BronxWorks Celebrates National Social Work Month

March is National Social Work Month!

Social workers have enhanced the well-being of our nation for decades. They’ve advocated for better rights and benefits that have shaped our society today, including the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Rights Movement, workers’ rights, better mental health care, unemployment benefits, social security, and more.

Members of the BronxWorks Social Work Committee.

This March, the BronxWorks Social Work Committee hosted their annual Social Workers Appreciation event at the Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center, and this year’s theme was “Social Workers are Superheroes”! Almost 40 social workers, social work interns, and those working to obtain their social work degree were in attendance, all from a variety of BronxWorks programs. Attendees enjoyed a hot breakfast, a fun ice-breaker game, and time to network with their peers.

BronxWorks holds this event every year during Social Work Appreciation Month to show gratitude toward our social workers and the incredible dedication they bring to their work. We truly appreciate social workers for working to uplift the lives of those in need.

We spoke to a few social workers in attendance and asked them what a social worker’s job is:


James Franklin, Director of Social Services at the Pyramid

“I think a social worker’s job is to help people get to where they want to be. That’s important to me, especially working in adult homeless services, just because a lot of the people we work with haven’t had the opportunities most people have, so it’s nice to help them get to where they want to be.”


Jamal White, Social Worker at The Brook

“Social work is important because what we do is to help impact the community, and what we do is to help bring balance, help bring a semblance of peace and forwardness with every single group that we work with. It doesn’t matter what community it is, we are here to support and help build up the community, help bring up people who are in situations that may not be the most advantageous, but still want to be able to help work and bring them up so we can have solidarity with one another.“


Brian McCullough, Program Director at Bronx Point

“To me, being a social worker means we get to radically change the trajectory of our neighbors’ lives. And that is an amazing privilege for us.”


Shauna Barry, Director of Clinical Learning and Development

“I think it’s important to have social workers at BronxWorks because our goal is to hold and create space for people. When they show up in any situation, any position, any feelings, our goal and our skillset is to hold space for people to be themselves. I think that’s the most important thing, so I really appreciate that about the social workers at the agency.”


Wendy Weil, Director of Clinical Supervision – Family Residences

The job of a social worker is to empower somebody to be their best self, taking into account all their mental health, physical health, socio-economic status, any challenges that they face…so we work with them to bring out the best in them, by helping them to bring out the best in themselves.

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Amy Greenbaum-Strauss, LCSW, Director of Training

Amy grew up in Brooklyn, New York, the youngest of two daughters. Her father came to the U.S. with his family in 1936, making their harrowing escape from pre-World War II Germany. Her mother grew up a first-generation daughter of Russian and Polish immigrants, also in Brooklyn. Amy’s father would eventually become an accountant, and Amy’s mother would earn a graduate degree in social work. In looking at her career, there is a clear line of paying forward the opportunities and experiences that Amy’s parents gave her to the students, clients, and staff with whom Amy works. 

“I did not grow up thinking that I would one day become a social worker,” Amy says, “but I feel that my parents raised me and my sister with the values and experiences that prepared me for a career as one.”

Amy completed her Bachelor’s Degree at SUNY Oneonta in Elementary and Preschool Education. She knew she wanted to work with children and families, and would start her career working in a foster care agency. “I was touched by how powerful it was to be an advocate for these families,” Amy says. “I saw how many of these parents were working their hardest to make the best world for their kids, but with limited resources, knowledge, and opportunities.”  

After working in foster care for two years, Amy enrolled at Smith College for her Master’s Degree in Social Work. She then joined the Jewish Board, working in many areas, including foster care prevention, adolescent psychiatry, domestic violence shelter, training, and teaching. Later on, at Turnaround for Children, she was part of an interdisciplinary team as a consultant and trainer that focused on struggling schools throughout New York City. In 2019, Amy joined BronxWorks as the Director of Training.  

“That’s what I love about my job. I can take all my experiences and share my knowledge in a way that enhances the services we provide. I see everyone at BronxWorks as a part of our mission, and I see my role in the Training Department as supporting our staff who are doing the tough work, to help everyone be the best version of themselves.” 

Outside of work, Amy loves to be with her family. She loves being outdoors, spending time at the beach, hiking and gardening. Her husband is also a social worker, and together they have a daughter who is about to graduate from college, majoring in psychology. Amy’s family is completed by a dog, Ziggy, and two cats, Meeko and Jasper.

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Mireya Chavez, LMSW, Director of Social Services, Homeless Outreach Team

Mireya’s story encapsulates so much of what makes BronxWorks important – passionate staff who seek opportunities to grow professionally and make a bigger impact through human services. In her nine years at BronxWorks, Mireya has worked as a Case Manager in eviction prevention and supportive housing programs, completed her Master’s Degree in Social Work and licensure (LMSW), served as Clinical Coordinator in the Westchester Avenue Safe Haven, and is now the Director of Social Services with the BronxWorks Homeless Outreach Team. 

“What we do here is a very challenging task, because the homeless population is oftentimes an ignored population. People tend not to see them, or they try not to, and homeless individuals carry that with them. But we don’t ignore them, we actually go and look for them. That’s what is meaningful to me.” 

Mireya grew up in New York City and has lived in the Bronx since she was 15 years old. Her family immigrated from Mexico some 50 years ago. She is the first person in her family to have graduated from college and to have attained a Master’s Degree. Mireya completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at Baruch College and her Master’s Degree in Social Work at Hunter College. 

In 2015, Mireya started at BronxWorks as a Homebase Case manager. After two years, she moved to the Supportive Housing Department as the first Case Manager for the newly-opened HUD Scattered-Site Supportive Housing Program. “I was excited to join supportive housing,” Mireya says, “because we work with clients for a longer period of time, we’re able to build a relationship with our clients and help them achieve long-term goals.” In 2019, Mireya decided to pursue her MSW. After completing the BronxWorks One Year Residency (OYR) program at the Cooper Gardens Supportive Housing Program, Mireya joined the Westchester Avenue Safe Haven as a Clinical Coordinator in 2021.  

“I don’t think I would have been able to juggle having a family, working full-time, and going to school for my MSW without the OYR program. Through OYR, I was able to complete my internship at my workplace, at BronxWorks, which made it doable. I also received a lot of support from BronxWorks staff – Shauna Barry and Amy Greenbaum-Strauss. That made it a crucial experience for me.” 

Since August 2023, Mireya has been the Director of Social Services with the BronxWorks Homeless Outreach Team. She oversees and supports the team’s Case Managers and social services staff, including a hospital Coordinator and Housing Specialist. 

Outside of work, Mireya loves to travel with her sister, and recently visited the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Jamaica. She goes to the gym to stay healthy, and loves spending her rare moments of down time with her children, playing music, and catching up on sleep. 

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BronxWorks Legal Services Department Helps Clients Navigate Complex Situations

The BronxWorks Legal Services Department has grown over the past decade to meet a rising need seen throughout the Bronx for reputable, honest, and accessible legal services. BronxWorks offers legal help with preparing and submitting applications for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, assisting on housing law and eviction cases, and providing legal services for victims of crimes and domestic violence survivors.     

BronxWorks has provided legal services for immigrants for over 20 years. The programs, which are based out of the Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center, as well as out of Neighborhood Development Areas (NDAs), concentrate on providing assistance with applications for immigration benefits. Services include citizenship applications, family petitions, general consultations, adjustment of status, renewals, and more. BronxWorks staff assist clients and help prepare legal applications free of charge, however clients must still cover any application and/or filing fees. BronxWorks Legal Department staff, wherever possible, will assist with filing waivers for fees associated with various applications, although these waivers are not guaranteed. In addition to legal assistance, BronxWorks Immigration Services also provide English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Citizenship classes. 

“Clients oftentimes come to us in vulnerable positions and are very much in need of help. Our staff are embedded in the community and understand what some people are going through. They make every effort to first and foremost provide an honest analysis of each client’s case and to educate them on the services that are available to them.” 

In addition to immigration services, the BronxWorks Legal Services Department offers assistance to people with housing issues and eviction cases, crime victims, and domestic violence survivors. A Housing Attorney works in conjunction with the BronxWorks Homebase Eviction Prevention program, helping to address various issues that may come up during a client’s eviction case, such as mediating relations with landlords, protecting tenants and making sure they are treated fairly throughout the eviction or court process, negotiating settlements, addressing any repairs or maintenance responsibilities on the part of landlords, and more.  

Similarly, dedicated attorneys and staff provide legal assistance to individuals who are innocent victims of a crime, including elder abuse, or survivors of domestic violence. On behalf of victims, the programs can address any issues that can come up related to a case, including loss of benefits, predatory debt issues resulting from a crime, filing for orders of protection, filing for legal status without an abusing spouse, among other assistance. BronxWorks also has dedicated staff who help victims of elder abuse in all its forms: physical, emotional, verbal, and financial. The staff assist seniors with obtaining restraining orders, accompany them to court, and help them attain any additional assistance they need while working closely with the police, the Bronx District Attorney’s office, and Adult Protective Services. The staff are also part of a Multi-Disciplinary Task force which offers an array of supportive services to victims of crime.

In many important ways, BronxWorks Legal Services Department is assisting vulnerable members of the community to navigate complex and daunting situations. They are helping residents of the Bronx understand their rights as it pertains to housing and evictions. They are helping new migrants from BronxWorks Family Residences and Family Sanctuary to properly apply for legal immigrant status and work authorization. To date, the Legal Services Department has prepared applications for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 150 migrant families. They are also assisting innocent victims of crimes and survivors of domestic violence through some of their most-vulnerable positions to retake their own protection and safety, re-possess if possible any of their losses, and re-gain control over their well-being.

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Arturo Lopez, Director of Legal Services

When Arturo started at BronxWorks in 2012 as an Immigration Attorney, immigration services was the only and primary legal service that we provided at that time. Now, Arturo is the Director of Legal Services overseeing a team of lawyers, paralegals, and case managers spanning across four legal services programs that include crime victims, housing law, domestic violence, and of course immigration law. 

Arturo grew up in New York City in Spanish Harlem. He still lives in Harlem today with his family. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Literature at New York University. After working in book publishing, Arturo attended the Pace University School of Law, originally intending to go into arts and copyright law. His first job after completing his JD was in a non-profit organization, and he has remained in that sector, working in immigration services and with crime victims and domestic violence survivors ever since. 

“The level of service that non-profits can provide to the community is very important. People who work here are dedicated to helping the community and not just to making a quick buck. And because we don’t charge for our legal services, we can give clients an honest analysis of their case and remain true to the service.” 

In 2012, Arturo joined BronxWorks as an Immigration Attorney. With his help and leadership, BronxWorks expanded its Immigration Services programming into a Legal Services Department, adding neighborhood-based immigration programming, a Crime Victims Program, a Housing Law program, and a Domestic Violence Law program. In 2020, Arturo was made the Director of the BronxWorks Legal Services Department.   

“After spending so much time working with clients, I really couldn’t picture myself in another field. The dedication I feel to helping our clients is the same dedication that all of the staff have in the Legal Services Department.”  

Outside of work, Arturo loves to spend time with his family. He and his wife have two kids, an eight and a five-year-old. They both enjoy teaching their kids about the history of Harlem, the neighborhoods and local restaurants and businesses that have been there for years. Together as a family, they like to go to Central Park and also to the beach. 

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SNIPES Holiday Dream Makers at the Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center

In December, SNIPES USA selected BronxWorks as a finalist for their Holiday Dream Maker Program. The BronxWorks Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center After-School Program was awarded its wish to create a media center at the site that will give our program participants a space to express themselves through design and creativity, and to enjoy different aspects of digital media with their friends. 

SNIPES donated tablets, furniture, a television and gaming devices. To commemorate the award, BronxWorks and SNIPES organized a digital media event where after-school participants learned to use programs like Procreate to design their own sneakers and jerseys. 

“This has been a longtime dream of ours to build a creative and welcoming space for our participants. SNIPES came through to help make this dream a reality. Our participants really appreciated the workshops and learning how to use Procreate. We are thrilled that our participants will be able to use this space for many years to come.” – Dina Brown, Assistant Department Director, Children and Youth Department

Thank you to SNIPES for helping to fulfill a longtime BronxWorks dream! 

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Family Enrichment Program Winter Wonderland Party

This holiday season, the BronxWorks Family Enrichment Program (FEP) celebrated the holidays with a Winter Wonderland Party at the BronxWorks Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center gymnasium. Families enrolled in FEP celebrated with food, holiday music from a DJ, and presents generously donated by Nixon Peabody, a global law firm based out of New York City.

BronxWorks staff dressed as Santa’s helpers and turned the gym into a winter wonderland with Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa decorations to be inclusive of the many winter holidays our participants celebrate. The children were thrilled when Santa arrived to hand out presents and take photos in the Frozen-themed photobooth.

“Events such as the Winter Wonderland Holiday celebration allow families and staff o spend quality time together. Children get to play together while parents can touch base. During these festivities, our goal is for children and parents to have fun and emphasize the FAMILY in the Enrichment Program.” – Loretta Edwards, Program Director – Family Enrichment Program

BronxWorks FEP helps to prevent the placement or re-placement of children into the foster care system. FEP serves residents in Bronx Community District 4. Through this program, case managers provide case management and casework counseling through the broad and diverse spectrum of services that BronxWorks offers to address families’ needs.

Thank you to Nixon Peabody for supporting our Family Enrichment Program!

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Osayi Ikhinmwin

The motivation to contribute to the BronxWorks mission is a theme you will find throughout many of our staff profiles. You find it in the core beliefs of staff in every corner of BronxWorks. Even in non-direct service departments, staff work day in and day out to support the organization’s operational needs, knowing how important our programs are for our communities. 

One of the most unsung heroes of operations is the BronxWorks IT Department, a small team of problem-solvers tasked with maintaining the technology infrastructure of over 60 offices. A central figure of the IT team is Osayi Ikhinmwin. You will reliably find Osayi at the Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center tackling the many tech challenges of the nearly century-old building.  

I value my work because it ensures business continuity. We are behind the scenes maintaining the smooth operation of the agency by connecting and securing our IT infrastructure. It is essential work for me because we are helping BronxWorks achieve its mission.” 

Osayi is originally from Nigeria where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical/Electronics Engineering from Ambrose Alli University. He worked as an IT Administrator, managing the IT systems for local small businesses. In 2011, Osayi came to the United States. 

Osayi joined BronxWorks in 2012 as a Safety Monitor. When a job in the IT Department opened up in 2014, he applied and joined as an IT Helpdesk Specialist. Osayi has worked in the IT Department for over 9 years. In 2021, Osayi completed his Master’s Degree in IT Management from Western Governors University. Now, Osayi is a Systems Administrator and a key team member of the BronxWorks IT Department. 

People buy into things for which they can see the impact. I can see that what I’m doing is not just for me. The work I do is allowing our programs to do their work, helping our communities receive the support they need.” 

Outside of work, Osayi loves to swim and read books. Some of his favorite authors are Malcom Gladwell and John Maxwell. Osayi is a father of three – two daughters and a son. Along with his wife, as a family, they enjoy going on vacations, playing games at home, and listening to good music. 

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Jumoke Fatukasi

Lead Teacher, CMCC Early Childhood Learning Center

Jumoke Fatukasi immigrated from Nigeria to the Bronx twenty years ago. In Nigeria, she was working as a journalist, but when she came to the United States she had to change careers. In her role as the Lead Teacher of the BronxWorks Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center (CMCC) Early Childhood Learning Center, Jumoke has found a mission of the utmost importance. 

“When I got to this I country, I realized that teaching here was not like teaching back home. I said, let me see how I can help, especially with migrant families from my background or similar. Children and parents may find it difficult to adjust to the different educational system here, which is why I wanted to help.” 

Jumoke joined BronxWorks seven years ago. She started as a Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-school Youngsters (HIPPY) Program Instructor, before joining the CMCC Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) as a Teacher Assistant. Now for the past four years, Jumoke has been the Lead Teacher at the ECLC.  

For Jumoke, teaching has become a life passion. She went back to school, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Early Childhood Education from Touro College last year, and is now planning to enroll at Lehman College for her Master’s in Early Childhood Education.  

“Being a teacher is a two-way relationship. You teach and you help, but you also learn a lot. That’s what I love about this job. I learn skills, and it helps me in my own life, in my home, and helped me raise my children.” 

Over ninety percent of her class are immigrant children, and because she feels attuned with their experience as an immigrant to the U.S., Jumoke works hard to create a welcoming environment where children and parents alike can talk to her. Jumoke is also motivated by her colleagues and supervisors, who work together and encourage one another to provide the best early childhood education possible to their classes. “We work as a family,” Jumoke says, “We have collaboration, we work to prepare for the children every week, and the children can see that.” 

Outside of work, Jumoke is a lifelong student. She loves to read and uses it to further her professional and personal development. She enjoys taking vacations with her family. As a family, they also participate actively in their church.   

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Exciting Partnerships With the Misty Copeland Foundation, Asphalt Green, and Physique Swimming

It is busy season at BronxWorks! But then again, when is it not? We have some exciting programming and partnerships that started in October and are continuing into the new year. We wanted to share with you our excitement for three amazing partnerships that are bringing swim and dance lessons to the children and families of our communities.

The Misty Copeland Foundation BE BOLD Program

BronxWorks has partnered with the Misty Copeland Foundation BE BOLD Program to bring ballet and dance classes to four of our after-school programs. BE BOLD is a framework of after-school education developed by the Misty Copeland Foundation in collaboration with the National Dance Institute designed to teach basic ballet concepts to students ages 5-12 years old, especially to children of color. The framework connects positive youth development, social emotional learning, movement, music, and culture to make ballet and dance inclusive and accessible to students of different backgrounds.

Starting in October and running for the next twelve weeks, BE BOLD teaching artists will visit four BronxWorks after-school programs at the Betances and Classic Cornerstone Community Centers, the Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center, and South Bronx Prep Academy. Activity space has been outfitted with ballet bars and mirrors, and students receive dancewear and a copy of Misty Copeland’s Black Ballerinas. Classes are held twice a week and will culminate in an Open Class at the end of the semester. BE BOLD teaching artists and musicians are trained performers that are selected by the Misty Copeland Foundation for their devotion to child development through dance and music.

Ursula Cooper-Hunter, Department Director for Children & Youth said of the program:

“I am super excited for the BE BOLD Program. I was a dancer growing up, and I understand how empowering it can be, for our overall wellness, for understanding your body, what it can do, and having the confidence to try things as a young person.”

Aquatics and Swimming

As you may know, BronxWorks recently cut the ribbon on our newly-renovated Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center (CMCC) pool. We could not be more eager to bring back swim lesson and aquatics programs to our communities, so we’ve partnered with Asphalt Green and Physique Swimming to help us get people back in our pool.

Asphalt Green is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds in achieving a healthy lifestyle through a lifetime of sports and fitness. Physique Swimming has a diverse group of instructors that are deeply dedicated to helping our students achieve their goals as swimmers. Asphalt Green will utilize the CMCC pool on school days between 9am to 1pm. They will work with area elementary and middle schools to provide swim classes as a part of their physical education programming. Physique Swimming will provide swim lessons to BronxWorks programs and open-to-the-public swim classes at the BronxWorks CMCC pool. Classes will be held during the afternoons and evenings on weekdays, and mornings and afternoons on Saturdays. Open registration will start in November. Schedule and more information will be found on our website and at the CMCC front desk.

John Weed, Assistant Executive Director said of the partnerships:

“We’re extremely happy to have the pool open again. It’s great to see kids in the pool.  By working with Asphalt Green and Physique Swimming, we are succeeding with our commitment to utilize the pool to its full potential and create opportunities for healthy activities in the Bronx.”

To learn about the CMCC Pool schedule, please visit our Aquatics page.

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