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Meet Balima R., a BronxWorks Participant

Balima R., a BronxWorks Participant
Balima R., a BronxWorks Participant

I always dreamed to be in the nursing field, that was a dream since I was little.”

Balima came to the U.S. in 2005, an immigrant from West Africa. Since she was little, she dreamed of becoming a registered nurse. To achieve her dreams, Balima enrolled in the BronxWorks EXCEL Program and is now working toward her GED. “Back in my country, I was going to school to be a doctor, but things got in the way and I had to come here,” Balima says.

When Balima first came to the U.S., she lived with an aunt and was enrolled in school but had to stop to find work. In 2021, Balima came to BronxWorks to enroll her sister in the GED/HSE prep program and she also ended up enrolling in the first 25+ cohort of the BronxWorks EXCEL program. Programs like this are important in preparing students for the GED exam, giving them practice and resources in math, reading, science, social studies, and writing so they have the highest chance of succeeding and passing.

Now a mother of three kids and working at the same time, Balima must balance these increased demands while pursuing her GED.

BronxWorks is helping not only the young people get their life back and go to school, they’re also helping people like me that are trying to move onto something bigger.”

James Dunn, Program Director, recalls how Balima’s personal drive impressed him. “She came every day. She worked really hard. She came to tutoring. She speaks multiple languages.” Balima recently took the GED test and passed three out of the four sections. She continues to come to GED prep classes to work on the last subject she needs to pass. “I am confident she will get her diploma,” James says. “She’s not giving up.”

Balima’s story is shared by so many people who come to the Bronx and dream of building a new life. With her GED in sight, Balima is now thinking about enrolling in BronxWorks college prep programs like CAFE. “My next goal is I want to be a registered nurse.”

I’m not young no more but I still want to fight for my dream.”

DONATE NOW to support programs for neighbors like Balima.

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2022 Empire Whole Health Awards Honoree: Eileen Torres

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Meet Destiny L., a BronxWorks Participant

Destiny L., a BronxWorks Participant
Destiny L., a BronxWorks Participant

My children are my world, my heart, and I’d do anything for them.”

Destiny has lived at Twin Parks West for over 33 years. She is a mother of two, a 12-year old and a 1-year old.

Destiny learned about BronxWorks when Dominique Jackson, the Assistant Program Director of the Twin Parks/Highbridge/Franklin Community Services Program, was conducting outreach during the pandemic to inform residents of the services that BronxWorks provides to those communities. “She gave everyone the opportunity to participate, whether through the food pantry or through getting a job.”

The BronxWorks Community Services Program serves all residents 18 and over in the Twin Parks, Highbridge, and Franklin public housing developments. The workforce program enhances the skills of working residents through vocational trainings, job readiness preparation, and supportive services, providing new career opportunities and pathways to long-term employment. In addition, the program provides residents with emergency food with a weekly food pantry.

Destiny was originally working at a nonprofit but was laid off during the pandemic when everyone was forced to stay home. She started working with BronxWorks Workforce Development. “This was more a matter of, ‘I need to be working right now.’ I had to do something,” she said. Through the Workforce Program, Destiny was able to complete her OSHA30 Certification, making her eligible for a job at a construction site.

I had to do the footwork and BronxWorks helped me along the way.”

Destiny also started coming to the Twin Parks Food Pantry to get a little more of the food items and varieties that she and her family needed. “The pantry is pretty important because, as everybody knows, the world we live in right now, everything is going sky-high,” Destiny says, “and sometimes things are not affordable. For them to have the food pantry on-site, it helps out a lot.”

The program also runs the community center at Twin Parks West, and now offers activities and workshops for children and families on-site. “Destiny enjoys the community center events with her kids,” says Dominque Jackson, “They attend the health and wellness workshops. They make food and eat together. Her son comes down sometimes to utilize the computer lab.”

Destiny’s story is shared by so many people in the Bronx who have, through an unprecedented challenge, used the resources available to them to not only survive but build a better future for themselves and their communities. “Destiny has overcome a lot of barriers throughout her time here and especially through the pandemic,” says Dominique, “She is definitely resilient. She did not let those barriers stop her from thriving.”

“Things are definitely getting better,” Destiny says.

If we keep a positive mindset, you’re always gonna have a smile on your face. Especially if you have kids.”

DONATE NOW to support programs for neighbors like Destiny.

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Meet Frederick M., a BronxWorks Participant

Frederick M., a BronxWorks Participant
Frederick M., a BronxWorks Participant

I had to learn how to walk again.”

Frederick is a resident of the BronxWorks Park Haven Supportive Housing Program. Frederick had been in a homeless shelter for two years when, in 2019, he was hit by a bus and sustained serious injuries. He was put in the hospital for four months. The hospital discharged Frederick before he could fully recover at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when hospitals were overrun with the initial wave of COVID cases. The only place Frederick could go was the BronxWorks Living Room Drop-in Center. He was still recovering from his injuries.

As one of the only 24-hour drop-in centers in the Bronx, the Living Room is a crucial resource for street homeless adults to spend time off the street, use the laundry, take a shower, eat a hot meal, and connect with essential homeless services. It is, however, not equipped to provide the significant medical care that Frederick still needed. BronxWorks Adult Homeless Services staff worked to place Frederick at the Pyramid Safe Haven, where they could provide him with a private room and bed to help his recovery. “They were so good there. They had security monitoring to make sure I was alright. I was able to prop my feet up like I was supposed to.”

Then I focused on getting my foundation.”

While at the Pyramid Safe Haven, Frederick worked with Lisbenny Salcedo, then a Housing Specialist. “The goal for many of our clients is permanent housing,” Lisbenny said. “Frederick was very committed. He knew what he wanted and what he wanted was to obtain his own place.” Lisbenny helped Frederick complete the paperwork for a housing package. He interviewed for housing and was ultimately selected for the Park Haven Supportive Housing Program in late 2021, shortly after it opened.

BronxWorks offers supportive housing and care management at an array of sites across the Bronx. In supportive housing and other strategies to address homelessness, BronxWorks follows a Housing First model, believing that providing homeless individuals with access to stable housing is an essential first step to resolving many life issues.

For Frederick, that belief has taken him out of the shelter system, helped him recover from his injuries, and given him a place to call his own. He has his own closet to display his hat collection and loves doing his own dishes. “I’m 61, and this is the first time I can stay I have something that’s mine, that I earned.”

I got my strength back through BronxWorks.”

DONATE NOW to support programs for neighbors like Frederick!

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BronxWorks Hosts STEM Expo For BronxWorks Summer Program Students

BronxWorks Summer Program students work with Building Beats to learn about audio engineering.

On July 28, 2022, BronxWorks hosted a day of hands-on STEM activities for hundreds of elementary and middle school-aged children in our summer educational programs. The expo was the culmination of a STEM enrichment program funded by Verizon.

The BronxWorks STEM Expo at the BronxWorks Classic Cornerstone Community Center on July 28, 2022.

In the Fall of 2020, BronxWorks embarked on a two-year partnership with Verizon to implement a Digital Inclusion and STEM Enrichment Program for children enrolled in all of our after-school and summer programs. Verizon committed $325,000 over two years to provide resources necessary for students to engage in remote learning and to enhance STEM lessons, activities, and opportunities within our programs.

At the time the grant was awarded, students in New York City schools were still adjusting to remote learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and many Bronx students faced additional challenges due to inequalities in digital resources and access. To support students and families as they adapted to remote learning and hybrid schedules, BronxWorks worked with the New York City Department of Education to set up Learning Labs, a program that allowed students to have access to our facilities and resources during the school day when they were not able to be home with a parent or guardian.

A student at a BronxWorks Learning Lab in Fall of 2020.

BronxWorks used part of the Verizon grant to upgrade technology, equipment, and supplies for our after-school and summer programs to provide these Learning Labs and digital access for our students. Funding was also used on a case-by-case basis to purchase laptops, devices, and data plans necessary for students to participate in remote learning. Finally, the grant helped expand BronxWorks STEM programming by supporting a part-time STEM Coordinator and purchasing STEM learning programs and resource kits to engage students in an enhanced STEM curriculum.

BronxWorks Summer Program students build stethoscopes at the BronxWorks STEM Expo.

The STEM Expo on July 28 commemorated the work that took place over the two years of the Verizon Digital Inclusion and STEM Enrichment grant. The event was held at the BronxWorks Classic Cornerstone Community Center. Hundreds of students from our after-school and summer programs participated in STEM activities, including sound engineering, building their own stethoscopes, and building earthquake resistant buildings out of toothpicks. Over the course of the grant, BronxWorks partnered with STEM organizations like the Salvadori Center, HYPOTHEkids, and Building Beats, who were all guests at the Expo.

Students build models of earthquake-proof buildings out of toothpicks and modeling clay at the STEM Expo.

BronxWorks is proud of what our programs and participants have accomplished through the Verizon Digital Inclusion Grant. We are thankful to have partners like Verizon who are committed to bringing STEM and digital literacy to the young learners in our communities.”

Eileen Torres, Executive Director, BronxWorks

Students learn about stethoscopes from HYPOTHEkids staff at the BronxWorks STEM Expo.
Students at the BronxWorks STEM Expo learn about audio engineering.

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Local advocates ask Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about education, gun violence, health at Bronx town hall

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Come To the BronxWorks Job Fair!

Do you want to join the BronxWorks mission to build a stronger community? Come to the BronxWorks Job Fair on Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at BronxWorks, 1130 Grand Concourse, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

We have openings in multiple departments, including:

  • Case Management
  • Quality Assurance
  • Security

Job openings are not limited to those listed.

Full-Time Employee Benefits include:

  • Paid Holiday and Sick Time
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Life Insurance Coverage
  • Pension Plan

Qualifications are based on jobs. High school diplomas are welcomed! A.S, B.A., and M.A. degrees are preferred.

Don’t forget to dress for success! Wear business attire to the fair, and don’t forget to bring your resume!

You can also take a look at all of our openings and a full list of company benefits at our Careers page.

All applicants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

BronxWorks seeks to build an inclusive organization grounded in respect for differences and is committed to equal employment opportunity. If you require reasonable accommodation please contact hrbenefits@bronxworks.org.

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The BronxWorks Community Farm Stand Is Now Open!

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Stand-Up Comedy Night Benefiting BronxWorks

The BronxWorks Leadership Council cordially invites you to A Night Of Comedy at Stand Up NY!

Where:
Stand Up NY
236 W 78th St.
New York, NY 10024

When:
Thursday, July 28, 2022, 7pm

Join The BronxWorks Leadership Council for a hilarious night of live comedy at Stand Up NY in Manhattan. Tickets are $30 and all proceeds will benefit BronxWorks students headed to college!

Use discount code 50OFF at checkout to get 50% off the ticket price.

Purchase tickets here.

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Jairy Padro

Jairy Padro, Nutrition Educator, SNAP-Ed

How many times have you spoken with a BronxWorks staff member and you can just see the passion for their work, their expertise, and their ambition, almost manifesting physically? It is what makes BronxWorks so important – our staff and their stories. In writing these profiles, we always ask our staff: “What motivates you?”

For Jairy Padro, Nutrition Educator for the BronxWorks SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education & Obesity Prevention Program, her motivation is rooted in a personal experience. When Jairy was 11 years old, she had her gallbladder removed.

I had to change how I ate, but it was also a whole family effort. We had to change the way we cooked, to stop frying things. That’s when I started getting into nutrition and health. The doctors gave me a list of things I could eat, but I was unfamiliar with a lot of the items, so I had to do my own research.”

-Jairy Padro, Nutrition Educator, SNAP-Ed

Jairy was born in Puerto Rico and came to New York when she was three years old. She has lived in the Bronx ever since. Jairy earned her Bachelors Degree in Health Education and Promotion with a focus on Community Health and Nutrition from Lehman College. She originally joined the Community Health programs at BronxWorks in 2019 as an intern and was offered a full-time Nutrition Assistant position after she graduated.

When BronxWorks opened its SNAP-Ed program in November 2019, Jairy took on a Nutrition Educator position. She was a crucial part of the startup phase of the program, especially in March 2020 when New York State went into the PAUSE lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Jairy and the SNAP-Ed team had to confront the challenge of safely providing nutrition education amidst a global pandemic. The team quickly adapted to a virtual platform, creating videos and setting up virtual workshops.

These days, the BronxWorks SNAP-Ed program is back in the community offering live and in-person nutrition workshops. Jairy and the SNAP-Ed team employ a curriculum that targets school-age children, adult caregivers, and older adults. The goal of the program is to promote consumption of nutritious foods, decrease the consumption of sugar sweetened foods, increase physical activity, improve food management and preparation skills, and increase access to affordable and nutritious food options.

Farm stands are my absolute favorite. I love them because it’s time outside and we get to be creative with our curriculum and how we engage participants.”

You can typically find Jairy running nutrition and wellness workshops with partner programs at BronxWorks and organizations throughout the Bronx. She also hosts grocery tours at supermarkets and bodegas to show participants how they can shop for fresh and nutritious foods on a budget and gives cooking demos with fresh ingredients at the BronxWorks Farm Stands.

Outside of work, Jairy likes to try out many different hobbies. Last year she was into kickboxing, this year she is into salsa classes. She just bought a bike. Jairy loves working out at home and watching fitness videos or going out with friends, soaking in the sun, or watching the city skyline.

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