporter.  

I am a baby boomer who came of age protesting the status quo, whether it was against the Vietnam War or for the right of girls to wear pants to school. Activism sort of became baked into my life and my career.   

Since receiving her degree in Social Work from Columbia University in 1979, followed by her masters, Nancy Wackstein has been committed to her altruistic values and developed a long-standing career with NYC government and non-profits, focused on policy and advocacy as well as direct service in the community. Today, Nancy works as the Director of Community Engagement & Partnerships at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service. In the span of 24 years Nancy successfully led two nonprofits, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and United Neighborhood Houses of New York (UNH). In fact, it was during her tenure as Executive Director of UNH that NMIC became an official member of the coalition.  

In her early days of social work Nancy worked for NYCHA at an East Harlem housing project and as a para-professional in a NYC Public School for at-risk boys on the lower east side. These experiences on the frontline of social work made the inequities in our society visible, especially including the addition of race, gender, class, and age can impact the degree of inequality. 

“Philanthropy often has to make up for holes in the social safety net, which grow larger and larger each year in our country.  There is a severe imbalance in opportunity and achievement for Americans based on race, class, gender, age. It’s important for philanthropy to try to reduce some of that imbalance”Nancy Wackstein 

One of the biggest challenges for the human services sector is adequate funding. Where government funding falls short, it is individuals, foundations, and businesses that close the gap in funding. Programs like NMIC’s Education & Career Services to our free Legal counsel and representation for housing disputes and immigration aim to bridge the gaps that exist in our society, that minorities and the economically disadvantaged often find themselves lost in. Consider donating to support these free programs and services we offer to the community.  

The Task of organizing human happiness needs the active cooperation of man and woman: it cannot be relegated to one half of the world.”- Lilian Wald 

We all find inspiration in the people who came before us and for Nancy, Lilian Wald is just that a trailblazer in the field of social work and social reform “I have to say that an influential woman in social work to me is Lillian Wald, who was one of the original settlement house leaders in New York and nationally. Her legacy lives on in two of the organizations she founded, Henry Street Settlement and the Visiting Nurse Service. A remarkable leader who was not afraid.” Says Nancy, “I think a big beautiful statue of Lillian Wald should be erected in New York! That money would be better spent, for example, than on a big wall on the southern border of the U.S.” 

Nancy is just as passionate today as she was at the beginning of her career to see the injustices of society eradicated, and we can all do our part to do just the same. Are you interested in joining Nancy and making a difference? Email us at   

Mobile Food Pantry: Building Bridges for Stronger Communities

NMIC and West Side Campaign Against Hunger Partner up to Make a Difference 

West Side Campaign Against Hunger has been a leader and innovator in the hunger-relief space since 1993 when it first introduced its mobile food pantry. Which gave clients the chance to choose from an assortment of healthy and fresh food options, an option still rarely offered to clients who utilize food pantries out of necessity “WSCAH prides themselves on two things. The first is choice….they also specialize in locally sourced, fresh produce. Many pantries rely on canned goods for obvious reasons, but WSCAH is trying to make sure that families receive quality calories.” says Sara Chapman, NMIC’s Education & Career Services Director. Offering clients, the opportunity to choose from locally sourced fresh produce, as opposed to canned food items, not only provides families with healthier food options but also tremendously reduces the cost of food from 88 cents to 55 cents!  

WSCAH and NMIC’s partnership is about bridging community members to the services they need 

“The mobile pantry helps us better connect people to services and programs because we are doing it in partnership.”Says Ysabel Abreu, Community Outreach Coordinator, NMIC. WSCAH and NMIC’s partnership is about bridging community members to the services they need and collectively serve clients with our resources, to truly push for stronger and healthier communities.  

NMIC utilizes its strong community roots to raise awareness and point families in need to the WSCAH food pantry, while clients from NMIC’s Train & Earn Program pursuing customer service and food handler certificates have access to internship opportunities at WSCAH and can even enroll in their Chef Training Program. 

If you would like to learn more about the mobile food pantry and register, please call 212-822-8300. For more information about enrolling in NMIC’s Train & Earn Program call 212-822-8325.  

Watch out for the Mobile Food Pantry here at NMIC on the following dates:  

Wednesday, April 10th 

Wednesday, May 15th  

Wednesday, June 12th   

Consider donating today to support our programs and be a part of the change for stronger, healthier, and happier communities. 

Women in Human Services Hall of Fame: Honoring Our Very Own

This month Strong Nonprofits New York held the Women in Human Services Hall of Fame induction, which included NMIC’s very own Chief Financial Officer, Rosaura Morales. Rosaura was honored and recognized for her years of service in the sector. This recognition is greatly deserved and NMIC is proud to have such a committed and passionate individual be a part of our mission to be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of many.  

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