July’s Notes from NMIC

Before continuing to read, we invite you to close your eyes and take one (or three) deep, intentional, grounding breaths.

July is BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Mental Health Month. Mental health stressors affect us all and BIPOC have to also deal with racism, anti-immigration sentiment, xenophobia, and societal inequities. These systems disproportionately have a negative impact on our community members’ earning potential and make accessing housing, food, and financial security unatainable. These factors, along with stigma and the lack of culturally competent mental health practitioners in the area, pose barriers to practicing good mental health for our residents.

To varying degrees, COVID-19 has made life harder for all of us. Everyone has had to make a lot of adjustments to how we function in our day-to-day. Still, NMIC continues to provide our clients in crisis with a wide array of wrap around services that support their wellbeing.

In this Newsletter:

  • 12 youth residents earned their high school diplomas in our YouthBuild program. 
  • Our Mental Health Program is helping community members, like Mateo, improve coping skills and resiliency.  

Join us in congratulating our YouthBuild Graduates!

Join us in congratulating our 2021 YouthBuild graduates! Participants completed a five-month paid opportunity designed to support unemployed and out-of-school youth aged 17-24. This intensive program includes high school equivalency classes, career development, and job placement, as well as ongoing job retention and advancement services. Participants also receive trainings in small business ownership, digital literacy, and job readiness (such as resume preparation and practice for interviews).  

Reclaiming their education places clients on prosperous paths and increasing educational attainment in our area has a profound impact on our community’s wellness. Research shows that higher levels of education result in increased earning potential and self-esteem. We’re really proud of our graduates. Join us in wishing them well as they embark upon new endeavors. 

NMIC’s culturally competent Mental Health Program is changing lives

At NMIC, we understand that mental health can look different for people across different cultures and faiths so we prioritize delivering mental health services that are culturally competent, bilingual, and trauma informed. Accessing care that isn’t these things can further traumatize our community members and reinforce the negative stigma around going to therapy.   

When Mateo (name changed to protect anonymity) began weekly individual counseling with our mental health team eight months ago, he was going through an extremely difficult time. Mateo was an essential worker who tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic. Along with the isolation, sadness, and stress about not being able to work and the loss of income during quarantine, Mateo was also concerned about a domestic violence situation. His abusive partner jeopardized Mateo’s ability to work by arriving to his places of employment and threatening his immigration status.  

Despite the fact that many of these stressors continue to be present in Mateo’s life, he tells us his 45-minute counseling sessions at NMIC give him the space and support to process what he is going through. He’s learned deep breathing strategies, reinforced healthy coping skills, improved his sleep hygiene, and enhanced his communication skills. Because of NMIC’s strategy to address multiple needs, we also connected Mateo to our Immigration Legal Services team and our Domestic Violence Crisis Services. Mateo is now receiving ongoing support as he takes the next steps to ensure his safety and continued wellbeing.  

Your support enhances our holistic approach to our community’s wellness that provide opportunities for our clients to increase their resiliency and coping skills while tackling other inequities like housing, financial, or food insecurity.

With gratitude,

The NMIC Team

The Moment is Now!

Dear Friends,

Thank you for joining nearly 200 attendees at The Moment is Now: A Virtual Benefit for NMIC.


We hope that you enjoyed the event and have gained a better understanding of the strength of our community over the last year. If you missed the live event or want to re-watch your favorite moments, you can view the recording online aquí.


Over $110,000 raised


Thanks to your generous support, we raised more than $110,000. These funds will enable NMIC to continue providing essential supportive services and, as a settlement house, it allows us to remain responsive to emerging community-wide needs.


We also want to thank our host, Damaris Diaz, and our honorees Dr. Steven J. Corwin, CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian, and the Tenant Association of 894 Riverside Drive for sharing their stories and helping bring this event to life.


Lastly, we want to give a final thank you to our staff for the inspiring work that fuels our organization, our Board of Directors for their relentless commitment to advance our vision, and of course our generous sponsors!


Thank you to our sponsors

    With Gratitude,
Maria Lizardo, LMSW


January’s Notes from NMIC 2021

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,



Happy New Year

Dear Friends,

This year, the pandemic has brought us to a flashpoint, where community-wide efforts are pivotal to supporting one another, as we strive to meet health inequities with courage and unrelenting commitment. It is imperative that the work continues – thank you for your support and being a member of our community. 



We wish you a peaceful holiday and invite you to look ahead to a new year with

purpose and intention.


Thank you for helping us create impactful partnerships and life-changing relationships.  


Yours in Community,
The NMIC Team


Giving Tuesday

Hi there,


Every year, millions of people come together on a single day to participate in a global act of generosity. That day is today, #GivingTuesday.



We know this year has been challenging for many of us in differing ways. Many of our clients found themselves unemployed, uninsured, and under-resourced even before the pandemic. With an increasing number of community members facing a crisis our work is more essential than ever. 


NMIC’s food pantry has served over 600 families since launching in May. Our pantries occur twice per month and we have distributed over 30,000 pounds of food. But, resources are limited and demand is much greater than we can meet. Even after adding an additional pantry distribution day, we continue to receive about 50-100 new sign-ups monthly from community residents. We cannot meet the demand without your support. 


There are two key ways to help right now. 

  1. Make a donation to NMIC today! 
  2. If you can’t make a donation, reach-out to loved ones via social media, phone, or email, urging them to support the 14,000 New Yorkers NMIC serves a year. Tag us at @NMICNYC. 

Can we count on you today?


Yours in Solidarity,


November Notes from NMIC 2020

Hi there,

This month, most Americans turn their attention to practicing gratitude, which can be both challenging and deeply healing in the wake of a global crisis. In this newsletter, we’re focusing on the gratitude we feel for all of you, our community of supporters, clients, donors, volunteers, and staff. You are essential to all that we do. 


We’re sharing our gratitude for all that your support has helped us accomplish this month.

  • You have helped bring Thanksgiving dinners to 112 families. And, in this month, 300 more will receive food through our normally scheduled food pantry!
  • Our staff brings mental health care into community member’s homes remotely.
  • Help us expand access to immediate life changing services.

Food for our Community

The global economic crisis has hit those at the margins hardest. So, when community member Karima Khawja came to us with an idea to host a Turkey Drive, we were excited to partner with her. With your help we were able to raise over $5,000!


Though the Turkey Drive is over, we are still very much on the front lines of battling food insecurity one bag of food at a time. Our pantries occur twice per month serving 300 clients. Resources are limited and the need is great. Unfortunately, we are receiving about 50-100 new sign-ups per month from community residents. We cannot meet the demand without your support.


Our Wonderful Staff & Clients

We are proud to be an organization staffed and run by people who come from the community we serve. We are able to give our clients culturally sensitive care in the language they speak at home. Our team is entirely dedicated to and enmeshed in our community’s successes. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our staff has risen together to make incredible moves, from integrating our Food Pantry into a regularly scheduled program to the creation of hotlines to keep our services safely available. We are also honored to represent a space where people feel they can address their crises and know they’ll be heard and assisted. Just like Miriam*. Suffering from panic attacks that landed her in the emergency room, when our Community Health Workers’ team called Miriam, she was distressed and in tears. Mounting coronavirus deaths, having to juggle a home life that now included children at home full-time, she felt her mental health worsening. Our staff member provided a listening ear and thoughtful support. At the end of the call, Miriam said she felt better and was grateful for the check-in which she indicated always made her feel calmer. 


Your end of year gift will enable us to continue to provide our community members with the personal health support they need to keep their families safe and healthy.

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


Giving Tuesday is December 1st this Year

Every year, millions of people come together on a single day to participate in a global act of generosity. That day is known as #GivingTuesday, and this year it’s tomorrow, December 1st. We know this year has been challenging for many of us in differing ways.


Many of our clients found themselves unemployed, uninsured, and under-resourced even before the pandemic. Now, their need is even greater. With an increasing number of community members facing unemployment, food insecurity, domestic violence, and financial difficulties, our work is more essential than ever. 


Now is the time to start reaching out to loved ones via social media, the phone, or email, urging them to join you in supporting the 12,000 New Yorkers NMIC serves a year. Use the graphic below and tag us at @NMICNYC.


Yours in Solidarity,


With You

Dear Friends,

This year has been especially challenging for us all. Many have lost their lives, their jobs, and their homes. While others have experienced, and continue to experience, a progression of losses to their civil rights. 


“Unprecedented” seems to be the go-to word to describe what we have experienced thus far. Despite the obstacles we’ve faced, our immigrant community continues to embody strength, resilience, and grace. In this moment, we are acutely aware of the importance of our work and the impact we have on the lives of those living on the margins. In the face of the many challenges ahead, NMIC will continue to: 

•Provide access to address immediate crises. 

•Support families who rely on us, and whose lives have become even more difficult.

•Connect community members to sustainable resources for self-sufficiency.

We can’t do it alone, we need you. Take your time to gather your thoughts. This is hard work. And when you’re ready, we will be waiting for you gathering in community, organizing, fighting for equitable access.


Yours in Community,



Maria Lizardo, LMSW



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 aquí.



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 aquí, 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,

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



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,

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 y 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,

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