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January’s Notes from NMIC

 

 

Hi there,

According to the 2018 NYC Volunteers Count report an estimated 600,000 people volunteered their time to uplift a fellow New Yorker. Of those, 65% chose to directly impact their neighborhoods by volunteering for a local community-based organization.

Every day, we witness the power of volunteers who have identified community-wide concerns and are taking actions. These actions make our work possible and helps us service over 14,000 clients annually.

Read below for an update on the milestones you’ve helped us accomplish, a celebration of an unlikely partnership, and why volunteering your time can lead to new relationships, understanding of barriers, and more importantly – can support someone’s empowerment. On this Martin Luther King Jr.’s day, we reflect on the power of community action.

 

Honoring MLK Day of Service

In 1983, legislation was signed to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and designate a national day of service. The day’s slogan is “Make it a day on, not a day off.” During these challenging times, the work must continue. 

Soon, it will be a year since the pandemic began impacting our lives. As we reflect on a year filled with challenges and grief, we are reminded of the positive effect that strong community-wide efforts have. In 2020, you helped NMIC fight food insecurity by giving almost 700 hours of service. Of those who volunteered during our food pantry, more than half are recurring – volunteering two or more times. You distributed over 77,000 pounds of food to local families in need. 

We were flooded with requests from local community members and businesses who wanted to help. High-skilled volunteers donated their expertise to bring awareness to the unique experiences of our clients. We are truly grateful to everyone who took the time to share our content, volunteer their time, give advice, send a donation, and make a connection. 

Our community is resilient. There is more to be done and we know you will meet this moment. If you are interested in getting involved, email us at rosannamontilla@nmic.org.

 
 

Volunteer Spotlight – Meet Caleb

Even as a freshman in high school, Caleb finds the time to volunteer – all while completing his school assigned reading.

“I came to NMIC when Fort Washington Collegiate Church put out the call for volunteers. I keep coming back to NMIC, because I realized that it’s easy to make a difference right in my neighborhood. Especially during COVID, people need help more than ever. And I am proud to do this.” Caleb, we are proud of you!

 
 

The Hungry Pet Project

We have seen images of, or personally experienced, extensive blocks-long lines of people waiting to pick up food at their local pantry. 

What is not often shown is how food insecurity is affecting our furry friends: family pets. A few months ago, we were approached by The Hungry Pet Project, Partnership for Shelter Animals NYC to distribute cat and dog food to families facing insecurity. A one-time donation evolved into a partnership that has now allowed us to provide a source of dependable pet food to our clients. 

The partnership’s goal is to help keep pets in their homes. According to The Hungry Pet Project, “No one should have to choose between feeding themselves or feeding their pets.” And what might a dog say before eating? Bone Appetite!  

If you’d like to help, you can purchase items from the Amazon Wish List curated by The Hungry Pet Project.

 
 

Yours in Community,
NMIC

 

 

October Notes from NMIC

 

Hi there,

In October, we honor domestic violence awareness month and celebrate accomplishments throughout our communities. In this newsletter we are proud to:

  • Participate in the Bride’s March while honoring Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
  • Heal through movement.
  • Amplify survivors’ stories through our Voices of DVP project.
 
 

NMIC participates in the Brides’ March

Global incidences of domestic violence rose drastically due to COVID-related sheltering in place. The very act meant to keep us all safe endangered the lives of many living with their abusers. That’s why this year, despite the pandemic, we continued our commitment to support survivors and victims by collaborating with other community-based organizations and activists to plan and carry out the annual Brides’ March. The march took place on the 26th of September, and a satellite event was even held in Yonkers!

Established in 2001 to remember Gladys Ricart, a Dominican woman from Washington Heights, who was murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend on her wedding day, the Brides’ March has provided the space for awareness and advocacy around domestic violence. Today, we mourn victims, celebrate survivors, and advocate for a violence-free world.

Our commitment to domestic violence work is yearlong. We are constantly in awe of our clients, like Ana*, who describes her life before NMIC as one marked by violence and fear, “fear that he won’t like the food you cooked, your clothes, that he’ll be angry you went to visit friends or family, that you went outside without him—and being hit for it.” Ana credits her new-found empowerment to the services she received through NMIC’s Domestic Violence Project. Now, she reports she is “VERY” happy with her new life. Read on to hear more of Ana’s testimony below.

You can support this incredibly important work by donating today. 

*Name has been changed to protect client’s privacy. 

 

 
 

Healing and empowering our community through movement

Dance, art, and bodywork are all tools one can use to heal from trauma.These efforts drove dancers and social entrepreneurs Vanessa Lopes and Destiny Moore to host their event Getting in Touch with 100% of proceeds benefiting our Domestic Violence Project. “I have a deeply personal connection to domestic violence. Witnessing my mother’s domestic violence and being abused myself as a child was debilitating. It was easy to choose NMIC as our beneficiary for this event. If we can help another womxn of color, like my mother, receive the help and/or resources she deserves, then our purpose is fulfilled.

Both women boast impressive wellness and dance expertise they’ll be sharing at their virtual event, which includes a dance workshop and a discussion with a group of incredible panelists. According to Vanessa, the candid conversation around bodywork will feature “incredible businesswomen with their own passion projects and careers … these women truly DO IT ALL!”

You can learn more about and register for the event here.

 

 
 

Amplifying Survivors’ Stories

Our Domestic Violence Project has been hard at work collecting audio testimony from our clients who have experienced intimate partner violence. By amplifying our community members’ testimonies, we empower them to take control of the stories of their lives. We’re dreaming and fighting for a violence-free tomorrow, but today, we will continue to make space for survivors to tell their stories, be heard, and be believed in a safe, and culturally competent setting. Listen to Ana’s* Spanish-language testimony here, or read the English transcript below.

Getting ahead is living without the fear of being told that he doesn’t like your food [or] clothes, [that] you went out to visit your family, your friends, [or that] you went out on the street without [him], [and then] getting hit. Moving forward also means living on your own terms. It means knowing that, as women, we are worth a lot, and no one has the right to make us feel insignificant. It’s working and feeling self-sufficient and not having to depend on anyone. 

When I was living in an abusive relationship, I would have wanted someone to tell me not to be afraid of leaving that person who abuses you. There are so many organizations and laws that defend abused women like you!

I regained the strong woman that I am now [because of] the help that NMIC offered me…that was the key to making the woman I am now. I feel so grateful to all of the NMIC workers, especially to Sarah Banda. Thank you very much for helping me out of the situation I was in. I am VERY happy with the life I have now, thank you and God. 

Statistics show that deciding to leave an abuser puts a victim of domestic violence at increased risk of being murdered by their abuser. Obstacles like this keep people like Ana locked in untenable situations. Your donations help us provide our clients with safe exit strategies, counselling, and access to the services they need to get back on their feet. 

*Name has been changed to protect client’s privacy. 

 
 

Yours in Solidarity,
NMIC

Before you go, join us in celebrating Unidad Comunal’s 30th Anniversary
You can learn more about NMIC’s organizing work by clicking here.

 

 

Make a Donation Today

Dear Friends,

Since the beginning of the pandemic, NMIC has been pivoting to respond to the added needs of our community members. Many of which are battling unemployment, lack of health insurance, and food insecurity all the while supporting their children navigate remote learning in a language they do not understand. The demand in our services is greater than our resources can meet. You can change that. 

Make a donation today to support clients in crisis reach their goals of achieving self-sufficiency.  

$40 purchases 12 meals.

$75 provides a mental health screening.

$150 helps a family access crucial public assistance like food, housing, and health care benefits.

Yours in Solidarity,
NMIC

Help Us Raise $5,000

Dear Friends,

Increased stress and decreased access to resources put our community’s mental health at risk. That’s why our Spanish language mental health services are so important, and why we’re asking you to help us raise $5,000 by October 1st.

According to Morgan Siegel, Assistant Director for Case Coordination and our very own mental health champion, “our mental health program offered in Spanish provides support to our families as they navigate unprecedented times with their children’s return to school.”  

Some of our community members are essential workers, but despite being employed, cannot afford the childcare necessary to work and facilitate their children’s distance learning needs. Of those who are at home, many are grappling with the stress of COVID-related unemployment. Add to these barriers, the technology access and literacy gap, and it gets more complicated.

Still more of our community members are also dealing with issues like not knowing where their next meal is coming from or when they will find employment again. We are continuously in awe of our clients’ resiliency despite the staggering level of hardships many are facing. With these crises resolved, our community members would be able to focus their attention on thriving.

Your donation helps provide relief.  

$40 purchases 12 meals.

$75 provides a mental health screening.

$150 helps a family access crucial public assistance like food, housing, and health care benefits.

Yours in Community,
NMIC

Help Spread the News

Hi Friends,

Today, we’re reaching out to ask for your help spreading the news about our back to school campaign.  

This fall, millions of New Yorkers are getting ready for a back to school season unlike any we’ve seen before. For many in our community, this time of year has always been hard even before COVID-19.  

Our clients are bravely facing this pandemic while raising children and fighting financial difficulties, domestic violence, housing insecurity, and immigration concerns. This year, with so many amazing organizations providing back-to-school supplies, we’re hoping you’ll help us raise $5,000 to support their other needs.  

Your donation (and those from your network) enable our community members to focus on parenting instead of on the threat of eviction, where their next meal will come from, or how they’ll help their children navigate online learning when they don’t understand the language.  Copy and share this link: http://bit.ly/NMICB2S, and help us raise funds to meet the level of unprecedented need in our community.  

$40 purchases 12 meals.  

$75 provides a mental health screening.  

$150 helps a family access crucial public assistance like food, housing, and health care benefits. 

Yours in Community,
NMIC

September Notes from NMIC

Hi there,

Nothing has gone quite as expected this year, and back-to-school season is keeping to that trend. Thousands of New Yorkers are preparing for an uncertain school year and many of our community members are facing additional challenges made worse by the COVID pandemic. Thanks to your tireless work and that of our staff, leadership, and partners, NMIC has been able to rise to meet our community’s needs.

In this newsletter, you’ll learn about: 

  • Why we’re raising $5,000 for direct services targeted towards low-income parents in our community 
  • How culturally sensitive mental health services make a difference 
  • When our Education & Career Services team will go back to school
  • How many families our Food Pantry has impacted

Parenting through a pandemic is challenging

The parents in Upper Manhattan and the South and West Bronx are very familiar with managing back to school amid crises. In the past, that crisis might have been domestic violence, housing insecurity, financial difficulties, immigration concerns, or a combination of them. Now, our clients are grappling with these crises and the many ways COVID-19 has exacerbated them to create new ones. Many ally organizations are rising to meet the need for school supplies. That’s why this back to school season, we’re raising $5,000 to help families address their other urgent needs, so they can get back to planning their school year. Donations of any amounts are welcomed.

$40 provides 12 meals.  

$75 covers one mental health intake session.  

$150 gives someone access to our benefits screening and application assistance. 

We only have a few more weeks to meet our goal. Will you help us?

Fighting mental health stigma, one counseling session at a time

When Mario* requested remote counseling services from NMIC’s Connections to Care Program (C2C), he was dealing with pre-existing severe insomnia and anxiety made worse by the current health crisis. We provided him with mental health services delivered in Spanish and for the first time in 15 years Mario has been able to have a good night’s sleep.

Mario’s story reminds us that as collective trauma, COVID-19 has been challenging for everyone in different ways. For some, it has brought up old wounds, while others have never struggled this much with their mental health. This National Suicide Prevention Week, we thought we’d remember  and  remind you that:

  • Taking care of mental health is essential! 
  • Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. 
  • It’s OK to admit you can’t do something alone.  
  • You don’t  have  to do it alone, even if you can.  

Many of our clients struggle with access to mental health care. They are less likely to have financial resources to afford visits, it is more difficult to find providers that speak their language, and they need to work past cultural stigmas surrounding mental health care. Our C2C program makes ground-breaking impact because it addresses all those barriers and connects hundreds of people to care.

*Name has been changed to protect anonymity.  

We’re going back to school

NMIC’s Education & Career Services team is going back to school! Please help us spread the news that we’re recruiting for our fall cycle of adult education courses. Our classes are completely free and offer flexible scheduling, including morning, evening, and self-paced lessons. We’re anticipating that classes will be totally remote but will keep you posted if in-person learning opportunities become available.

So, if you are (or know someone who is) a New York resident, at least 17-years-old, and want to:

  • Get your high school equivalency diploma (GED)
  • Learn or practice English
  • Prepare for your citizenship exam

We’ve got classes for you! Sheltering-in-place doesn’t  have  to be about “self-improvement,” but it can be. Jumpstart your new future. To find out more, email jenniferargueta@nmic.org

A Food Pantry update

COVID-19 has brought a never-before-seen level of economic devastation to our community. With it came a need to address the growing food insecurity our clients are facing. Because of your support we have distributed over 30,000 lbs. of food to almost 600 different households. And, we’ve added additional pantry days to meet increased demand.

If you know anyone facing food insecurity, they can sign-up for our Food Pantry by using our request form in either English or Spanish. Advanced sign-up is required to keep our community safe.

Every family deserves safety and security. Thank you for helping us as we try to remove the barriers that keep the families in our community from achieving that.

Yours in Solidarity,
NMIC

Back to School with NMIC

Dear Friends,

Typically, around this time, we email you to help us fill backpacks full of school supplies for our families as their children head back to school. This year is different. As many reports have confirmed, parents and guardians in our area were disproportionately affected, and are still struggling to recover from, the financial and health impacts of COVID-19. As such, we’re asking you to help our families access critical services that will ease some burdens of being a low-income school parent in 2020.  

As an underserved minority community, our clients are facing a staggering number of obstacles like food insecurity and the inability to pay rent due to job loss. They represent both a growing population of unemployed New Yorkers and the essential workers braving COVID every day. On top of needing to help their children navigate digital and remote learning, they’re also facing lack of access to mental health services, immigration concerns, and food and housing insecurity. Yet despite all of these institutional barriers our community continues to persevere. Your help will support them continue on their journey to healing and self-empowerment.

Your donation will secure much-needed resources to hardworking NYC families.

$40 purchases 12 meals  

$75 provides a mental health screening  

$150 helps a family access crucial public assistance like food, housing, and health care benefits 

Donate today. You can increase your impact by forwarding this email to loved ones and resharing our Back-to-School social media posts on your timeline or story on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Despite facing disproportionate levels of food, housing, and income insecurity, NMIC continues to fight alongside our community members for a better tomorrow. Join us.

Yours in gratitude,
NMIC

August Notes from NMIC

Hi there,

We hope this edition of Notes from NMIC brings you hope. Sometimes the current state of the world may seem overwhelming, but know that NMIC is working hard to support you and our community during these trying times.

In this newsletter: 

  • An 86-year-old community member didn’t let a little thing like technology stop her from getting the health care she needed.
  • 14 NMIC students graduated with their High School Equivalency amid a global pandemic.
  • Our Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, tackles racism in the philanthropic community.

Elders during COVID-19: Meet Carolina 

For our elderly community, this pandemic has been a profoundly confusing and traumatic time. Our Community Health Worker (CHW) team is there to help guide them, and today we’re so excited to share Carolina’s* story!

Carolina is an 86-year-old participant in our CHW program and receives outreach calls for individual emotional and health care support. During one of these calls, Carolina shared that she had multiple upcoming doctor appointments she was afraid would be canceled or postponed. Despite having a smartphone, she wasn’t sure how to use it to resolve this problem. Our Community health worker encouraged her to use the tools already at her disposal: her family. Together, they got on a three-way call with Carolina’s daughter, who lives in Georgia, and completed her MyChart enrollment. Carolina now knows to access medical information from her phone and that she can rely on her daughter and us to help her through technical difficulties. She’s scheduled a few virtual doctor visits with the added security of knowing she has the tools to manage her health care through these turbulent times.

 *Name changed to protect privacy.  

Join us in congratulating our graduates

We are proud to announce the graduation of fourteen of our students from our High School Equivalency program. Our Director of Education & Career Services, Sara Chapman, drove home the incredible victory that graduating amid a global pandemic represents. Our keynote speaker, Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa, further highlighted our students’ resilience and congratulated our grads for prioritizing their education amidst this crisis.   

As students received their diplomas, they took a moment to express their gratitude and thank their support networks. Ivanna Diaz’s acceptance speech truly captured the mood of not just our graduates, but all of us living through this pandemic: “There were up and down moments. Crying moments. Give up moments. But you never gave up on me.” Our graduates are entering a difficult job market better equipped to compete. Our students’ courage inspires us, and just like giving up in the face of all this uncertainty wasn’t an option for them, it wasn’t one for us either. Together, we fought to ensure theirs would not become dreams deferred or forgotten. NMIC and our Education & Career Services team will continue to support our students by providing Professional Development and Career Placement services. You can support them on their journey to self-sufficiency by making a donation today. 

How we’re fighting for equity in philanthropy

Our commitment to racial justice spans all areas of our work. From our staffing to our board, we ensure that our community is fully represented in everything we do. Our very own Executive Director, Maria Lizardo, was a panelist on the webinar hosted by LAPA Fundraising titled Racism, Philanthropy, and the Nonprofit Sector. Maria highlighted the need to remove implicit biases from philanthropic practices. Often, community-based organizations do not have the privilege, resources, or connections to network with foundations for charitable funds. This creates a financial disadvantage. Maria called for equitable distribution of funds and urged all to look at the racial and cultural composition of their boards and staff. She had this to say: “For us, it’s really essential to have our community voices at our table. We can’t empower communities if they’re not at the table telling us what they need and how they want things done.” This level of community embedment is a critical part of building trust. At NMIC, we pride ourselves in being an organization that involves and serves our community members.

We’re thrilled to share a bit of our joy in your inbox today. If you’d like to continue to help us spread that, consider joining our Be the Light Campaign. Your donations enable us to provide services and funds to our community members as they strive to survive and thrive through this crisis.

Yours in Solidarity,
NMIC

May Notes from NMIC

Hi there,

We’re hoping this email finds you safe. If you missed our last newsletter, please make sure you read our statement in support of our Black community, here. Today, we’re sharing how NMIC is providing services to our clients, who represent both essential workers forced to brave COVID-19 to provide for their families, and those affected most by recent waves of lay-offs and unemployment. They are immigrants, domestic violence survivors, single parents raising children while dealing with housing insecurity, and home health aides caring for our community’s elders amid a pandemic. Their resilient spirits have carried them through many obstacles, and we’re here to make sure they don’t have to do it alone!

In this update, learn how:

  • You’ve helped us raise over $20,000 to provide emergency assistance
  • We’re providing remote services to our clients and larger community
  • We’re ensuring the future safety of our community with Census advocacy

Bringing change through emergency funds

Because of your support, we’ve raised over $20,000 for our COVID-19 Emergency Fund. On #GivingTuesdayNow alone, we raised over $2,500, which was matched by our generous Board of Directors! These funds are reserved for direct client assistance such as helping community members cover burial costs and assisting those left out of governmental financial relief plans. In case you missed it and still want to give, you can do so by clicking the button below!

Distant, but together!

Though our offices remain closed, in record time, we’ve launched a hotline to provide those who live in Upper Manhattan and the Southwest Bronx with assistance and advice related to their housing, immigration, and unemployment benefits needs. We’ve also used our social media to hold frequent live videos covering everything from information on the Census to housing rights and benefits access during this pandemic. Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see!

Getting counted keeps us all safe in the future.

The Census is a source of confusion and anxiety for many of our community members, particularly those who are undocumented and unsure of how the captured information will affect their immigration status. Enter coronavirus, and it’s even more frightening. If there’s anything this pandemic has taught us, it is that without getting counted, we can’t hope to get the services we need. The current lack of hospital beds and facilities can’t be fixed without a concrete idea of how many people live in specific neighborhoods. So, we’ve continued our text and phone banking and social media advocacy.

We also want to express our gratitude for your unwavering support of our organization and community. You’ve allowed us to to reach those who are most vulnerable living on the margins, and we are eternally grateful.

Yours in Solidarity,
NMIC

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