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Lost Gem
Ronald McDonald House New York 1 Non Profit Organizations Social Services Uptown East Upper East Side

Ronald McDonald House New York

Ronald McDonald House is a very special place that provides a "temporary 'home away from home' for pediatric cancer patients and their families." Having had an apartment, for a short time, just a few doors down from their 73rd Street location, I was aware of the wonderful work that they do. When I mentioned to Sophie, one of our Manhattan Sideways team members, that I wanted to feature them on 73rd, she lit up and shared her close connection to the organization on the West Coast.Sophie told me that she was honored to visit and help her mother volunteer with her miniature horses at the Los Angeles and Pasadena chapters. "I was immediately won over by their mission, but even more important, by the children themselves. A significant aspect of their programming is to provide children with the opportunity to just be kids, first and foremost. Seeing the kids interact with the miniature horses showed me how much excitement and exuberance these children have. The smiles on the faces of their parents were always equally heart-warming."Ronald McDonald House New York has been providing care and support to families since 1978. They "coordinate emotional and physical services, psychological care, ministry support, wellness programs, tutors, music, art, transportation, activities for siblings, holiday and birthday parties, and camaraderie for parents struggling with their child's cancer diagnosis." In addition, this particular location has a Greek Division that provides services for families from Greece and Cyprus, Camp Ronald McDonald in the summer, classes in English as a second language, therapy for dogs (Angels on a Leash), and Weird Science, where the kids conduct intriguing and engaging experiments.Love and care are Ronald McDonald's central tenants. New York has its own set of angels in the way of the volunteers who play a major role in the day to day lives of the children. The Day Team leads afternoon activities and the Evening Team coordinates birthday parties, holidays, and dinners. The volunteer sign up is a major commitment to help provide a sense of normalcy and strength to the children and their families. If interested in volunteering, please visit their website.

Lost Gem
Mirabal Sisters Cultural & Community Center 1 Social Services Non Profit Organizations Harlem Hamilton Heights

Mirabal Sisters Cultural & Community Center

Founded in 1990 by a group of Dominican immigrants, the Mirabal Sisters Center devotes itself to living up to the legacy of its namesake by fighting against injustice. The Mirabal Sisters, three Dominican heroines who protested Trujillo’s brutal dictatorship and were martyred for their cause, serve as a central inspiration as the organization works to serve its community, people of color and working class families in particular. The Center has led a series of initiatives over the years, such as youth programs that educate adolescents on substance abuse, a partnership with public schools to arrange for more after-school activities, and a cultural program with a focus on arts and crafts. In 2017, the organization has focused most of its efforts on a collaboration with the Urban Justice Center and tenant associations in order to support the rights of tenants. Pio Tejada, brother to Luis Tejada, the head the organization, explained to us that the increasing gentrification of the city - and Harlem especially - has resulted in numerous conflicts between landlords and tenants. “Landlords are trying to drive off and profit from tenants,” he said, citing examples of escalating rent prices in non-rent-controlled buildings and even sabotage to the facilities to force residents to pay additional maintenance fees. To help right the injustices being wrought against tenants, the Center holds open consulting hours every Tuesday and Thursday, during which anyone from the five boroughs are welcome to bring up their concerns and grievances. In return, the Center offers advice and connections to legal counsel or similar organizations that can aid tenants in the fight for fair treatment. The Center is Luis’ passion project, almost entirely self-funded, since it is a relatively small organization that has difficulty garnering significant support. “Work like this can only be done from the heart,” Pio insisted with pride, sharing how his brother, once a high school teacher and university professor, left academia to start the Center out of a genuine desire to help others. Much of their work involves educating the community on their rights as renters, since a common issue that Luis and Pio face is people’s lack of trust in the system. Many are resigned to mistreatment and do not believe that their circumstances can change for the better, so it is the Center’s job to encourage people to speak up.

Lost Gem

Seafarers International House

So much more than a hotel, Seafarers International House was founded in 1873 by the Augustana Lutheran Church as a mission to Swedish seafarers. Open to growth, this mission has evolved to include all manner of sojourners – of many nations and of many faiths. This 15th Street location operates as a guesthouse for seafarers and other travelers including refugees, asylum seekers, domestic violence victims, and displaced persons. Seafarers cares for these people in a variety of ways, offering social assistance, pastoral care, advocacy, and prayer. The foundation of this mission is a call to “hospitality to the transient,” and the team at Seafarers has appropriately expanded their definition of “transient” to include those who have fared more than the sea itself. As for those who are seafarers by occupation, the House has expanded their work beyond 15th Street. Now that shipping technologies allow ships to remain in port for mere hours, not days, the guesthouse is no longer the best place for seafarers to get the care they need. Instead, the House has implemented port missions, sending supplies and a chaplain to offer care and companionship to the port itself. Christopher V. Roehrer of the Seafarers International House team spoke passionately about providing resources to seafarers that allow them to connect with family back home – be that in the form of a cell phone or calling card, internet access, or a even a regional newspaper. Having emerged out of a desire to care for those who feel isolated, Seafarers International House has grown into a hub of hope, offering hospitality to all those feeling out of place.

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