November 15, 2023

Four Jaspers Celebrate UNHP’s Four Decades of Relationships and Mission in the Bronx


Manhattan College Jaspers, Johanna, Jumelia, Samantha, and Raniel connected over Zoom to reflect on their time at UNHP in honor of our 40th anniversary.

As UNHP closes out our 40th anniversary year we reflect on the contributions of Manhattan College Jaspers at UNHP. Over these decades, Manhattan College (MC) graduates, students, and volunteers have been an integral part of UNHP helping us to make strides toward our mission to create and preserve affordable housing and bring resources to our Bronx community. Jumelia Abrahamson, UNHP’s Director of Programs and Manhattan College Alumni (Class of 2009) interviewed three other Manhattan College alumni who shared their talents with UNHP as part of our 40th-anniversary reflections.  Jumelia interviewed Johanna Kletter, former UNHP Deputy Director for Real Estate and Finance (Class of 2003), Raniel Perez, former Northwest Bronx Resource Center staff and current UNHP Board member (Class of 2016), and Samantha Reyes, former UNHP Tax Program and Development Associate (Class of 2021) and each shared what it means to be a UNHP Jasper through their stories and reminiscences.  We invite you to listen to the stories and the laughter shared in the videos below!

 Johanna, Jumelia, Raniel, and Sam came to UNHP while attending Manhattan College, and while the connection to UNHP started on the Manhattan College Quad at a volunteer fair, it flourished in the community development work, on the streets, and with the people of the Bronx. As Jaspers, they each found joy and career advancement at UNHP, which like Manhattan College, is a small tight-knit mission-based environment. For Johanna, a Pittsburgh native, her Bronx family at Manhattan College and UNHP kept her in NYC and an engaged member of the Bronx community. Johanna started at UNHP as an intern and stayed for 17 years.  She went on to become Deputy Director- overseeing UNHP audits and finances as well as our affordable housing portfolio. Raniel came as a volunteer, professionally developed as a staff member, and most recently this year, became a board member. Samantha thinks fondly of growing up in the Bronx, attending the MC campus, and waking up on Saturdays to work at the UNHP tax site. Both Raniel and Samantha took their tax experience at UNHP and now work in corporate taxes for well-known big firms.

These four alumni are just a few of the numerous interns and staff who have added value to the UNHP family. Strong connections such as these have helped build our direct services, such as the VITA tax program and housing lottery applications, where they all have left their mark. In this video clip, we hear Sam and Raniel talk about VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Program) where they both got a start.

Service is emphasized for Manhattan College students based on their Lasallian background and UNHP has greatly benefitted from our many MC volunteers through the years.  In this third, and final video of this post, Jumelia and Johanna reminisce about being a UNHP Jasper, the connection to Manhattan College, and their favorite highlights. Johanna shares her work to bring Cool Roofs to UNHP buildings (btw Raniel wrote this blog post) and her connection to one special graffiti artist and their collaboration to make the Bronx more beautiful.

Both Bronx education institutions, Fordham University and Manhattan College through their students have greatly benefited Bronx organizations like UNHP.  John M. Reilly (Class of ’75) was one of the original Bronx organizers of the grassroots people power movement that is the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.  John was the founding director of Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation, the largest community-based affordable housing developer in NYC, and a current UNHP board member. John interviewed Joe Muriana, UNHP Board President in this 40th Anniversary interview, and here is another 40th interview highlighting Fordham’s role in the founding of UNHP.  UNHP would like to extend our thanks to the Professors and administrators who have been part of our student, intern, and volunteer engagement at Manhattan College.  Their work to connect us with interested volunteers and interns has been invaluable! Jaspers, not interviewed here, but deserving of an honorable mention and a big thank you for their contribution to UNHP are listed below:

  • Helen Velazquez, Class of 2024
  • Carolina Perez, Class of 2021
  • Emilio Moroney, Class of 2019
  • Scarlet Sanchez, Class of 2019
  • Juliet Martinez, Class of 2018
  • Mohamed Khalifa, Class of 2017
  • Cristina Costas, Class of 2013

Enjoy the following photo collages of Manhattan College Jaspers volunteering and working at UNHP through the years.

Jaspers at the UNHP VITA Free Tax Prep Program at Refuge House on Bainbridge Ave

Celebrating during UNHP’s 40th event

UNHP at MC and the Quad

Jaspers at UNHP