FLUSHING, Queens (PIX11) – Volunteers and community organizations gathered on Saturday at the YWCA in Flushing, Queens for the Key to the City event in support of immigrant families.
“I am born and raised right here in New York, and really New York gives back, and this is part of the giving back,” said Theodore Moore, the vice president of policy & programs at New York Immigration Coalition. “If there are people in need, people who need assistance, that is just our role. We support each other.”
Moore is just one of the many who showed up to help in response to the influx of migrants to New York City.
“This is important for families and students and members of the community to know that we have organizations that are dedicated to supporting them,” said Emilia Fiallo, program manager at ImmSchools, an organization that helps immigrants adjust to the U.S. educational system. “It’s about making them feel a little bit more aware of their rights and the options that they have regardless of immigration.”
The initiative works to welcome newly arrived New Yorkers who need help getting on their feet in New York City. Community groups offer support with health care, mental health services, education, federal benefits, and everything in between.
“We provide basic financial education to the Latino community,” said Helen Mueses, with the Qualitas of Life Foundation, a nonprofit working to boost immigrants’ livelihood with financial literacy. “For me, as an immigrant too, it is essential to have these tools to understand how to manage my money and how to navigate to the financial system here.”
Since last spring, around 50,000 migrants have arrived in New York City.
With few resources available – and many unaware of how to access them – the move can be overwhelming. The volunteers, many knowing all too well what it feels like to restart life in a different country, teamed up to help others going through the same situation.
“I grew up undocumented for 20 years, so I feel like if my family had known about these types of resources, it would have made our time a little bit easier … instead of just doubting or wondering or living in fear,” said Fiallo.
The New York Immigration Coalition has been organizing events like these for more than 10 years. Now, Key to the City has become a lifeline for many New Yorkers.
“A lot of the events that we see, before the events even start, there are lines outside and around the block. It’s really amazing,” said Moore.
The schedule for the next event, along with the other community activities powered by NYIC, is available at nyic.org.